Beware of cyber scam using bogus ‘tech support’ calls

Over the past few months, several Sinu customers have encountered a cyber scam in which someone calls and claims to be with Windows or Microsoft tech support. They tell you they have detected a virus or a malfunction in your computer and ask you to log into a legitimate-looking website. The cybercriminal posing as “tech support” will then log into your computer, gaining access to personal data while planting a real virus or malware in your computer.  Ultimately, they will ask their victims for some amount of money to release control of the computer.

Microsoft has been trying to warn customers about this scam for the past few years and assure them that Microsoft and its partners do not make unsolicited calls to their customers to charge them for computer security or software fixes. However, experts claim it has been heating up lately. The best thing to do if you encounter a call like this, is to ask for a full name, phone number and web URL, and promise to provide these to Sinu (or your IT consultant) for review. If you are not a Sinu customer, provide this info to your IT department or, at minimum, just hang up!

According to Mary Landesman, a Senior Security Researcher for Cisco, there are several tactics the cybercriminals of this phone scam use to gain access to your computer and infect it; any one of these should be considered a ‘red flag’ that you’re not dealing with legitimate tech support. 

1. The scammers ask you to download a remote access program. This will give the scammers full control of your PC  – and all the data. While Sinu does use remote access software for customer support, we set up scheduled appointments before beginning work on any technical problems.

2. The scammers want you to install an antivirus that they will trick you into buying. The antivirus is usually counterfeit or just a trial version. Remember, as part of our service, Sinu installs and maintains antivirus software for all its customers, so you will never need to buy it from an outside source.

3. The scammers recommend upgrading to the latest Windows version. This version is likely to be counterfeit and cannot be updated with the latest security patches.

Landesman explains why this scam is so damaging to affected computers: “So now the criminals that were given unfettered access to your PC (which easily could have allowed them to install a backdoor trojan), have left you with non-functioning antivirus and an operating system that can't be patched. That means if they did drop a trojan to your system (likely), your antivirus won't detect it and your operating system will be extra vulnerable to any further malware they want to deliver.”

If you would like more information about how the Sinu Solution works 24/7 to protect your data, minimize downtime, and keep your employees productive, contact Sinu – your IT partner.

Note: See Mary Landesman’s complete comments about this scam here. You can also learn more about tech support scams at The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.