Who Is

watching out for you?

In today's world you need to understand a few more things...

Who Is

knocking on your virtual front door?

It could be someone down the block or from the Bloc

Dialing for tech support victims’ dollars

Dodi Glenn, PC Pitstop

20-January-2016 Support scammers are telephoning victims as well as advertising online.

“If I put my hacker hat on, it’s an insider job where somebody in the call center was paid to give out information,” said Dodi Glenn Vice President of Cyber Security of PC Pitstop. “The other possibility is they were breached, which I find hard to believe. Either a third party contractor was breached, or a repair depot was breached.”

He was referring to the Dell Tech Support scam – when a Dell PC owner is called by a person claiming to be Dell Tech Support. For the record, Dell does not call its customers out of the blue.

For years criminals have been calling random numbers, claiming to be Microsoft Tech Support. While the calls happen often and repeatedly, in reality Microsoft calls users randomly as often as Bill Gates pays people for using the Interweb, which means NEVER.   

“If you know the service tag number you can create an account on the Dell website, and see all of the work that’s been done on that machine, as well as system information,” Glenn said. “The people making the service call were taking the number, inputting it, and getting the prior repairs information.”

Then they call the customer and say, “I see you’ve got a Dell xxxx model running OS whatever,” and the customer knows the caller has info on his or her PC. So the phone scammer guys are increasing credibility with the victim.

They do the normal tech support scam, showing fake information, installing fake security applications or installing a scanner that detects benign cookies or something like that to sell the victim a service contract or software.

 Tech support scam screen capture

“This was an actual application (.exe) that our research team found,” said Glenn. “Note the poor programming skills with the .NET error message, as well as the poor Photoshop skills for the technical support number. This number was live, as of yesterday. A nice Indian fellow answered my call and purported to be from “Online Technical Support, Microsoft Corporation.’”

Instead they’re activating a third party application like MalwareBytes or something and charging you hundreds of dollars for a program that only costs a few dollars.

“First, Dell doesn’t make outgoing support calls unless you’re paying for active monitoring,” Glenn said. “You’re not going to get a call from MSFT either.

“Second, if their immediate action is ‘I need to remote into your computer’ hang up. That’s a dead giveaway.”

What else does he recommend?

“The usual spiel – make sure you’re running AV and your system is patched. If you receive a call, you can say, ‘I don’t run Windows, only Linux or Mac,’ but now there is Mac software that does the same. If you’re running an unpopular OS like Linux they know you’re somewhat technically savvy and they hang up.”

Proof the scam is profitable is that it continues, and the criminals behind it have expanded from claiming to be Microsoft and now to Dell.  

“It’s not just them calling you – the same parties behind it are advertising online,” said Glenn. “If you receive a blue screen message they get you to call them. It boils down to the same thing, where they’ll trick you into a repair you don’t need and install malware.”