Windows support scam update


The Windows Support Scam just seems to run and run. I cannot believe that I am writing an update on this scam that has been around since 2008. Just recently I was on BBC Radio Nottingham talking about this issue as a number of listeners had reported that they had been targetted. Interestingly, this came up in Nottingham this time, last time I was on, the area concerned was Kent. Made me wonder if the calling lists are regionally based but I guess this is a small sample set to work with.

For those that don’t know, this scam involves fraudsters cold calling people, claiming to be a Windows support tech and getting the victim to give them remote access to their PCs in the guise of helping them ‘cleanse’ their systems – as long as the victim hands over £185 or in some cases much more.

The ploy is to ask the victims to look at the event viewer on their PC which invariably has plenty of rather worrying (but totally harmless) warnings and alerts. The victim is then told that these harmless warnings show that their PC is infested with viruses and that they are in deep trouble.

Once the seeds of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) are well sown, the fraudsters persuade the victim to let them access their PC. They do this using the perfectly legitimate service to logon to the victim’s PC, with the victim’s agreement.

They then ‘cleanse’ the PC running some bogus software which does nothing in the way of cleansing the PC and frequently, they logoff without leaving anything more than the client behind. Recently however, reports are coming in that some fraudsters seem to be leaving behind evidence that work was done by another, legitimate company.

The issues to remember here is that Microsoft does not monitor all the PC’s in the World looking for ones generating signs of infection so if someone rings up suggesting that they are from or work on behalf of Microsoft, you can rely on it being a hoax. Sometimes they claim to come from the victim’s ISP but again this is rare and if you do not know someone intimately, do not let them on your PC.

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Simon Heron is Internet Security Analyst at Network Box (UK), a managed security company, where he is responsible for developing the overall business strategy and growth. Simon has more than 16 years experience in the IT industry, including eight years experience in Internet security. During this time he has developed and designed technologies ranging from firewalls, anti-virus, LANs and WANs. Prior to Network Box, Heron co-founded and was Technical Director of Cresco Technologies, a network design and simulation solution company with customers in the U.S., Europe and China. Before that he worked for Microsystems Engineering Ltd, as a Project Manager, where he implemented network security for the company.