Microsoft rings alarm bell on fake Windows support calls
Those scams, often dubbed "scareware" or "rogueware," use higher-volume methods -- poisoned search results and spam email -- to trick users into visiting malicious sites that proclaim a PC or Mac is heavily infected. Users are encouraged to download security software to fix the nonexistent problems, but to get rid of the resulting bogus alerts, victims must fork over fees that can reach $80.
Mac users were hit by several scareware campaigns last month, the first time they had been targeted by such scams.
Fossi put the telemarketing tactic in context.
"Fake AV is a much bigger problem than this," Fossi said. "This sounds like a pretty low rate of return on investment [for the criminals] because of the time commitment to do this. But maybe they're getting a higher success rate because [the victim] is actually talking to a real person. Some probably think, 'Why would they take the time to call if there wasn't a problem?'"
Traditional security software won't help users deflect phone calls from fake support technicians, Fossi acknowledged. "It's social engineering, so the only thing you can do is try to educate people," he said.
Microsoft urged Windows users to "be suspicious of unsolicited calls related to a security problem, even if they claim to represent a respected company," and gave other common sense advice, such as to never divulge credit card or bank account information to out-of-the-blue callers.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- PCI 3.0 Compliance In this white paper, learn how PCI-DSS 3.0 effects how you deploy and maintain PCI compliant networks using CradlePoint devices.
- Mitigating Security Risks at the Networks Edge This white paper provides strategies and best practices for distributed enterprises to protect their networks against vulnerabilities, threats, and malicious attacks.
- 5 Strategies for Modern Data Protection Read the five strategies for modern data protection that will not only help solve your current data management challenges but also ensure that...
- 5 Ways Dropbox for Business Keeps Your Data Protected Protecting your data isn't a feature on a checklist, something to be tacked on as an afterthought. Download here to find out how...
- Business-driven data protection Setting up data protection infrastructures with your organizations' core mission or business in mind is key. In this webinar, the ARCserve team will...
- On-Demand Webinar: Mind the Gap! Watch the webinar featuring Bob Janssen, CTO and Co-Founder of RES Software, to start building a solid foundation for business and IT to... All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!