I have written quite a bit about attacks on computers through poisoned search results, and of course, just hitting an infected webpage. When these things happen, your computer may starting “talking” to you announcing that if you try to shutdown your computer, your files will be infected, blah blah blah. Of course, this is nothing more than a scare tactic to get you to click that button for “remote assistance”, which of course the only assistance you will get are your files stolen, held for ransom, and of course the high possibility of identity theft.
However, some hackers are going old school, by using the telephone as a launch point into hacking your computer. For example, you may get a call on your home or mobile phone, and the caller ID might say “Microsoft”, or “Google Support”. The person on the other end of the line will say that, “they have received alerts that your email account is sending out a bunch of spam”, or, “we have detected that your computer is infected with viruses, and we need to clean your computer, or we will have to lock down your machine.”
Of course, none of what I described is the case, because like I mentioned in a recent article, these companies have no idea if your computer is sending spam email, or infected with viruses. These hackers, who are really scammers, use fear tactics, such as using inflected voice tones and a lot of technical jargon to get you all flustered and worried. It is at that point they will have you turn on your computer, goto a site like Ammy Admin, Aero Admin, or they may use a legitimate remote control software like Teamviewer or LogMeIn, have you enter a code, and then they are on your computer where the games will begin.
So what can you do? First of all, if the call comes out of left field, with the person on the phone stating something similar to what I mentioned earlier, my best advice is to hang up. To verify if the call was a scam, call the number back on the caller ID. Most likely it will refer either to some other number, or national 411 assistance. Did I forget to mention that when they call on the phone, they also put forth false caller ID information? Of course, this is assuming that anything other than “PRIVATE” or “BLOCKED” showed up on the caller ID.
This next part is a bit of a sensitive topic, but nonetheless true when it comes to these scammers. The overwhelming majority of the scam calls you get, the person on the other end will have a heavy foreign accent. Most of the calls are not coming from the US, but are in fact coming from overseas from the Middle East, India, and even Southeast Asia. Again, if you get a call out of the blue, with foreign accented person on the line stating they need to connect to your virus laden computer, hang up.
Finally, you must understand that these phone calling hackers do not limit their calls to your mobile or home phone number. They can and do call business numbers, because they are literally just going down a list of numbers that their criminal boss gave them, and have no idea if they are calling a home, mobile, or business phone number. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that you be alert when at the office. Allowing a hacker who called you to get access to your work computer, will in all likelihood be a career limiting move for you. In other words, you are likely to be fired.
Hackers use many methods and means to gain access to your information. While most hacks occur while you use the internet, hackers are not above giving you a good old fashioned phone call to scare you into giving them access to your machine. However, you have now been equipped with the knowledge to defeat them. And defeat them we shall!