Fraudsters Use Bogus Support Calls to Try and Hijack Peoples PCs

Submitted by Mickey Boodaei, Trusteer CEO

With nearly 100 banks that offer Trusteer’s Rapport for secure web access we are now reaching 20 million installations.  Our large install base and the level of trust people have developed in our brand provide us with a unique view of new types of fraud as users contact our free 24x7 support center to get advice. One of these recent interesting incidents described here remind us that fraud can take many shapes and forms

We recently received a report from a concerned Rapport user who said she had a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Windows Solutions saying that, because of error messages from her computer, he was tasked to help fix any problems she had.  In fact he was not from Microsoft and tricked her into letting him connect to her PC and then tried to con her into buying bogus security products.

The recipient of the call initially thought the call was genuine and allowed the caller to remote access her computer - and show her the "viruses which had infected my system."

"When he tried to sell me some software I ended the call and did not give him any personal details, credit card or otherwise. Nevertheless, I'm worried that my computer may be vulnerable to future attack", she told our help desk, asking for assistance.

According to our Rapport user, the telephone caller led her to a Web site that allowed her to download a free remote access application that allowed him to access her computer.

"He then showed me a long list of files - all viruses, he said, and some very dangerous. I told him that I had good security on my computer", she said, adding I could not understand how that could happen.

"He said he was transferring me to his supervisor who would solve these problems. The supervisor showed me yet more virus files, which he said were located in a hidden part of the computer and he couldn't therefore clean it up without Windows 7 being installed (I run Vista) and some new security software," she said.

Whilst it does not appear the scam artists behind this call infected our Rapport user, they then tried to sell her a £300 security application, which they could offer her much more cheaply.

"As he rang off, he warned me that my computer was in very bad shape and would crash any day. The call lasted around 20 minutes and I feel like such an idiot to have been taken in for that length of time, and very nervous that they had all the time in the world to infect my computer," the Rapport user told our researchers. 

Well, the good news is that our support team was able to work with this lady and ensure that her machine was not infected. 

We searched our support database for similar incidents and indeed we do see users coming in with similar reports from time to time. From that we can conclude that this is indeed a common method of fraud that users should be aware of and avoid. It’s easy to think that you’d never fall for this type of fraud. But keep in mind that these fraudsters are very experienced and good in what they do. If it’s not you than it could be your friend, your parents, or your spouse who may be taken in by this sort of plausible-sounding `security support calls. 

We’ve recently added an awareness center to our Rapport secure web access software. The awareness center gives you information about recent scams and security alerts that you should be aware of. It’s incorporated into the Rapport console and you can choose whether to visit it yourself or set it to pop up an alert when a new report is available. We believe this tool could be useful in keeping you in the know and providing you with tips on how to avoid new types of threats.

Every little bit helps. As the popular supermarket slogan says, and this is no less true in the IT security space. 

Say safe when using the Internet.

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