Old-school internet scams: five that just won’t die

If the caller knows your name, that’s because they have got it from a directory or other mailing list; if they know your operating system, that’s because they made an informed guess (Windows 7 is the usual approach).

Secondly, never allow anyone remote access to your computer unless it is a verified and legitimate representative of a company you are a customer of and with whom you initiated the support contact.

Thirdly, if you are searching for help with support then search for the problem you are actually having and you will find lots of free advice online from genuine folk willing to help for free.

Never allow anyone remote access to your computer unless it is a verified and legitimate representative of a company you are a customer of and with whom you initiated the support contact

You do not need to pick a randomly advertised service (such as with the Android scam) online. If you cannot find the help you need in support forums then either contact your device supplier/manufacturer or a local IT support shop you can pop into yourself and see who you are dealing with.

Rogue software

Sometimes tied in with the Microsoft Support scam, but by no means always, the rogue software scam continues to show no sign of slowing down despite being more than ten years old.

The method of execution is always pretty direct: either a “support engineer” directs the victim to install the software, or pop-up messages on an infected website tell you that your PC is infected and offers a utility to clean it.

The latter method is actually very similar to the former, but takes the human element out of it; instead of a someone on the phone giving instructions, the victim is left to follow their own instinct and is prompted by the fear factor.

So just as rogue fire extinguisher salesmen used to shout “fire” through the letter box of elderly targets, so rogue software shouts “infection” at you through a fake scan of your PC.

The clever bit is that the software itself is often free, but installs data-collecting malware. Fees kick in when the victim wants to get rid of the infection.

It’s clever because the clean-up fees have to be reasonable in order to get a victim to take the bait, so even if done on a subscription basis the profit is relatively low. Throw in the data-collecting malware, however, and rogue software becomes the scam that just keeps on giving.

The mitigation is simple: ensure that every device is protected by a double whammy of malware detection software – even the most basic, comes-with-the-OS variety will do – and a little common sense.

Eset

Just as you should always make your own way to the online banking site if you get an email telling you there’s a problem with your account, rather than clicking the link provided, in order to check it out so you should always make your own way to a security scanning service. There are plenty of genuine, and free, services out there to quickly scan your PC and check for malware.

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