28 Jan 2012

Windows scam; Phone call from Windows regarding invalid license scam

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Be Cautious Of This Windows Scam Involving A Phone Call From ‘Windows’ Regarding An Invalid Computer License Or Computer Virus

I just received a call from a customer who was almost the victim of a current Windows scam.  She was a little upset that her computer had a virus, despite being protected with Anti-Virus, firewall and NAT router, and administrative restrictions. She still believed she was infected. Now I say believed, because with the controls tucu put in place, she will be extremely hard pressed to ever get infected with any malicious software ever again.   But tucu can’t protect against social engineering.

From Wikipedia:  Social engineering is commonly understood to mean the art of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.[1] While it is similar to a confidence trick or simple fraud, the term typically applies to trickery or deception for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or computer system access; in most cases the attacker never comes face-to-face with the victims.

“Social engineering” as an act of psychological manipulation was popularized by hacker-turned-consultant Kevin Mitnick.

What had happened was that someone from ‘Windows’ had called her and told her that her license was out of date.  This, in itself, is a red flag.  Windows is to Microsoft what Taurus is to Ford. Windows is the name of a product, not a company.  So no one would call you from Windows.  It’s akin to saying I am calling from Taurus, not from Ford, the manufacturer of Taurus.  My supposition is that in order to avoid being charged with fraud, the ‘attacker’ won’t identify himself as being from Microsoft, but rather inserted himself into her trust by being something on the edge of familiarity and just vague enough for you to possibly believe it.  We all know what Windows is.  It’s just believable enough.

The ‘attacker’ then proceeded to claim that the users Windows license was no longer valid and walked her through a few steps to reinforce her perception of him being authoritative with respect to his knowledge of the issue.

Regrettably, I have seen this a few times with new customers that did not take adequate precautions to protect themselves, and the end result was that their computers were infected with a virus that they had installed themselves by following the instructions of the person on the phone. They were then defrauded financially.  tucu was able to help protect their computers and networks from future attacks, but the financial and other damage is far more daunting to repair.  Prevention is key.

Fortunately, in this case, with our long standing client, tucu had put sufficient restrictions in place, such that when the attacker began their manipulation, he was not able to get the virus installed and eventually gave up. The customer then called me to ask why she could not do what ‘Windows’ wanted her to and “what is wrong with my computer?” After explaining to her that she was the victim of a con-man and that he most likely would have wiped out her bank account, she was very glad for the controls that tucu put in place, which prevented her ‘attackers’ success.

Please remember; Microsoft is the company that makes Windows.  Microsoft will never contact you via telephone without you first initiating contact with them.

If you want to ensure your computer and network is secure, tucu will be glad to offer you a free quote.

 

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