Microsoft Tech Support Scams on the Rise

scam alert

Have you gotten a phone call or seen a web site pop up that purports to be from the Microsoft Support team and that they need to get onto your computer to clear up an infection? We’ve ran into a few folks that have run into that scam lately, some of them falling victim and getting their computer infected with a ton of malware. Here’s what you need to know about these scams and how to avoid them

There have been two variants of this scam we have seen recently:

  • First variant of this scam involved somebody purporting to be Microsoft, McAfee, Symantec, or some other well-known software vendor, saying they have detected an infection, problem, virus or some other scary-sounding issue with your computer that will cause data loss, and will clean it up but they need you go to a website to download their support tool.
  • The second variant involves a malware infected website that pops up scary-sounding pop-ups on your screen, warning you that your computer is suffering from infection, problem, virus or some other scary-sounding issue with your computer that will cause data loss, and they ask you to call a toll-free number. The pop-up may pull information that is publicly known about your internet connection (like your ISP or IP address) to make it sound more convincing.

The goal of both variants is for the scammer to direct you to a web site they control, have you download and run a remote access tool, and for the scammer to get into your system using their illegitimate “Support Tool” to clear up the problem. You end up with a computer screen that might look like this:

ms scam screenshot

However, what they’re really doing is infecting your computer with more malware and copying your system’s files to offsite locations so they can wreak havoc with it elsewhere (meaning if you’ve ever fallen for one of these, change all your passwords now if you have a file of them anywhere on your computer — this is one of the reasons we recommend a password manager).

So how do you avoid falling for this scam or being exposed to this scam in the first place?

  1. Don’t Fall Into The Trap: If somebody calls purporting to be from Microsoft tech support and wants you to go to a Website, don’t. If you have any questions, call us. If you work with us, you’re welcome to come down to our office and meet our team anytime so you recognize the voice on the other end of the line. Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer. And never give them any financial or password information.
  2. Install Good Content Filtering: These scams usually come via sites that have been compromised or you shouldn’t be visiting in the first place. A good content filtering system will help prevent those sites from loading and help keep the damage from spreading.
  3. Stop Them At the Network Level: Install and configure a firewall that will help block that kind of junk before it gets onto your network. A properly-configured SonicWALL will help protect from malware and viruses before anything even hits your network. We’re SonicWALL-certified and can get you the hardware you need plus the software subscription services for one-flat-monthly rate. Just email us for details.

If you think you might be getting scammed, you likely are. But you’re welcome to call us at 541-383-2340 in Oregon or 907-375-8324 in Alaska if you have any questions or concerns.

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