New Threat: Stay protected from tech support scams

Computing and malware concept. Hacker using computer with digital business interface. Double exposure

IT security firm Avast Threat Labs reports that tech support fraud remains a massive issue in India with 203,295 attacks identified from January through March 2021. According to them, users in India are frequently attacked by technical support fraud.

Tech support scams happen when fraudsters use scare tactics to trick innocent individuals into purchasing overpriced and unnecessary “support services” to fix an alleged computer, device, or software problem. They convince victims that their computer has been infected by malware; a window will pop up, alerting the user of a malware or spyware infection on their computer, and that their only recourse is to call a phone hotline for technical support.

Once on the phone, scammers try to convince the callers to establish a remote connection to their computer and sometimes download a second remote management software so as to keep up a constant connection to the user’s PC without the latter’s knowledge.

Once granted access, bad actors can also install malware, or other malicious programs that damage the data housed on devices, or harvest personal information. Criminals with access to this type of sensitive data can leverage it to gain entry into financial accounts, health records, or other essential services. In addition, fraudsters go to great lengths to convince victims of their legitimacy, including creating web pages that imitate antivirus or firewall software warnings or even setting up fake companies to validate their con.

“Tech support fraud is increasingly common and targets some of the most vulnerable individuals. Criminals exploit victims through money or personal information,” said Alexej Savcin, senior malware analyst, Avast. Spotting tech support fraud is essential in stopping it in its tracks. Use these tactics to keep yourself safe online:

Question what led you to the support page: if it popped up on its own, it is an indication that the website is fraudulent

Check the webpage: compare the domain URL to known sites; if it is not intuitive or easy to read, the website may be a scam. If the browser freezes on a tech support page, it’s an indication that something is wrong; if a tool actually detected malicious activity, the site would get blocked

There is no real threat until a bad actor gains access to your information or devices: tay vigilant and skeptical when online, if unsure disengage and verify credentials on your own.

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