How fake tech support scams are cashing in

Dive Brief:

  • Tech support scams are part of a complicated and advanced world that victimizes people around the world with the help of "malvertising," according to a new study conducted by three PhD candidates at Stony Brook University.
  • In what is believed to be the first analysis of its kind, the Stony Brook students spent eight months studying the tactics of tech support scammers, collecting more than 25,000 scam domains and thousands of scam phone numbers, On the Wire reports.
  • The researchers found many of the scams began when users clicked on malvertisements designed to trick them into believing they have a virus, and encouraging them to call the number shown on the site for help. Once connected to the fake tech support, the scammers then employ remote administration tools to gain access to the users' computer. From there, scammers convince users their computers are infected with malware, offering to help repair the damage for a price. Users pay up and their machines are "repaired."

Dive Insight:

The Federal Trade Commission is working to shut down such scam operations, including a recent scam in which the scammer pretended to be with the FTC.

But a little federal oversight from the United States does not guarantee scammers across the world will stop. Rather, they identify vulnerable targets in different countries, finding ways to exploit user behavior.

The best and possibly only way enterprise leaders can prevent employees from becoming victims of such scams is education. IT leaders can ensure employees are aware of such scams, encourage them to approach the IT team rather than a third party when they need help, and educate employees about the dangers of clicking on online ads.   

Filed Under: Security
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