I met with a client recently whose computer had been attacked by a common internet scam.
It’s a terrible feeling to know that your details might be compromised but we had him back up, running and secure within an hour or two.
The scam was the very simple – and easy to make – mistake of clicking on a suspicious link on the internet. It came from a newsfeed with other legitimate links and was most believable.
Once clicked, it disabled the mouse and the pop-up window covered the entire screen. It was a red alert allegedly from Microsoft, to say that the computer had (ironically) been comprised by a scam.
The message also spoke aloud saying contact must be made with “Microsoft” and most interaction with the computer was disabled. If you clicked to close the window, it kept popping up again.
This type of scam is common and luckily, it wasn’t a ransom scam, but rather a pseudo-ransom scam.
A ransom scam is one that blocks all movement of your computer, and there are only a few ways to get rid of it, most of them compromising onboard data.
This scam was trying to make the user believe that the computer had been completely compromised, and to contact the fake-authoritative party, being “Microsoft”, to likely pay them a large sum of money or inadvertently grant them access to bank accounts.
If the number was called, the scammer might have quickly shut down the “alert” and prompted them to download an application such as TeamViewer to remotely access their system.
This could have allowed them access to saved passwords and bank account numbers among other imortant and personal information.
Thankfully, my client called for advice before doing anything, and Greyology was able to solve it promptly.
We also backed up data to ensure no future loss was possible and ran scans to ensure no compromising malware had been installed.
It’s important in these situations to:
- Remain calm.
- Question the legitimacy of the window you are seeing – would Microsoft really make spelling errors, or use the colour pink to signify a scam? (Probably not).
- Don’t let anyone remotely access your computer through a program such as TeamViewer unless they are completely trusted.
- Don’t make outgoing contact with the scam-provided phone number.
- Call for assistance to disable the scam.
It’s important to always keep a backup of your information so that you can restore your computer if you have a problem.
Edin Read is the chief technician and founder of Greyology. Visit greyology.com.au or email email@example.com