The Los Angeles Times recently reported on the latest IT scheme against businesses that bad guys are using to try to get confidential information out of executives. The con artists also want your staff to download a virus that scans your computer’s files.
It all starts with a phone call from the “Windows Maintenance Department” or “Microsoft Tech Support,” according to reports. But that should be the first giveaway. Microsoft and other large technology companies never initiate communication to fix your computer or request confidential information.
If the business owner plays along with the caller, the fake techie convinces him that his computer has a virus and offers a simple solution – download a piece of software that “fixes the problem” from a website. In reality, the software is a nasty virus that will take control of the computer or scan its files. The con artist either charges the victim for the software and steals his credit card information, or the fraudster gives it to him for free.
One site the bad guys are using to distribute the virus is Fixonclick123.com (please don’t go there no matter how curious you are). This is another red flag since Microsoft is nowhere in the URL. I did some research and found that Microsoft’s official support website is support.microsoft.com.
If you want to contact Microsoft for legitimate help, visit support.microsoft.com/contactus or talk to your IT department since they’ll likely have the proper notification. Notice that Microsoft’s physical address is listed on the website and lists Redmond, Washington, which is where the company’s headquarters are located, just outside Seattle. If you didn’t know that, you can confirm it with a quick Google (or Bing) search. This is another way to verify that a site is legitimate – it has a physical address with the correct location.
Here are some other red flags that will help you identify IT bad guys:
- Email addresses from free services like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.
- The company has no website and can’t be found through a Google search.
- The caller asks for personal information like your social security number, bank account number, or any other information that it should already have.
- The offer sounds too good to be true.
Protect Your Information
You need to protect your business from con artists to keep your IT assets safe. Make sure that you remind your staff of little things. Here are some general IT policies that keep your company safe from falling prey to IT fraudsters:
- Don’t download any email attachments, especially ZIP files, from senders you don’t recognize.
- Never give your information to anyone that calls you claiming to be from Microsoft or any other high-tech vendor. You don’t know who is on the other end of the line.
- If you’re ever in doubt about anything, hang up and call the phone number on the company’s official website. This ensures that you’re talking to someone credible.
Remember, the best thing to do if you’re unsure about a caller wanting to gain access to your IT systems is to hang up, get another opinion and double check what the third party is saying. It really is better to be safe than sorry when your IT system is on the line.
© 2012All Rights Reserved