‘It’s a jungle out there’, I grew up listening to this musical advice but never gave it too much heed. Growing up has made me realize how accurate this phrase is but the only difference now is that the world has gone ten times more vicious. With the internet at high speed, I do not even have to go ‘out there’ anymore. The cruelty begins right inside the comforts of our homes and the worst part is we are usually the ones who give permission to access our personal lives through the world wide web. With its unlimited benefits, the internet also has a dark side to it, and I was ALMOST a victim of it a few days ago.
Recently, I got my hands on a high-performance wireless router. It has the best range of options available to meet every type of home networking need. Excited to get a brand-new router, I went on with setting up some relatively complicated configurations and it proved to be a bit challenging for me. Since I had the technical support option available with the device manufacturer, I decided to leverage it and give them a call. In my blinding excitement, I overlooked the option for getting the contact info for technical support from the vendor’s website. Instead I grabbed my phone and did a quick Google search for a tech support number. I dialed the first number I saw with the manufacturer’s logo next to it. The “tech support” personnel that greeted me spoke English fluently, was very professional and asked the right troubleshoot questions over the phone. Everything seemed legit up until the point where the technical support operator asked me to share screen using helpme.net. Screen sharing software use varied methods that allow users to share a computer screen with the second user for collaboration and other purposes.
I have screen shared with reputable companies like Microsoft before so the request to screen share was not abnormal. I also knew that screen sharing opens you up to all types of security risks. I was also concerned that helpme.net is not a common screen sharing app that reputable companies use.
Before I logged into helpme.net, something urged me to do a quick research on this website before proceeding. Imagine how my pupils dilated when the search result showed articles upon articles about phishing scam that fake tech support company are committing. This attack method is currently being used to raise havoc on the internet by scamming unsuspecting users. This fake tech support scam relies on social engineering and use several tricks to lure users into installing remote desktop software and take control of their computers. They trick users in believing that their computer has crashed and needs their special software to get it fixed. These scammers also lure users into giving out their personal information like contact info, account numbers, etc.
Fake Tech support is just one of the ways to victimize everyday computer users that may struggle to identify such scams. Some phishing schemes come in the form of Emails that appear to be from a legitimate source (i.e. bank or a frequently used website). The main idea behind all this is for hackers to get their hands-on sensitive information (i.e. user names and passwords) or hardware (i.e. an entire computer). Now more than ever, businesses should constantly promote security awareness so that their user base are alert to suspicious activities.
So back to my story: After I discovered the tech support “gentleman” on the phone was a scammer, I had a few harsh words with him. As I expected, he maintained a confident attitude throughout and tried to give me reasons why he was a legitimate tech support tech from the router manufacturer. I am glad I had clarity of mind to double check my source but honestly, I suspect a significant population of users would have fallen victim to this clever attack.
The world we live in is full of surprises. It is now up to you to keep your eyes wide open and think before taking certain steps on the internet. Harm yourself through continuous education and training. Be informed of the latest cyber threats that are trending on the dark web. Most importantly, always confirm your source before providing access or giving out your personal information. There are no doubt scammers are becoming more sophisticated. We have to outsmart them and keep ourselves and our community safe by spreading awareness.