Byte Me Article 438 – Fake Support

Fake Support

Beware Antivirus Site Hacks

The response from readers to last weeks’ insurance article has been welcomed.  It appears that Cyber Insurance is a hot topic at present, so this hit a cord with many readers.  This week, again due to recent customer experiences, we look a little closer at the technical support offered by many web-based companies, including even the larger Anti-virus corporations.

This week we have helped several customers that have clicked on web links for either Avast Anti-virus or Trend Micro Anti-virus and have come unstuck as a result.  In either case they were led to hacked websites and third-party scammers promising the earth for a small fee.  This is disappointing to see as we have been using and recommending Trend Micro products for over 22 years.

It is not just Avast and Trend Micro that are having these problems.  It is right across the board with the most popular software titles even including Microsoft products.  Hackers take over a less secure website (in the Trend Micro case above it was a landscaping website) and replace the original content with their own advertising material.  This can look very real and can be placed at the top of a Google search result for a limited period of time.

The unsuspecting end user Googles something like “Trend Micro support” and the first link is the above trap.  Next they can be prompted to allow a remote service like “Go-To-Assist” as well as giving out their phone number.  At this stage the scammer has them on the phone as well as having remote access to the PC.  This is when the fun starts!

They may offer too good to be true deals, such as full support for an unlimited number of devices for 12 months or 2 years or even 10 years for $100 or $200, with the goal in mind of getting credit card details.  Alternatively, they can lock the user out of their own PC or encrypt the user’s data to then hold them at ransom, either asking for credit card details or even for a heap of iTunes card numbers.

We did some Googling and found any number of these scams as well as what I would call – half legit support offerings from some of the big-name corporations.  I use the term ‘half legit’ in the following example.  Trend Micro is offering unlimited support for an unlimited number of end user devices for 24 months for $59.95.  Under this guise you could own 10 computers and supposedly be covered for all faults on all of them.  Now, can you imagine what calibre of support you would get?

If you could understand the English that the remote support tech spoke and if he really knew his job and if he wasn’t trying to say “sorry sir – this will cost extra to fix” then what is he doing working for an endless number of hours for 60 bucks?  Again this is one of those too good to be true scams and is typical of some of the rubbish in our industry that I wish was more regulated.

As a locally owned and run IT sales and support company we can’t compete with the International Corporations when it comes to advertising, however we are trying to make a difference in an industry that is fraught with scammers and fly-by-nighters.  If you are on Facebook please look us up and give us a like and feel free to visit our web site which has all of these articles as well as extra tip and tricks.

As a last note for this week, stay tuned for an article focused on information about Windows 7 support expiring in just a couple of months and what options you have if you are still using this operating system. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 07 49 222 400.

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