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Reverse Social Engineering Tech Support Scammers


November 5, 2015 - 0 Comments

This post is authored by Jaime Filson and Dave Liebenberg.

Background

A mosaic made up of 1-800 tech support scam websites

The amount of fraudulent actors masquerading as legitimate tech support has been on the rise since 2008. According to David Finn, executive director at the Microsoft Cybercrime Center, tech support scammers have made nearly $1.5 billion off of 3.3 million unwitting victims just this year. These scammers typically convince the victim into allowing them access to his/her computer through remote control applications such as TeamViewer. They then present benign processes as malicious, or at times even spread malware themselves. Afterwards, they charge hundreds of dollars for the service.

There are several avenues through which these scammers reach their victims. One of the most insidious are pop-ups and websites asserting that the user’s computer is riddled with viruses, and that the only way to fix the problem is to call a provided tech support number.

Talos has been monitoring the incessant creation of these fake tech support websites in order to better understand the way in which these scams operate. We decided to call a company ourselves for some reverse social engineering. Our experiment provided some interesting insights into the methods these scammers use to fool their victims as well as the infrastructure supporting their operations. In addition, we discovered a broad New Delhi-based scamming network employing multiple websites and VOIP phone numbers to carry out their duplicitous activities.

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