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  1. How to deal with Tech Support Scams You get a pop-up message that says you're infected and for you to call “Microsoft” Tech Support with the provided number, a voice may come from your speaker instructs you that your data is in harms way and to not shut off your PC. In a panic, PC users call this number and long story short, end up paying hundreds of dollars to a scam artist that claimed to fix something that was never an issue to begin with. This story is common today if you read the news. A tech support scam artist claims to be an employee (or work with) of a major software company offering technical support to the victim. This can range from someone claiming to be your ISP, your cable provider, or even a Apple or Microsoft. The scam artist will claim the “company” has received notifications of errors, viruses, or issues from the victim’s PC. Scam artists are also claiming to work on behalf of the government to fight computer viruses and threats from enemy nations, hackers and terrorist organizations. How they get you Tech Support scam artists have a few tricks to try to extort you or scare you into paying them: Cold Call. You’ll get a random call from the scammer who claims your PC is infected or has a serious error. Pop-Up or Rogue Website. This is the more popular tactic where the victim will accidentally stumble upon a rogue website or receive a pop-up claiming you have a Windows OS Blue Screen Error, a massive data error, or a serious infection. Sometimes, it will lock your screen up and freeze your internet browser, or play a sound or voice over the speaker in an attempt to scare the victim. The pop-up or rogue website will always include the scam phone number for the victim to call. Once you are speaking to them and letting them in They will attempt to scare you further and instruct you to allow them to remote access your PC or devices to “fix” them. One they are in, they will claim they found the “errors” or “viruses” and ask you to pay for them to be removed, this usually amounts to hundreds of dollars. The money is collected from the victim usually by debit/credit card, wire transfer, or even prepaid gift carts! If the tech support scammers are remotely accessing your devices, they can use this as a way to hold your information hostage and ransom you. They can intentionally install malware onto your PC, or steal your sensitive data on your PC such as passwords, financial accounts, and other data. There have been been reports of the scammers becoming so agitated they have threatened to destroy the computer and all its data unless the victim pays on spot. What can you do to stop them? We at SUPERAntiSpyware recommend a few different forms of defense and mitigation against the plague of tech support scams: Do NOT give out credit card or bank information. Recognizing what is occurring and ending the call immediately if you are speaking to a tech support scammer. Do not allow unknown and unverified organizations remote access your devices such as your phone or PC. Make sure you are using the latest version of SUPERAntiSpyware and it is up to date. If you see a pop-up or you stumble upon a rogue website that is claiming you are infected, have an error, or a Blue Screen of Death go ahead and close your web browser, if needed force it down via the Process Manager. If you cannot do that, reboot your machine. If you are a victim File a fraud report with your Bank or Card issuer immediately and stop payment, or see if you can dispute the payment if it has already been made. File a Complaint with the FBIs Internet Crime Complaint Center Change your passwords to the services the tech support scam artists may have uncovered when they remote accessed your PC. Remove any remote access software the scam artist may have had you install on your PC.
  2. Some of the earliest computer viruses and malware were created using macros in Microsoft Office documents. These pieces of malicious code would run once the document was opened, and the infection would happen without the user even being aware that their machine had been compromised. While these types of attacks had fallen out of favor over the years, they've come back in style and are more popular than ever before. What exactly is a macro? While you've probably heard the term thrown around before, most people don't actually know what they are, or what they're capable of. In short, macros are little snippets of code that run through your office software. Many people use macros to speed up a repetitive processes, like formatting items. Unfortunately, the same type of code that is used to perform the mundane can also be used to perform the malicious. Due to the ease of abuse, Microsoft removed the automatic enabling of macros many years ago. This is ultimately what lead to the majority of these types of attacks going by the wayside. Because there was no longer a way to abuse this on most machines, would-be attackers changed their methods to more traditional programs, which are far easier to detect with a normal malware scanner. With the recent surge in ransomware, new methods of delivery were needed by would-be attackers. The anti-malware engines had been able to detect many variants, and it was only getting easier. This meant that stealth was needed. What better way to do that than to bring back a tried-and-true method in Office Macros. Few people expected it due to the fact that these infection types hadn't really been seen in years. The basic attack is carried out like this: 1) An infected person sends you an email with the subject similar to "ATTN: Invoice Attached" that has a Word document attached. 2) The person downloads and opens the file, only to see a garbled mess of characters with a notice that says "Enable macro if the data encoding is incorrect" in big bold red letters at the top of the window 3) The unknowing victim enables macros, thereby initiating the malicious code 4) The code runs, sending out an email to your Outlook contacts (attempting to infect them), downloads whatever payload(s) it wants, then runs the ransomware (locking your files) Because of the sharp increase in these types of attacks, Microsoft, SUPERAntiSpyware, and many other security vendors recommend that all users disable macros if they do not need to use them. While Macros should be disabled by default, it is worth double-checking your preferences in order to ensure that you are protected as best as possible. For more information on how to disable macros in Office files, please visit this Microsoft Support article. NOTE: This is a recommendation specifically for home users, if you are in a work environment please contact your IT department first before making any changes!
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