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Windows 7: The "Help Desk" Scam

30 Oct 2013   #1
sygnus21

Windows 10 Pro
 
 
The "Help Desk" Scam

I figured I'd put this here for wider exposure but understand it may be moved elsewhere. With that...

In my Intro to Information Security class one of my classmates who’s also a systems analyst, brought up a phone call she got at home. She stated a company calling themselves "The Help Desk" called her stating they noticed she had issues with her PC. Stringing them along she let them walk her through the process… to a point, which resulted in them directing her to the event viewer, which logs the daily operation of your PC.

Anyway once they pointed her there they asked if she saw any of those yellow and red triangles and circles with exclamations points, stating yes, they than sounded panicked, and informed her not to do anything to the PC, but instead directed her the command prompt where she was to type in an IP address so they could “scan and fix” her PC.

She obviously knew this was a scam but wanted to see where it went. No, she wasn’t as stupid as to type in the IP address.

Anyway I thought I’d pass this along as anyone familiar with the event viewer know there’s always events listed under the Diagnostics and Performance logs with those yellow and red exclamation marks - this is normal system behavior; thus someone not familiar with PC’s could actually fall for this kind scam and have their system or personal info hijacked, compromised, or stolen.

Please be aware and pass this info on to your family, friends, and colleagues.

BTW the easiest way to get to event viewer is to type "eventvwr.msc" (without quotes) in the search box, click Application and Service Logs, Microsoft, Windows, scroll down to Diagnostics and Performance, click the arrow and click logs. Surprised? You could try chasing those down, or unless you’re having serious issues, you can ignore, delete or archive them.

- Check here for clearing them - Clear event logs
- See this post for controlling the log size - How To Clear Administrative Events Log - Event Viewer
- You could also see this one click shop tutorial - Event Viewer One Click Clear

At any rate there's always something in those logs; and apparently scammers are using it to their advantage.

Peace


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
30 Oct 2013   #2
kado897

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1
 
 

Thanks for posting. There is another similar thread somewhere on the site but it needs re-stating.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Oct 2013   #3
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Whenever you get an unsolicited phone call or email, your shields should go up.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

30 Oct 2013   #4
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Whenever I get an unsolicited phone call, my Irish goes up!

I got one a couple of days ago and played with the *&^%$#@! for a few minutes, acting stupid about computers (it was a bit disturbing how easily I was able to do that) until I got bored and read him the riot act...the long version.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Oct 2013   #5
sygnus21

Windows 10 Pro
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
Whenever you get an unsolicited phone call or email, your shields should go up.
True, especially when the unsolicited caller tells you they notice a problem with your PC
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Oct 2013   #6
boohbah

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7600
 
 

usually they say they are from Microsoft and your compter is sending them error messages.

uhuh!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Oct 2013   #7
Jacee
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit SP1
 
 

I got that phone call last week. I told them I didn't have a computer. Then I was asked if anyone in the house had a computer... I said 'no', again. The guy sat there for a bit and finally said 'good-bye'.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Oct 2013   #8
sygnus21

Windows 10 Pro
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Jacee View Post
I got that phone call last week. I told them I didn't have a computer. Then I was asked if anyone in the house had a computer... I said 'no', again. The guy sat there for a bit and finally said 'good-bye'.
The young lady I referenced to actually got two phone calls within a month; it was the second one she investigated.

We were all laughing in the class but then realized there are plenty of folks out there who don't know, and they are the ones these scammers prey on.

Point, though many if not most here wouldn't fall for such a scam, it's the mass general who aren't as computer savvy as us who probably would fall for it, especially the elder ones.

And these scams are getting more and more sophisticated everyday, even fooling some veterans.

Just something to think about.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Oct 2013   #9
lehnerus2000

W7 Ultimate SP1, LM18 MATE, W10IP VM, W10 Home, #All 64 bit
 
 
Public Safety Announcements

I'll let them waffle on and then I tell them that I use Linux, or that I'm a computer technician.
After a brief pause ... they usually hang up.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by sygnus21 View Post
We were all laughing in the class but then realized there are plenty of folks out there who don't know, and they are the ones these scammers prey on.

Point, though many if not most here wouldn't fall for such a scam, it's the mass general who aren't as computer savvy as us who probably would fall for it, especially the elder ones.
MS should lobby Governments to split the cost of prominent TV ads warning people about this scam.

The reasons:
  • Whenever anything goes wrong with someone's PC, they blame MS
  • Governments claim that they are concerned about cyber-crime, so "public safety" announcements should be "no brainers"
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Oct 2013   #10
sygnus21

Windows 10 Pro
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by lehnerus2000 View Post
MS should lobby Governments to split the cost of prominent TV ads warning people about this scam.

The reasons:
  • Whenever anything goes wrong with someone's PC, they blame MS
  • Governments claim that they are concerned about cyber-crime, so "public safety" announcements should be "no brainers"
I actually like that last point about PSA's. Since we are now fully engulfed in the information Age where every one is plugged-in, I don't see why something as simple as "Is your PC secure?" adds could be posted places. Or "Beware of cyber criminals looking to steal your info with fake calls"

How much would it cost to post these simple adds or notices on-line? Heck I see a lot of other worthless crap there, why not some good informative PSA's?

Good idea.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 The "Help Desk" Scam




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