I almost got hooked by a phishing scam

‘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....

‘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. The worst part is that we are usually the ones who give permission to access our personal lives through the world wide web. The internet also has a dark side with its unlimited benefits, 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 set 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 choice of 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 until the technical support operator asked me to share a screen using helpme.net. Screen sharing software use varied methods that allow users to share a computer screen with a 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 exposes all types of security risks, and helpme.net is not a common screen-sharing app that large companies use.

Before I logged into helpme.net, something urged me to do quick research on this website before proceeding. Imagine how my pupils dilated when the search result showed articles about a phishing scam that fake tech support companies committed. This attack method is currently being used to raise havoc on the internet by scamming unsuspecting users. This phony tech support scam relies on social engineering. It uses several tricks to lure users into installing remote desktop software and taking control of their computers. They trick users into believing that their computer has crashed and needs their unique 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., a bank or a frequently used website). The main idea behind all this is for hackers to get their hands on sensitive information (i.e., usernames and passwords) or hardware (i.e., an entire computer). Now more than ever, businesses should constantly promote security awareness to alert their user base 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. He tried to explain 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 stay alert and think before taking specific steps on the internet. Harm yourself through continuous education and training. Be informed of the latest cyber threats trending on the dark web. Most importantly, always confirm your source before providing access or giving out your personal information. There is no doubt scammers are becoming more sophisticated. We have to outsmart them and keep ourselves and our community safe by spreading awareness.

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