Browse Definitions :
Definition

tech support phone scam

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A tech support phone scam is an exploit in which an attacker calls offering assistance with  problems they claim were detected on the victim's computer.

Here’s how a typical tech support phone scam works:

The attacker calls using a virtual phone number that appears to be from the target’s area code, to increase the likelihood that someone will pick up. When the target answers the phone, the attacker says they’re calling from some well-known company, such as Microsoft, and that the user’s ISP has detected malware on their computer, which the caller offers to get rid of.

In the next step, the caller asks the victim to download some legitimate remote control software, such as TeamViewer, pcAnywhere or GoToMyPC. The caller takes control of the victim's computer and he or an accomplice communicates with them through the phone or on chat. 

As the victim watches, the caller displays Event Viewer, which always displays errors or warnings for relatively innocuous events. The caller says this is evidence of malware on the system and offers to get rid of it, once the victim has paid the fees. The caller may ask for credit card information or request payment through some online service like PayPal

In the best-case scenario, once the attacker has collected the fees he does nothing to the computer. However, because he has administrative access to the victim's computer, he can install malware or access sensitive information that can be used for identity theft. 

The best way to protect yourself from such scams is to be highly suspicious of unsolicited calls from unknown sources and never give unauthorized strangers access to your computer. 

See a video of what happened when tech support scammers unknowingly called a security researcher: 

This was last updated in September 2013

Continue Reading About tech support phone scam

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • compliance framework

    A compliance framework is a structured set of guidelines that details an organization's processes for maintaining accordance with...

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

  • privacy compliance

    Privacy compliance is a company's accordance with established personal information protection guidelines, specifications or ...

SearchSecurity

SearchHealthIT

  • telemedicine (telehealth)

    Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services, such as health assessments or consultations, over the ...

  • Project Nightingale

    Project Nightingale is a controversial partnership between Google and Ascension, the second largest health system in the United ...

  • medical practice management (MPM) software

    Medical practice management (MPM) software is a collection of computerized services used by healthcare professionals and ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • disaster recovery (DR) test

    A disaster recovery test (DR test) is the examination of each step in a disaster recovery plan as outlined in an organization's ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • disaster recovery (DR)

    Disaster recovery (DR) is an area of security planning that aims to protect an organization from the effects of significant ...

SearchStorage

  • kilobyte (KB or Kbyte)

    A kilobyte (KB or Kbyte) is a unit of measurement for computer memory or data storage used by mathematics and computer science ...

  • megabytes per second (MBps)

    Megabytes per second (MBps) is a unit of measurement for data transfer speed to and from a computer storage device.

  • zettabyte

    A zettabyte is a unit of measurement used by technology professionals and the general public to describe a computer or other ...

Close