Sure, we’ve all received unsolicited phone calls.
You know, the ones where they offer you to apply for some credit card you’ve been pre-approved for, offer you the opportunity to take a survey for your local radio station, or to request remote access to your computer to stop it from engaging illegal hacking activities.
Instead of simply breaking into your computer, it seems cybercriminals are now polite enough to call people up to see if they can trick them into willingly handing over valuable information. This tactic is known as social engineering and it seems to be gaining popularity in world of hacking.
The pitch they toss at their victims can range from telling you that your computer is engaged in some suspicious activity and it needs to be fixed to claiming their from Microsoft and that your software licenses have expired and you’ll have to cough up some dough to renew them.
Fortunately, the success of this method is up to the victim, as they’re essentially the gate-keeper to their confidential information and they control whether or not that voice on the other end of the phone will get remote access to their computer.
What steps can you take to stop cybercrooks who engage in social engineering?
- Ask a lot of questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question, so feel free to ask for a call-back number, details about the company, a manager to speak with, and whatever else comes to mind. When’s the last time a legitimate rep failed to answer those types of questions?
- Keep your personal information private. What’s one of the most common lines you see on company websites? “We will never ask for confidential or login information.” So why on Earth would they randomly call out of the blue and start playing 20 questions? Also, it’s doubtful that if law enforcement thought your computer was involved in illegal hacking activities that they’d inform you over the phone.
- Do NOT grant remote access to your computer. Reserve the remote desktop access pass to confirmed support technicians of companies you trust. Typically that does not apply to those who call you up and request it out of the blue.
- Pay attention to your computer activity. Always be cautious of links you click and files you download. There are plenty of opportunities to download false Flash upgrades or other malicious files. That way, you’ll know whether or not their call has any merit.
Have you or anyone close to you received any suspicious phone calls requesting personal information or remote desktop access?
Photo Credit: Emily Rachel Hildebrand