Tuesday, March 13, 2018

We Encounter a Serious Issue

   I just received this voice message on my home phone (landline).

   Here's the text:
   We encounter a serious issue coming out of your computer.  It seems to be someone is trying to hijack your computer and try to steal your personal information.  If it's not fixed right away then your computer will become obsolete and all of your credential information may got compromised.  If you are the one who is using Microsoft Windows in your computer then please call 302-316-9259 or press 1 now to speak with security team now.  Please ignore if we called you by mistake.  Thank you.

   The only serious issue here is that people fall for these scams.  Let's break it down:
  • The Voice - who wouldn't believe a bad computer-generated voice?  Seriously though, there are plenty of pre-recorded and generated junk voice messages we get all the time.  My general rule of thumb - ignore them all and erase is your friend.
  • Bad Grammar - this is practically a throw-back to the old days of spam.  I've written about this in the past.  Someone willing to get past the bad grammar is more likely to continue on to other poor choices.
  • Fear Factor - the message is playing on many people's fear of technology and loss of their personal information.  While we've become almost numb to breach announcements, the idea that there is an attack on our personal home computer is still a scary concept.  Words like "hijack", "steal", "obsolete", and "compromised" invoke fear.
  • Call To Action - "if it's not fixed right away...".  For a person who doesn't understand the complex issues of their computer, the call for immediacy further plays upon the fear state.
  • Microsoft Windows - what are the odds that if a call was made to any household, someone would be using, or would have used int eh past 24 hours, Microsoft Windows?  I'd guess that's pretty high.
  • Politeness - bad voice and grammar aside, the call does say please and thank you.  That further instills a sense of confidence in a person already affected by fear and the call to action.

   As I covered in a past posts, while I did not call the number (and I suspect it's already been disconnected), if I did get through to someone I bet that they would be very helpful!  That is, as long as I was cooperating.  If I was not forthcoming with information, then these kinds of folks often get forceful.

   Obviously, the best course of action is to just have a good laugh and hit delete when you get a message like this.  We also need to assure that less technical, or more vulnerable, people understand the issues and are prepared when the call comes.

   Have you, or someone you know, received a call like this?  What happened?