Is your computer switched on? Is your browser open? Now just type in this command. You want to know why? Oh, it’s so that I can hack your computer. Once I do that I can access your files and records and well… you can probably imagine the rest.
This is just a small snapshot of the dialogue that Anthony Evans @SkinnyBoyEvans shared this morning through some recordings he made of two unsolicited hoax calls he received at his home. I would recommend you listen to the full dialogue of both recordings, 10 minutes in total. I’m partial to a bit of comedy on Radio 4 in the evenings, but I’ve never listened to anything that’s caused me to laugh so spontaneously and violently as I did this morning listening to these. For example, when he tells one of the callers that he is not a BT customer, they reply:
“Sir…As you know, BT are the mother company of all the Internet Service Providers. All the Internet Providers use the server of BT.”
Incredibly, just twenty minutes after Anthony received the first hoax call, he received another call from the same crowd, this time calling themselves the ‘International Providing System‘. They tell him that viruses downloaded from the Internet can corrupt his hardware and motherboard also. When Anthony confronts them as he does a number of times about the real reason for them calling him, they seem to model selective hearing syndrome.
He tells the caller a number of times that he does not actually have a Windows computer, “I haven’t got a computer, I’ve only got a tablet. Hello, are you listening?… I haven’t got a computer, I’ve got an iPad.”, but the caller ignores this fact until Anthony responds in the way that the caller’s script demands. When Anthony gives in and responds, “Ok then, I have a Windows XP computer” the caller goes back to his script.
Of course, there is a darker more serious side to this. While you and I listen to the ensuing conversation and remark on upon the sheer stupidity and boldness of the hoax callers – unfortunately others may not necessarily be as suspicious and fall prey to these criminals. I doubt the callers possess any empathy for their victims or even have the level of conscience that helps them judge between wrong and right, since they openly admit to the crime they’re attempting to commit without masking exactly what it is that they’re doing.
We may comfort ourselves that we would never be stupid enough to fall for this, this is true as these criminals tend to seek out a certain profile of society that are much more susceptible than most and will seek to further exploit their vulnerabilities.
“Can I just ask you…what are you going to do to my computer?”
“I’m going to hack your computer. Ok?”
If Anthony had been persuaded to stay on the phone for just another 30 minutes or so, they would probably have tried to bamboozle him with some techno jargon and quite routine listing of system files in a command shell in an attempt to convince him that his machine was infested with Trojans. Following this extended period of ‘social engineering’ the caller might then have suggested that for a payment of just £210 they could solve all his problems for him. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) suggest that these gangs of organised criminals earn in excess of £100,000 per month from victims in the UK with as much as £6000 from some victims.
If you or someone you know receives one of these calls:
- Do not allow remote access to your computer.
- Hang up the phone when you identify that the call is uninvited.
- Never give away passwords or pin numbers.
- Understand that Microsoft or someone on their behalf will never call you.
- ActionFraud Police UK: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/watch-out-for-microsoft-scam-calls-to-fix-your-computer-jan15
- How To Geek – Playing the scammers at their own game: http://www.howtogeek.com/180514/the-%E2%80%9Ctech-support%E2%80%9D-scammers-called-htg-so-we-had-fun-with-them/
- BBC News – Microsoft takes on tech support scammers: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30548029
- Microsoft: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx
- Wired.co.uk Malwarebytes: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-04/11/malwarebytes
- Exa.Education/Security: http://exa.education/security
- Fight the bogus callers with technology: http://gizmodo.com/todays-hero-made-an-ai-that-annoys-telemarketers-for-as-1756344562