Computer Troubleshooters IT service franchises warn against cyber blackmail
Computer Troubleshooters IT service franchises have reported an increasing number of complaints from internet users being intentionally infected with malware and then later being mysteriously contacted and blackmailed to remove the infection if a fee is paid.
Malicious computer attacks are nothing new, with millions of attacks per day reported worldwide, but it is this addition of a follow up email or phone call with an offer to remove the offending material that indicates an alarming new level of risk exposure.
Nick Roche, head of Computer Troubleshooters IT service franchises in Australia notes that this familiarity with a user’s computer system is a serious concern.
“The offer to remove these infections means that infected machines are being tracked and contact details for the victims are being obtained. This possibly occurs through key logging software placed onto the computer or by searches performed on the computer’s registration system,” he says.
The symptoms of this kind of attack are similar to a regular virus or spyware attack, with users experiencing a gradual deterioration of system performance and occasional pop up messages.
Clients have reported, however, that the mysterious caller is able to quickly identify the symptoms affecting the PC.
One Computer Troubleshooter IT support technician reports that his client told him, “they felt like they knew more about my computer than me. I was shocked that they seemed to know the troubles I was experiencing, which were only recent.”
It is unknown how many people have been targeted, or have actually paid the blackmailer’s fee and had the malware removed, but Computer Troubleshooters warns that even when a fee is paid, there is not guarantee that the rogue software has been completely removed, leaving the possibility that the threat might be reactivated at a later date.
Roche assures clients of Computer Troubleshooters IT service franchises that their technicians have been successful in completely removing all traces of the malware from infected systems.
Lloyd Borrett, security evangelist at AVG Australia and New Zealand recommends internet users prevent any exposure to cyber blackmail scams by ensuring that they:
- never click on links in emails when they do not know the email’s sender
- always have a firewall turned on
- always have active Internet Security software protection against viruses and spyware, particularly software that can scan web links (such as the free AVG LinkScanner safe search and surf product)
- use spam filtering software to help limit both the amount of unwanted email and reduce the associated risk
- call an IT support professional if they are experiencing a decline in system performance, before losing important information or suffering a system crash
- when dealing with a computer professional make sure that they know their background and the reputation of their brand; and
- beware of cash deals and cheap software.