Channel alarm over fake security scams


Channel alarm over fake security scams

Alex Scroxton

Following this week's report on a rise in fraudulent activity by criminals claiming to represent legitimate antivirus and security companies, the industry has been quick to speak out over the impact to their businesses.

The report, released to mark the government's annual Get Safe Online week, revealed that 25% of UK web users had been targeted by fake security scams at one time or another.

Ken Peddie of Aberdeen-based IT repair business TechRescue, told MicroScope he was seeing perhaps a dozen customers per week who had been targeted.

"Often they have handed over credit card details and been charged anywhere from £50 to £400," he said.

"They [the callers] usually say they're from Microsoft, unfortunately the real Microsoft would never ever phone you up to let you know you have a problem with your computer."

Computing repair specialist Graham Deaves agreed that "the agents are very convincing" and said "many people have fallen for this scam."

He again remarked on a tendency for cold callers to claim they were representing Microsoft, with many complaints concerning scammers calling from the "Windows Service Centre".

Deaves also highlighted concerns around criminal search engine optimisation (SEO) activities, with searches for legitimate security downloads, such as AVG, often returning results that were riddled with links to fake downloads.

A source at Sheffield-based comms support firm ConceptSystems said that better education within businesses was crucial.

"It is not too difficult to detect practices that lead to these problems," he said. "Never give your card details over the phone without verifying the company is genuine. Don't simply click on links you don't know are genuine [and] don't be afraid to call the company and ask if they have tried to contact you."

Networks First chairman Peter Titmus urged businesses to pay attention to due diligence practices when dealing with new suppliers or customers.

"It is a sad fact that nowadays companies cannot trade on trust alone, and firms must be prepared for the worst," he said.

"Completing a thorough due diligence process on new customers or suppliers may take time but it is a sensible precaution and certainly better than the alternative."

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