A few weeks ago, the infamous WannaCry ransomware attack wreaked havoc around the world, targeting Windows machines, and demanding money in exchange for the freedom of encrypted files. It seems that in the height of the issue, some are taking advantage, and have since come up with tech support scams that play on the fears of people about getting infected with the ransomware.
The UK's fraud and cybercrime centre, Action Fraud, recently released a warning regarding scams that concern WannaCry. The modus operandi is very typical - a pop-up window that refuses to close will appear from nowhere, and a message purporting to be from Microsoft will say that the receiver's system has been infected with the WannaCry ransomware. At this point, victims are prompted to call the number flashed on the screen.
After a call has been established, the user is urged to give the scammer remote access to the computer. Once granted, the cybercrooks run the Windows Malicious Software Removal tool - which can be downloaded free from Microsoft -, and then demand £320 (roughly $415) as payment.
"It is important to remember that Microsoft’s error and warning messages on your PC will never include a phone number," the ActionFraud blog post stated. "Additionally Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication they have with you must be initiated by you."
Security researchers at McAfee have also found rogue apps for Android, which promise protection from the WannaCry malware. One app requests to install other apps, and constantly displays advertisements. Another has a similar premise, but in reality only serves adware.
With everything in consideration, we advise readers to be vigilant with the messages they encounter on the internet. Tech support scams and other related things are now becoming sneakier and smarter, and the best defense against these is awareness, to be able to stay safe online.