Security roundup: Microsoft warns of tech support scam

PC users hit with phone and email scams
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This week we look at scammers claiming to be Microsoft’s tech support team, how the Government has lost disks containing data on police inquiries, and more.

Microsoft has issued advice to its customers about how to avoid a phone scam involving cybercriminals claiming to be from the firm’s tech support team.

The scammers offer to solve PC problems or sell software licenses. Microsoft warns that once they have access to your computer they can trick you into installing malicious software, take control of your PC remotely, request credit card information and direct you to fraudulent websites.

Microsoft stresses that neither it nor its partners make unsolicited phone calls to charge users for computer security or software fixes.

A quick look on Twitter shows that a number of people have already been contacted by phone and some by email:

On the email front, Bitdefender has uncovered the spam campaign, which attempts to trick antispam filters in order to allow spam to pass freely into mailboxes.

Catalin Cosoi, chief security strategist at Bitdefender, explained: “The emails look like a tax return, a remittance or some kind of bill from a bank and carry a Microsoft Word or Excel attachment. If you’ve recently received an odd tax return or a similar request via email, you may not want to open the file.”

Meanwhile, the Government has admitted that it has lost two disks containing highly sensitive information relating to three police inquiries.

The Government has said it does not believe there is any malicious intent behind the disappearance of the data.

In other news, the Internet Society (ISOC) has offered ‘four basic steps to protecting your digital privacy in 2015’, which include:
- ‘Fracture’ your digital identity. Strategically use different email addresses, browsers, credit cards, and maybe even devices, for different web activities (like personal, work and online shopping) to make it more difficult to collect one cohesive data set about you.
- Proactively check privacy settings. Browsers, devices and apps are often set to share your personal data out of the box. Find and review default settings and see if you’re comfortable with them. A quick search for “default settings” and a specific type of browser or device will yield information about that system’s settings and how to find and change them.
- Regularly and actively review your browser’s cookies. You may be shocked by how many cookies have been set on your browser by sites you weren’t aware of visiting. See if your browser lets you block third-party cookies. If not, there are plug-ins you can use.
- Read the fine print. Know the privacy policies of the devices, websites, social sharing services and applications you use. Find out what permissions apply to the content you upload and how it can be used.

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