Mac tech support scam reported

Summary:Online tech support can be an opportunity to trick unsophisticated users into buying unnecessary software and services. Malwarebytes found a company that offers such disservices to Mac users.

Antimalware company Malwarebytes reports on an online tech support service with used dishonest techniques with them to claim that their Mac had security problems.

Malwarebytes encountered Speak Support through a sponsored advertisement on Bing:


A Malwarebytes researcher called Speak Support and asked for Mac tech support, claiming that his Mac was slow. After taking remote control of the Mac (a normal, even required operation for tech support), the Speak Support tech said that he would check to see if the Mac had antivirus protection. He then started a terminal and used the ping utility on ( is the web site for Life Alert, which sells the personal emergency response fobs made famous with their "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!" ads.)

Why would someone use ping to check if a system has antivirus? You wouldn't. It makes no sense. But appears to have shut off ICMP response over the Internet, so the ping generates a series of messages:

Request timeout for icmp_seq 0

Request timeout for icmp_seq 1

Request timeout for icmp_seq 2

And so on.

Since relatively few users know what the ping utility does, this is enough of a hook for a technician to claim that the system is "unprotected." The technician tells Malwarebytes that these timeouts are due to a lack of protection and the main reason the Mac was slow. The entire tech support session is recorded in this YouTube video:

The Speak Support tech tells the Malwarebytes researcher that he need to install protection to speed up the computer, protect from virus attack and that it will also "boost up the registry speed".

Speak Support continues to throw tech mumbo jumbo at the Malwarebytes caller. Watch the YouTube video and read the Malwarebytes blog entry for the entire amusing story.

Malwarebytes has a resource page for tech support scams.

Topics: Security


Larry Seltzer has long been a recognized expert in technology, with a focus on mobile technology and security in recent years. He was most recently Editorial Director of BYTE, Dark Reading and Network Computing at UBM Tech. Prior to that he spent over a decade consulting and writing on technology subjects, primarily in the area of sec... Full Bio

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