Mac tech support scam reported

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.

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TOPICS: Security
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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:

bingsearch[1]

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 protection.com. (Protection.com 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 protection.com 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.

Topic: Security

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10 comments
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  • I had a phone call from ...

    a scammer claiming to be from Microsoft stating that my computer was infected. Without downloading the remote terminal app that he was directing me to, I managed to keep him on the phone for 45 min.

    If I have the time, it's now my prefered method of dealing with scammers and telemarketers. It takes from them what they need to most, the ability to scam more people. Hanging up allows them to search for other people. Just never provide any real personal information.
    linux-user
  • That reminds me of an old story.

    I forgot the source, but supposedly, a telemarketer called a professional comic actor, who then pretended to be a police detective investigating the homeowner's "murder," keeping the telemarketer on the line with "warnings" not to hang up, then asked probing questions about the caller's relationship with the "deceased," where he was located, what he was doing last night, etc. etc. By the end of the conversation, the telemarketer was terrified that a police officer would show up at work and arrest him for murder!

    I'm sure that number got on the REAL, i.e. industry-maintained, do not call list in a hurry!
    jallan32
    • This is what you talked about

      @jallan32: This is the material you mention in your post. It's a real recording. The guy who claims to be a detective is a comedian. The frightened telemarketer is real :-)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvJQxgtJW94
      SteveMak
  • Up-vote above because it's true.

    Also, thank goodness only maybe 1 or 2 Apple users will get scammed because, frankly, they don't use Windows so very rarely need support. It's the poor Microsoft users I really feel sorry for.
    DontUseMicrosoftAtAll
  • Who is Rahul Sharma

    I went to Whois.org and did a lookup on SpeakSupport.com. They directed me to a GoDaddy link which showed the registration for speaksupport.com in New Delhi, India. The admin is Rahul Sharma.

    Thanks! I enjoyed listening to the scam unfold. These scammers are going to get more and more sophisticated over time. I don't know how we'll deal with them in the future when they don't use 'ping' but present technically convincing data. We'll all have to stay on our toes and always verify.
    dtalley2000@...
    • :D

      :) :) :)
      thandermax
  • I've seen these scams too

    I use a Mac for regular computing and other stuff. I've seen websites that "claim" to be scanning my "C" drive. Since Macs don't have a "C" drive I knew it was fake. I remember a Mac Malware a while ago that claimed to be an "ActivX Control" required to play the videos on the website. Since Macs don't use "ActivX Controls" I once again knew it was fake.

    But since new Mac users aren't aware of these differences, they will most likely fall into the trap. Just like those advertisements claiming to speed up you PC. Out of curiosity, I went to one of those sites, filled out the forms, and they said my PC was heavily infected and I had to give them my credit card to get rid of the infection. The funny thing is that I'm using a Mac and their scanning software can't scan Macs.

    These scammers prey on people who aren't tech savvy and won't understand what the scammers are doing and there reasons for saying their computer is infected or unsecure.
    ccfman2004
  • It's been a long time...

    ... since I almost fell off my chair laughing. But reading this did the trick. Thanks a lot. You made my day.

    People who haven't watched the video should make sure to watch it in fullscreen mode so you can see what the two guys are typing.

    It's incredible that as***les like this can manage to make money with this kind of crap. Makes one long for the time when bounty hunt was still a legal business. Alternatively, why not dig them in next to a huge pile of red wood ants, leaving just the head above ground...
    FrankGr
  • lies! LIES!

    How can someone say so much yet say nothing at all?
    tech_ed@...
    • Ha ha

      Politicians do that all the time :)
      Snak