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A University of Tennessee student gets scared from a malware threat. Freshman Baylie Heller, student from the University of Tennessee, received an alert on her laptop.
The alert was a warning which said there was suspicious activity on her computer and she was directed to call a toll free number. The alert message got her scared while she was attending class.
She told the media, she was working on her laptop when suddenly she got an alert. There was a beep, it said “virus detected” and a Microsoft number showed up. This really got her worried thinking something serious was going on. She also got a message that all her passwords were compromised ie. Facebook, emails, the password to get into my computer.
Unaware of the fake error message she called for help on the toll-free number for help. She answered calmly and assured them they will help her out. This made her feel comfortable.
The person on the phone told her to download AnyDesk, a legit app used for remote access to any device.
Baylie further added, “They told me to give them a code and that’s how they would get in and fix the problem for me. At this point, I didn’t think any of that was odd because not having ever dealt with viruses, or ever having to call Microsoft Support, I had no idea that wasn’t the number. It started when I was at the beginning of my class.”
By now the supposedly Tech Support had access to her computer for more than four hours. She recollects calling them back several times talking to different people.
She was also once guided by the caller to buy prepaid money cards at a local Dollar General store. It was only after she called her boyfriend to tell him what was going on, he remembered a story which suggested: “never to call the number that pops on your computer”.
Later after her boyfriend looked up the Microsoft Support number she realized all the time the people she was talking to were actually hacking her. He asked her to hang up the phone and she started to panic.
Though she did not lose any money, apart from some precious time working on her laptop to prepare for exams.
What should one do in such a situation?
- We would like to advise users to ignore such warning messages that pop up on your screen.
- Use trusted security software
- Keep your security software updates.
- Avoid automatically opening your email attachments.
- Always remember Tech companies such as Microsoft and others do not send phone numbers to call them.
- Tech Support Agents of such companies will also never ask for Social Security numbers or other unrelated personal information.