Tech Support in the Era of COVID-19


All of us need technical support companies to help us solve complex issues with our devices and applications. And in todays "work from home" world and COVID-19 distancing, we need fantastic support - remotely.  While most of The Computing Center's clients do quite well in staying safe on their devices, but often there are technical elements that people aren’t trained to handle. Relying on tech support is necessary to get us back in working order.

However, scammers and hackers will use that actual dependence on tech support to get their foot in the door. By pretending to be tech support and using scare tactics, they trick their victims into installing a virus, paying money, or worse.


Is the Text Message that you just received a Scam?

You may be skeptical when someone you don’t know sends you a text message you didn’t expect and it tells you to click on a link. Maybe that little voice in your head starts talking to you. I know mine does. It says, “Hmm, this could be a scam. Maybe someone wants to steal my personal information. Or get me to pay for something.”

I guess that's why scammers come up with new stories all the time, like a package tracking scam we're hearing about. Here's how it works.

Scammers send a text message with a fake shipment tracking code and a link to update your delivery preferences. In this case, the message says it’s from FedEx.

But they might use the name of another well-known shipping company, or the good old U.S. Postal Service.


Password Managers and Your Office

Every week, our technicians and engineers visit new client offices (and some of our existing client offices) and find  passwords on post-it notes, under keyboards, and sill find the "12345" password being used. Norton makes free password managers and there are some truly excellent product while not free, can fully manage your company's passwords and be able to control the passwords of former employees. Above all, use something to help manage your passwords.

Let’s say you have 25 different online accounts. That means you should have 25 unique — and complex — passwords to manage. And since you know better than to write them down on sticky notes or in a notebook, what are you supposed to do?

A password manager may be just the solution. But what are they, how do they work, and how secure are they? Let’s try to answer some of those questions.

What is a password manager?

A password manager is a program that houses all your passwords, as well as other information, in one convenient location with one master password. The benefits to using a password manager are:

  • A password manager will do the work of creating the complicated passwords you need to help protect your online accounts.


Certified Shady

Scams never seem to stop. They can even come in the mail. The "certificate" scam is quite old; predating all the technology that we sell and support. These days, the scam can start with a letter (snailmail), email, or even a text. Beware...

Certificates of Existence, Status, or Good Standing – sounds like an existential crisis, right? Instead of a philosophical commentary on the meaning of life, the certificates in question refer to business documentation from your state or local government. In a new twist on an old scam, some not-so-honest outfits may try to confuse you into thinking they’re from the government and that you need to pay for certain documents to operate your business.

When you started your business, you filed paperwork to register it with the government agency that oversees commercial activity. Here’s where the scammers come in. After registration, you might get a mailer that looks like an official invoice from a government agency, claiming that you need to pay for a “Certificate of Existence” or a “Certificate of Good Standing.” The name of the sham agency, necessary documentation, and the amount of the fees can differ from state to state. To convince you it’s legit, these mailings often use what looks like an official government seal and may include your actual business identification number. To get your money, they urge you to hurry up and pay, or they claim you could be in legal trouble.


Phishing Attacks On the Rise

Our headline could be written nearly every month. Phishing, Spear Phishing, and their variants are happening with more and more frequency and the attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Some of the largest data breaches in the last year happened because someone responded to an email or clicked on a bad link causing a virus to be installed on a machine or allowing a "bad actor" to gain access through to a desktop and many times to an entire network. And yes, it happens here.

There are two parts to this article - We start with what is Phishing, how to spot it and defend against it.  The second part talks about the "Tech Support" Phishing Scam which may involve an faked phone call or email from Norton by Symantec. You can replace Norton's name with any legitimate software or hardware maker.  

A phishing email is a malicious attack that attempts to obtain your sensitive information by tricking you into believing the message is valid and opening it. Phishing attempts masquerade as legitimate or trusted entities, which makes them difficult to detect. Here are some warning signs you should be on the look out for:

  •  The "From" email address is unofficial-looking, misspelled, or contains typos. The "From" email may also be different if you look into the email's info, rather than just the display name.
  • Urgent action required. If the email is trying to scare or intimidate you, or rush you into action, be wary.
  • Vague salutations. The email may be addressed to "Valued Customer" or another generic salutation.
  • There are misspellings, typos, or grammatical problems.
  • A family member, friend, or business colleague needs someting out of the ordinary.  This can be the begnning of a Spear Phishing attack. This can be a phone call, email, or even a text. 

Always hang up the phone and never respond to an email exhibiting any of these charateristics, no matter how convincing they seem. Call the person back using a known phone number or better yet - email them or message them using a different device. You'll quickly learn whether the initial contact was legitimate or not. 

This  happened last month to one of The Computing Center employee's spouse. He received what appeared to be an unsolcited phone call from the Social Security Administration about their Social Security benefits. He immediately hung up, looked up the phone number online and discovered that it was indeed a reported scam number. The phone number, date, and time were reported to the SSA Fraud Department


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