Avast Threat Labs Finds US Most Vulnerable to Tech Support Fraud


EMERYVILLE, California., June 29, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Today, Avast (LSE: AVST), a global leader in digital security and privacy, reports that tech support fraud remains a major problem in the United States. According to Avast Threat Labs, users of United States are most often attacked by technical assistance fraud.

The COVID pandemic has accelerated this worrying global trend, particularly by United States and Canada. According to the FBI, tech support fraud was one of the top three criminal trends in 2020. As more and more people started using the Internet for their daily activities, this illicit activity increased by over 171% compared to 2019 These scams are particularly insidious because they disproportionately attack sensitive populations. , including those over 60. Worse yet, although the elderly make up 66% of tech support fraud victims, they bear a disproportionate amount of losses at 84% in the United States, which has resulted in $ 116 million in 2020.

How tech support scams work

Tech support scams occur when scammers use fear-mongering tactics to trick innocent individuals into purchasing overpriced and unnecessary “support services” to fix a suspected computer, device, or software problem. They convince the victims that their computer has been infected with malware; a window will open, alerting the user to a malware or spyware infection on their computer, and that their only recourse is to call a hotline for technical assistance. Once on the phone, crooks try to convince callers to establish a remote connection with their computer and sometimes download a second remote management software without the user knowing how to maintain a constant connection with the user’s PC.

Once access is granted, thieves can also install malware or other malicious programs that damage data hosted on devices, or worse yet, harvest personal information. Criminals with access to this type of sensitive data can take advantage of it to gain access to financial accounts, medical records or other essential services. Additionally, scammers go to great lengths to convince victims of their legitimacy, including creating web pages that mimic warnings from antivirus or firewall software or even setting up bogus companies to validate their scam.

“Tech support fraud is increasingly common and targets some of the most vulnerable people. Criminals exploit victims through money or personal information, ”said Alexej Savcin, senior malware analyst, Avast. “Most importantly, remember that whether it’s a phone call or a website, legitimate tech support will never proactively seek you out to resolve an issue. When in doubt, don’t engage. do not give access to your devices or share At Avast, we are passionate about supporting vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, online and are available to resolve any issues. ”

Protect yourself and your loved ones from tech support scams

Detecting tech support fraud is essential to stop it in its tracks. Use these tactics to keep you safe online:

  • Question on what brought you to the support page: if it appears on its own, this is a major indication that the website is fraudulent.
  • Visit the web page: compare the domain URL to known sites; if it is not intuitive or easy to read, the website may be a scam. Also, if the browser hangs on a technical support page, this is an indication that something is wrong; if a tool actually detected malicious activity, the site would be blocked.
  • Remember that there is no real threat until a malicious actor has access to your information or devices: Although criminals may try to pressure you, stay alert and skeptical when you are online, if in doubt, opt out and verify your credentials yourself.
  • Call someone you can trust – if in doubt, contact a member of your family or someone you trust.

Finally, knowing the common scam methods can help you make sure you’re not a victim. Stay alert for the following techniques:

  • Malvertising: Scammers abuse legitimate online ad marketplaces with scam ads that lure victims to their infrastructure, often a fake tech support scam page stating that an issue needs to be fixed.
  • Evil Cursor: This technique changes the size and shape of the cursor, making it difficult to navigate, preventing users from closing a tab or browser, convincing them that technical support is needed.
  • 401 authentication loop: Scammers can exploit an authorization pop-up which in some cases even mimics a legitimate OS design. The window cannot be closed and displays contact details for fraudulent technical support.
  • File Download Jamming: Bad actors block browsers with file downloads until they become unresponsive. It also consumes a large amount of RAM which further aggravates and slows down the victim’s computer.
  • Locking keyboard shortcuts: Scammers lock keyboard shortcuts commonly used to close windows (ie “ALT + F4” or “Esc” key), so that victims go through an infinite loop with no way to escape.
  • Handling of browser history: Scammers can disable or remove the online “back” button or even manipulate it to call back the current page, so that victims have no way of leaving the website.
  • Print spam: A malicious web page constantly sends print commands to the browser to make it appear slow and unresponsive.

“We urgently need to educate the public about tech support fraud; they should be part of educational conversations on the Internet with families and friends. People should tell their grandparents, parents, friends and children about tech support fraud. Users, when in doubt as to whether they are the victim of a scam, they should always tell their family members and friends about the situation they are in as an outside person can perform a scam. more easily than the affected person in the heat of the moment, ”said Savcin.

Antivirus software like Avast Free Antivirus Blocks tech support fraud pop-ups to protect online users. To learn more about common techniques used by scammers and additional security tactics consumers can use online, visit blog.avast.com.

About Avast:
Avast (LSE: AVST), an FTSE 100 company, is a global leader in digital security and privacy products. With over 435 million users online, Avast offers products under the Avast and AVG brands that protect people from Internet threats and the changing IoT threat landscape. The company’s threat detection network is among the most advanced in the world, using machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies to detect and stop threats in real time. Avast digital security products for Mobile, PC or Mac are top rated and certified by VB100, AV-Comparatives, AV-Test, SE Labs and others. Avast is a member of the Coalition Against Stalkerware, No More Ransom, and the Internet Watch Foundation. Visit: www.avast.com

Stay in touch with Avast:

Contacts: [email protected]

SOURCE Avast Software, Inc.

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