Would-be cyber scammers made a megabyte blunder when they cold-called Matt Horan of C3IA Solutions: Horan is one of the country’s top cyber security experts. Realising the crooks were trying to take control of his computer, Horan put the call on speaker phone and asked a colleague to record it, with hilarious consequences.
After stringing out the conversation for 35 minutes – during which time he was passed to more senior ‘helpers’ as he posed as an ignorant computer user – Horan then informed the caller that he had no Internet connection.
This prompted the fraudster to use an expletive before hanging up in anger. An edited video of the call has been amusing people across social media.
Horan is keen that the video is used to help people avoid falling for cyber scams. He told Risk UK: “One of the weakest parts of any business’ cyber security is the staff. They do nothing malicious, but can easily assist fraudsters. Along with ‘phishing’ e-mails, this type of phone scam is common and can cause huge amounts of damage.”
Horan continued: “The caller purports to be from Microsoft or a similar outfit and informs the person who answered the call that there’s a problem with their computer. They then instruct that person to look at the computer’s ‘systems and events logs’, which is simply a log of every action taken. They tell them that this is evidence of ongoing malicious attacks. After that, they try and entice them to log into TeamViewer or something similar which means they then can gain remote access and control of the target computer.”
In addition, Horan stated: “They then have all the information on a computer or network and can infect the system, read e-mails, steal passwords or encrypt the stored data. They can basically do anything they want. Obviously, this can cause massive harm to a business and may well lead to data loss, the theft of funds and the stealing of intelligence as well as cause acute embarrassment.”
C3IA Solutions trains staff at businesses to be ‘cyber-savvy’ and always to hang up on calls like this. If staff are in doubt they should contact their IT support.
“Firms such as Microsoft don’t make calls like the one I took, but they seem authentic,” explained Horan. “Often, the scammers work in pairs so the initial caller can pass over the call to a ‘senior supervisor’, as they tried with me. This gives an added authenticity. Caution should be the watchword when taking calls like this one.”
*The video can be viewed on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ncIehp0fBT8
Based in Poole, Dorset, C3IA Solutions is one of fewer than 20 companies certified by the Government’s National Cyber Security Centre. In addition to its work with Government agencies including GCHQ, the company operates a commercial section that works with businesses, assisting them with their cyber security.
C3IA (a military term) Solutions was set up in 2006 by Horan and Keith Parsons. It has 84 personnel on contract of whom 33 are employees and 51 are associates. The business operates in the defence and security sectors serving both SMEs and multi-national firms.
C3IA is a leading provider of secure ICT, technical programme management and information security services and solutions.
The company takes its Corporate Social Responsibility seriously, supporting serving and past members of the Armed Services. Indeed, the business sponsors those engaged in personal and team development through arduous sporting and other challenges.