Tech support scams are on the decline, but Millennials and Gen Z think they are bulletproof and in pain • The Register

Technical support scam attempts have declined in frequency over the past two years, but remain a threat. And millennials and millennials – not baby boomers – are the most common prey, according to Microsoft in its Global Tech Support Scams Research Report 2021, published Thursday.

Tech support scams involve cybercriminals convincing users that they have malware or other issues with their computer that can be best addressed with unsolicited proactive assistance. Criminals typically seek to gain remote access to machines under the pretext of “diagnosing problems” and then stealing money or information, or sometimes installing malware to give them access later.

Victims often even pay for the service of being scammed, believing that the person on the other line is helping them with their technical issues.

Microsoft has asked YouGov to survey Internet users in 16 countries about their experiences with tech support scams. YouGov found that before the 2018 pandemic, 64% of consumers were targeted by such scams, of which 19% were prey. In 2021, these figures have improved very slightly, to 59 and 16% respectively.

Which may seem surprising to many who act like ad hoc technical support for their older parents is that study found that people between the ages of 18 and 37 were the most likely to continue interactions once targeted by scams – 23% of Gen Z and Gen Y didn’t ignore scammers. Most disturbing, ten percent of those surveyed lost money in fraud schemes.

The highest rates are attributed to young Internet users engaging in riskier online activities and having too much confidence in their computer literacy. While a baby boomer may have social issues on Facebook, a Gen Z or Millennial is often tech-savvy enough to find a shady pay-per-view feed, but not careful enough to recognize the potential for scams that arise. found there.

Men have fallen more than women for tech support scams, according to the survey. Twenty percent of the male population surveyed continued to interact with scammers and half of these lost money, compared to 13 percent and one-third respectively for women. Geographically, Japanese consumers were the least susceptible to tech scams, Australia and Singapore were in the global average, and India was three times more susceptible than the rest of the world.

Indian internet users continued to interact with scammers 49% of the time.

Like the rest of the business world, crooks have adapted, recently moving their operations away from pop-up scams and website redirects. Almost one-third of current unregistered schemes aim to trick users into downloading software or visiting websites to solve their “computer problems”. The next two most popular scams involve compromised passwords (23%) and fraudulent use of credit cards (18%).

Consumers are waking up and wary of unsolicited contact

A technical support professional said The register Stolen information like credit card numbers can end up being sold on the dark web, leaving a gap between the scam incident and when the card is used or a bank alerts the victim of the fraud. Victims often think they were hacked at random and fail to link the incident to their supposed tech support incident months earlier.

The number of victims losing money has increased – of those who have engaged with crooks, seven percent worldwide have ended up out of pocket. This is up from six percent the previous year. However, more people have recovered some of this lost money. Victims also spend less time and money recovering from incidents.

However, Microsoft also reports that around a quarter of victims did not improve their security after an attack. This is a regrettable oversight, as crooks are known to install malware on computers that allow them to gain access to passwords, accounts or other sensitive information long after they have stopped interacting with their victim. .

The bad news for scammers is that, according to the Microsoft report, consumers are waking up and becoming more suspicious of unsolicited and unlikely to trust contacts. Seventy-nine percent find they are unlikely to be contacted by a reputable company, up five points from 2018.

The register The tech support contact had this advice:

While the Microsoft-sponsored report claims the frequency of attempts has slowed, last month Avast Threat Labs pushed a narrative backed up by FBI data that tech support crime increased more than 171% from 2019 to 2020. In addition, he reported that the elderly made up over 66% of victims, facing to Microsoft’s Millennial / Gen Z claim. Avast also said the United States, not India, is the country most targeted by the attacks.

No matter who is right, Avast had some practical advice for those targeted by such scams, including this nugget you can pass on to anyone: “There is no real threat as long as a malicious actor. does not have access to your information or devices. While criminals may try to put pressure on you, be vigilant and skeptical when online, and when in doubt, opt out and verify your credentials yourself. ®

Margie D. Carlisle