Beware: 4 Scary Tech Stories

Beware: 4 Scary Tech Stories

It’s almost Halloween, and you may be getting in the mood with creepy decor, haunted houses and horror films. Some people actually enjoy the “thrill” of being frightened.  However, we are betting that these scary tech stories aren’t the kind of fun you’re seeking. Our message to you is, “BEWARE!”

#1 Creepy Crawler Chicanery

Sometimes things aren’t what they appear. It’s not hard to repackage a product that’s used and present it as new. We have experienced this deception at FDS. While setting up an office for a client, our staff opened some “new” cable boxes that were delivered, sealed in plastic and tagged. Upon opening a box, a dead cockroach fell out, and with another shake, dozens more fell from the box. Clearly the box had been open at some point, and the creepy critters invited themselves in to make a nest. The box was later dusted off, sealed back up by the cable company and presented to us as new. Sadly for the roaches, but happily for our FDS employee, the bugs could not survive in their plastic-wrapped prison. This is not an isolated incident, and the bugs aren’t always dead.  In fact, one cable company has been sued for having employees install bug-infested equipment.

As a creepy side note, cable boxes and computers are often prime targets for roach infestations.  The roaches are attracted to the heat from the electronics and the tight spaces. Coupled with the fact that cable boxes, DVD players, and computers are rarely moved or cleaned makes them ideal nests.

#2 Kidnapped Data

By now you’ve likely read about the spread of a form of malware called “ransomware.”  Some scary versions, like CryptoWall and CryptoLocker, will encrypt all the victim’s data and any shared folders that the user has access to on the network. Then a request for payment is made in exchange for access to the data.  According to Cisco, some 10,000 people each month are paying hackers ransom money, and thieves are raking in $34 million annually. At FDS, every couple of months we hear from a client who is dealing with ransomware.

Here’s one scary scenario.  A company is looking to fill a job position.The employee in charge of hiring opens an email from an applicant and clicks on his resume. Oops! The applicant email is bogus, and the resume link is corrupt. Those sneaky hackers knew the company was hiring and used the information to launch a successful attack. The ransomware silently installs and waits for the user to go away from the computer for a number of hours.  Then the ransomware wakes up, encrypts all the data on her computer and any attached share drives. After it is done encrypting, a message pops up on the computer saying that the user only has a short amount of time to pay the hacker or all the information will be lost. Payment is not a good option and only encourages such crimes. The option of restoring the data from a backup, assuming the company has one, is much more desirable. (See blog post:  Ransomware on the Rise — 5 Tips to Protect Your Data.)

#3 Invoice Diversion

TECHPol has warned in the past about the tactics cybercriminals use to steal money from businesses.  (See blog posts:  10 Tips to Protect Your Bank Account from Hackers and Real Stories of Cyberscams:  Don’t Let It Happen to You).  Here’s another scam to avoid.

Imagine that an accounting department’s email is hacked, and the cybercriminal starts to monitor the communications between the business and its clients. The hackers learn about the business’s billing processes. They are able to intercept emails related to billing and have gained enough knowledge through their monitoring to become a believable impostor. You are a client of this business and receive an emailed invoice that appears to be from your vendor, including documents that look legitimate, asking that payment be sent to a new account. You send the money to the fraudulent account as requested. Soon, the vendor starts to bug you about prompt payment, and by the time everyone figures out what happened, any trace of the thief and the money are long gone. You are out the money, but still owe the vendor. Businesses should always be wary of any changes in billing practices or urgent demands for payment and take the time to call to confirm such requests with known, reliable sources.

#4 Rental Car Ripoff

It seems nowhere is safe from the reach of those who exploit technology to engage in bad deeds.  Here’s another situation that requires caution.

You rent a car on a business trip, and are thrilled to get a newer model with the latest technology. It’s great to have the efficiency of connecting your mobile device to the car’s infotainment system to make calls, do work and get to your meetings on time. But before you connect, consider that you are driving a stranger’s car and many other strangers will use it after you. When you connect your phone or mobile device, the car can store all sorts of information that may be of interest to others: where you visited, your address, your phone number, the phone numbers of those you called, your contacts and text messages. Even charging your phone can give the car’s system access to your personal or business data. You are potentially leaving a treasure trove of information for others who have access to the car, including potential hackers and criminals. Just imagine the damage that can be done.  If you must connect, delete your information from the vehicle’s system before you return the car.

Halloween is a good time to remember that technology mishaps can be scary, but these horror stories can happen at any time, and it’s necessary to be vigilant all year long.