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Scam of the Week: Malware Phone Calls

A recent social engineering scam uses real people in a call center to trick you into downloading malware onto your computer. Here’s how the scam works:

You receive an email claiming that your trial subscription to a publishing company will expire soon. The email states that you will be charged if the subscription is not canceled, and it directs you to call a phone number for assistance. If you call this number a representative happily walks you through how to unsubscribe.

The representative directs you to a generic-sounding web address, asks you to enter the account number provided in the original email, and tells you to click a button labeled “Unsubscribe.” If you click, an Excel file is downloaded onto your computer. The representative tells you to open that file and enable macros so you can read a confirmation number to them. If you enable macros, a malicious file is installed that allows cybercriminals backdoor access to your system. The bad guys can use this access to install more dangerous malware, such as ransomware.

Follow these tips to stay safe from this social engineering attack:

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• This attack tries to spark feelings of alarm and frustration by claiming that you will be charged for something you didn’t sign up for. Don’t let the bad guys toy with your emotions.

• Remember that cyber-attacks come from real people and real people can lie over the phone, just as they do in phishing emails.

• If you’re concerned that a warning could be legitimate, look up the company and try contacting them another way—not by using the phone number that they provided in an email.

Stop, Look, and Think. Do not be fooled.

Jim Sherwood serves as chief creative, brand strategist, lead developer, meticulous project manager, and station collaborator for all Skyrocket Radio sites and projects.

Jim got his start in radio at WLSM in the small town of Louisville, MS in 1988. Since then he has worked on-air in all day parts and has held nearly every other station position at one time or another. Jim has worked for radio stations in several states and for iHeartMedia (Clear Channel Radio), CBS Radio, Cumulus Broadcasting and a few small locally-owned stations. He even hosted a morning show on an aircraft carrier for two years while in the Navy. Jim has a passion for radio history, music, gadgets and all kinds of geeky web stuff.

After 14 years at Clear Channel Radio, Jim left the industry in 2013 to devote full-time attention to his company, Mediagin Creative, a small freelance creative agency that develops WordPress websites as well as produces commercials for radio and TV. After being asked by the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters to speak to a panel of small market station owners about the need for better websites, it became apparent that an easy to use and low-cost solution was needed to assist smaller markets in competing for online ad dollars. Skyrocket Radio was born.