Skype Voice Scam Underscores Need for Better Security

Paul Lilly

There are a million different ways malware can be delivered to your PC (or so it seems), yet the easiest way to spread foul files is to go phishing. It doesn't require exploiting any vulnerabilities or coding clever workarounds, and instead puts the onus on PC users to educate themselves on safe computing practices, a fundamental skill still largely in short supply. It's also the method Skype scammers are using, only the bait has changed.

Rather than fire off an instant message, scammers are now calling Skype users under the guise of "Online Help." If you accept the call, you'll hear an automated recording telling you your PC security has been compromised with viruses, and you'll be given a URL to visit to download software to eradicate the threat(s). It doesn't take a computer expert to recognize this as a scam, but with Skype's aggressive marketing push as a way for grandparents to stay in touch with their grandkids, less savvy users are inevitably going to fall for it.

What's surprising here is the number of fake malware profiles showing up in Skype's directory. We received one of these Skype calls ourselves, as did IT World's Dan Tynan.

"What's troubling me is that it's unclear what Skype is doing to stop this problem," Tynan wrote in a blog post . "I reported several of these numbers as abusive two days ago. Yet when I search today there are more of them, not less.

"Skype support is notoriously hard to contact -- a problem, I think, for a service that charges actual money -- and that is something that needs to change. Paying customers (like me) deserve actual support, not FAQs and a 'feedback' option."

Perhaps it will change once Microsoft takes over Skype's operations. In the meantime, let your less savvy friends and family know that the malware boogeyman is now making Skype calls.

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