Ransomware and scammy tech support sites team up for a vicious one-two punch

One holds your files hostage, the other overcharges to fix nonexistent computer problems

Symantec has seen a curious fusing of two pernicious online threats, which would cause a big headache if encountered by users.

Some websites offering questionable tech support services are also dishing up ransomware, which locks up a users files until they pay a fee to decrypt them.

The support scams involve trying to convince users they have a computer problem and then selling them overpriced software or support services to fix it. It's often done via a pop-up message that urges people to call a number or download software.

Symantec has seen tech support websites also trying to install ransomware in the background. Ransomware is malware that encrypts a computer's files and asks for a payment, often in bitcoin, for the decryption key to be released.

"Unfortunate victims could end up paying both the fake tech support scam for 'help' and the ransom to decrypt their files, " wrote Deepak Singh, an associate threat analyst with Symantec, in a blog post.

On one tech support site seen by Symantec, an iframe hidden on the page redirected to the Nuclear exploit kit, a popular one used to spread malware.

It's unclear if the people running tech supports scams are working with those who create and rent out the use of exploit kits and associated infrastructure. But some tech support scams have experimented with ransomware, Singh wrote.

It's also possible that the tech support websites, like many other websites, have been compromised in order to redirect visitors to exploit kits.

"Regardless, this is the first time we've seen tech support scams running in tandem with the Nuclear exploit kit to deliver ransomware," Singh wrote. "If this proves to be an effective combination, we are likely to see more of this in the future."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?