If you are running Windows PC’s, Microsoft would like to advise you to be vigilant against a notice prompting you to install “Microsoft Security Essentials”. The notice has the name same name as a Microsoft’s genuine anti-malware product for Windows 7 and below, so this may deceive some users who may believe that Microsoft is simply prompting them to update their software. Windows 8 and 10 users may be deceived due to the same reason, however the anti-malware product installed on these systems is actually Windows Defender.
However, instead of installing genuine Microsoft Security Essentials, it installs a threat called SupportScam: MSIL/Hicurdismos.A (Hicurdismos). Upon installation, the program will bring up a ‘Blue Screen of Death’ notice that states that an error has occurred, and the machine needs to be restarted. The screen also includes a false technical support contact phone number. Microsoft reports that calling the number will not fix the problem. Instead, it may lead the victim to download even more malware to trick someone into downloading ‘support tools’ or other software to fix the ‘problem’.
This is basically a more sophisticated tech support scam. You may be aware of cases where sneaky criminals cold call phone numbers to tell them that they are calling from Microsoft or some other alleged computer or tech support brand name to tell them that there is something wrong with their computer when there isn’t. In this case, this new scam aims to trick people into installing Hicurdismos and remote access tools which effectively enable these cyber criminals to gain control of your computer systems and other information.
Microsoft would like to reinforce that they would never provide a telephone number for technical support for error message screens. If you do encounter an error in Windows, it will have an error code and instructions to provide further information on how to fix the problem. In addition, Windows Defender is already built-in so there is no need to install an outdated program.
If you have been a victim of this crime, we recommend that you contact your local computer repair shop for support. Microsoft recommends that you also do the following:
- Apply security updates as soon as they are available
- Perform a full antivirus scan
- Change all of your passwords
- Call your credit card provider to reverse any charges the scammers may have charged you for
If you reside in Australia, please report the issue to the Australian Cybercrime Reporting Network (ACORN). ACORN is a national policing initiative to enable Australian police agencies to share information with each other as well as the Australian Crime Commission, Attorney-General’s Department, ACCC, Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), and the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency.