How to Avoid Getting Psyber Burgled

Share on social

How to Avoid Getting Psyber Burgled

By Sherin Tebbi & Kyle Magee

Let’s face it -- your computer is your Partner in Crime (P.I.C.). It’s there with you through work and leisure. You continuously count on it for answers, communication and hilarious videos. Even though you might spill some crumbs or coffee on it here and there, you know, that in reality, you would be nowhere without your computer.

But what happens when this so-called P.I.C. starts flashing an unexpected and very official error message? You can’t seem to get off of the message so you find yourself following its prompts to call the help-line. Soon enough, you’re speaking to a friendly and knowledgable representative pointing out exactly what is wrong with your computer in surprisingly accurate details. Finally, the rep gives you two options:

  1. Take your beloved P.I.C. into your local OfficeMax/Staples/computer store to fix. This option could take 5+ business days.
  2. Let the representative remote in and solve the probably immediately for a hefty price.

So, you agree to have him solve the problem immediately. Why not, right? The rep knew exactly what was wrong and thoroughly explained the process to you -- handing over your credit card information is a no-brainer. Remote away, Representative. Relax, your partner in crime will be back in no time to finish binge-watching your latest Netflix addiction.

Stop Right There

You’ve become a victim of social engineering. This is a tactic that scammers/hackers use all the time. False pretenses are established so that the victim is lead to believe that they're talking to: a remote repair service, a customer seeking personal info or a department within the same company who needs some authorization information. All of these are lies that the hacker will tell an unsuspecting victim. All of these are real things that happen all the time.

First off, know that we don’t think don't think less of you! It sucks but it happens all the time. The reason people do stuff like this is because it works. And they only need it to work once on someone. Unfortunately, everyone learns this lesson at some point in their relationship with their computer.

So, what now?

If someone had access to your machine or if you installed something to get someone else into your machine and you continue to have full access there is a number of things that could have happened. We’ll leave out the nitty gritty details, but let’s just say it could take a very long time to find and fix. Many times the machine is first infiltrated and then the attacker waits several weeks to ensure any good backups are non-existent. But it totally depends on the level of sophistication of the attacker/when they first compromised the system.

Our Advice

Invest in a defender that will protect you. You should be relying on something to keep your precious sidekick protected! Think of all the information on your computer that someone could have access to -- your identity, bank info, address, etc. -- you wouldn’t give this information to a stranger, don’t let a stranger take it from you. Many products provide excellent protection that stop you from going on sites that are infected. In many cases they also warn you (before you get to the site) if something is fishy.

Please, please, please be cautious about the sites you are going on. There is no substitute for a simple understanding of how, when and why people might try to psyber burgle you. Take a minute to Google search on what behavior is most likely to leave you vulnerable to online scammers.