We all remember the massive 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack that affected computers in 74 countries including the UK where its entire health care system was affected. Ransomware is the name for malware that once installed on a computer, often unwittingly through clicking on links in spear phishing emails, encrypts and locks all of the victim’s data.  The cybercriminal then threatens to destroy the data unless a ransom is paid. A little discussed aspect of the massive WannaCry attack was that it exploited a a vulnerability in the Windows XP operating system which is extremely outdated and should not be used.  Technical support and updates for Windows XP ceased in 2014.

Just about all computer software has a lifecycle.  Much like a car which at some point becomes more difficult and expensive to fix rather than dispose of and get a new car, software vulnerabilities are constantly being patched, but at some point in time the software reaches the end of its life cycle and becomes too difficult and expensive to continue patching.  While you can choose to continue to use such software, it is extremely risky to do so because such unsupported software is a prime target for a myriad of cyberattacks.

Some time ago, Microsoft announced that it was ending technical support and would no longer be issuing free technical support or software and security updates for the popular Windows 7 operating system on January 14, 2020.  Continuing to use Windows 7 now that we have passed the January 14th cutoff date is extremely dangerous and will open you up to what will be numerous malware attacks.

Scammers have been taking advantage of some of the confusion surrounding Microsoft’s ending of support for Windows 7 to scam people.  Scammers are calling people pretending they are Microsoft employees to talk to you about what they refer to as your “expiring Windows license” and lure people into paying money over the phone for fees to update your license.  In some instances, they ask for remote access to your computer in order to install the new updated software, however this is just a scam to enable them to gain access to your computer and steal your personal information and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

This scam is made worse because the scammers often use the spoofing technique to manipulate your Caller ID to make the call appear as if it is coming from Microsoft when the truth is that it is not.

TIPS

Microsoft will not be calling you about your “expiring license” or about switching to Windows 10.  Anyone who calls you about those matters who represents that they are Microsoft employees is lying.
If you have been using Windows 7 you should upgrade to the newer Windows 10 or some other operating system that is still being updated by the manufacturer.  Here is a link to an article that provides information on seven free alternatives to Windows 10.  https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/free-alternatives-to-windows-operating-systems/

Providing remote access to anyone to your computer can lead to a myriad of problems including identity theft and the downloading of ransomware.  Neither AOL, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft or any of the other tech companies ever  ask for remote access to your computer to fix problems.

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