Schemes and scams from a place you might not expect

U.S. computer networks, government, commercial, and private, are under almost constant attack, many of these attacks coming from abroad. Computer, mail, and telephone scams abound, many also coming from abroad. The standard villains when we hear of hacking attacks against our computer systems are the Russians, the Chinese, and on occasion the North Koreans. When we hear of computer scams, we usually think of the Nigerian groups who are famous for this activity.

There is, however, another source of both these assaults that seldom gets mentioned in the press; India. India, location of many computer self-help desks for U.S. companies, supplier of many IT techs who keep companies here going, is also the source of a lot of vicious computer hacking attacks, and at least one telephone scam that I’m personally aware of.

My son is a computer engineer for a Virginia-based company that provides hardware and software globally. Many of his colleagues are Indian nationals, who he describes as some of the best in the business. But, every coin has two sides. If some of the best programmers and computer engineers come from India, it’s safe to assume that there are also a fair number of black hat hackers who will try to penetrate networks either for the sheer challenge, or to do harm.

I have personal experience with this. This morning, I woke up to find emails from my email provider, and some of my social network accounts informing me that there’d been an attempt to access these accounts from in IP address in India. Fortunately, my firewalls and notification protocols prevented total compromise of my system and accounts, but I had to spend hours that could have been devoted to other tasks, changing all my passwords—a real pain in the . . . neck.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only victim of this penetration attempt. Another thing that’s come out of India is a phone scam that is really, I mean, really annoying. Your phone rings; caller ID shows a number and the label ‘Wireless Caller.’ If you’re the type to answer calls from unknown numbers, you’ll pick up and hear what gets left on my answering machine; a clearly digital voice of a woman with no discernible accent informs you that the IRS has filed a court case against you and that you must call the number they give you to get the details. I’m not sure what this phishing expedition is looking for, but no way in hell am I calling that number. I’ve reported this to the IRS twice—because I’ve received this call from at least two different area codes and numbers. Not that it’ll help. My son-in-law, who is a postal inspector (the Post Office’s law enforcement arm), informs me that this scam is known to be based in India, but U.S. authorities are unable to track it to a specific address, and even if they did, it’s unlikely the Indian government would cooperate in shutting it down.

So, what am I saying here? The threats to our computer systems are real. Con artists are lurking behind every computer screen or at the end of every phone call, looking for a weakness to exploit. A lot of them come from the places that get the lion’s share of the news, but not all of them.

Published by Charles Ray


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