New Delhi: With more and more people worldwide preferring online transactions, cyber criminals are using the 'fake technical support' model to steal consumer data, says a report by security software firm Symantec.
According to the report, fake technical support scams saw a 200 percent increase globally in 2015.
"With close to 5 lakh attacks last year, India ranked 11 amongst countries targeted the most by tech support scams... The countries targeted the most by tech support scams were the US, the UK, France, Australia and Germany," Symantec Director Solution Product Management Asia Pacific and Japan Tarun Kaura told PTI.
He added that the difference now is that scammers send fake warning messages to devices like smartphones to prompt people to call attackers directly in order to dupe them into buying useless services or even install malware.
"In total, Symantec blocked more than 100 million tech support scams last year (globally)," he said.
Kaura said advanced criminal attack groups are now echoing the skill sets of nation-state attackers.
"They have extensive resources and a highly-skilled technical staff that operate with efficiency," he added.
Asked what consumers can do to protect themselves, Kaura said they should use strong and unique passwords for their accounts, which are changed every three months.
"Also, they should think before clicking. Opening the wrong attachment can introduce malware to users' system. Never view, open, or copy email attachments unless you are expecting the email and trust the sender," he said.
Kaura said users should also not disclose personal information or account details to someone calls claiming to be from a financial institution or tech support.
"Also, users should be wary of versions of software that claim to be free. These could expose them to malware. Social engineering and ransomware attacks will also attempt to trick users into thinking their computer is infected and get them to buy useless software or pay money directly to have it removed," he added.
Besides, users should try and limit the amount of personal information they share on social networks and online, including login information and birth dates.