That’s Not Dell Calling

There’s some sort of shadiness going on over at Dell.  Several users in recent weeks have reported being contacted by people claiming to be Dell technicians, who say they have found a problem with the customer’s computer and offer to fix it.  Ordinarily, the best response to this is just to hang up the phone.  These are scams anyway, intended to trick the unaware into allowing the scammer access to their computer, which they can then infect with ransomware.  Recent years have seen several high profile cases similar to this, involving Microsoft and the IRS; to avoid being scammed, it’s important to remember that big companies are rarely, if ever, going to actually call you.  If you have a problem and have not yet contacted them, rest assured they are not sitting there going through their files trying to see who they can help.

This situation is definitely out of the ordinary, though.  One customer who was called, Richard Schulman, was automatically suspicious and asked the caller to provide his Dell customer support tag number, which every Dell PC has.  Only actual Dell employees should have that number, yet this scammer somehow knew it.  Schulman is not alone either; a number of other Dell customers have said they were called by scammers who had such supposedly confidential information.  Reaching out to Dell, meanwhile, resulted in virtually no assistance.  And while the company denies any evidence of being hacked, even if that’s true, there’s something fishy in this.

Either they have been breached, and are lying, or there’s an internal threat.  It’s hard to determine which is more likely at this stage, in my opinion, especially in light of another report from Ars Technica last week, quoting a different customer who called Dell for a support issue.  Shortly after, this man got a call from a scammer who knew about his problem and had his customer information, as with Schulman.  To me, the timing in this story hints at insider leak.  The guy tells Dell he has trouble with his optical drive, then the imposter who calls next knows the exact issue?  Sure, I suppose there could be some sort of malicious intrusion, but that seems overly complicated in comparison.

Then again, this is all just speculation, though there is definitely some sort of information leak going on at Dell.  And the company’s response to these customers’ inquiries so far has been unsatisfactorily tepid, and vague.  If there has been a hack, Dell needs to come out with it sooner rather than later, and alert any others whose information has been compromised.  I can’t imagine people’s patience with their data’s safety going anywhere but down in 2016.

By: Jonathan Weicher on Tuesday, January 12, 2016
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Copyright: NetLib