Symantec partner caught running tech support scam
26 January 2016 | 0
What was unusual about the scam was that the original bait for the scheme – a browser pop-up – was designed to look like an alert from Symantec’s Norton Antivirus, including displaying the product’s logo. More importantly, the scammer was an active Symantec partner, as Malwarebytes’ senior security researcher Jerome Segura pointed out in a blog post last week.
Although tech support scammers frequently claim affiliations with the companies whose products they abuse in their cold calls and scary online pop-ups, it’s rare that an actual partner with an established relationship dare pull such stunts.
Last year, for example, Microsoft sued Customer Focus Services, alleging that a web of the California company’s sites – including omnitechsupport.com, fixnow.us and techsupportpro.com – shilled fake Windows support and tried to look legitimate by displaying Microsoft logos on its website. But Consumer Focus was not a Microsoft partner.
As part of a settlement Microsoft reached with Consumer Focus in December, a federal court slapped an injunction on the latter, forbidding it to use Microsoft’s trademarks.
“While we can’t say conclusively who was behind this particular scam, we can confirm that this particular site has been taken down and that we are also in the process of terminating our partner agreement with Silurian,” wrote Noah Edwardsen, a Symantec spokesman.
As Edwardsen said – and Segura noted last week – Silurian’s website was offline. Cached copies of the site, however, remained available from both Google and Bing. Those cached pages trumpeted expensive phone support for Hotmail ($200 for 6 months) and spelled out a refund policy that stated a customer would receive no refund, for any reason, if Silurian had resolved one or more issues previously.
Silurian’s prices for its Norton Antivirus pitch were scandalous: $199 for a one-time problem fix and remote installation of the software, or $249 for a one-year support plan, including Norton Antivirus.
At list price, Norton Standard Security for Windows – which includes antivirus protection – currently costs $40 (€39.99) for a one-year subscription, or $80 (€69.99) for two years. As part of a subscription, Symantec offers live-chat or telephone-based support.
Greg Keizer, IDG News Service