Beth McGuire was at her desk at the Ackland Art Museum when she received the call on her work phone.
“The person told me that they represented Microsoft Outlook and that they were calling to warn me that my computer had a virus. They had been told to help me get rid of it. I was instructed to go to a specific website. They were very clear that if I did not take immediate action, my computer could crash at any moment and I would lose everything.”
McGuire, who works at the Ackland as a museum educator, suspected that the story didn’t add up.
“First, I asked for more specific information – their name and if they were from ITS (Information Technology Services). But they didn’t respond to those questions so I just told them I would have someone on campus take care of it.”
McGuire then called 962-HELP.
According to information security manager Judd Knott, McGuire did everything right.
“She is the poster child for how to respond to a phishing attempt.”
According to Knott, if McGuire had gone to the website, she would have been asked to click on a link which in all likelihood would have infected her machine with malware or a virus.
Instead, following directions from an ITS Response Center (ITRC) representative, McGuire ran a full scan of her machine, opened her Symantec antivirus program (which was up-to-date and the latest version) to view the risk log and confirmed that there were no risks present on her machine. The ITRC then forwarded the matter to the Office of Information Security who also confirmed that McGuire’s machine was risk-free.
“Phishing telephone calls are relatively rare but not new – they actually date back to around 2006,” explained Knott. “If you receive an email, text or phone call that asks you to go to a website and click on a link or download something, be suspicious. Hang up and call 962-HELP immediately.”
Although McGuire noticed that there was no Caller ID information given on the call, Knott cautions that Caller ID can be faked.
“It’s insidious,” said McGuire. “It’s disappointing that people will go to such lengths.”