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170,000 infected in Skype scare

When Microsoft began rolling its Messenger and Skype services into one chatting system, it seemed like a good idea. After all, isn’t it much easier to have all of your contacts in one place? Unfortunately, that’s also what criminals thought as well.

By creating a central destination with well over 300 million users, Microsoft also created the perfect target for criminals, and it is already being exploited by malware-writers. Recently, over 170,000 Skype users have fallen victim to a scam on Skype that’s been circulating the web in other forms for years.

The attack starts innocently enough – a stranger will message you on Skype. You could easily be fooled into thinking it was just a big misunderstanding, that you’ve either forgotten the person or that they have just contacted you by mistake. And that could be true, but more often than not, it’s a computer pretending to be a person, tempting you to click a link to a bad website.

The stranger will message you with one of the following sentences (or something quite similar):

  • I don’t think I will ever sleep again after seeing this photo
  • Tell me what you think of this picture I edited

The idea behind the scam is that by contacting you on an instant messaging service and using friendly language, you’ll assume you know the person and click on the included link to a webpage. Most people forget how much damage that loading an unknown website can cause.

That webpage, of course, will just be a placeholder for malware that will automatically download onto your computer. Before you even realise what has happened, you’ll have someone else’s software running on your system.

How to avoid Skype scams

Skype is a perfect target for this type of scam, as unlike some other messaging clients, it allows total strangers to send you messages if you haven’t got your security set up properly.

Thankfully, there’s a built-in option to turn off calls and messages from accounts outside your contact list, so you can prevent the scammers from getting to you. Follow these simple steps to make sure you’re safe:

  • In Skype, Click the “Skype” menu item
  • Now choose “Privacy”
  • In the new window, choose “Only allow people in my Contact list to contact me”

That’s it – you’re now safer from criminals. Good job!

For further details on how to change other Skype privacy options, head to the Skype privacy page:https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA140/how-do-i-manage-my-privacy-settings-in-skype-for-windows-desktop.

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