IRS scams and other computer tricks

SWAT's up? Unexpected visitors! Photo courtesy of NASA: Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.

Who says there’s no humor in information technology?

Q: Which program do Jedi use to open PDF files?
A: Adobe Wan Kenobi.

Welcome to the brave new world of scams. Reports out of Colorado Springs last month, describe an alleged IRS scam call – where someone pretends to be collecting back taxes and penalties – resulted in “swatting.”

For those of you who are unaware of “swatting”, it is the act of deceiving an emergency service (via such means as hoaxing an emergency services dispatcher) into dispatching an emergency response based on the false report of an ongoing critical incident. The result is that a Swat team of police show up at your door!

Last month in Colorado Springs an incident occurred that was initiated by IRS scammers. After the target of the scam wouldn’t comply with their demand to pay their debts to the “IRS”, the scammers placed a 911 call that caused a SWAT team to be deployed to the targets residence and a nearby school to go on lock-down.

How about a couple new terms to add to your vocabulary?

An “exploit kit” is a tool that cyber criminals use to exploit the vulnerabilities in your system and infect it with malware. It is basically a piece of code which is created to be used for malicious purposes. These kits are available for purchase on the dark net and are typically licensed and supported like regular commercially available software.

And a “dark net” is an overlay network that can only be accessed with specific software, configurations, or authorization, often using non-standard communications protocols and ports. Dark nets are typically used in the trade of illegal goods and services.