How a Tech Scammer Fooled Cisco

Cisco’s chief security officer (CSO) recently wrote about being scammed out of $50,000 by someone who convinced him they were from Apple. It’s a good reminder that we all need to be vigilant about online security, no matter how tech-savvy we think we are.

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On January 23, 2019, a person claiming to be from Cisco’s Technical Assistance Center (TAC) called one of our customers. The caller said they were following up on a case and needed some information. They asked the customer to provide their Cisco Smart Account number so they could look up the case. The customer gave them the number, and the caller then said they needed the customer’s router serial number. The customer provided that too.

The caller then said there was a critical software bug on the device and asked the customer to go online and install a patch swq49-6-2-4-a.pkg immediately. The customer did as they were told, not knowing that this “patch” was actually malware that gave the attacker remote access to their network.

Fortunately, the customer contacted Cisco’s Security Intelligence Operations (SIO) team after installing the “patch.” SIO analyzed the file and found that it was malicious. They contacted the customer and helped them mitigate the incident.

How the Scam Works

The scammer poses as a Cisco sales representative and calls the victim, claiming that Cisco is offering a special deal on networking hardware. The victim is then asked to provide their contact information so that the “sales representative” can send them a quote. The victim is also asked to provide their credit card information so that Cisco can process the order. The scammer then uses the victim’s credit card information to make unauthorized charges.

The “Phantom Menace”

When you receive an unsolicited email, you should exercise caution. This is especially true if the message is from a person or company that you don’t know. The email might be a phishing scam designed to trick you into giving away your login credentials or other sensitive information.

In this case, the email appeared to be from Cisco, a leading maker of networking equipment. The message claimed that Cisco was going to be discontinuing support for the product that the recipient was using. The recipient was directed to click on a link in order to download an update.

If the recipient had been using a Cisco product, they might have fallen for the scam. However, Cisco doesn’t send out unsolicited emails like this. Any messages from Cisco would come from a verified email address, such as [email protected]

The best way to protect yourself from these kinds of scams is to be aware of them. If you receive an unsolicited email, even if it looks legitimate, don’t click on any links and don’t reply. You can also forward the message to [email protected] for further analysis.

The “Trojan Horse”

Cybercriminals will register a domain that looks similar to a legitimate company or website (e.g., They will then create a fake website and fill it with content stolen from the legitimate website. Once the fake website is complete, they will send emails to employees of the targeted company, posing as a representative of the legitimate company. The email will contain a link to the fake website, which looks identical to the legitimate website. If an employee clicks on the link, they will be taken to the fake website and asked to enter their login credentials. Once the cybercriminals have obtained the employee’s login credentials, they will use them to gain access to the company’s network, where they can steal sensitive data or plant malware.

The “Smoke and Mirrors”

Smoke and mirrors is a phrase used to describe a deceptive, fraudulent or misleading situation. The phrase is derived from magicians’ illusions, where magicians make objects appear or disappear by extending or retracting mirrors.

In recent years, the phrase has been used more broadly to describe any situation in which groups or individuals manipulate information in a way that is intended to mislead others.

How to Avoid Getting Scammed

Cisco, one of the world’s largest networking equipment providers, was recently tricked out of $1.3 million by a tech scammer The scammer, who posed as a legitimate Cisco vendor, convinced Cisco to wire him the money for equipment that he never delivered. This story is a reminder of how important it is to be careful when doing business online. Here are some tips to avoid getting scammed.

Be Wary of Unsolicited Requests

Cisco recently fell victim to a scam that resulted in the loss of over $1.7 million. The scam began with an unsolicited requests for quotes (RFQs) for services that were not actually needed. These were followed by requests for payment via wire transfer to bank accounts that did not belong to Cisco.

Cisco is not the only company to have been targeted by this type of scam, and it is important to be aware of the risks involved in any type of unsolicited request, whether it is for goods, services, or payments. If you are ever unsure about the legitimacy of a request, take the time to verify it with the person or company involved before taking any further action.

Verify the Identity of the Sender

When you receive an email or a call from someone pretending to be Cisco, or another company, take a step back and verify the identity of the sender. If you receive an unsolicited email from someone claiming to be Cisco, do not reply or click on any links in the email. Instead, visit and use the Contact Us form to ask if the email is legitimate. For more information on how to avoid being scammed, visit our Security webpage.

Do Your Research

When you’re looking for tech support, whether it’s for your computer, printer, or any other device, it’s important to do your research before you choose a company. This can be difficult, as there are many companies that claim to be able to provide support, and it can be hard to know who to trust. However, there are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t get scammed.

One of the best ways to avoid getting scammed is to research the company you’re considering using. You can start by doing a simple Google search of the company’s name. This will help you see if there have been any complaints about the company. You can also check the Better Business Bureau’s website to see if the company is registered and if there have been any complaints filed against them.

It’s also important to make sure you understand what the company is offering before you agree to use their services. Many scammers will try to get you to pay for services that you don’t need or that won’t actually help fix your problem. Be sure to ask questions and get everything in writing before you agree to anything.

If you do find yourself getting scammed, there are a few things you can do. First, try to get in touch with the company and explain the situation. If they’re unwilling or unable to help, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or your state’s attorney general’s office. You can also contact your credit card company and explain what happened; they may be ableto help you get your money back.


Unfortunately, there are many people in the world who are willing to take advantage of others for their own gain. This is certainly the case with tech scammers, who often target companies like Cisco in order to steal money or sensitive information. It’s important to be aware of these scams and how they work, so that you can avoid becoming a victim yourself.

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