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An ex-antivirus employee stole data for 68,000 customers and sold it to scammers

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(Image credit: Pixabay (TheDigitalArtist))

Trend Micro has issued an apology for a former employee who, while working at the firm, "improperly accessed data with a clear criminal intent." The unnamed individual later sold the data to scammers, who have been calling customers under the guise of being support agents for the antivirus firm.

"Our open investigation has confirmed that this was not an external hack, but rather the work of a malicious internal source that engaged in a premeditated infiltration scheme to bypass our sophisticated controls," Trend Micro said.

Trend Micro's software did not make our list of the best antivirus for PC gaming, but it is a well-known company with a wide assortment of security solutions, both free and paid. The company claims to have 12 million consumer customers. Out of those, 68,000 were affected by this breach.

The company said it learned in early August of this year that some of its customers were receiving scam calls by criminals posing as Trend Micro support agents. Trend Micro launched an investigation at that time, and by the end of October, it had determined this was an inside job.

"A Trend Micro employee used fraudulent means to gain access to a customer support database that contained names, email addresses, Trend Micro support ticket numbers, and in some instances telephone numbers. There are no indications that any other information such as financial or credit payment information was involved, or that any data from our business or government customers was improperly accessed," Trend Micro added.

Unfortunately, a phone number is often all it takes to dupe a customer, as many videos on YouTube and Twitch demonstrate. (Check out Kitboga's channel to see how some of these scams work).

"We hold ourselves to a higher level of accountability and sincerely apologize to all impacted customers for this situation. Based on the current status of our investigation, we believe that all of the consumers who were potentially affected have already received individual notices from Trend Micro, but we will continue to investigate and provide further notices in the event that any further affected customers are identified," Trend Micro said.

Trend Micro also took the opportunity to remind customers it never calls customers unexpectedly.

Stay safe, folks—better to spend your money on upcoming Black Friday deals (or just about anything else) than to line a scammer's pocket.

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).