Tag Archives: computer

Don’t fall for the Microsoft ‘tech support’ scam!

phonescamMy wife received an interesting call today from someone claiming to be from Microsoft technical support.  According to them our computers had contacted because we needed technical support.

Of course it’s a scam, but one that people (particularly older people) get taken in with all the time.

For the uninitiated, the scam involves someone (usually from India) calling and saying that they are representatives from Microsoft technical support. They then tell the victim that their computer is running slowly because of viruses or because they need an additional piece of software — at a cost, of course. It’s been floating around for almost as many years as the Nigerian money transfer scam and is still going strong.

Once a person buys into the scam they take them through a number of steps showing them files and error messages on their computer (every computer has error messages if you know where to look) and then they sell the victim “technical support” or an “extended warranty”.   This will involve several steps:

  • Taking control of your PC
  • Watching as you enter your bank account and credit card details into an online payment (the online payment – usually around $299 – is real)
  • Trashing your PC or, in some cases, installing malicious software on your PC so that they can continue to exploit you after the call is over

If you want to see what happens you can watch the video on the Malwarebytes website – via What happens if you play along with a Microsoft ‘tech support’ scam?  Spoiler alert – they end by calling him names and trashing his PC.

Unfortunately it is often the elderly that fall for this the most, so do yourselves a favor and tell your older relatives to contact you before they make online payments or install software from cold callers.  A little time spent on the phone with them could save everyone from an enormous amount of hassle in the future.

Any legitimate company will happily give a call back number and wait while you check with people.  And if you’re really not sure then post a comment below letting me know what is going on and I’ll get back to you.



Filed under Online Security

‘USB condom’ prevents device hijackings at rogue ports – NBC News.com

usb-cable-endI know that sounds like a gag headline.  But if you need to plug your phone (or other device) into an unfamiliar computer just to get some juice then you need to know the risks.

Standard USB ports and cables have several electrical channels, some of which are used to transfer power, the others data.   When you plug in you risk:

  • Moving viruses between the computer and your device (in either direction)
  • Your contacts and photos being copied to the computer.  This can happen nefariously or, more commonly, because the computer helpfully performs a backup

A USB condom simply blocks the current on the data channels, meaning only the power channels make the connection between the device charging and the one being charged.

Simpler options are available, such as buying USB cables that only have the power parts installed, but they don’t offer anywhere near as good a headline 🙂

via ‘USB condom’ prevents device hijackings at rogue ports – NBC News.com.

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October 6, 2013 · 8:15 am