Posts Tagged ‘online security’

Microsoft Phone Support Scam

Friday, January 20th, 2012

We’ve just had a customer repair come in to the Sylvania store with a sad – but not rare – story. She was contacted after hours by a Microsoft support staff on the home phone, saying her PC had issues. From there they talked her through seeing where the apparent faults were, and giving them access to the machine to fix the problems. And of course there was a charge of $200 for the service…

Now whilst on paper that may seem obvious as a scam – when you are not experienced on PCs it is easy to be misled by these guys. And it annoys me to know they are overseas and cant be traced in any easy way from here. One day someone will find one of them and let them know what the people being scammed think of them… But let me say the warning signs from the call were the following -

1. Microsoft (or any of the software companies support departments) NEVER call you out of the blue. You will always contact them first.
2. How did they get your number ? Its not listed in a ‘central’ PC database somewhere – so how then ? And then what if you had a Mac or no PC at all…

Id be hanging up at that point (or having some fun with them since i know whats going on). But if you let them in and allow them to install anything – well then you probably need to get the machine checked over by a service centre (once you have realised it was not legit) since there are many different bits of software they can install which you would not want running on the PC. And chase your credit card company and tell them there is a non authorized transaction on your card – let them go find who it is ! And get your money back since you did NOT authorize the purchase.

Have a look at our online security series for some more ideas on keeping safe on the net.

Online Security Part2

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Last instalment we looked at the first things you should take care of be be secure online. Lets continue with more things to be careful with -

4. Dont click links in emails and on websites unless you are 100% sure that its a clean link. It is quite easy for scammers to display the webpage link with one name, yet when you click on it it goes to another (malware) page. How to tell ? If you put your mouse (hover) over the link – in Outlook it will pop up with where its taking you, and in your Web Browser it will show the true link down the bottom in the status bar. Make sure they match and that its where you mean to go. One way to get around link issues is to type the address yourself into your web browser – that way you are not clicking on a link to get there and so cant be misled. Current Internet Security software also should be able to block you going to known malware sites.

5. Update your browser. Whilst keeping your PC updated with windows update is a good idea there can also be updates to your browser (which dont get included with windows update – especially if you use firefox or chrome) which may include security fixes. Firefox has an auto updating feature but you can always manually get updates from the website of the browser maker eg. for Firefox.

6. Dont give your email out. To anyone. Yes this seems a bit extreme but its the only way to control who spams you. Also alot of spammers use dictionary attacks so dont use a simple name like since its a simple name to guess and based on a dictionary name. So be a bit more complicated – or will help reduce dictionary attacks. And just give the email to your close firends and those you MUST give it to. It may even be worth getting a second email setup for maling lists and general things that you can close if it gets listed in too many spammers databases.

Keep safe and we’ll look at the last few tricks in the next installment.

Online Security Part1

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

We get alot of requests for info on online security and what can be done to prevent (or minimise the chance which is more the right thing to say) getting infected with spyware/malware and compromising the PC. Here is the first part of our 3 part good management for you and your PC.

1. Make sure you have good AntiVirus (AV) protection. A product that covers both virus and spyware/malware is a must. This program should stop you running infected files and monitor your PC for getting infected. The advanced version of the anti virus product is called Internet Security (IS) – which normally covers AV as well as web protection (from clicking on bad links) and firewall protection (to stop in bound hacking attempts and more importantly block your information being sent out from the PC. Especially required if you do intrnet banking). We use Kaspersky for this. ALSO make sure its updated (there is no point in having a AV product thats out of date – it will miss all the latest threats.).

2. Software updates – this is not critical in the protection game (at least compared to AV/IS) but is important. At minimum you should do the Microsft Windows service packs and update things like Adobe Acrobat and Adboe Flash – since these program are used on many websites andcan be used to install malware on your PC without you knowing about it. The Adobe programs can be downloaded from

3. Have a strong password ! It is so easy to create a password for your account, and make it sure its not something stupid like ‘password’ or your name… then if anyone tries to gain access to your PC it creates another layer of protection they have to try and get through. Tips for a strong password include having 6+ characters, including upper and lower case letters,  and using numbers.

We’ll look at more donts and dos in the next installment.