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Warning!

Wednesday morning I was sitting at my desk when a pop-up appeared on my screen.  It was actually an Internet Explorer window, and although it was written entirely in Japanese, I suspected immediately that it was a scam, a fraud, malware, or something.  Why?  It had a very old Microsoft logo on it (from the Microsoft Certified Partner days).  I asked my boss to confirm, and he started laughing at me that the sites I was visiting were not secure.  Since I was planning to re-image my system when I was back in Canada, I didn’t really worry about it.

As I sit in the airport lounge in Vancouver, I got a different albeit similar pop-up, this time in English (it is always nice when malware knows where you are…)

imageHere is a simple way to know if the warnings you are getting might be legitimate, or if they are completely bunk:

1) Legitimate programs do not display their warnings in Internet Explorer.  They would have their own windows appear.

2) I do not use a product called Advanced System Protector.  That being the case, if it were legitimate (it is not) it would still have no business scanning my system.

My recommendations? firstly do not click in the window.  The only place you should click is in the upper-right hand corner… the X.  Note that they are sneaky buggers… under the real X there is their own X, which would have you clicking in the window.  Do not be fooled.

Once you close the window, make sure you run your legitimate anti-malware system – do a complete system scan.  It is not necessary in my case because I simply shut down the machine, and the next time I turn it on I will re-image it (format it and re-install Windows).  However most of you will not want to do that… and yes, you do have malware in your system.

Same Scam, Different Source

Earlier this year I wrote an article for Oakville.com earlier this year on an on-line scam (Another Scam).  I remembered it a few minutes ago when I got the same phishing e-mail from an aunt in California, who unfortunately got mugged on an unannounced surprise trip to Manila.

Of course, my aunt is not in Manila… not that I can reach her right now, but seeing as the text is nearly identical to the one I cited in July.  Obviously her e-mail account was hijacked, and the scammers are praying on the goodness of all of her contacts.  As I state in the article I have heard horror stories of intelligent people being scammed out of thousands of dollars by this scam.

I wrote my aunt an e-mail immediately – after leaving urgent voice mails at her home, office, and mobile – telling her what she had to do:

      1. Change your e-mail password immediately! (along with all of your other passwords – they will likely have been compromised too).
      2. Send an e-mail to ALL of your contacts and let them know that you are safe, and to NOT send you money.
      3. Go to the following site: http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/internet_fraud/internet_fraud.  At the bottom there is a section ‘How to Report Crime & Fraud.’  You must report this!!

I do not know if she will get it in time – My aunt is not a very technologically connected woman.  On the other hand she is a wonderful woman with a big heart, and I am sure a lot of her friends will be concerned and willing to help.  It is because of this that it is so important that I get this message out… tell your friends and family about it, because they could be next.

    On a related note, I am glad that I went to the trouble of changing ALL of my on-line passwords yesterday!

Another Scam… and another article on Oakville.com

English: The Oakville Centre for the Performin...

English: The Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts in Oakville, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been a bad boy.  I am usually a monthly columnist for www.Oakville.com, but of late I have been a little delinquent… deadlines being what they are, and I have to find the inspiration.  I have, as a result, missed a couple of months.

A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from a fellow resident of Oakville (or at least he used to own a business here… he certainly lives within 50 miles of here.  He is not someone I know well, but I certainly know him and when I got an e-mail telling me (and everyone) that he was traveling abroad and ran into trouble, I was suspicious… and rightly so.

The article is called Another Scam: Is your friend abroad really in need? it came about in hopes of preventing my readers from falling victim to this scam.  I wish I could remember who it was, but I met someone a month before who actually had been victimized.  Hopefully this article will prevent others from suffering the same embarrassing fate.

Read the whole article here, and leave your comments!

This Is A Scam!

I knew something was fishy when the phone rang and the Call Display showed a call-back number of 666-035-3612 because, as we all know, 666 is the area code of the beast.  I waited the five seconds for the auto-dialer system to connect me to a real operator. 

‘Hello, my name is Gary from the Windows Technical Department.  I am phoning you because we have been receiving a series of errors from your computer this week indicating several vulnerabilities, and I am calling to help you to fix them.  Do you have a few minutes?  It is very important.’

Try as I might, I couldn’t help myself from bursting out laughing, but after a few seconds I answered ‘Ok, how are you going to help me to fix them?’ 

Gary was put off by my laughing and asked why, emphasizing that this was a very serious matter, and that I could be facing serious financial and legal repercussions if I took it lightly.  ‘Computer Security is very important and if you do not take it seriously by following my instructions it will cost you.  So why are you laughing?’

I couldn’t help myself.  Now, remember… the following statement is not true, but I assumed that for the sake of this conversation my MVP Lead and Managers will forgive me for saying ‘Because I work for Microsoft with the Windows Product Team.’  I did not feel it would have helped at all to explain about the Springboard Technical Experts Panel, and how I write courseware and give presentations and that I am not actually an employee, even though I have a title.  However I do not think he would have been so interested in the answer due to his obviously well-thought response of: ‘Well then &^$# you then.’ and he hung up.

Of course I knew in advance that this was a scam, because one of my sisters-in-law was caught unawares by this, and it ended up costing her hundreds of dollars and no end of headaches.  Remember folks, Microsoft will help you in all sorts of ways, but always passively… YOU have to come to THEM.  They will NEVER initiate a conversation, either by phone or e-mail or pop-up, saying you are compromised now we can help you. 

Lesson over… I’m going to Tae Kwon Do!

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