Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Do NOT Call This Number..!

AKA Norton Users Be Aware

I just received an alert from an alert reader (ahem) which demonstrates a new twist on an old attack tactic.

fake_norton
Yup. That’s a fake. (One hint is the “Message from webpage” in the title bar.. [Norton is not a web program, it’s installed on your machine.])

The website you’re visiting is poisoned (and you probably have some programs in need of updates). Keywords, if you’re interested in learning more are “scareware” and “rogue anitvirus” (and maybe “poisoned website”, too).
*  Your Computer Is Lying To You… The Epidemic Of Rogues
* Why You Don’t Stand A Chance Against Cyber Crime

Copyright 2007-2014 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.
And please, never forget – one person can make a difference.
Find a way to make someone’s day today.
(Best advice I ever heard? Don’t sweat the small stuff.)

September 2, 2014 Posted by | advice, antivirus, computers, cyber crime, hackers, Internet, Internet scam, security, tech | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Everlong

Rather strange.. but it fits my mood. (And I think I read it is David Letterman’s fave song..)

Hope everyone is having a pleasant enough day.

Update: Your MasterCard Suspended for Fraud? It’s a Scam.

Scammers are calling unsuspecting consumers on the telephone to steal credit card numbers. If you get such a call, just hang up. Do not engage.Read more..

Where’s the tech, Paul? A decent resource for online reputation management tips and advice can be found here.

Today’s quote:Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins.” ~ Jim Rohn

Copyright 2007-2014 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.
And please, never forget – one person can make a difference.
Find a way to make someone’s day today.
(Best advice I ever heard? Don’t sweat the small stuff.)

May 28, 2014 Posted by | advice, digital music, digital Video, Internet, privacy, tech | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alert: Automated Verizon Call Is A Fake

Folks, I almost fell for a scam telephone “phishing” phone call reporting to be from one of my cellular service providers. I think hope you are going to want to read my ‘confession’, and forward this warning to all your friends and family.

See, truth is, I did fall for it, but fortunately the trap did not close on me, and I did not give away my personal information, which (probably) would have been used in an “Identity theft”. (Or, they might have just glommed my credit card.) Me! Mr. B. Paranoid.

verizHere’s how it worked (and why I thought it was real):
I have been very busy helping people un-Windows 8 their new Windows 8 PC’s (bypassing the “Metro” UI, mainly) and so I found the message on my answering machine. It was a ‘recording’ woman’s voice. What I mean by that is it was an “automated” call. Anyone who has navigated a telephone “menu tree” (“para Espanol, pulse dos“) has heard this voice. “She” was, in a way, familiar. And “spoke” perfect robot-English.

The automated message identified me by name, said it was an “Important message regarding changes to my account status”, said I needed to call today, and provided me a 1-800 number to call and told me I would be asked to enter my cell phone number.

It pronounced my names correctly, and identified my Verizon phone number correctly. It repeated itself appropriately, and was – to put it simply – professional and exactly how I would expect an ‘alert’ call to sound. It sounded to me exactly the same as other legitimate calls I have received — such as our County’s “emergency alert system”, and my bank’s “unusual activity detected” calls.

But what really made me “bite” was, I knew that I had been “meaning to get to” paying my latest Verizon bill, but had put it off, then forgotten, in my busy-ness.. Had I delayed too long? Was this a pay-or-get-cut-off call? Could be.

So.. I called the 1-800 number to see what was up. And it rang once and disconnected. Thankfully!

I am not beating myself up too much, as I was juggling a lot of activity (aka “multitasking”), but at that disconnect, I did what I should have done first, I went to my computer and logged in to my Verizon “My account” and looked for any alerts, notices, or big red letters saying “PAY NOW OR GET CUT OFF”.. or anything that might explain that message on my voicemail. I did see a very mild “past due”, but nothing else.

Now I was quite intrigued! So I called the Verizon customer service number posted on the website (1-800-922-0204) and spoke with a young man who asked me several questions.. then asked me to play the message to him.
And he told me, “that’s not us. That’s a scam.”

How did he know? “Our robot voice is different, and that’s not one of our telephone numbers.”

Like I would know those two things.

So.. “in conclusion”.. I am abashed and embarrassed. This call had the earmarks of a phish, but I let those things .. not raise red flags. But this was undoubtedly the most professionally done phishing scam I have witnessed. A truly “pro con” (job). And, I guess I learned that I am not quite as “paranoid” (alert and wary) on the telephone as I am when online, and surfing the web.
And maybe I ought to quit trying to do three things at once, and pay more attention to one thing at a time.. But I feel stupid none the less.

Today, it was Verizon. Who knows what company they’ll impersonate next. I’ll never ‘trust’ another robot voice again!

So be aware. And be wary. They are trying to get us.

Dang. I feel dumb. Go ahead and laugh at me if you want. But I feel darn lucky too. What would I have given away if the call had gone through? What does untangling one’s self from Identity Theft cost these days? Don’t find out.. and don’t let your friends and family find out. Tell them about me, this call, and my dumb move. Let them laugh at me too.. and maybe raise their ‘paranoia’ as a consequence, and avoid scams like this.

I cannot print how I would punish the perps behind this one, if I could get my hands on them, but I can tell you I’d do it on TV.

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | advice, cellular, cyber crime, hackers, mobile, News | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Attention Apple Users (And More)

Those of you out there who are iPeople are probably aware that there is a new cat on the scene — OS X 10.8 (code name “Mountain Lion”). Here is some important information to know about Apple’s latest operating system.

Don’t upgrade to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion before reading this

It’s tempting to install OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion” immediately, but to avoid a costly mistake you need to thoroughly check all of your productivity apps to make sure that they’re compatible.Read more..

New Mac Trojan installs silently, no password required

A new Mac OS X Trojan referred to as OSX/Crisis silently infects OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and OS X 10.7 Lion. The threat was created in a way that is intended to make reverse engineering more difficult, an added extra that is more common with Windows malware than it is with Mac malware.” Read more..

[note: Just because they say this item is not yet floating around the web does not mean you can not think about having AV (aka “antivirus”) on your devices..]

Important advice there.

In other news: Microsoft says something out loud that should have been said long ago…

Microsoft: Update Java or kill it

Microsoft is offering advice on how to protect yourself from Java-based malware. The instructions are simple: either update it, disable it, or just uninstall it completely.” Read more..

My advice on that is: uninstall it. If it should prove that some application (aka “program”) you have needs Java to run.. seriously consider uninstalling that, too.

If you are an Über Geek: please participate in my latest poll and help resolve the most pressing question of our time. Star Trek’s Best Captain (Debate Settled)
(And thanks to those of you who have already joined in.)

Another reading reco: Can Microsoft be right about tablets and Apple, Amazon, and Google be wrong?

If you haven’t realized it yet, Microsoft is trying to do something different in tablets. But, the strategy has three big question marks.Read more..

(If you’re wondering.. the likelihood is that my first tablet – if I ever go that route – would be a Surface. [I do much more than look at YouTube, is why.])

Today’s quote:An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men.” ~ Thomas Fuller

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

July 26, 2012 Posted by | advice, Apple, computers, Microsoft, News, PC, software, tech | , , , , , | 10 Comments

Account Alert | Sunday Beauty XXXVII

This was in my Hotmail Inbox this morning. I haven’t seen this specimen since September. (They’ve updated and improved it. Can you spot the difference? ¹ )

From: Windows Live™ Hotmail (accountcongestion42@hotmail.com)
Subject: Hotmail Account Alert‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏

Dear Account Owner,

This Email is from Hotmail Customer Care and we are sending it to every Hotmail Email User Accounts Owner for safety. we are having congestions due to the anonymous registration of Hotmail accounts so we are shutting down some Hotmail accounts and your account was among those to be deleted. We are sending this email to you so that you can verify and let us know if you still want to use this account. If you are still interested please confirm your account by filling the space below.Your User name, password, date of birth and your country information would be needed to verify your account.


Confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login Information below after clicking the reply button, or your account will be suspended within 48 hours for security reasons.

* User Name: ………………………..
* Password: …………………………..
* Date of Birth: …………………………
* Alternative email: …………….
* Alternative password: …………….

After following the instructions in the sheet, your account will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Thanks for your attention to this request. We apologize for any inconveniences.

Sincerely,
The Windows Live Hotmail Team

It has been a long time since I have received one of these incredibly lame phishing attempts. I had thought the *people* behind them had finally figured out that the days when people might fall for this were over. This form is so.. 90′s!
Send me your password.
Right.

Seeing this made me good ‘n mad. This email was in my Hotmail Inbox, not my Junk folder. It contained an animated GIF. Shouldn’t Hotmail’s “Smart filter” spam catcher have caught, and flagged, this??? Yes! This is mid-year 2011.
Shouldn’t the Evil Doers have abandoned this strategy as obsolete, knowing people are far too experienced and savvy to ever fall for it these days??? Yes. This is 2011, and phishing emails like this have been around since Windows 95 and 56K modems.
Savvy and experienced users…
Right.

I have to shake my head. And shrug. And sigh. And try to cheer myself up. I have to just “accept” that the percentage of the population who know about phishing, and “Sender spoofing” has not increased in the last year. Despite all education efforts.

Don’t be a chump: accountcongestion42@hotmail.com is a criminal.

At least the sun is out…
Maybe this pretty picture will help.

Click on image to see more by this artist

Photo by mattii70, courtesy of Flickr Commons

¹ the difference is: now they are asking for a second email+password too, and they dropped the “Country of origin”.

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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April 10, 2011 Posted by | cyber crime, e-mail, Internet scam | , , | 6 Comments

Beware "The Twelve Scams of Christmas"

McAfee* has revealed their 2010’s “Twelve Scams of Christmas” —

the 12 most dangerous online scams that computer users should be cautious of this holiday season.

Scams continue to be big business for cybercriminals who have their sights set on capitalizing on open hearts and wallets this holiday season,” said Dave Marcus, director of security research for McAfee Labs. “As people jump online to look for deals on gifts and travel, it’s important to recognize common scams to safeguard against theft during the busy season ahead.

Twelve Scams of Christmas:

  1. iPad Offer Scams
    With Apple products topping most shopping lists this holiday season, scammers are busy distributing bogus offers for free iPads. McAfee Labs found that in the spam version of the scam consumers are asked to purchase other products and provide their credit card number to get the free iPad. Of course, victims never receive the iPad or the other items, just the headache of reporting a stolen credit card number. In the social media version of the scam, users take a quiz to win a free iPad and must supply their cell phone number to receive the results. In actuality they are signed up for a cell phone scam that costs $10 a week.
  2. “Help! I’ve Been Robbed” Scam
    This travel scam sends phony distress messages to family and friends requesting that money be wired or transferred so that they can get home. McAfee Labs has seen an increase in this scam and predicts its rise during the busy travel season.
  3. Fake Gift Cards
    Cybercrooks use social media to promote fake gift card offers with the goal of stealing consumers’ information and money, which is then sold to marketers or used for ID theft. One recent Facebook scam offered a “free $1,000 Best Buy gift card” to the first 20,000 people who signed up for a Best Buy fan page, which was a look-a-like. To apply for the gift card they had to provide personal information and take a series of quizzes.
  4. Holiday Job Offers
    As people seek extra cash for gifts this holiday season, Twitter scams offer dangerous links to high-paying, work-at-home jobs that ask for your personal information, such as your email address, home address and Social Security number to apply for the fake job.
  5. “Smishing”
    Cybercrooks are now “smishing,” or sending phishing SMS texts. These texts appear to come from your bank or an online retailer saying that there is something wrong with an account and you have to call a number to verify your account information. In reality, these efforts are merely a ruse to extract valuable personal information from the targets. Cybercrooks know that people are more vulnerable to this scam during the holiday season when consumers are doing more online shopping and checking bank balances frequently.
  6. Suspicious Holiday Rentals
    During peak travel times when consumers often look online for affordable holiday rentals, cybercrooks post fake holiday rental sites that ask for down payments on properties by credit card or wire transfer.
  7. Recession Scams Continue
    Scammers target vulnerable consumers with recession related scams such as pay-in-advance credit schemes. McAfee Labs has seen a significant number of spam emails advertising prequalified, low-interest loans and credit cards if the recipient pays a processing fee, which goes directly into the scammer’s pocket.
  8. Grinch-like Greetings
    E-cards are a convenient and earth-friendly way to send greetings to friends and family, but cybercriminals load fake versions with links to computer viruses and other malware instead of cheer. According to McAfee Labs, computers may start displaying obscene images, pop-up ads, or even start sending cards to contacts that appear to come from you.
  9. Low Price Traps
    Shoppers should be cautious of products offered at prices far below competitors. Cyber scammers use auction sites and fake websites to offer too-good-to-be-true deals with the goal of stealing your money and information.
  10. Charity Scams
    The holidays have historically been a prime time for charity scams since it’s a traditional time for giving, and McAfee Labs predicts that this year is no exception. Common ploys include phone calls and spam e-mails asking you to donate to veterans’ charities, children’s causes and relief funds for the latest catastrophe.
  11. Dangerous Holiday Downloads
    Holiday-themed screensavers, jingles and animations are an easy way for scammers to spread viruses and other computer threats especially when links come from an email or IM that appears to be from a friend.
  12. Hotel and Airport Wi-fi
    During the holidays many people travel and use free wi-fi in places like hotels and airports. This is a tempting time for thieves to hack into networks hoping to find opportunities for theft.

McAfee advises Internet users to follow these five tips to protect their computers and personal information:

  • Stick to well-established and trusted sites that include trust marks (icons or seals from third parties verifying that the site is safe), user reviews and customer support. A reputable trust mark provider will have a live link attached to its trust mark icon, which will take visitors to a verification Web site of the trust mark provider.
  • Do not respond to offers that arrive in a spam email, text or instant message.
  • Preview a link’s web address before you click on it to make sure it is going to an established site. Never download or click anything from an unknown source.
  • Stay away from vendors that offer prices well below the norm. Don’t believe anything that’s too good to be true.
  • Make sure to use trusted wi-fi networks. Don’t check bank accounts or shop online if you’re not sure the network is safe. If you think you may be a victim of cybercrime, visit the McAfee Cybercrime Response Unit to assess your risks and learn what you can do next at the link below.

* About McAfee
McAfee, headquartered in Santa Clara, California, is the world’s largest dedicated security technology company. McAfee delivers proactive and proven solutions and services that help secure systems, networks, and mobile devices around the world, allowing users to safely connect to the Internet, browse and shop the Web more securely. Backed by its unrivaled Global Threat Intelligence, McAfee creates innovative products that empower home users, businesses, the public sector and service providers by enabling them to prove compliance with regulations, protect data, prevent disruptions, identify vulnerabilities, and continuously monitor and improve their security. McAfee secures your digital world.

McAfee is a registered trademark or trademark of McAfee, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others. © 2008 McAfee, Inc. All rights reserved.

References
Cybersafety Resource Portal


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December 10, 2010 Posted by | computers, Internet, Internet scam, News, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments