New scam – not here yet, but on the way

This one, reported in the Independent, is really nasty, and worth looking out for, as it will be very easy to fall for:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/can-you-hear-me-phone-scam-fraud-us-britain-police-pennsylvania-florida-uk-a7597106.html

How it would stand up in court appears unclear, but it’s yet another way to steal your money…

Happy New Year

A very belated Happy 2017 to all our clients.

We hit the ground running in 2017, and haven’t had much time to add anything here before now.

The usual HMRS email and Microsoft / BT / Talk Talk (not) scams continue, and are more sophisticated than ever, so please be very careful. If you receive an unexpected communication by phone or email regard it as a scam until you can absolutely verify that it is not.

Apple owners are also now targets for scammers – this is fairly new and will will report in depth on it next week. It scam involves an on-screen message from “Apple Care”. Apple will not send unsolicited messages directly to your computer, so please be aware of this.

Christmas 2016 holidays

We will be closing on Friday 23rd December at 1.00 pm, and re-opening on 3rd January at 9.00 am.

Many thanks to everyone who has made 2016 one of our best years ever – we wouldn’t be here without you.

Happy Christmas and a prosperous and peaceful 2017 to everyone.

Ongoing threats

While there hasn’t been a “new” virus or spyware threat for a while, all of the old favorites are still out there and still active.

Some to look out for (and not fall for) are:

1: The HMRC tax refund email

This is an email from HMRC to tell you that you are due a refund, usually of Income Tax. The email contains a link to supposedly claim your refund. The link takes you to an official looking website where you are required to enter personal and bank details in order to claim the money. The whole thing is a scam – HMRC will write to you if they need to speak to you, and do not generally use email to communicate with the public

2: The “Police” virus

We’ve written extensively about this one in the past, basically your computer is locked and and a ransom demanded to unlock it. This is theft, pure and simple, do not pay, and take your PC, laptop or tablet to someone (us ūüôā ) who knows how to get rid of it.

3: The technical support phone scam

Again, we’ve written and warned a lot about this one. Microsoft, “Windows”, BT, “your broadband provider” or anyone else will never, ever ring to tell you that there is a problem with your computer’s hardware which they have detected. All this is is an opportunity for the thieves to take control of your computer, steal your personal details and a fair chunk of your money. Hang up at once if you receive such a call.

4: The bogus charity wall chart / diary

One for businesses more, but still a scam. A pleasant sounding (usually northern) caller will ask if you want to support an anti-bullying (or similar) campaign in return for advertising in a local school, college, library etc, then get you to sign up for a Standing Order and a contract. There is no such campaign, and the callers can become abusive when challenged. We have fallen for this, then became aware of it, and now give as good as we get on the phone.

5: The “Locky” trojan

This one is really nasty, and encrypts your files beyond recovery. It arrives as an email attachement, usually in MS Word format, which when opened is garbled and unreadable. Once it has been opened, the damage is done and the trojan software is at work. Any files changed by the trojan are unreadable, and it cannot be reversed. At the end of the encryption process, a ransom for the decrytpion key is demanded. This is usually several hundred pounds, and is not guaranteed to work once purchased.

 

A good rule of thumb is that anything that appears to be too good to be true usually is, and that anyone ringing out of the blue will likely not have your best interests at heart. If in doubt, delete the email or hang up the phone.

EE Broadband customer support

It isn’t very often that we have anything good to say about ISP customer support (yes, we do mean you, Talk Talk), but we had reason to contact EE earlier today on behalf of a new client who had no broadband connection.

After the inevitable “press one for…” routine, the phone was answered after one ring, and a very helpful representative cheched the line and carried out the usual tests – “have you switched it off?”, “is it in the master socket?” etc.

As we were talking he was running a line test, and quickly worked out that there was an external fault. He escalated the problem to Level 2 support, and promised a call back within 24 hours. All of this took no more than ten minutes.

It was actually a pleasure to contact EE. We will see if they keep up the good work and phone back as promised. 

 

Oops…

We came across this article earlier:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/05/31/windows_10_samsung_fail/

It appears that Samsung computers don’t yet work with Windows 10, almost a year after its release to the public. Given that Microsoft are making it more and more difficult to stop the upgrade, this is very interesting indeed.

“Locky” Trojan

This is a new twist on an old and very nasty Trojan, and one which can potentially cause you to lose the contents of your PC or laptop without hope of recovery.

It starts with an email which has a Microsoft Word document attached. The email title usually mentions an invoice or a document, and you may or may not know the sender. When you open the document, the Trojan downloads and starts to encrypt the files on your computer. It changes the file name to an incomprehensible string of letters and numbers, and then changes the file extension to .locky. All of the files in your computer will eventually be encrypted in this manner.

The¬†Trojan also adds a file called “help” to every folder it encrypts. This contains instructions to visit a website¬†via a¬†given link, and pay a ransom (usually 1/2 a Bitcoin, at present around ¬£350.00) to obtain an unencryption key for your data. In our experience this is not forthcoming on payment of the¬†ransom, and you are then out of pocket¬†as well as having no data.

There is no solution to this Trojan once it is in your system except a total, very careful wipe of the hard disk and a reload of the Windows system. Any data which has been encrypted is lost.

A defence against it is¬†to keep at least one copy of¬†anything important to you on a seperate physical medium, such as an external hard¬†disk drive or USb flash drive, and to disconnect this from your PC¬†or laptop when you aren’t using it. Any drives attached or network shares are vunerable to attack.

If you do see your files becoming encrypted, turn the computer off at once. Do not switch it back on until you have brought it to us for remedial action. The faster we get it, the more of your files we can save.

Easter 2016 holidays

We will be closed on Monday & Tuesday of next week (28th & 29th March) and re-open on Wednesday 30th.

We already have a substantial amount of work booked in for next week, so please don’t call with us unless you have a prior arrangement to do so, as there will probably be no-one here to help you.

Windows 10 self installing

We have now had three instances of Windows 10 installing itself as a Windows update, whether it is wanted or not.

This has become a major problem for one of our clients, who have software which will not run under Windows 10 without a lot of bother, and has lead to considerable problems for them.  We will be able to correct this, but it will take a few days, and cause disruption to their business.

We can stop Windows 10 from automatically installing, and also from persistently asking to be installed. If you prefer to use Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, please contact us to find out how to stop Windows 10 from trying (and in some cases succeeding) to install onto your computer.

Also, please ensure that you backup your data – especially Sage Accounts and Payroll – if your PC or laptop is nagging you to upgrade.

 

More on Windows 10

Windows 10 has now been with us for a while, and has finally become more stable.

We have now seen more successful upgrades than not, but still strongly advise making a full backup of anything important (documents, photographs, videos – anything you can’t afford to lose, basically) on removable media before you start.

Also, please check with the maker of your PC or laptop that it is compatible with Windows 10. Microsoft are offering the upgrade free of charge to all licensed users of Windows 7, 8 & 8.1, but not all computers are designed to run the new software. Check the website of whoever made your computer before you commit to the update.

Any PC built and supplied by us will upgrade to Windows 10 with no issue.

The upgrade itself takes around an hour from start to finish. This will vary depending on your broadband connection speed. Your computer will restart several times, and will not be usable during the upgrade.

The upgrade is free of charge until 29th July 2016, and lasts for the lifetime of the device (PC or laptop) it is installed on. The licence cannot be transferred to another device.

We would now recommend upgrading to Windows 10, but ensure that you have a backup first, and that your system will run correctly afterwards.