McAfee software installation issues

We have never had a lot of time for McAfee security software or its BT counterpart. They slow systems down, and when the months trial version (it comes bundled with most retail computers) or annual subscription expires it usually prevents you from accessing the internet. Whether the “100% virus detection” guarantee actually works remains moot.

Recently one of our clients bought a McAfee renewal licence and tried to install it. In order to do this, you are asked to visit an activation website, log in to or create a McAfee account, provide credit or debit card details for automatic renewal (more on this below) and then, finally, download and install the software.

Unfortunately this process is far from straightforward. When you search for the activation website, it does appear on the first page of results (in Google, anyway), but the top search result, below a paid advert which is also a misleading result, is for a page which looks very similar to the McAfee page, but which offers “help” in installing the software by means of a telephone service. This page is not part of the McAfee website, or affiliated with them in any way.

The page is of course a clever scam, and as happened to our client, once you have telephoned the “help” number results in the scammer taking remote control of your computer, pretending to activate the software, predictably telling you that there is a problem, and offering to fix it for a fee – in this case £60.00. Thankfully at this point we were contacted, and advised that the computer be closed down and the call to the website “support” service ended.

The computer came to us later that day, and we found that the McAfee licence had been registered to an account totally unconnected to the owner, and also that backdoor remote access software and spyware had been installed while “repairs” were ongoing remotely. Use of the software was effectively lost.

As a result, the owner had to buy a further McAfee licence in order to access the software, which we carefully registered to their existing McAfee account after changing the password which was fairly certain to have been compromised. We also removed the malware installed by the scammer.

We also noticed during the installation that it is impossible to proceed beyond a certain point without providing name, postal address, ‘phone number and credit or debit card details. This is to facilitate automatic renewal of the McAfee software in 12 months once the current subscription comes to an end. In smallish print it is mentioned that this is at full retail price (our italics), which will be charged without reminder or notification. There is an option to opt out of this, which we did on our clients behalf, but not without lots of “are you sure?” boxes and a couple of warning emails.

In conclusion, if you must use McAfee software, be very, very careful while activating it online, and also be sure to deactivate the automatic renewal option. Record the details of your McAfee account, and keep them safe.

Based on our experience of it, we cannot recommend McAfee as a security solution. If you must use it, tiptoe carefully through the minefield 🙂

Current issues with MS “Edge” browser

Following the latest Windows 10 update we’ve noticed a few problems with the built in “Edge” browser.  Quite a few of our cleints have reported that is now impossible to open links within emails and one or two have come to us unable to access any web pages at all.

While it is possible to roll back the update within ten days of installation, we’ve found that the easiest fix is to move to an alternative web browser such as Chrome or Firefox, and to make this the default Windows browser. Microsoft are not keen on this, and throw up all sorts of “are you sure?” prompts, but it does fix the problem.

If you aren’t sure how to do this, please ask – it isn’t that difficult, and advice is always free from us.

Closure on Monday 21st August

We will be closed (and unavailable by ‘phone etc) on Monday 21st August.

Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

ISP woes (part 2)

Talk Talk again this time. We were back this morning for another attempt to recover a non working email password for a client. She has been with Talk Talk since 2006, and had the same password since then.

After an hour of getting nowhere with online “support”, they went to check their records and disconnected the chat window.

I started a new chat, very carefully explained the situation and the steps taken to resolve it – their password reset cleverly involved sending a link to the email address we couldn’t access – and after asking directly several times was eventually told that Talk Talk support can’t access or change passwords. It was then mentioned by them that the fault lay in the computer, where nothing had changed.

When I then mentioned that we also couldn’t access the same account via webmail using three seperate computers, in two locations, with five different browsers, it was suggested that as the fault couldn’t be at their end we should go to Microsoft for help. I ended that chat before I lost my temper. The process took one hour, fifteen minutes.

Transcripts of all conversations have been kept, and I’m thinking very hard about contacting Ofcom (not that it will likely make a lot of difference).

One to consider, especially as Talk Talk seem to be pushing for new clients.

ISP woes (part 1)

This is latest sneaky charge from BT – £31.00 is added to your final bill if you move to another ISP, move house and change provider, or for instance are a student moving home for the summer and finishing your contract. Full details here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/bills-and-utilities/broadband/bt-stings-broadband-customers-31-exit-fee/

We regard this as somewhat underhand to say the least. Apparently it is buried deep in the T&C’s of the BT contract.

 

Flash player “update” scam

We’ve recently noticed that on certain websites which have embedded video clips (the sort that play as soon as you go to the site) that a second page opens stating the “Flash Player is out of date – please click here to download a new version” or a variant of this; it seems to depend on the site visited.

Don’t click on this link. It will install endless malware onto your computer (someone did and it took ages to clean it out) and stop Flash Player from working. The best bet is to close both websites immediately.

If you think you have inadvertently clicked on something you shouldn’t have, please contact us for a chat about it.

Kittens

Anyone who has been to see us over the past few weeks will know that we were a temporary maternity unit for Speedy and her latest (and final) litter.  The wee ones were both a delight and a huge worry for the time that they were here, thankfully Speedy is a brilliant mum and all six thrived and have now all been rehomed.  All are thriving.  Speedy herself was finally captured (she isn’t called Speedy for nothing) and thanks to Cedramount Vets won’t be having any more kittens.

Thanks to all who left in food, milk and treats, and also to the brave souls who took on young kittens 🙂

Current Ransomware threat

You will no doubt have heard about the current Ransomware which has crippled Windows computers in the NHS in England and Scotland.

What we know so far:

Only Windows based computers are at risk.

It does not seem to come from a spam or spoofed email, although continue to treat these with utmost suspicion. The means of original infection remains unknown.

Only large organisations have been targeted so far.

Not many ransoms have been paid ($54,000 as of this morning, so in global terms not a lot).

There have not been large scale infections of home computers or networks.

What to do:

Have an up to date, working, tested backup, and disconnect the backup media when it isn’t in use. If it is connected to your PC and you are infected, it is encrypted too.

Make sure you have all Windows updates installed and up to date.

If you are running an older, unsupported version of Windows (Windows 7 is supported until January 2020, Windows 8.1 until January 2018, Windows 10 until October 2025, anything else has no current support) please seriously consider moving to a newer platform to avoid risk or catastrophic data loss.

If you are infected, turn the PC off, and bring it to us. Do not pay the ransom.

If you are feeling especially paranoid, turn your router off and stay offline until there is more information on this threat (this is what the Health Service Executive in Ireland have basically done).

Contact us or help or advice on anything mentioned above.

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.