Saturday, 27 April 2019

Penalty Charge Notification and Cyber Crime Agency!

I always look in my Spam folder because there is always something interesting and amusing.

This week I received a Penalty Charge notification dated on my birthday in a place I was at least 400 miles away from!  None of the vehicles are connected to an email account at the DVLA so how did they get my email and which vehicle did it relate to and and and..

The other one was from some kind of Cyber Crime agency that was going to reward me compensation because I had recently been scammed!  The compensation was some astronomical amount which I would receive once they had my processing fee of 450, I cant remember whether it was US$, GPB or Euros.  It matters not!  It was a scam!  The upfront charges are a dead give away.

I did not get the other email, the one that had video of me and proved it by supplying an out of date password.  (My webcam on the laptop is covered when I'm not actively using it and my desktop does not have one!!) Still, I felt a bit left out!

Ask the simple questions when you receive these kind of emails: is what they are suggesting really a possibility.  

No!  

Just laugh at them, delete them and move on!



Friday, 26 April 2019

Housekeeping!

Look at your computer in the same way you look at your home. 

You like your home to be clean and tidy and everything is where it should be, household running smoothly, everyone has a clean shirt etc.

Keep your home this way takes a bit of regular housework, dusting, vacuuming or sweeping, washing, cleaning and so on.

If you want your PC to run well you will need to do similar tasks.  
  • Regular Antivirus scans with up to date software.
  • Malware and spyware removal with up to date software
  • Disk defragmentation
  • Disk cleanup
  • Driver updates. 
  • Make sure system restore is running
Most of these things can be automated.  Most of these things can be done with free software.  Sometimes you can find software that is both!

One of the most important things is (Here it comes, you've been expecting this one) is a back up!

And yes - I heard the collective groan.  

The times I've heard Will I loose all my pictures? or some version of that. 

Back up of data is imperative.  Disks are not infallible, but unlikely to all go down at the same time.  But you know all of this, you have been told this time and again.

What is also as important is a system image.  Windows can do this without additional software.

You spend ages installing all your software, putting all the serial numbers away in that safe place (I always think of the room of requirement when he hides the Potions book, because "Safe Place" I can never remember exactly where it is!!)

And then Microsoft gets involved and gives you updates, some minor, some major, and that is when it starts becoming a problem.  Minimise the problem by performing the housekeeping.

If you have a system image there is a very good chance that your system can be restored to its former glory with little fuss if a system has a backup.  

I hate it when I have to return a system to a client with just a bare copy of Windows 10 and their data.  Obviously I put AVs and stuff on as well, but it does not look the same as it did and nothing is where they left it.

If you would like some help or recommendations please contact me.  My advice costs nothing, a system rebuild is so much more expensive in many ways.

Have a good weekend all. 












Monday, 12 November 2018

Kaspersky Internet Security


Kaspersky Internet Security - I have this to cover the Lamas Equipment and the Lamas Junior Devices.

I have been spammed over the weekend by Kaspersky asking me to renew as my subscription is about to expire.

Its true it is about to expire.

In the email they were offering me 70% off the price.  Not unrealistic, the price of a new licence on Amazon is only a pound or so more.

I first tried this renewal on Friday when I got the first email.  It would not go to the correct page and on closer inspection it had an incorrect date.  I received a further email on Sunday and again on Monday morning.  Each time the deadline date was incorrect and it would not work on my PC.  I was just getting the Aww Snap page. 



Now as an additional thing, there was a notification on my PC that it was time to renew.
With Mondays email I thought will this now work they are back in the office, perhaps if this was an error they have fixed it.  

It worked on my phone.  I was about to enter PayPal details and I thought, wait a minute, try the PC again to be certain that this is what it should be and not some elaborate and clever scam to get all the information off my phone and drain my account!

On the PC it did not work and I know that scams are not usually elaborate or clever.

I even tried calling the number on the website, but that was not really Kaspersky, that was for Digital River acting on their behalf.  So they could not help me.  He kindly offered 50% off my renewal today, when I explained the situation, but I declined.  My reason ? I needed a moment to gather my thoughts and decide what I should do.  Obviously the Network Manager was consulted (quizzed extensively about what he thought was happening and whether he thought it was a scam and and and….)

There were several red flags up to this point.

The cost for the renewal was £59.99 less 70% so approximately  £16.50.  I can pick up a licence on Amazon for just a couple of quid more.  So its not even in the Too Good To Be True Category.

I honestly can’t say whether these emails were real or a scam.  But I do not want to take the chance.  I will wander round Amazon later today and purchase another licence and to heck with their spammy emails and renewal.  For a couple of quid it is just not worth it.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Turn off Remote Access

As a follow up to recent posts about phone scammers, here is a proactive way to protect yourself. 
If the scammers can’t get on to your pc in the first place then they can’t do the damage. It is highly unlikely that anyone legitimate will ask for remote access.
So for Windows 10 in the bottom left search box 

type “Remote Assistance” by the time you get to the A, it will be showing “Allow Remote Access to your computer”  It is important to get as far as the A, because it shows Remote Desktop and that is not what you are after.
Select the Remote Assistance option.

This shows the System Properties Window from a Windows 10 Home system




This shows the System Properties from a Windows 10 Pro system



Uncheck the tick box beside "Allow Remote Assistance Connections to this computer" and click Apply at the bottom of the windown and you are Done.

Again, tell your Nan or better yet do it for her.
Show your Mum and Dad and share it with everyone you know.
The remote access option is turned on by default in a new windows installation and that is what is making it easy for these scammers to carry out this despicable fraud that targets anyone. Let's at least try to make it harder for this scum to succeed.
The more people I speak to about this, the more I find have been caught out in some way. They dont care who you are, just what they can get out of you. 



Monday, 17 September 2018

Your Router has been compromised - SCAM

I posted this on social media today, but thought it worth repeating. 

I posted about this very thing on 11th May. 



I know I bang on about it but I’m just not getting through.
Scammers calling on the Phone.

A Client called me recently and had been caught with the “Your Router has been compromised” scam. He was caught for a large sum, straight from his bank account. And is currently in contact with The Fraud Squad.

Please remember, BT, Talk Talk, Virgin Media, Microsoft, Sky and other providers
Will NEVER call you.

If you get a phone call from someone saying they are from your phone or broadband provider, even a recorded message saying something there is something wrong with your PC, router or any related equipment put the phone down and don’t engage with them.

If you have any concerns call the number on your providers “contact us” page or call an expert you do trust to help you.

Tell your friends, tell your Nan, tell your parents, tell your Avon lady and your dog sitter!
Don’t let these scummy scammers get away with this.

Please share this - no, not copy and paste in some kind of tricky "see more than 25 of you friends" way. 

That's all for today.  I'm rebuilding a laptop.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Just a Moment... Blue Screen Windows 10 1803 installation

In this case, the answer was to use an older installation (1511) version of Windows 10.  If like me you have read extensively and rambling articles not all relevant to this issue I know how you feel and are just looking for the answer.  That was mine.

If you are interested here is the full story ....

There has been a pc in Lamas HQ this week, Core i7, 4th Generation with a Nvidia 980 Graphics card.  Not a spanking new system but old enough to be settled in.

Failed HDD.

So, I ordered a new HDD.  The existing one was a bit of a strange one.  3T Western Digital Green in a Gaming PC.  I asked if it had been upgraded but no it was the same HDD that was in there when they bought it.

I went to Amazon for a 3T WD blue, but ended up getting a 4T as the price difference was about £5!

My apprentice helped me to dismantle and install the new drive and then put he put the usb in to install Windows.

It all seemed to be installing correctly until it came to setting up the users. It did not ask for user names, it just said

Just a moment ...



With a Blue Screen, Sometimes the window filled the screen; sometimes it was just a windows in the centre of the screen or occasionally it had Network in the top centre.

If I did alt and tab, there was a Microsoft account window which was inaccessible but just "there".

I tried many different fixes, which didn't work.  I googled for more and they did not work either.

I'm not going to list all the things I tried because I would be here all day!

I was able to get a command prompt using Shift F10, but nothing I was able to do in the command line was able to help

Sometimes, it went to this as well...



This problem seems to have been around for a few years, but there are no answers to it and no explanation of the cause of it in any version that I could find.

Microsoft suggest a reset or a reinstallation (or something that needs a working windows environment), but never a "ooh this is what is wrong and here's how you fix it"   Reset or resinstallation are never going to work if you cannot install the operating software in the first place!

Everything about this problem was weird.

I had used the install USB to rescue and reinstall another laptop only a few days beforehand.  So there was apparently nothing wrong with the installation USB.

I had used a Linux mint installation running from USB to check that the other components were working.  I installed the full version to the HDD and got a working copy of Linux Mint booting from the disk not the USB.

What did this mean thou?

I attached the new HDD to a working system and, using the same windows 10 USB I was able to install Windows 10.

So I proved it was possible and that there was nothing wrong with the install USB and the new HDD was working and ok.

By this time the client PC was reduced to running Motherboard, processor, one stick of RAM and onboard, DVI graphics plus a Lamas USB mouse and USB keyboard, both which were nothing special, generic & taking no additional effort!

Well done if you have made it this far!

Windows can create its own installation media as long as the the PC creating the installation media has a valid licence. So recently, in a fit of  something like efficiency, I created a new install USB Windows 10 for 1803 to stop the need for all the updates!

This new version of installation media had worked on other systems but not on this one.

In a desperate effort, I decided to try older installation media.

1511 to be precise.

The installation worked fully right to the desktop and asked me to create not only a user but a password as well.

I was able to get to updates and updated to the most recent version (1803) of Windows so it was fully updated. Put back all the removed components of the PC.

Install anti virus

Update drivers

Install chrome

Finally return it to the client working.

Whilst, I have repaired the PC and got it back working, I'm still wondering why the more recent version didn't work and what was causing the error.

I would be interested to hear if anyone has the same problem and how they were able to fix it.


.




Call Blocker - more scams

I had one of those stupid, scammer calls about a call blocker yesterday.  They asked me if I wanted to stop getting marketing calls starting tomorrow (wow, sounds too good to be true!).  I try never to say the word Yes to these people, but I wondered what their angle was going to be. I kept asking "So you are going to give me a call blocker for nothing starting tomorrow."  Yes they told me. I tried asking they same question in several different ways but they were not going to change their script.  I eventually got bored and hung up.

They called back and I recognised the number and gave it to The Network Manager.  They wanted to talk to me and not him...hmm did they think I was the soft touch ... we already know its a scam, still trying to work out their angle. 

They called back this morning still wanting to speak to me, but got The Network Manager instead.  He spoke to them and this is what he said.

Decided to hear them out today to see how the scam works. First they say they work for the 'telephone preference' management'' and do you want to stop nuisance calls. Then they tell you your address details and ask you to confirm they are correct. 

Then they tell you the last time you registered with them the card you used had an expiration date of xxx/xxx and was that card still valid or did you have a new card to use. So there you have it, that's the scam. I got bored at that point and put the phone down.  
---

So that's the scam...getting your bank card details, "Social Engineering", They have all this info so therefore They must be somehow genuine and you will provide all your details  - NOT!!

Oh Really?
I know this is not a new thing, but I was interested to see what this was about,  what they were up to and how they were going to do it.  


Friday, 11 May 2018

phone call scams

Here at Lamas HQ we get some odd phone calls.

Including:

  •  the usual Microsoft Technician calling because one of our PCs is infected, which receives either the hang up treatment or I will string them along to see how long I can keep them on the phone with no intention doing as they ask, thus stopping them call someone else.
     
  • or will we do a survey and I promise NEVER to call you again (No, you won't, but 6 of the people you sell my details to will!) I did the survey once and gave some absolutely absurd answers.  I'm still getting calls for that name years later, showing that they do sell the details to others or they just don't stop,
  • or my pet hate, the silent call or the hangup on voicemail, The other person has cleared - why phone me just to hang up on my voicemail?

None of these calls have been from anyone with any type of british accent. There is usually a long pause and then you hear call centre noises in the background

But I have been getting a new one (new to me, that is!)

A recorded message telling me that my Internet is compromised OH NO!


I should press 1 if my Internet is from BT or 2 if other and I will be connected with a technician straight away.  Our lines are not BT but I pressed 1 and told them in no uncertain terms to take me off their call database and will continue to do that.  

Yes, I know that will not make a single ounce of difference but it makes me feel better!  Or maybe next time I will play along and find out exactly what their game is!

Or maybe if our internet is as slow as it is today I should ask them to fix it!!

Edited to Add:  I have a client who was taken in by this scam.  Please be aware of it.  I know exactly what their game is and it is not funny.  These scammers took a considerable amount of money.  

We need to make more people aware of this.  

Thursday, 10 May 2018

1803 update - WiFi Slow

The April Microsoft update is now available.  Update to version 1803.
I have now updated a couple of the Lamas HQ systems, including mine and the Network Managers'.

The systems I have updated so far have happened apparently successfully.  (fingers crossed or your superstition of choice!)

When I say successfully, I mean that the system has done the update and rebooted and then has gone on to work.  No reboot loop or blue screen equivalent, Automatic repair loop or such like.  There are different degrees of successful!

What I have noticed is that my laptop internet connection is slower than a slow thing going slowly.

A major update like this is usually followed by a Disk Clean-up and a driver update and maybe a malware, rootkit and full virus scan to just complete the job.

The Driver update, didn't make any difference.

I found a website that gave some ideas about post 1803 installation but it suggested installing a driver updater that a) gave me exactly one scan then started demanding money to go any further and b) is showing up on Malwarebytes as (Surprise!) a Potentially Unwanted Program!  So it was an Advert rather than an informational piece.

Malware scan found the PuP as above, and the brilliant and marvelous resources on  BlackViper detail the services required to run Windows 10 without any extraneous stuff.

It was still the same after the services check.

The Ethernet adapter works fine and is giving a realistic and proper speed.
An external wifi dongle, once installed and operational, gave a sensible wifi speed.

Lamas HQ systems have a third party security application installed, which includes both AV and Firewall.  So, the Windows Firewall is disabled.

It appears that disabling the Windows Defender Firewall was my error.  Once I changed the Windows Defender Firewall service from Disabled to Manual, my internal WiFi started working as it should giving more than 10mbps closer to 50!


Thursday, 26 April 2018

Windows updates again




I recently received a text message from a friend -
Just using XXXs laptop. AV isn’t working. Its saying its snoozed so unprotected. Don’t know whats happened but do you know how to unsnooze it?  AV will not open via the desktop or settings.


I replied to this with my standard "reboot the system and report back" text.  Yep, the old “Turn it off and Turn it on again” routine that IT professionals have been relying on for years.

The reply she sent me a bit later was
 “THAT WORKED. FAB! Thanks xx”
Most of the issues seen recently here at Lamas HQ have been update related.

A Wifi not connecting properly or sound not working.  Minor annoyances which, on their own are not too terrible and may not always be either noticed or dealt with.  Over time this will lead to vulnerabilities.

Current Windows 10 systems are mostly laptops. 

How do you turn off your laptop?

Very often all I do is close the lid at the end of the day, which is not actually turning it off just sending it into hibernation or sleep or suspended (or whatever it is currently named)  Windows 10 does minor updates and these are not obvious until a full reboot is performed.

Perhaps the reason IT pros use the Turn it off and Turn it on again routine is because it still works more often than not and it also brings the system back to normal and allows Windows to sort itself out.  I have noticed that a lot of other service providers use the same thought process.  Freeview tv box, cable tv box, all the service calls all start with turn it off and unplug it for 30 seconds.  Now reboot. 












Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Windows cannot access Network Drive


We have a network drive and media Server at Lamas HQ and I have had some issues recently trying to access it through File Manager.

This is the error message:


I spoke to the Network Manager several times.  He always suggested rebooting my pc or rebooting the router.  Now this sometimes worked.  Other times it was just an exercise in futility ending in me getting extremely frustrated with things and not being able to access anything on the network.

We had a new QNAP server installed earlier in the year and we blamed it on that to some extent.  However, it was getting more and more frequent and more difficult to resolve.

All the Lamas HQ equipment is running Windows 10 fully up to date, patched and fully AV protected.

Turns out that was the reason for the failure to connect!

I did a Google Search on the error and found this explanation on the QNAP site.

The SMB v1 application that was available prior to the 1709 update, is now not available after the update and that is what is effectively, preventing connection through Windows File Manager.

The answer is to map the drive in File Manager and there should be no further issue.

Click on ThisPC in File manager and there are 2 options

The option Map the Network Drive does just that. The folder you specify is the one that it goes to.



In the example above if you were to map the Company Directory you will be able to see that drive and its content but not the Films or other same level directories.

You will be able to map the different top level directories but  each one will need to be done separately.

The other way to do it is to Add a Network Location.


Follow the onscreen directions and then you will be able to pin this to the quick menu.  This will however allow you to see the whole network drive and not just the mapped drive.



Penalty Charge Notification and Cyber Crime Agency!

I always look in my Spam folder because there is always something interesting and amusing. This week I received a Penalty Charge notifica...