My Microsoft phishing ‘friend’
By Jack Troughton THOSE awfully nice and caring people at Microsoft rang out of the blue on Monday morning to warn they had noticed a couple of problems on the computer.
Calling from a British number, a helpful lady quickly underlined she worked for one of the largest computer companies in the world and engineers were standing by and positively eager to help get the wizardry back to optimum speed.
All that was needed was to follow a few basic instructions - but be warned, this is the start of a clever scam – growing in numbers on the Costa Blanca and the easiest way to deal with it is to replace the receiver...immediately.
“Good morning, do you speak English?” started the call. “I’m calling from Microsoft one of the biggest computer companies in the world – we have received messages from your computer and there appear to be a few problems.
“I’m going to show you how we can deal with them and afterwards I will make you notice the results. Are you sitting at your computer at the moment? Is it switched on?”
Explaining it was just “booting up” after switching it on; it was a little odd having to explain the term to the softly spoken Microsoft person with an oriental accent. The unimpressed telephone handset returned to its cradle. The deception is known as ‘phishing’ – a method of trawling for sensitive information – and is sadly widespread. The smooth chat is intended to put the unwary at ease and appear genuinely helpful.
And the bad guys hope the intended victim will be overawed and worried about a possible malfunctioning piece of technology and not fully understanding, will simply roll over and comply. Unfortunately, it can mean taking a financial hit – fees for the ‘fix’ for example - or worse.
The initial warning sounded when answering the phone; there was that annoying gap before a human voice started speaking; it was a cold call and a computer is randomly dialling numbers at high speed, so it takes a moment for the gang to engage.
Most people have a computer, laptop or another device and go online. People tend to either have Microsoft or Apple driving the technology, so there is a good chance of an immediate rapport.
Everyone, when pushed, will agree there could be there is a ‘problem’ making the machine ‘ run slow’; it is only human nature, responding positively to a planted suggestion. Advertising does it all the time.
However, notice there is nothing personal in the call. The crooks have no idea who they are talking to despite claiming Microsoft is performing a very personal service above and beyond the call of duty... apparently.