My Mi­crosoft phish­ing ‘friend’

Costa Levante News - - NEWS -

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.

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