Microsoft, stop resetting my program defaults in Windows 10.

reset

Dear Microsoft,

  • I don’t give a rat’s south-40 whether or not an app caused a problem. Handle it with an error message, if you must. Or a recommendation.
  • I’ve been to “program defaults” and I have specified what program I want to handle given file types.
  • You have NO RIGHT to change those back just because you want me to use your own (often substandard) applications.
  • Stop doing this. I configure my computer to my own needs, not yours. This is beyond ignorant, beyond arrogant, beyond anything reasonable or normal. It is stupid and maddening. Just STOP IT.

cactus

No love,

The Old Wolf

Hard Drive Safety Delete Will Start in Five Minutes

Executive Summary: There is no “hard drive safety delete.” Your machine is not infected. You have been redirected to a malicious web page. Calling “support” will connect you to someone in India who wants to install malware on your computer. Don’t do it.

deleteDelete 2

Just posting this with a sample screen so that anyone who searches for the Zeus virus infection might see it.

A full description of this scam can be found at a previous entry.

Do NOT call 844-813-1552 to ask for support. Be very careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Your Computer Has Been Blocked! (PS – no, it hasn’t)

scam

If you get a screen like this while doing something like trying to log in to Facebook or something else, usually as a result of clicking on a link after a web search, you are being scammed.

Typically your browser locks up – you can’t go back, you can’t navigate to anything else, and you even can’t close the window. Instructions tell you to call Microsoft support because your system is infected with spyware and viruses.

It hasn’t.

If you call the number (877-382-9050), a friendly person (in India, Pakistan, or somewhere else) will answer. THESE ARE NOT MICROSOFT SUPPORT CONSULTANTS. THEY ARE SCAMMERS AND CRIMINALS. They will ask you some questions about your system, and have you do the following things:

  • Press the windows+R keys to open the “Run” box
  • Type in ” iexplore http://www.go2patch.com ” and hit enter
  • Type in the access code that they give you
  • Press the “Connect” button and then allow the program to run

If you do this, you have just given full access of your system to criminals who will steal valuable information, download real spyware or malware, or turn your computer into part of a botnet to send out spam.

This is just another incarnation of the “Zeus Virus” scam – same technique, different remote connection software.

If this happens to you, hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and open the Task Manager. End the browser task from there, whatever you’re running (IE, Edge, Chrome, Firefox, NCSA Mosaic, etc.)

What do you do if you have already allowed access? According to “Slim,” a registered user at 800Notes.com,

Since the scammers accessed the computer, they probably did one or more of the following:
• Disabled the anti-virus software
• Added nasty malware to the computer
• Copied the Contact List (so they can spam/email your soon-to-be ex-friends)
• Copied any financial data or passwords they could find
• Compromised your ID on Facebook or other social site(s), and perhaps on shopping sites.
• “Zombied” the computer, so it would respond to THEIR commands sent via internet
• Deleted some important files
• Asked for money to repair the damage they caused

What can you do immediately after such an attack?

1.  Pull the cables on the computer, or otherwise disable it, so it cannot access the internet.
2.  Change ALL  passwords stored on the computer.
3.  Run FULL malware scans on the computer, in “SAFE” mode!
4.  Change the passwords again, particularly if the malware scans showed anything.
5.  Inform your bank and credit card companies.
6.  Sign up for credit monitoring, and check the status frequently
7.  Backup non-executable personal, data files to an external storage device.  (Executable files might be infected).
8.  You may have to bring the computer to a local repair shop, and tell them the story.
9.  Tell friends what happened, so they can be aware of strange emails from you.
10.  Connect to the internet only AFTER all the above have been done.
11.  Change the passwords on all online accounts.  Even better – access a “safe”, uninfected  computer, and change your online account passwords RIGHT NOW.

Be careful out there – don’t help the bad guys mess up your machine.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Here’s to the crazy ones – and to the creators of the campaign.

Recently I posted this image over at Facebook:

77e93b96856f2692806beb5c95fa0b7f

At once I began to get pushback on the source, so I thought I’d do a bit of digging – and what I found was interesting.

One thing is certain – the quote was part of Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. There were two versions of the commercial, one voice-overed by Steve Jobs himself (this one never aired):

And the one that actually hit the airwaves, with Richard Dreyfuss as the narrator:

But who actually wrote the text?

Not Jack Kerouac: “Sometimes attributed to Kerouac on the internet, perhaps because it evokes his famous quote from On the Road: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” ” (Wikiquote)

Not John Chapman, aka “Johnny Appleseed“: If you look closely at the Text Edit icon in Apple’s OS X, you’ll see the the quote there in the form of a letter to “Kate” from “John Appleseed.”

Text Edit

This has led some to attribute the quote to Chapman himself, which is just all wrong – the language is never something that the historical Johnny Appleseed would have used; on a side note of interest, this article at the Smithsonian suggests that Chapman was planting apples for hard liquor, not for eating.

“Apple cider provided those on the frontier with a safe, stable source of drink, and in a time and place where water could be full of dangerous bacteria, cider could be imbibed without worry.”

So who is the John Appleseed referred to in the icon, and who is Kate?

Not John Appleseed, the shadowy “Apple Insider:” This article at Techradar gives the background on who John Appleseed was – a Cupertino-based software developer who had developed Apple II software under his own name. When Apple’s CEO Mike Markkula (also a coder) developed some Apple II software under the pseudonym John Appleseed, the real Appleseed didn’t sue – he launched a campaign to meet Steve Jobs, as described in the article. Ultimately Appleseed’s image and name became the face of the iPhone and other products, although he was never really an “Apple Insider.”

5a104893d7f8b30ae52b64e25a6fa545-1200-80

Unfortunately for him, Jobs died, Apple evolved, and his usefulness as a mascot came to an end. As for Kate? Best guess is that she’s an open source text editor in KDE in the linux operating system. It is possible that during his time of interfacing with Steve Jobs, some of Appleseed’s ideas may have insinuated them into Jobs’ consciousness to have an impact later.

Yes, it was John Siltanen and Lee Clow (and a few others): John Siltanen chronicled the real genesis of the campaign’s text in an article at Forbes (caution: Forbes now makes you whitelist their site if you have AdBlock Plus installed, which I happen to think is a scummy move – but there it is.) Siltanen and Lee Clow were employed by the TBWA/Chiat/Day advertising agency that were shooting to get Apple’s business for a new campaign. The whole article is a fascinating first-person look at how the campaign was designed, pitched, and won.

Some of the original thoughts behind the text in question came from these quotes from “Dead Poet’s Society,” among others:

“We must constantly look at things in a different way. Just when you think you know something, you must look at it in a different way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try. Dare to strike out and find new ground.”

“Despite what anyone might tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Poetry, beauty, love, romance. These are what we stay alive for. The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

So even though the text was really a collaborative effort, at the end Lee Clow made sure that Steve Jobs’ name was included in the credits on the campaign. As a result, I’m going with “Correct Attribution by Association” on the authorship of the quote.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Marketing by terror

I’ve mentioned Android webjacking before, but here’s another example. Things like this are not usually “viruses” on your handheld device, but rather malicious code embedded in a legitimate website by unscrupulous advertisers.

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-04-16

 

First, this exploit makes your phone buzz like a hornet that’s just been pinched in a vise, and locks your browser. No going back. Second, vulgar sites? No, actually this popped up when I was trying to leave a comment at retailcomic.com. I trust the site not to hide exploits like this on purpose.

 

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-04-35

The claims on these “warnings,” along with being written in questionable English, are absolute lies: “If the problem can not be resolved immediately , the viruses will spy your phone, and destroy your SIM card, delete all your contacts.”

Now I’m just following the trail to see who’s behind this.

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-04-49

Looks like someone is hawking an app (surprise, surprise):

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-05-09

A comment at the app’s site complained, and the developer responded; notice the salutation “Dear,” usually seen on Nigerian scam emails but certainly a red flag that the app developer is not a native English speaker.

 

Screenshot_2017-02-16-11-05-51.png

Despite the apology and denial of malicious intent, I would be very suspicious of apps that are advertised in this way.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Beware the Zeus virus (No, you’re not infected)

I’ve written about scams that get you to call a phone number and help bad guys access your computer before. Here’s another variety you need to be aware of.

My wife’s computer has had this happen twice in the last few weeks (click the image for a larger view):

zeus-virus-scam

Chrome is locked up – you can’t close the tab, click away, or do anything else except kill the browser in Task Manager. A computerized voice repeatedly intones, “Your computer is infected. Your data is being stolen. Call this number for support…” You can imagine that this would be very frightening to someone who is not computer-savvy, and a lot of people will fall for it.

Just to see how the scam works, I called the number (855-335-8826 – don’t call this number) and got an agent with a foreign accent (sounded Indian or Pakistani to me) asking how he could help. Putting on my “geezer voice,” I told him that my computer was talking to me and telling me that my data was being stolen.

  • Agent: “Have you downloaded anything lately?”
  • Me: “No.”
  • Agent: “I will direct you through a couple of steps so I can access your computer and help you fix this problem. Look at your keyboard in the lower left – do you see the Window key? I want you to press that key, together with the letter ‘r’. [Note: he wants me to run a program.]
  • Agent: “Type the letters ‘hh’, then a space, then the letter ‘t’ in the ‘open’ box. Then press the “OK” button.

hht.jpg

  • Me: “Ok, I did that.” [This is what I get]

page-display

  • Agent: “Do you see the little question mark in the upper left hand corner? I want you to click that and select the option that says “Jump to URL.”

url

  • Agent: “Now type this in the box: ‘www.support.me’

jumptourl

  • Me: “OK, I’ve done that.” [This is what I get]:

support

  • Agent: “I will now give you a 6-digit code to enter into the box. Your number is 925837. Please type that into the box and click ‘Start Download’.”
  • Me: Do you really think I’m going to allow access to my computer by a bunch of scammers? Get a life. *click*

What’s going on here is that if I had entered the number, I would have given complete control of my machine to a random scammer, and from that point he could have

  1. Stolen sensitive data like passwords, contact lists, or financial information.
  2. Infected my computer with malware
  3. Taken control of my machine and woven it into a spamming botnet.
  4. Other things more horrible that I wish to contemplate.

There are websites out there that tell you how to remove the “infection” that causes this popup; most of them exist to shill programs like Zemana, Malwarebytes, and HitMan Pro. Free versions of these are legitimate, but don’t be conned into buying “Pro” versions unless you really need their features. Others may ask you to download their own proprietary removal tool. Be wary of such sites.

The key here is that if you get the “Zeus” malware popup, NEVER CALL THE NUMBER. You’ll just be opening yourself up to fraudsters who want to do very bad things to you and your computer.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Philippe Kahn, Prophet

I was on site in 1986, the year Philippe Kahn, CEO of Borland, had the temerity to say in the midst of a crowd of Mac enthusiasts in San Francisco, that the Macintosh was a piece of shit.  That took a lot of gumption; I’m reminded of the scene in The Patriot where Mel Gibson walks into a bar and shouts, “God save the King,” exiting hastily in front of a cloud of knives and axes.

He was wrong then.

128k-macintosh

The 128K Mac was a thing of beauty and innovation (at least for folks who had not been inside the Palo Alto Research Center.) It introduced the world to the concept of a real graphical user interface, and made things possible in the world of graphics, sound, fonts, gaming, design, music, and artwork that would never have been possible in the IBM world – even by adding a dozen cards – more so as the machine morphed into faster and colorized versions. Dark Castle, HyperCard™, designable fonts, MIDI, user-accessible resources… they were all so fun!

The beautiful 1988 Battle Chess game by MacPlay riffed on the biggest disadvantage at the time – the price differential. “Pawn takes King” has the pawn whip out a Macintosh Price List, whereupon the king suffers a fatal coronary.

pawn-takes-king

Flop for flop, the Macintosh machines were about half again as costly as a comparable IBM device, and remain so to this day – but back then the “coolness” factor was enough to overcome that little annoyance. From 1984 until about 1990, I was a devotee.

But Kahn was just 30 years too early.

My wife has an iPod, and years ago one of her kids gave her an iTunes gift card for some music. So we had to set up an AppleID for her to be able to use it. Hold that thought.

Recently she acquired an iPad from her mother, and it was necessary to switch ownership of the pad to her account. Hold that thought.

For about six months last year, I worked for a cloud storage company as a tech support agent, and with remote tools I delved into a lot of Mac systems while I helped customers with their tech issues.

From the experiences I had trying to navigate the Apple environment to resolve what should have been the simplest of problems, I can safely go on record as saying that the Mac world is a place of overpriced, underpowered hardware, combined with a byzantine tangle of AppleIDs, iTunes (an abomination of desolation if ever I saw one, a heavy-handed store thinly disguised as an impossibly cumbersome media management tool), iCloud, Photo Library, and other bits and pieces which form a virtual nightmare to navigate. For Mogg’s sake, they even make you create an account to look at their help forums. And when you try to do that, you hit a brick wall.

applehqiz

My Username is OK. I agreed to the Agreement. “Please check the form for details” shows virtually no additional information. Thanks, Apple.

dongles

Add to this some recent technology decisions that seem difficult to fathom, including a plethora of dongles, the removal of a standard audio jack, and those easily-lost wireless earbuds, and it makes me wonder why anyone would go with Apple hardware any longer. For the longest time a relative imperviousness to viruses and malware was a big draw, but that era has ended, and there’s not much a Mac can do that a PC can’t, and for about 60% of the price. The “coolness” factor is just not there any longer.

a_very_long_flight

It’s been a long time since I’ve been religiously attached to any hardware or operating system. I’ve used so many, it’s basically “whatever gets the job done.” But for a brief period, the Mac was really a wonderful, dazzling, entertaining and useful new thing. Today, I’m pretty convinced that the company has lost its way and its vision when it comes to computers. I don’t hate Apple; I’m really hoping they can turn themselves around. If they don’t, it’s a sure bet that somewhere in the future, another Steve Jobs is waiting.

The Old Wolf has spoken.