Category Archives: IT

Anything relating to Information Technology, most likely aimed at and of interest to home users of computers and the internet.

Ransomware Computer problems – what you should do!

Ransomware Computer problems – what you should do to protect yourself!

As a computer user, you will be aware of the recent “Wannacry Ransomware” problem.  Much publicity was given to NHS and other institutions.  But it affects you too. Here is some help.

As a priority, check that you have anti virus software on your computer and that all updates are in place.  If you are not running any anti-virus software,  enable Windows Defender which is free.

You should also consider installing an Anti-Virus/ Security Program to protect your system. There are many of them around, the ones you pay for will offer better protection than those that are free.

Here is a checklist of what you should do.

Continue reading Ransomware Computer problems – what you should do!

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You don’t want to see one of these……

Ransomware

I support a lot of charities across the UK. I was passed the following message in a text file from a small regional charity. It was on the start up screen when the computer was turned on. It had been there for 2 weeks!

ATTENTION!
All your documents, photos, databases and other important personal files
were encrypted using strong RSA-1024 algorithm with a unique key.
To restore your files you have to pay 0.49965 BTC (bitcoins).
Please follow this manual:1. Create Bitcoin wallet here: https://blockchain.info/wallet/new2. Buy 0.49965 BTC with cash, using search here: https://localbitcoins.com/buy_bitcoins3. Send 0.49965 BTC to this Bitcoin address:1FkFRVWCvTyimcAAxq19dhYGspQ4KaeoabL4. Open one of the following links in your browser to download decryptor:http://tt-metall.ru/counter/?a=1FkFRVWCvTyimcAAxq19tidShQ4KaeoabL
http://technocooks.com/counter/?a=1FkFRVWCvTyimcAAxqsHyiLppQ4KaeoabL
http://projectdare.co.uk/counter/?a=1FkFRVWCvTyimcAAxq19ssHppQ4KaeoabL
http://grutorax.com.br/counter/?a=1FkFRVWCvTyimcAAxq19mITppQ4KaeoabL
http://www.wordbaasoverdebal.nl/counter/?a=1FkFRVWCvTyimcAAxq13SDppQ4KaeoabL5. Run decryptor to restore your files.

PLEASE REMEMBER:

– If you do not pay in 3 days YOU LOOSE ALL YOUR FILES.
– Nobody can help you except us.
– It`s useless to reinstall Windows, update antivirus software, etc.
– Your files can be decrypted only after you make payment.
– You can find this manual on your desktop (DECRYPT.txt)

(In the above example I have edited all of the links to make them void just in case anyone was curious to take a look and land in more trouble.) 

A bitcoin at today’s rates is worth £613.78. So 0.49965 of a bit coin is worth £306.67. It is very unlikely this is real. Ransoms in £1000’s have been charged for this type of scam in the past.  Continue reading You don’t want to see one of these……

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New Support Scam Warning

A new scam may be heading to the UK from the USA. Various methods are being used to establish the IP address (effectively the address of your router on the internet) and from that find out who your service provider is. There is nothing new about this, however there is an additional element where a realistic pop up appears when you are browsing a site telling you that BT/ Talk Talk/ Virgin et al has detected a virus on your computer. There are instructions to call a number.

This is similar to the cold call we have reported in the past, however this method may appear to be more genuine, and of course the surprise element is there, shortly followed by panic.

Keep a cool head

If you see something like this close down your browser, shut the computer down and restart it. If it keeps happening, run an anti virus check on your system and also  check by contacting your service provider through their publicly stated numbers generally found on their websites.

Service providers will not monitor traffic, or your computer for viruses, so they would not know if you had one or not.

Read this article for more details, kindly spotted by Trevor.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-36084989

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Cold Calling Scammers

Prestwood Resident Brenda writes:

“Today I had a BT scam, sounded very plausible, caller gives an identity no. ,and says he needs to fix your internet connection because of hacking. Asks you to dial a no. 0203290898. I checked with BT help on 08007835378, who said BT engineer would never give his identity no.”

If you get a call….

There are a couple of scams that I am aware of, one targets mostly retired people where you get a telephone call advising you that there is a problem with your computer and you need to dial a number to get it sorted out. This happened when I was at my mother’s house one day. I took the call (I was aware of the scam at the time)…..   They will ask you to dial a number or go to a website and download and install something. They stay on the phone and talk you through what to do, the ultimate goal is to get you to pay for something.  Continue reading Cold Calling Scammers

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BT is blocking our newsletter!

We have received a report that our newsletter has not been received by some people holding BT accounts. I have checked our systems and can confirm that we have 180 subscribers on BT related email addresses that have not received the last newsletter.

If you are on a BT account it is highly likely that other mail (both wanted and unwanted) is being blocked. It is possible that messages are blocked based on the presence of certain words in the text.

Typical email addresses affected:

  • xxx@btinternet.com
  • xxx@btopenworld.com

Why?

The message reported back to us indicates:   554 Message rejected for policy reasons (3.2.1.1) – Please report any problems.

Laughably, I have reported the problem to the “BT Postmaster” who also rejected my “problem reporting email“. So like many others we are now stuck in a catch 22 situation.

Why does mail get blocked?

From time to time all service providers introduce methods to reduce spam from both entering their systems and leaving their systems. Unfortunately spam is a growing problem. Looking through BT forums it appears that lots of other people (legitimate users) are facing the same problems.  So we suspect that BT have introduced a new “feature” to filter mail.

We will continue to look into it to try to find out why, however many others are asking the same question and nobody in BT seems to know why.

If you missed the last newsletter you can pick it up by following this link: March 2016 Newsletter

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My internet is slow

Or…   the Onion of Discontent

There are many reasons why an internet connection may be slow, some of them will be directly under your control, and others will be under the control of the equipment manufacturers of the devices used that the communications pass through. The extent of which is from the device you are using to the server at the far end of the connection. Various services providers share the responsibility of carrying the traffic. It is a complex picture to reconcile.

Where is the problem?

When trying to establish where a problem exists the first person you call is your service provider (BT, Talk Talk, Virgin etc). They will follow a fixed trouble shooting process which will try to prove that the problem is something you are doing, or have done or is within that part of the network you control. They adopt this approach because if nothing is listed as a fault in your area, then statistically it is most likely to be something at your end.

That will include your router/ hub, your phone wiring, the building materials used in your house, the location of WiFi access points, the list is large. They will not be as direct as that, however those are the implications. Continue reading My internet is slow

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Phishing Trojan

What is it?

We have all read about phishing trojans, but many of you probably do not know what they are or how they work. I came across one over the weekend while backing up a client’s website. My anti virus system prevented me from downloading the backup to my computer and warned me that one was present. As I was concerned about the security of this particular website I took it apart to find out where it was, and what it was doing.

Phishing

Phishing refers to a form of identity theft, it is where credentials like a user name and password are compromised, often without your knowledge. Other than reading about them, I had not come across one before. This one relates to stealing the credentials to access someones email address and email password.

I turned off my anti-virus (not recommended if you do not know the risks) and downloaded the zipped folder containing the files into a special area on my computer and then inspected the files. Two files contained code, one was a web page. Only one of the files was being flagged as the one containing the Phishing Trojan, the file contents were very simple, they packaged up the information and sent out an email to two recipients.  Continue reading Phishing Trojan

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Staying Safe Online

At the most recent Misbourne NAG meeting a presentation was given on staying safe online. There is a detailed document, presentation and examples of scam emails on this website and how they work. It also includes downloadable documents.

The materials cover three areas:

  • Cyber Safety and recommendations to everyone that owns a computer or device attached to the internet.
  • Advice for parents of young children
  • Advice for young adults visiting chat rooms and using Social Media

There are also links to other resources on the internet covering related areas.

Go to this site to find out more: Misbourne NAG website

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Please take part in Cyber-crime survey

TVP header

Please help us in our continuing work to tackle cyber crime by taking part in a short online survey.

Hosted by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, with the assistance of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), the survey is being conducted to help our Force and partner agencies gain a better understanding of the effects of cyber crime.

It should only take a few minutes to complete, is open to anyone over the age of 18 whether or not you have been a victim of cyber crime, and one lucky participant will win £100 of Amazon vouchers.  Continue reading Please take part in Cyber-crime survey

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Action Fraud Message

Action Fraud

From (Action Fraud, Administrator, National)

Fraudsters have set up a high specification website template advertising various electrical goods and domestic appliances. These goods are below market value and do not exist. The fraudsters will request your card details via the website; however the purchaser will then receive an email stating the payment failed and they must pay via bank transfer.

The fraudsters entice the purchaser and reassure them it is a legitimate purchase by using the widely recognised Trusted Shop Trustmark. The fraudsters are using the Trustmark fraudulently and have not been certified by Trusted Shops and therefore the purchaser is not covered by the Trusted Shop money-back guarantee.

Protect yourself:  Continue reading Action Fraud Message

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New site template

We have been running this website since 2013 and it is time to bring it up to date.  The content is pretty much the same, but the wrapper it is presented in is quite different. 

Responsive website

The main difference is that the site is now mobile friendly. When you use a device to access the website it checks with the device to establish what the screen size is and presents the site differently.

The menu may be collapsed into an icon with three white lines across a black square, the sidebars will move under the site rather than to the side if your screen is too narrow.

What this all means is it is easier to access content on the site with a smart phone or tablet.

What has changed

At the time of publishing the site we are currently reviewing the site structure and navigation, and removing some redundant pages. This will take a couple of months to complete.  So changes will continue as we refine the site. Continue reading New site template

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Website Glitch

We hit a problem in October when we tried to send out our monthly newsletter. It looks as though less than 5% of our subscribers received the newsletter, and when those people tried to click through to the site they got the message “Service Suspended.”

Well, we have been paying our bills, and it looks as though one of the security programs we use to protect the website was using too much bandwidth on the server the website is hosted on. Either that or we accidentally tried to send 850 emails in a few minutes. This was detected by the hosting company who assumed there was a problem with the site and took it offline.

The website was offline for around 24 hours, we contacted the hosting company to try to find out why the service was suspended and assure them that we were on the case.

We will not resend the newsletter for October again, as another one will be due out in a little under 2 weeks for November.

We apologise for any inconvenience, and hope that November’s newsletter will go out without any problems.

– PVA committee

If you missed the October Newsletter and still want to see it you can view it by clicking on the following link. October 2015 Newsletter.

 

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Talk Talk Users – Please note

I assume that this applies not only to Talk Talk customers, but also those with accounts with companies that were at some time in the past acquired by Talk Talk (for example Pipex). 

The following is from a Thames Valley Police Alert.

(Start message)

Message sent by
Action Fraud (Action Fraud, Administrator, National)

Cyber Attack
Talk Talk, the phone and broadband provider, has been the victim of a cyber attack on their website commonly referred to as DDoS – distributed denial of service attack. This has led to hackers accessing Talk Talks servers and stealing personal data, which could affect over four million customers. It is currently unknown exactly what data has been stolen but Talk Talk has stated that there is a chance that some of the following data could have been accessed: Continue reading Talk Talk Users – Please note

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BT Infinity users

I had BT Infinity 1 installed a couple of years ago to replace my O2 ADSL 2+ broadband connection. I had a number of problems with it which I wrote about in this article (How Fast is your Broadband?). I observed at the time that while the upload and download speeds were much faster in terms of raw bandwidth, moving from site to site was not.

I raised a support query on this which was eventually escalated up a couple of levels in BT. I had monitoring equipment installed, however no solution was found to the problem. Continue reading BT Infinity users

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TorrentLocker Ransomware Scam

Thames Valley Police report a scam email currently being sent to victims fraudulently claiming to be from British Gas or The Ministry of Justice. The attached document or link leads to the TorrentLocker ransomware.

This malware encrypts files on the victim’s system and requests a ransom be paid in order for the files to be decrypted; one reported amount has been £330 worth of Bitcoins.

It has been reported that some anti-virus vendors are detecting this and stopping the pages and or documents from being opened.  Continue reading TorrentLocker Ransomware Scam

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Action Fraud Alert – Selling your vehicle?

A message via Thames Valley Police alert:

“Remember, you are the seller”

If you are selling your car via a classified advertisement or auction site, be aware of the following fraud scam:

Fraudsters may contact you through your advert, normally by text message and provide you with a link to a fraudulent website.

  • The website may look professional and similar to the “original” website that you advertised on.
  • It will explain that there is a ‘potential purchaser’ for your car.
  • It will ask you to pay a small “arrangement” fee to ensure the purchase takes place by using an e-money method; which could be via UKASH or PAYSAFE vouchers, for example.
  • It will instruct you to purchase the vouchers and may even provide you with a link to a list of the shops in your area that sell them.
  • You are then asked to input the unique codes from the e-money product that you have just purchased.
  • Once inputted your money is gone!

Continue reading Action Fraud Alert – Selling your vehicle?

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9.41% of Britain’s computers are sick

ESET, a company that specialises in anti-virus software and security, reports on their website that around 9.41% of Britain’s computers are infected by viruses and malware. America by contrast is 4.59% which is a little surprising.

This page shows a virus map for the world and the infection rates on a country basis.

It also refers to several prevalent types of attack: Spearphishing, DDoS, Zero-day, Phishing and Zombie or Bot. Continue reading 9.41% of Britain’s computers are sick

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Looking for information?

Can't find what you are looking for?

This site has 353 news items on it and 53 pages (Jan 2015). It has been running for almost 2 years now. While you may not be aware of it, there are several ways you can search this site to locate something.

Using the Site Search facility

search this siteThe first is to use the search box in the sidebar. Simply enter what you are looking for, this will search the whole site and return items that may be relevant. For example one of our most frequent requests is about booking the village hall. Prestwood Village Association has nothing to do with the village hall which is managed by a different group. However we can connect you. Simply enter “Prestwood Village Hall” in the search box and then press Enter. Continue reading Looking for information?

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