“Your PC May Be Infected!”

Inside the World of Antivirus Telemarketing

You’ve seen or heard of this message:“Your PC may be infected!”

PCWorld provides some background.

The agents are instructed to stick to a 13-page script. They ask callers whether they have an antivirus program installed. If they do, Zifka said, callers are usually told that whatever they’re using isn’t a “full-time real spectrum virus protection program.”

But the agents have a solution: callers can purchase an antivirus program.

EZ Tech Support [the company used in PCWorld’s story] sells a perpetual license for the program for $300. Agents also tell callers they can perform a one-time fix on their computers for them, which starts at $250. Callers can haggle for lower prices.

Those dialing in are typically in their late 30s or older. “A lot of mothers would call in and say, ‘I’m sure it’s something my son did on my computer. This has happened before’,” Zifka said. “Older gentlemen—seniors specifically—that was the most unfortunate part.”

Within 20 minutes, some callers spent up to $600 to “fix” their computers. “I was blown away by this,” he said.

Source: pcworld.com

Google: “Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer . . . “

The full message is :

Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer network. Please try your request again later. Why did this happen?
IP address: <************>
Time: 2015-06-25T17:22:00Z
URL: http://www.google.com/

My initial reaction was that this was one of those “infected computer” malware scams. I won’t tell you all the things I did, but here’s what I found —

  • The problem occurs when I do a number range search in Google, in the format <string> <a>..<b>, where <a> and <b> are 100000 or more. Remember that for a number range search the two numbers are connected by two dots, with no spaces.
  • Here are some examples, with the numbers specified with various values and formats. Examples that produce the error message above don’t generate usable links, so you’ll have to enter them manually (copy-paste)  —
    • [cities 99999..111111]
    • [cities 100000..111111] [just change “99999” to “100000”]
    • use other values for <string>, <a>, and <b>
    • use commas in the numbers, —
    • use numbers with commas and decimals —
      • [cities 100,000.01..111,111.11]

Hey, Google — Please provide some consistency or better guidance for number range searches.

Friends in other places, using different isps, computers, browsers, etc., have gotten results similar to those above.

BTW—I learned about number-range searches years ago, when GoogleGuide author Nancy Blachman spoke to SPAUG.

Samsung silently disabling Windows Update on some computers [Updated]

Original story

Microsoft MVP Patrick Barker, who spends a large portion of his life analysing, debugging, and helping other people troubleshoot Windows, has discovered that Samsung is actively disabling Windows Update on some of its PCs.

Barker stumbled across the issue while trying to assist a user who found that Windows Update “kept getting disabled randomly.” By using Auditpol and registry security auditing, Barker discovered that a program called Disable_Windowsupdate.exe was being run every time the PC booted up—and that EXE file, unfortunately, belonged to Samsung’s SW Update suite.

Updated @ 23:20 BST, 17:20 EST: We finally heard back from Samsung, though it isn’t very informative: “We are aware of Mr. Barker’s claim regarding Windows 8.1 updates on our computers. We take security concerns very seriously and we are working with Microsoft to address this matter.”

Full Story by Sebastian Anthony – Jun 24, 2015 3:20pm PDT  is at ArsTechnica

NoSquint More Useful Than Before

NoSquint is a Firefox addon that “allows you to adjust the text-only and full-page (both text and images) zoom levels as well as color settings both globally (for all sites) and per site.” I have used it for years to make text larger, without also expanding everything else on the same page.

A friend recently complained about a website that used non-standard formatting, which made it harder for her to use. I looked at the site and agreed.

I found a couple of addons that changed or disabled some website formatting, NoSquint among them. Taking a new look at NoSquint, I saw that I could select text color, link color, and visited link color. What an improvement my selections made to that site’s usability!

A neat feature of NoSquint is that it can store your settings on a per-site basis, so changes you make for a site are necessarily applied universally. Also, you can select whether to make your selections permanent.

Note that this article is based on my use of Pale Moon. The NoSquint site comments seem to indicate that there may be issues with recent versions of Firefox.