Your email account has been hacked, emails

Many of our users have seen this type of email in their spam filters, most don’t actually get through to your account, although the odd one might. That is all the spammers, who are usually organised crime syndicates, need and rely on.

A full version of the email is at the bottom of this post.

What are these emails and why do some of them have my password in them?

These emails raise many questions and I will try to answer most of them here.

It is of course possible for what they say in the email to be true, but in most cases it is not. There have been many hacked websites over the years and there are now plenty of lists of people’s usernames and passwords, that have been compiled from these hacked websites. There are now two or three main lists that have been compiled and in turn these in to one list of over 500,000,000 usernames and passwords. Security researchers use this list to determine things like frequency of passwords, your chosen password is probably not as unique as you think it is; monkey, password, 123456, abc123 were the top password for many years and although recent research shows that they have moved about, they are still in the top 15.

The bad guys use these username and password lists to try to gain access to your accounts on other wesites and even your email account. Now some bright spark has decided to take your username and password combination where your username is your email address and send an email to you, firstly showing your password to you and secondly faking the sending address, which is trivialy to do, and then tells you that they know something about you that you don’t want revealed to others. This is a typical phishing scam in that they don’t have any access to your email (that is not say that they don’t but they tend to use other scams that are more profitable when they actually have access to your email). Read More

A New Domain Name Scam

Domain names are big business, well if you hold a lot of them or the right ones they can be. We charge £2.99/year (plus VAT) for a co.uk domain name. I have seen people or companies that charge over £50/year for these same domain names. Unscrupulous or just business? I would say that it is just business. A company can charge what they like for a domain name, there is no real limit on it and the customer is free to choose where they purchase them from. We love domain names but we do not charge the Earth for them. People are able to choose whether or not they want to pay prices as high as that or pay our prices. I have not really looked in to many of these companies that charge a high premium beyond the information on their website and it appears to me that they do not really want more customers, they are happy with what they have and that’s that.

There of course, have been some domain name companies that try to scam people either out of their domain name or just to win the business. Whichever it is I do not agree with underhand tactics to get business. People come to us because we are honest and open and we do an excellent job, not because we conned them in to moving to us.

The one that most people have probably seen the most is a company, that I will not name but they have been conning people for years now and more recently have been trying to clean up their act to appear more professional. They send out postal letter and emails to the registrant (owner of the domain name) and in the beginning they said that if they did not pay this extortionate rate their domain name would be lost forever. Anyone dumb enough to fall for it could have fallen in to many problems, as they were effectively transferring their domain name to another company and their website, emails and everything else could easily have stopped working and been lost. On top of the fact that they have paid a lot more for the domain name renewal than was necessary.

Always know who you have registered your domain name with and check with them first before renewing anything with a third party. This particular company have been forced by trading standards, I believe, to clean up their act. They still send out ridiculous emails and letters to try to steal customers from other companies, in my opinion, by deception. Their latest one stating that if you do not take their offer of SEO and domain name then no-one will be able to find your website. I will not go in to the technically details of this but to anyone with any technical ability they know this is not true, but it must be fooling some unwitting domain name holders or they would stop.

Another long running scam is the Asia domain name company that tells you that someone is trying to register a domain name that is similar to yours and they are going to give you first refusal of the domain name. A scam as well that has forced thousands of people to buy domain names that they do not need or want.

The latest email to go to domain name owners is one that is intended to scare you though showing you a whole lot of technical information about your domain name. All of it is probably true but means nothing in the context. From what I can see their whole point of sending you a large font email telling you that your whois information has been updated (which is a lie) is to get you to purchase other domains from them. I have not been any further and I have only just seen this one going round so I am sure that we will see what devastation it causes in the coming weeks and months.

If you own a domain name make sure you know the basic information of who it is registered with and when it is due for renewal. Even if you have technical people to look after things like that for you, make sure you have basic information (read: http://www.cc-computers.biz/Blog/?p=228 to make sure you don’t lose your domain name)

Be vigilant with emails and letters that come in the post telling you that you need to do something, check with the right people first.

Support Team

CritchCorp Computers Ltd.

Prices correct at date of publish.

New PayPal Phishing Emails

I recently received an email from PayPal that said that I had just completed a payment to someone I had never heard of for an amount that gave me the shivers (some 2 or 3 hundred dollars). I did not want to pay someone I had not heard of any amount of money for something I had not ordered. Whats more this had completed from my bank account. My first reaction, in the panic of the moment, was to click on the link that invited me to check out the transaction in my account, so that I could see if I could get this revesed.

Before I clicked it I took a moment to calm down and think logically. I have a suitably strong password on my account so it is unlikely someone would have been able to guess it. You can’t make a payment unless you have the password. Is it possible someone could have got it from my PC with a keystroke logger and then used it; possible but not likley. I then took a moment to read the email more carefully and noted a couple of things that I should have picked up on straight away.

Firstly the email was addressed to me, but not in the normal way. Secondly it came to an address that was not the one I used for PayPal. These two facts alone were proof enough that this was a phishing email. I check out the links that I was about to click and sure enough they were not to the PayPal website but something that was meant to look like the PayPal website as it had www.paypal.com in the address but was not their site. (I will write another posting about what to look out for in the URL to make sure you are going to the right place).

What struck me about this one was the fact that it was very well written, not like most of them that give themselves away instantly with the bad grammar or spelling mistakes.

What you need to learn form this is to be extra vigilant when it comes to any message in email. NEVER EVER click the link in an email, go to the website by typing in the address yourself. Read the content of the email over again before jumping to conclusion. PayPal in particular use the correct greeting in their email which makes it harder (although not impossible) for people to pretend to be PayPal. The same goes for some banks and other financial institutions.

Phishing emails have been around for a long time and are clearly very successful so be extra vigilant on emails that you expect and ones you are not!

Be on the look out for the latest batch of PayPal phishing emails as they have clearly copied the contents of real PayPal emails and just changed a few details.

I have had several more since the first one of these.

CritchCorp Support Team.

Stories of woe from the Fraudulent phone calls

There are many cases on the Internet about the problem with fraudulent phone calls from people pretending to be from Microsoft or an ISP and getting people to pay money with what starts out as a free service. See this post for more detail – here. This case happened to a friend of someone I know.

These people phoned up and said that they were from Microsoft and want to fix the problems she had been having with her computer. After a while they convinced her they were real and she let them on to her computer. She watched what they did and to her horror, they copied all her university work off her computer and then deleted it!!

She had to pay £50 for them to “recover” it for her! For a student this is a lot of money! To be conned out of £50 is not nice for anyone.

I cannot stress enough the old rule of, if you didn’t ask them for something then under no circumstances let them in!

There are many more stories out on the Internet but I thought this one was close to home. There have been many attempts on CritchCorp Customers but luckily so far no-one has succumbed to them. Always know who looks after your computer and there is very little for free in this world and computer support is definitely not. Computer systems vary from person to person so always have someone that knows your system and you to best be able to advise you and do not let anyone else touch it!

CritchCorp.

 

 

Fraudulent Phone Calls

I have previously written in an email about this issue but it is still going on all round the world so expect that you may receive a call from one of these guys one day and be ready.

What happens is, you will receive a phone call to say that you are having problems with you computer, Internet connection or email or something else that will give them an excuse to log-on to your computer. The caller will then explain that he/she is calling from either Microsoft or your ISP (Internet Service Provider), BT, your bank or some other credible but generic source to resolve all your problems. “This service is free”, they will tell you and all they need to do is ask some questions, log-on to your computer and they will have it resolved in no time, or some other story along these lines as it does change slightly as they change their story to suite the local market they are trying to exploit. If you were at this point to ask them any specific questions there are a few responses you will get depending on how experienced the caller is, from hanging up the phone to giving generic answers or answering with a question. The truth is they do not know anything about your situation unless you tell them. They will phone everyone they can with the same story.

If you did allow them to gain access to your computer then you would find one of two things can happen. This depends on which call center is calling you as there are many of them. The first thing is they will download a virus to your computer and after trying to make you believe it was there before they started and they have just discovered it, along with a whole host of other problems (most of which are not problems). They will say that this can all be sorted out for you for fee of $50 or whatever they think they can get from you. So this free ‘service’ has now started to cost you money. Worst of all they are the problems they created or invented and they are not going to fix them when they are done. The other way is that they show you all the temp files or Internet cookies and tell you that these are bad files or corrupt files and they may even open a few in Notepad or Wordpad to show you that they are corrupt. (These files are not corrupt, they are not intended to be opened in these programs so will generally look like gobbledygook)

In both cases they will then proceed to the payment options, credit or debit cards. When you give the first card details over it will surprisingly not work. So you will need to move to another card and another and another until you have no more cards (and by that time probably no more money). Some are not as bad and only take the first payment and leave you alone, for now! 

The best thing to do is to say that you have someone that looks after your computers and they are dealing with it so they do not need to worry. Then hangup the phone.

If, like in some cases, they are persistent then I suggest trying the following. After answering the phone and identifying this type of call ask them to “please wait a moment”, put the phone down on the side and walk away for an hour or so. Come back and replace the handset. If they still continue to call, then keep doing this until they get the message. It is costing them money to call you. (granted not a lot as they tend to use VoIP, but every penny counts) Most of them will not call back after the first time. These people are people in places like India where the call center boom is now coming crashing down and there are many unemployed people with families to feed. The criminals setup the call centres and pay wages to these people who know it is wrong but need the money. This is the same type of people who send out a lot of the phishing emails, but I will talk about that later.

Chris.

CritchCorp Computers Ltd.