The Wired Office Blog



 

Fake Tech support Scams in 2016 and How to Deal with them

fake

 

Fake tech support or online technical support scams is something we are going to be seeing a lot more of in 2016. Why? Because they have just about mastered the art of fake online technical support. Here’s how they work and here’s how they fool everyday computer users and small business into believing they are legit.

A friend was on her home computer when she got a pop up alert, like the one seen above. She rang me and said it looks so real. What also helps with this illusion is the 1800 number which is also fake. When you ring this number it diverts to another number, usually offshore in places like India. You will be sceptical when they claim to be from Telstra, or Microsoft, or an agency that deals with tech support for well known firms. You might ask, “how do I know you are for real?”, and this is where it gets clever and very effective. Rather than use their own fake business names like they did in 2015, they will be using the business names of real firms doing real IT work. This is at least one variation of this type of fake scam. They will send you to that firms website to confirm who they are. You are with them on the line and it’s likely you will not phone that firm because you (a) on the phone with them or (b) that firm is in somewhere a long way off like Canada.

Microsoft support technician credentials or other Microsoft competencies is highly regarded in IT support so the scammer of late is sending the sceptical customer to the Microsoft Pinpoint site to check on the credentials of the firm whose name they are borrowing. Your every objection is covered so far except that something about Joe brown from India doesn’t smell kosher. Trust your instinct.

Exposing fakes and how would you know?

Google is littered with fakes for just about everything, such as fake phone numbers and websites for computer and printer vendors. You might think you are talking to HP while the tech person accesses your PC to install “troubleshooting software” but when they fail to fix the issue and start asking for money for their annual support plan and you realise you are being jipped it’s too late. They’ve installed the hidden software to later steal your ID and launch malware from a remote server. Now you are going to need a real IT support tech with sound experience and credentials to clean your computer up.

As you can see it’s getting harder to spot the fakes but keep these tips in mind:

  1. if you get a pop up alert on your computer warning you about malware, with a number to call, this will be fake. No such thing exists in Windows. Do not call the number.
  2. if someone calls you just hang up. The more you goad them the more likely you are to become distressed when they threaten to send someone local around to your residence.
  3. beware of fake antivirus programs alerts, such as the well documented Norton fake antivirus alert and providing a number to call for urgent online tech support. The fake alert could even be for the antivirus program you have installed.
  4. if in doubt seek help by calling a professional IT guy with Microsoft credentials in your area.

Real Online Tech Support.

The proliferation of fake tech support scams is growing from the real world popularity and convenience of having an online computer technician fix or maintain your computer remotely.

In late 2015 we launched our own version of online tech support within Australia at wiredoffice.com.au partly in response to the fake services and to meet the local demand. Our pricing is capped at 2 hours regardless of how long we spend on your computer. Call us for more advice on checking our credentials which we cannot post online.

 

 
 


 

No caps lock light on your keyboard?

Some of the new Microsoft keyboards do not have a caps lock light which can be annoying as hell but there are a couple of easy to apply workarounds.

  1. Enable a caps lock sound.

in the Ease of Access center you will find the toggle switch to enable caps lock sound. In Windows 10 or Windows 7 and Windows 8 type “ease” without the quotes into the search box in the lower left of the desktop.

ease

You can turn off “always read this section aloud” before continuing. Scroll down to “turn on toggle keys” and also select turn on toggle keys by holding down the num lock for 5 secs. Click apply, then ok and close the remaining window. Now you have caps lock sound enabled. You can toggle off and on using the num lock key for 5 seconds.

2. If you prefer a visual display for caps lock go the Microsoft Keyboard Center, down the 32 or 64 bit bit version of the Keyboard software. It’s a free download and will display a caps lock pop up in the lower right hand side of the desktop.

 
 


 

Windows 10 – introducing Windows Hello

One day we will do away with passwords altogether and the world will be a better place. The Windows 10 “Hello” is a leap into that kind of world with the kind of biometric logins we see in sci-fi movies that open doors and computers. Windows 10 Hello will see you coming if you choose to use facial recognition and ask you if you want to login. I look forward to the day when the dozens of websites I log into each week will recognise my face. Here is a look at Windows 10 biometric authentication – using your face, fingerprint or iris.

 

You can find out more information about Windows Hello here

and how to set it up here

 
 


 

Windows 10 – Cortana

Marcus Ash from the Windows Team discusses the history of Cortana (gamers first seen Cortana AI in Microsoft’s Halo) and the incredible presence of Cortana in Windows 10.

 
 


 

How to do a reverse image search

map-reader

You might be wondering why you would want to do a reverse image search.

You might be wanting to check if anyone is using photos off your website, or who might be using your own mug shot displayed in business websites to impersonate you. You can keep tabs on your own images with reverse searching.

You may have an image you would like a better resolution of or to locate the original creator of the image. You can also use the search to carry out detective work.

Recently I was looking at a very unusually well priced campervan advertised on a forum at a popular Australian camping website. The owner claimed the low price was only due to the family wanting a deposit for a home and needed an urgent sale. It was all very convincing until I downloaded the image and carried out reverse search to discover the original owner had shown it for sale prior at a much greater price. As it turned out the ad was a scam and the ad was gone by the end of day.

You do not need any keywords or any other query to carry out the search, only the image.

There are quite a few image search websites, including google image search, but 2 of my preferred sites are:

www.tineye.com

www.imageraider.com

 
 


 

How to fix laptop overheating and shutting down

temp

 

One of the big problems with laptops is their design. Some are designed so you cannot access them easily to view and clean dust, lint, fur and the like from the interior.

Dust accumulates over time and is often impossible to remove without a tear down of the laptop. You can find videos online on how to do this if you enjoy tinkering but beware not to use cans of air you find in tech stores because these are not air but chemicals that create pressure. Some will contain a refrigerant which is released when the can is tilted at certain angles. The gas from these cans is known as highly toxic so if you must use them be sure to wear a good mask in confined spaces.

Can you use a vacuum cleaner? The problem is access, there is no easy doorway you can open to clean dust from everywhere, and if you disassemble the laptop you must be careful not to let the nozzle touch anywhere and be sure to keep your antistatic strap on.

We have safe methods for cleaning laptops with overheating problems caused by dust buildup,  often within a standard one hour session. If you are in Perth’s northern suburbs drop it off to our workshop and pick it up the same day or next morning.

 
 


 

End of life for Windows 7 and your options

 

For those with laptops who did not get a disk with their system the Windows 7 ISO downloads direct from Microsoft servers are no longer available to the public and free mainstream support for Windows 7 is also no longer available – as of January 13 this year.

End of mainstream support for Windows 7 means you cannot call Microsoft for free help if your system is broken. Because mainstream support has ended means extended support phase had begun, so you will still receive critical system patches and security updates and all security related updates via the usual update service will continue for the time being.

We provide a local service in Perth Western Australia, and a remote service to login and fix your computer anywhere in Australia for standard support fees. Contact us for remote support pricing or to book a support session online. We provide Microsoft Certified technical support and you can pay by credit card or paypal. We can remove malware, carry out a security scan, fix slow computers without the need for an onsite technician.

 

 
 


 

Keeping your iphone or android charged on the road

pqi

 

These 5200mAh charge bricks can get pretty expensive. I’ve seen them around for $99, the incase 2500mAh power brick at Apple store is currently selling for $49.

The thing to remember about power bricks is the power comparison to what you are charging. The ipad rechargeable battery is 11,560mAh while the iphone 5s is 1,570mAh. In our testing we found the PQI will save our ipad from crashing in the middle of the day but don’t expect a full charge or multiple charges.

However, with the iphone 5S we could charge 4 times on a single full charge. The blue power meter LED on the face of the PQI has 4 LEDS to indicate the charge level. 4 LED lights usually does mean 4 full charges.

We liked it so much we have been using it for months now and we are so happy to recommend it we are giving it away FREE to anyone who joins our exclusive email list and book a support or repair call to the end of March (2015).

Please note this offer is subject to stocks availability and cannot be backordered, exchanged or replaced with other offers.

 
 


 

Dust is the enemy of computers.

dust-computer

Computers attract dust because of the negative air pressure, fan systems and no filters in your average generic computer case. The examples in the pictures might look like computers that are 6 or 7 years years old, but both are generic systems,  less than 2 years old and suffered hardware and hard drive failures as a result of dust.

Dust affects a computer in various ways:

  •  The dust creates a blanket or insulating layer that makes computers run at elevated temps – running at high temps reduces lifespan by up to 70% especially in workshops and factory settings
  • dust creates ESD (electro static discharge). We see many computers with dust build up every year that did not survive a power surge.
  • dust makes the computer fans noisy and ineffective to keep temps down and maintain air flow

A computer with no build consideration for dust is a problem for offices everywhere, worse in workshop settings and can be very uneconomical because hardware or computers need replacing too often or short of expected life span. However, the two computer interiors in the image above are from home offices in the suburbs. Cleaning dust from a computer using canned air is not advised because most types of canned air are not air, but chemicals that create air pressure which in our experience can also be hazardous to the frail electronics of computers if turned on an angle. Vacuum cleaners are probably the least effective way to clean dust in a computer.

Minimizing dust build up in computers.

In heavy dust prone areas dust safes are available that are expensive, imported hardware. But for small home based business, workshops and trade shops dust can be minimised with the concept of positive air pressure. This is possible with small tower PC’s (laptops are more prone to dusty demise and cannot be cleaned easily).

positive-pressure

Using a particular type of case with modified fan systems and dust filters we are able to significantly reduce dust build up. The dust filters are very easily removed for cleaning every 6 months or so. The cases (chassis) are small (mid towers)  and light and cost no more than our custom build model with SSD advertised on our new computers page.

VSP-5000

In Perth or anywhere in Australia contact us to place an order or for more information. We specialise in small business and the home/home office IT settings.

 

 
 


 

The best and worst of hard drives in 2015 according to a large data center

I remember back in the early years we tech people used to refer to Seagate drives as the technicians choice. I’m not really sure where or how that preference for one drive over any other started because I always found all non-enterprise hard drives to have a potential to fail, and in servers I have seen my share of hard drive failures in expensive enterprise class drives.

There are some new technologies around now. Hitachi Global Storage Technologies or HGST drives (since 2012 owned by Western Digital after a buyout from Hitachi HGST). These are innovative technologies fast becoming know for their reliability. The new 6TB storage drives are filled with Helium.

So, the best and worst of them all from the Backblaze data centre who kept detailed records of all their hard drive failures.

HDD-failure-rates

 

It is important to have a good maintenance plan for hard drives to keep your drive in top performance. Call for onsite maintenance or bring your computers to us at least once a year for a good check up and maintenance.