I just got this error message – true or scam? If so, what do I do?

It seems that all we are posting about recently is scams and issues.  Unfortunately the bad guys are active and this information needs repeating, until people stop clicking on random links….

The following error was seen by one of our clients this week.  He received a warning email and, counter to all advice given, clicked on the link, which took him to this page….

I just got this error message - true or a scam? If so, what do I do?

His question was “true or scam? If so, what do I do?”

It’s a scam!  We clicked on the link (in a sandboxed, safe, environment) using Google Chrome and received a message telling us it is a phishing site (see below).  It’s a shame he was using an older version of Internet Explorer that does not show these warnings.

chrome_phishingThe irony is that most the information on the 1st web page is actually correct!  Except it is describing the situation you will be in if you follow the instructions.  If you call the number (note that it is a US number and my user is in the UK) you will speak to a person that will  guide  you through a “diagnostic process”, you will then be guided to a web site to download some “clean up”tools.  This is where the trouble begins (this is all well documented and so there is no purpose to me repeating the info here.  Just Google “Tech Support Scam”).

If so, what do I do?

Well, step -1  is DO NOT CLICK ON LINKS IN UNSOLICITED EMAILS!  Failing that, step 1 is, delete the original email message.  Step 2 is, close the web page and it is probably a good idea to clear your web cache.

Step 3, assuming that you have not executed any programs, or gone to any more web pages as directed by the scammer, don’t worry about it – you are probably ok.

You can at this stage run some malware scanners (Malwarebytes, Spybot, et al…), just to make yourself feel better.

Internet Explorer has improved massively in recent versions and, some would argue, is as secure as the other major browsers.  We remain to be convinced, and would definitely not recommend using any versions of IE before V11.  We would always suggest that you use either Chrome or Firefox (updated to the latest versions).

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New variation on an old scam

This seems to be becoming a bit of a recurring theme, there’s a new scam out there.

This one is actually not a new scam, it’s an old scam that simply uses a new script.

The proposed victim gets a phone call saying that they (the scammers) are from Microsoft and that…

  • There are 5 other people using the victims Windows licence key.
  • That it is unsafe for the victim to use internet services; for example Mobile Banking.
  • That the victims Windows licence key could be cancelled by Microsoft.

How’s that for a scare tactic?

The scammers then want the victim to go to www.ammyy.com and download the remote admin software they have there.

Ammyy have a warning on their site saying that their software is being used by people purporting to be from Microsoft to ‘fix’ the computer using Ammyy Amin, it’s definitely a scam.

At least they are aware of the problem.

We at UATS have seen occurrences of (or variations of) this scam and have experienced it ourselves.  Ultimately the scammers just want you to download and run a ‘fix’, which is where the real pain begins.

Word has spread about the earlier version of this scam and so they have changed the script (but are still using basically the same underlying technology) to try to ensnare the average user.

As always I will refer you to our Keeping Safe on the Internet page and leave you with the thought…  If you are not sure then just do not click on it!  Go and ask someone who is sure.

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Avoid tech support phone scams

It appears that an old spectre has reared its ugly head again.

Fake tech support phone scams

We had thought that they had slowed down as we have not had one reported to us for quite some time, but it appears that the scammers are still going strong. We will not go into chapter and verse here with advice and information, so much has already been written.


These links are from Microsoft, but it apply equally well to other callers. In fact the call that was received today identified itself as being from BT

The same advice as always applies – Keeping Safe on the Internet

In essence, don’t click on it unless you are 100% sure it is legitimate, never click on it if it was unsolicited etc… (The callers try to get you to go to a website where they have you download and run some software that will “protect” you or will “scan” your machine. What they are really doing is using you to infect your own machine).

The links above are legitimate Microsoft sites, but please don’t take our word for it. Try Googling “Microsoft avoid phone scams” or “Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently“

Treat calls like this as you would if you bumped into a person on the street with a Microsoft or BT hat on. Would you give a total stranger your credit card information? No? Of course not. So don’t do it on the internet unless you went looking for the service and you are as confident as possible that the provider is who they say they are.

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Yes, Virginia, TrueCrypt is still safe to use

TrueCrypt, a fantastic free whole disk encryption tool has recently vanished of the face of the planet.  No one quite knows why, but everyone is wondering if it is safe to use (the last comments from the authors tend to indicate that it is not!).

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I thought I would pass on the following blog entry by Steve Gibson, a respected Tech/Security Guru, that gives his take on it and an answer to the question “Is TrueCrypt safe to use?”

Steve Gibson posted: “So opens the short editorial I wrote this morning and placed at the top of GRC’s new TrueCrypt Final Version Repository page. The impetus for the editorial was the continual influx of questions from people asking whether TrueCrypt was still safe to”

Yes, Virginia, TrueCrypt is still safe to use.

by Steve Gibson

So opens the short editorial I wrote this morning and placed at the top of GRC’s new TrueCrypt Final Version Repository page.

The impetus for the editorial was the continual influx of questions from people asking whether TrueCrypt was still safe to use, and if not, what they should switch to, and so on. By this time, one of the TrueCrypt developers, identified as David, had been heard from, and his interchange confirmed the essential points of my conjectured theory of the events surrounding the self-takedown of TrueCrypt.org, etc.

Rather than repeating that entire editorial here, I’m posting this as a pointer to it since folks here have thanked me for maintaining a blog and not relying solely upon Twitter.  And also, this venue supports feedback and interaction which GRC’s current read-only format can not.


Steve Gibson | May 30, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Tags: GRC, TrueCrypt | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/pV3mA-7n

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Social Engineering?

Why Phishing Scams Keep Working

Think before you click

The internet is riddled with scams and virus’ that continue to persists well past their “Sell By” date.  There are many reasons for this; unpatched software, unpatched Operating Systems (OS’s) (would you belive that there are still Windows 95 machines out there, that have not been updated in years, that are compromised, but carry on working, doing what ever task they were set up for in the first place and being a nuisance for the rest of us).

We often hear about people being “hacked”; as with the “phone hacking” that caused the end of the News of the World, but the reality is that many (most) of these so called hacks are actually Social Engineering attacks; someone is duped to hand over information that helps the “hacker” (either verbally or in this case via a web page) or people’s normal behaviour is leveraged (in the case of the phone hacking they took advantage of the fact that most people do not change their voicemail’s default password).

Windows XP has now gone out of support, but this need not be a problem if you use a secure browser (Firefox. Chrome, et al (but not IE))  you keep an upto date virus scanner and …

Think before you click


Why Phishing Scams Keep Working

Why Phishing Scams Keep Working


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Think before you click

The following is from a Microsoft informational email – We thought you would find it interesting and useful

Security for Home Computer Users

Think before you click


Security updates for May 13, 2014

Learn how to get security updates automatically

Get updates from Microsoft Update


How do I recycle my computer?

Earth Day was last month, but it’s not too late to recycle your old computer. If you use a Microsoft Certified Refurbisher, they’ll help you remove your personal information and donate your equipment to people in need around the world. 


Learn how to recycle old computers and devices.

Top Stories

Privacy in Windows Phone 8.1

Privacy in Windows Phone 8.1  

Learn more about the privacy and security settings for mobile web browsing, apps that can determine your location, and features like Cortana, the new personal assistant for Windows Phone.


Security improvements in Windows 8

Security improvements in Windows 8

Did you know that antivirus protection is built into the newest version of Microsoft’s operating system? Read about other features that can help keep you and your family safer online.


malware that keeps coming back

How to get rid of malware that keeps coming back

Some viruses, spyware, and other malicious software can be hard to get rid of, especially if they’re designed to make your security software stop working.

Available now: Security update for Internet Explorer

Available now: Security update for Internet Explorer

Review a recent update for the Microsoft web browser-available for Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.


Follow Us


Safer Online



© 2014 Microsoft Corporation Terms of Use | Trademarks


Physician heal thyself -OffSite/Online Backup

Today I have given myself a major shock and have, fortunately, been able to recover.

A very important container of information (Microsoft OneNote – if you are interested) disappeared from my laptop! I do not know how that happened, but such is life. After a short period of running around screaming (metaphorically). I started to work out what to do about it.

The Backup files were not where they should be, or rather they were, but did not contain what I needed (it appears that Syncing had failed for a few days). Fortunately I suffer the paranoia of someone that has lost data before, and try to adhere to a 3-2-1 backup strategy, so I managed to find a recent backup in a different location (Thank you Carbonite).

An hours fiddling and I am back to where I should be. There is the outside chance that some of the data is a day older than it should be. And Steve, my business partner, may well have edited some of it in the last day. But we are in a far better position than we could have been.

I have reorganised my backups to take into account what when wrong this time.

The moral of this story?

YOU CANNOT HAVE TOO MANY BACKUPS!!! And make sure that your backups take all your data, it is not always where you think it is.

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Failed Website? Or is it just me?

Have you ever tried viewing to a website and failed to connect?

Here are a couple of sites that will help you answer the question…

Is it down or is it just me?




As always, click at your own risk.


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New Vulnerability Found in Internet Explorer

You may have already read about new vulnerability found in Internet Explorer (All versions). Microsoft does not yet have a fix for this issue. Here are two things you can do to stay safe in the meantime: – If you have an alternative browser such as Firefox or Google Chrome, use it. – This exploit works primarily by luring you to infected sites. So practice safe surfing when using IE: do not click on links in emails unless you are certain they are safe. Do not click on links in unexpected pop-ups

This may also be time to think about working as a Standard (Restricted) user as opposed to an Administrator.

Below are links to the Microsoft Security Advisory and some commentary by Gizmodo

Microsoft Security Advisory 2963983

New Vulnerability Found in Every Single Version of Internet Explorer

And last, but not least…

Steve Gibson, from GRC, has just posted the following mitigation. I cannot attest to how good it is, or what effect it will have, but Steve is usually very good about such things (why is why I am posting it here.

A quick mitigation for Internet Explorer’s new 0-Day vulnerability

As always…

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Free Microsoft Anti-Virus Tools

  1. Introduction
  2. Microsoft Security Essentials
  3. Microsoft Safety Scanner
  4. Microsoft Windows Defender Offline
  5. Summary


There are many tools about that promise to keep your pc clean from viruses and malware. Tools such as AVG, Avast!, Sophos and others make great promises, that are (probably) impossible to keep. They all have paid and free versions, the main difference being (in our opinion) that the free ones cause a performance hit on your PC.

It is beyond the scope of this report to make any real, meaningful comments about the effectiveness, or otherwise, of the tools. Suffice to say “you pays your money, you takes your choice”. Caveat emptor.

While it is true to say that the best cure is prevention, it is also true to say that it is no longer the case that YOU must have done something to get infected. These things come at us from all directions and the most innocent of things (websites usually) can be compromised. So what do you do once you are infected?

Below are 3 Free Microsoft Anti-Virus Tools, one a standard virus scanner and two offline tools, that you can use to start to clean up your computer. These tools may not clean your pc 100%, and you may still end up doing a system restore, but they will get you on the way and may clean things up enough for you to recover your data.


Microsoft Security Essentials

This first tool is Microsoft’s attempt at an online virus scanner. While I am sure many people will argue that there may be better tools about it has a few things going for it. It is truly free (for home users and companies with up to 10 users). This is not a hobbled free version of a paid tool. It is not intrusive, it only makes it self known whan it thinks there is a problem. It is from Microsoft, so it does not seem to slow you PC down. We have been running it in UA since it’s initial availablility and have remained virus free.
The Tool can be downloaded here. Microsoft Security Essentials
Install it, update it, run a scan. Simple


Microsoft Safety Scanner

Do you think your PC has a virus?

The Microsoft Safety Scanner is a free downloadable security tool that provides on-demand scanning and helps remove viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It works with your existing antivirus software.

Note: The Microsoft Safety Scanner expires 10 days after being downloaded. To rerun a scan with the latest anti-malware definitions, download and run the Microsoft Safety Scanner again.

The Microsoft Safety Scanner is not a replacement for using an antivirus software program that provides ongoing protection.

The Tool can be downloaded here. Microsoft Safety Scanner


Microsoft Windows Defender Offline

So you have a scanner, you have been careful what you download and where you download from, but you still get infected! What can you do.

There are many tools out there that will clean a PC, but many of them require that you have an idea what you are infected with, and a working pc to download them!

This is an offline tool that you can prepare beforehand and have ready in your arsenal in case it is ever required. You use this tool to create a “boot” disk that you can start your PC with. It then updates itself (this works best if you are on a wired connection) and scans your PC. The scan can take hours, depending on how much data you have, and though it does not always remove everything bad, it should get you to a position where you can get your data off. Full instructions are included on the download page.

The Tool can be downloaded here. Microsoft Windows Defender Offline



No tool can keep you 100% safe, but these tools can help in the battle against the bad guys.

As stated above, it is best to not get infected in the first place. We have written on this subject in the past and I would suggest that a quick perusal of our Keeping Safe on the Internet page is a good idea to remind yourself of some precautions to take.


I hope this helps.

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