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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

No Typewriter Ever Violated Me

This 1937 Canadian-made ("Built in the British Empire") cork-platened Model A Royal De Luxe portable typewriter, serial number A-689650, was given to me in 2011 by leading Australian war historian, Professor Bill Gammage*. It was sold to Bill's father by Sydney Pincombe Pty Ltd of Sydney in 1938, four years before Bill was born in Orange, New South Wales. Bill went on to research and write about the fight for rights and justice in Turkey and Australia.

At the root of my vulnerability to this cyber attack was my frustration in not being able to get rid of the "MyStart" extension from Google Chrome. After all this drama was over, I finally found how easy it was to get rid of it - only adding to the annoyance of the whole thing.  Earlier, through the control panel on my computer, I had been directed to a program which promised to clean "IncrediBar" off my machine for good - at a cost of $US40. Having scanned my computer with this "SpeedMaxPc" program, and apparently having "fixed" a range of problems, I then received the phone call from the scammers. Under the impression that "SpeedMaxPc" was a Microsoft-approved program, I was therefore "open" to the suggestion from the scammers that several problems had been reported to Microsoft. The scammers' timing was, by sheer chance, perfect. This YouTube video shows exactly what happened to me:

The same sequence of events was reported by Jerome Segura on April 11 this year on a Malwarebytes blog. Read the report here.
Microsoft's Safety & Security Center says, “Avoid tech support phone scams: Cybercriminals don't just send fraudulent email messages and set up fake websites. They might also call you on the telephone and claim to be from Microsoft. They might offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license. Once they have access to your computer, they can do the following: 1. Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software. 2. Take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable. 3. Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services. 4. Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.
"Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.
Once they've gained your trust, Cybercriminals might ask for your user name and password or ask you to go to a website to install software that will let them access your computer to fix it. Once you do this, your computer and your personal information is vulnerable.
"If someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support calls you: Do not purchase any software or services. Ask if there is a fee or subscription associated with the "service." If there is, hang up. Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer. Take the caller's information down and immediately report it to your local authorities. Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support.
"If you think that you might have downloaded malware from a phone tech support scam website or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, take these steps: Change your computer's password, change the password on your main email account, and change the password for any financial accounts, especially your bank and credit card. Scan your computer with the Microsoft Safety Scanner to find out if you have malware installed on your computer. Install Microsoft Security Essentials. (Microsoft Security Essentials is a free program. If someone calls you to install this product and then charge you for it, this is also a scam.) Note: In Windows 8, Windows Defender replaces Microsoft Security Essentials. Windows Defender runs in the background and notifies you when you need to take specific action. However, you can use it anytime to scan for malware if your computer isn’t working properly or you clicked a suspicious link online or in an email message.
"There are some cases where Microsoft will work with your Internet service provider and call you to fix a malware-infected computer -such as during the recent cleanup effort begun in our botnet takedown actions. These calls will be made by someone with whom you can verify you already are a customer. You will never receive a legitimate call from Microsoft or our partners to charge you for computer fixes."
"Computer cold call virus scam – scammers outsmarted! October 2012: Joint action between three international regulators has thwarted a massive global phone scam, with US authorities winning court orders to close down and freeze funds of imposters posing as Microsoft employees offering to fix PC viruses. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA), the US Federal Trade Commission and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission collaborated to share key intelligence about the operations of the Microsoft imposters. his scam was one of the most commonly reported scams in 2011, with computer hacking scams contributing more than 23 per cent to the total scam reports to the ACCC. SCAMwatch urges you to remain alert – this type of scam continues to do the rounds, with scammers impersonating other well known and trusted companies or government agencies to slip under your radar. If you receive a call out of the blue from a stranger requesting access to your computer, money or your personal details, just hang up.
"How these scams work" You receive a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from (or have a relationship with) Windows or Microsoft and that they have detected a virus on your computer. To confirm the diagnosis, the caller asks you to open Windows Event Viewer on your machine to check if it is infected. Several error messages are listed and this reinforces their claims, even though errors are common and usually harmless. The caller tells you that these are of significant concern and offers to refer you to a ‘technician’ who could fix the problem—for a fee. At this point, you’re offered a number of solutions that seem to make perfect sense. Depending on the intent of the particular scammer involved, the ‘technician’ might: 1. Install an antivirus program on your computer—typically the kind that you can download for free from reputable companies—and charge up to $250 for the service. 2. Ask for your credit card details but install nothing. Your details might then be sold to other parties or used for fraudulent purposes. 3. Install malware on your computer—this enables your computer to be controlled remotely for other illegal and harmful activities. 4. Access and steal personal and financial details from your computer.
Follow-up scam: Scammers have also been known to make follow-up calls to people who initially fell victim to the scam. In these calls the scammer falsely claims to be from a foreign government, foreign law enforcement body, or from your bank, and offers to recover the money that you initially lost— in return for a fee.
"Protect yourself. Suspect: Don’t accept anything at face value—if it sounds unlikely or too good to be true, it probably is. Think: Recognise the signs—if you’re being pressured to act, disclose personal details or send money to a stranger, it’s almost certainly a scam. For example, Microsoft never makes unsolicited phone calls about its products. Report: Act quickly—tell SCAMwatch and stop scammers in their tracks. Ignore: Never respond. Just hang up, or delete the SMS or email after reporting."
*William Leonard "Bill" Gammage AM was born in Orange, New South Wales, in 1942. He is an Australian academic historian, Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University in Canberra. He went to Wagga Wagga High School and then to ANU. He was on the faculty of the University of Papua New Guinea and the University of Adelaide. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences and deputy chair of the National Museum of Australia. Gammage is best known for his book The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War, which is based on his PhD thesis written while at the ANU. It was first published in 1974, and re-printed in 1975, 1980, 1981 (the year in which Peter Weir's film, Gallipoli, came out), 1985 and 1990. The study revives the tradition of C.E.W. Bean (who used a Corona 3 portable typewriter). Bean was Australia's official historian of World War I, one who focused his narrative on the men in the line rather than the strategies of generals. Gammage corresponded with 272 Great War veterans, and consulted the personal records of another 728, mostly at the Australian War Memorial. He has written several other books about the experiences of soldiers in World War I, including three definitive books about Australian soldiers in the war. In 1998, Gammage joined the Humanities Research Centre at the ANU as a senior research fellow for the Australian Research Council, working on the history of Aboriginal land management. His scope was cross-disciplinary, working "across fields as disparate as history, anthropology and botany". In the subsequent 13-year period he researched and wrote the book The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia, released in October 2011. It won the 2012 Prime Minister's Prize for Australian History in the Prime Minister's Literary Awards. As a historical adviser on Gallipoli, Gammage has worked on many documentaries and his writing is cited as an authoritative source on Australia's participation in World War I. For the film Gallipoli, Gammage was employed as the military adviser and he worked on the text that Australia's leading playwright  David Williamson turned into the screenplay for the film. In 2005 Gammage was made a Member of the Order of Australia.
Perhaps it may seem ironic that I have used for this typecast a typewriter given to me by an expert on Gallipoli and World War I, a war in which Australians fought and died for freedom. Freedom to do what? To use the Internet and in doing so innocently fall prey to cyber attacks from such vicious, nasty, shit-rotten criminals? What sort of freedom is that? Americans, Australians and New Zealanders died in their tens of thousands in two world wars to preserve law, order and justice - and we finish up with this!


Ray said...

How awful. I hope that the sight of your beautiful Royal Quiet Deluxe has been able to lift your spirit after this unpleasant violation. These sort of criminals are disgusting (and that's coming from a former criminal defence solicitor who has met more than his fair share of murderers, rapists, and other miscreants). Shame on them.

notagain said...

I find it as disturbing as you do that our priorities are not on the real harm these scum are doing. Glad you got out with relatively light damage.

Richard P said...

How rotten! I'm glad that the damage was minor. Unfortunately there seems to be an unlimited supply of con artists online, sending billions of phishing messages every day, setting up fake websites, etc.

Dwayne F. said...

Sorry you got hit. Some people are just marginal examples of Homo Sapiens.

The Royal is lovely and will never let you down! Kind of like Arnold in Terminator 2. Or something like that.

TonysVision said...

It doesn't matter how savvy we are, it is still all too easy to get pulled into these things. We tend to trust other people, you know? I got pulled into a phishing trip that caught my bank account password by an email that looked, down to the logo and the language, just like what my bank would send. Fortunately I realized what i had done immediately and got things fixed before all $12 in the account was gone. But really, it can happen so easily. Hopefully i am wiser now.

That cork platten - I am pretty new to this typewriter thing, but isn't that pretty unusual? Apparently it holds up. I wonder if it sounds different, or affects the look of the imprint for better or worse. Sure looks cool.

Spiderwebz said...

These scumbags invading privacy, includes the government right? They can't do anything about it, because they are too busy invading privacy themselves. At least in the USA and Europe they are, don't know (yet) about Australia.

It's very sad that you fell victim to an online scam. You are right that these kind of people don't have any morals. Otherwise you would use the same technology to make things saver so private information doesn't get leaked. Some of these little scumbags are, by fact, very young people learning new tricks on their laptops without having learned the boundaries. Others sadly did grow up and continued the scamming and spamming... :-(

rn said...

I'm glad your computer wasn't totally savaged, Robert.

I do have to add how appropriate it is that you have pounded out this vehement post on a typewriter (with a cork platen, no less) that was owned and used by a man who chronicled the fight for rights and justice in Turkey. Taksim Square and Gezi Park in Istanbul are today the center of a new fight for rights and justice -- so your timing is spot on.

Finally, may I propose that the typosphere adopt your rallying cry for a T-shirt: "No Typewriter Ever Violated Me."

Rob in NY

Ryan Adney said...

Jerks. Sorry that happened to you, but seeing a cork platen would lighten my spirits quickly.