The phone rang the other day.  A foreign sounding voice says “Good afternoon. My name is Harry and I’m calling you from the technical support department of BT.”

I am always suspicious of these type of calls, and so should you be. It’s all to do with the security of your computer system. We have all heard stories of scammers, and hackers who want to take over your system, but in truth, if you keep your anti virus software and firewall up to date it is very much harder for them to do so.

The easiest way they can get in is through what is known as “social engineering”. They will try to convince you that there is a problem with your machine and if you go along with them they will attempt to “show” you where the problem is, whilst offering to help “protect” you. The purpose of this is to get you to give them access to the computer, thus bypassing all your security measures.

What they then do can go one of several ways. I have seen people where they have activated a little known security feature of Windows called Syslock. This requires a password to be entered before Windows starts. In this case the motive was extortion. They wanted £500 for “lifetime protection”.

An alternative would have been to simply install something on the computer to take control of it, possibly to enrol it into a “bot-net”. Or they could have installed some software to encrypt all your photographs and other documents and then require a large fee for providing the key to release them again.

But back to our friend Harry (not from the Technical Support department of BT). He sounded very plausible. After all, when you contact BT about your broadband, they are located in Mumbai. The voice sounded genuine enough. The point is, they don’t phone you about a problems. Neither do Microsoft (another popular claim) or McAfee or any other security software provider. He told me my router was infected with viruses and asked me what colour was the light on the front of it. I imagine the purpose of this was to try to convince me that what was the normal operation of the router had been changed in some way and needed to be investigated, which he, of course, was willing to do.

On this occasion I simply told him that I wasn’t with BT and he immediately hung up. Another option would be to politely thank him for bringing the matter to your attention and tell him that you will call your usual support engineer, i.e. me on 07733 225352 for assistance!

To summarise:

  1. be suspicious of any such call
  2. keep your security software up to date
  3. periodically check that the firmware of your router is also up to date.
  4. If in doubt, call Mr I Can Do on 07733 225352 for advice.