Scalar Enterprises Blog
This page contains news about Scalar Enterprises, work we have been doing for our clients, new features and services etc. From time to time I will also include useful information and articles from myself and from various other sources along with comments, tips and thoughts from myself. Hope you find it useful and why not let me know if you have a question.
Recently, I was working on a design where I needed to match the exact font from the logo. I managed to identify the name of the font used in the image and then set to, as I have done many times before, locating a copy of the font that I could download and install on my PC.
I managed to find a copy from a what I believed to be a reputable source and downloaded it and installed it without any problems or issues flagged by my virus or malware filters.
The next thing I noticed when I opened a new tab on my browser was that instead of my usual default page opening, it took me to another with a new default search engine. Luckily I had not installed anything else on my PC around that time so it was quite easy to identify the source of the problem, however, getting rid of it was far from easy!
I tried re-setting the browser defaults but as soon as I opened a new tab again, it reverted to this new rogue page. I then discovered that it did the same in all of the other browsers I had installed on my PC (which is many as it is my main development machine and the one I use for testing browser compatibility).
Further investigation identified that I had been a victim of “browser highjacking”. Wikipedia defines this as follows:
Browser hijacking is the modification of a web browser‘s settings by malware. The term “hijacking” is used as the changes are performed without the user’s permission. Some browser hijacking can be easily reversed, while other instances may be difficult to reverse.
Many of the popular browsers have malware settings included to prevent problems like this and I had them enabled but somehow, in this particular instance, it managed to get through them all.
I investigated further and found some suggested methods for removing this particular malware, none of which unfortunately seemed to work. Eventually, to cut a long story short, I found a number of reports and discussions on various forums which I ended up, by a process of experimentation, combining and along with reconfiguring many browser options and editing different bits of code in numerous browser scripts that had been changed, I eventually managed to fix the problems across all my browsers.
Needless to say, this took quite a bit of time – nearly half a day in the end which is an expense you can’t afford as a small business.
It just goes to show, that no matter how careful you try to be, or what tools you have in place, you can still get caught out. Imagine the impact on a business who has no protection against malware or viruses set up !
Cold calling tech-support scams have been around for quite a while now. Reports indicate that these people, generally based in India, have extorted millions of pounds out of English speaking victims in the UK, Canada, the US and other countries since 2008.
In the scam, the perpetrators call unsuspecting PC owners purporting to be from well known large companies like Microsoft or Dell for example and claiming that they have detected malware on their PC.
They generally put across quite a convincing story and to those not so technically savvy, can quite easily convince them they are genuine. They then go on to dupe you into giving them remote access to your PC telling you that they will fix the problem.
Once they have gained access to your machine, they then basically hold it to ransom, demanding exorbitant amounts of money to remove non existent malware.
The Guardian recently reported that as part of an ongoing global investigation into this type of crime, that US authorities have just frozen the US assets of 17 people and 14 companies that have been accused of taking part in the operations and who allegedly have conned tens of thousands of people with this type of scam. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also shut down 80 internet domain names and 130 phone numbers used in the US to carry out the scams.
Unfortunately, most of the perpetrators are located in virtual offices overseas (typically in India) so it is difficult to actually make any arrests and they just relocate and set up again and start all over again so the problem is not going to go away any time soon.
All one can do is be on guard and don’t react to any such random phone calls in panic. Don’t do anything without running your own virus and malware scans on your PC and without talking to your own IT person or someone with a bit more technical knowledge who can advise you. Bottom line is, don’t ever let anyone have access to your PC remotely unless you know exactly who they are. You should already have decent virus checking software installed and running on your PC that will protect you from viruses and there are many separate malware checking packages available too which you can easily run yourself on your PC.
The important thing to remember is that how would any 3rd party know there is a problem with your PC if they don’t have access to it ? Clearly they don’t have access as that is what they are asking you to grant them!
Be aware and safe, not sorry.
One of the most common questions I get asked quite regularly after carrying out modifications or additions to a clients website is “Why can’t I see my new webpage ?” I thought it would be useful to explain why this is and how to resolve it.
The “Techy” bit
When you visit a website for the first time, your browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome etc.) communicates with the server (where the website is hosted) which then sends a copy of the page and all its contents to your browser which it then displays for you to read.
Web pages contain a lot of content (e.g. words, images etc), made up of lots of separate files so each of these needs to be downloaded to your browser individually before it can display the page. This is why sometimes you notice it takes a while to display everything, particularly if you have large images.