Friday, April 22, 2016

Hacking malware

I got a call yesterday from “The Windows Support Company.” I knew right away that it was one of those outfits that entice the user to put a virus onto their computer so the company can then remove it for a fee. I decided to string him along for a while, figuring I’m doing a public service if I keep him from calling another person.

The guy had an excellent script, but he lacked the skill to detect my irony. I was very amused when he told me that I had an especially virulent form of hacking malware on my computer. Wow. “Hacking malware.” I laughed and told him I was having a little trouble visualizing that, but he pressed on. He was very excited; urgent, even.

He started out by trying to figure out without directly asking, whether I have Windows or a Mac. He achieved this by asking about my keyboard, and I stretched out his investigation by describing the Windows key in terms nebulous enough that he couldn’t be sure I was talking about a Windows key or a Mac Option key. Tiring of the game, I said, “You know everything about my computer, don’t you?”

“Oh yes,” he assured me.

“Then what’s my IP address?” I asked.

“I can’t see that, but I see your Windows License Key,” he answered. “Let me prove it to you.” He proceeded to give me instructions, slowly, in painstaking detail. A dunce could not fail.

I didn’t actually type in the command he asked me to enter. Not into the command window, anyway. I typed it into my browser and found an article about the scam. I knew what he was going to tell me next. Exasperated, I told him “You’ve just asked me to look up a Class ID common to all Windows computers. You haven’t proven anything. I’ve been stringing you along here to see how long I could stretch this out, but I’ve had enough. How can you even live with yourself, scamming people for a living. Can you even sleep at night?”

“No,” he answered, “I don’t sleep very well. I’m very poor and this is the only way I can make a living.”

“I’d like to pray for you,” I countered. “Are you a Christian?” “Yes,” he said, “I am.”

I prayed aloud for him, and he told me he’d quit his job soon.