BT customers in the UK have been targeted by call centre scammers in India – with one person reporting they were defrauded for thousands of pounds this week.
The issue appears to have been going on for more than a year. Some customers said the fraudsters knew their personal details.
One victim reported he had he got a call from someone this week asking for him by name, talking about his existing broadband problems which he had reported to BT previously. This individual claimed he had malware on his computer and said he need to access his machine via a third-party client.
“Within the hour he had over £1,000 in two payments from his bank account. Fortunately, Lloyds stepped in on the second larger payment and stopped it progressing,” said his son-in-law, who asked not to be named.
A BT customer forum thread entitled Possible Scam has hundreds of comments dating back from last year.
Another recently wrote they had already been in touch with BT about their broadband prior to receiving a call from an Indian man stating that he was calling from BT.
“He asked me to confirm the postcode and address which he gave to me over the phone and then my date of birth. At that point, I said no and he hung up. Clearly a scam call and weirdly never had to call BT until the last few weeks and all of a sudden a call.”
Another said the same thing happened to him, adding that the caller was very plausible until they wanted remote access to his PC hard drive.
“She even knew my address, phone number and both mine and my husbands name… so had access to some of our details.”
Fraud appears to be a growing problem across the sector. Last month TalkTalk was hit with a £100,000 fine after the data of the records of 21,000 people were exposed to fraudsters in an Indian call centre.
A BT spokesman gave the usual spiel: “BT takes the security of its customers’ accounts very seriously. We proactively warn our customers to be on their guard against scams. Fraudsters use various methods to ‘glean’ your personal or financial details with the ultimate aim of stealing from you. This can include trying to use your BT bill and account number.”
He advised customers should never share their BT account number with anyone and always shred bills. “Be wary of calls or emails you’re not expecting. Even if someone quotes your BT account number, you shouldn’t trust them with your personal information.”
He said: “We’ll never ask customers for personal information out of the blue and we’ll never call from an ‘unknown’ number. If we’re getting in touch about your bill, it will usually be from either 0800 328 9393 or 0800 028 5085.” ®
I have been testing out Solarwinds MSP backup, and one of the features this has is that you can restore the backup to a virtual disk, which is in VMware vmdk format.
I have tended to use Oracle VirtualBox locally for my virtual machines since it is compatible with a lot of appliance templates and vhd images you can download online and is free and has a small footprint. Although Windows 10 now does include a cut down version of hyper-v allowing you to run virtual machines, you do need the PRO version of Windows, which I did not have at the time of writing this, I was running Windows home edition.
While the vmdk file does work with VirtualBox natively, I discovered that it does require some work to get it to boot and you cannot do much else with it, which includes shrinking it. This is one thing I needed to do in order to reduce the amount of space used by my restored virtual disk image.
Firstly in order to get the vmdk to boot I had to enable EFI mode in virtualbox settings.
I then had to run bootrec/rebuildbcd
To compact the disk, I discovered I have to convert the vmdk to a VDI file. thankfully this turned out to be quite simple.
If you will not be using a dynamic disk, and do not need to shrink it, then you can skip these first 3 steps obviously.
1. Delete Unnecessary Files from the VM
- The best way to do this is to run the Windows disk cleanup tool, including the option to “clean up system files”
2. Defragment the Disk
- If you want to also shrink the disk, then Using the Windows defrag tool will help with the shrink process.
3. Clean any free disk space
After the disk has been defragmented, the virtual Windows drive will still have unused space containing garbage bits and bytes. These garbage bits and bytes are from the contents of files that used to occupy that space but that are no longer there.
The most effective way to clean free disk space on a Windows drive is to overwrite the unused space with a bitstream of zeros or to zero-fill any free space.
Windows does not come with a native utility to zero-fill unused space but you can find the excellent SDelete tool at Microsoft’s TechNet: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897443.aspx
4. Convert the disk
If your vmdk image file is already connected to a guest VM, then you need to remove it, otherwise, the process will not work.
- shutdown the VM
- go into the virtual media manager and remove the vmdk file from the guest VM
Open CMD prompt, and navigate to your VirtualBox folder, from here you will execute VBoxManage, using the coneMEdium command to clone the VHD and convert to VDI.
c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox> VBoxManage clonemedium disk --format VDI [drive]:[\path_to_file\sourceFile.vmdk] [drive]:[\path-to\destinationFile.vdi]
Obviously, replace the [drive]:[\path_to_file\myserver.vmdk] with your source and destination paths.
This conversion process will actually shrink down the VHD by default if you are using a dynamic disk, and should get it down the minimum required. If it hasn’t sufficiently reduced it, then you can try to run this command.
VBoxManage modifyhd --compact "[drive]:\[path_to_image_file]\[name_of_image_file].vdi"
I have been having some WIFI problems the last couple of months where devices would randomly lose access to the internet, some devices couldn’t even connect to the WIFI access point, others could connect but were just slow as hell. Even wired devices seemed to be having problems. After trying everything possible, I finally thought that maybe something on the network was sucking all the bandwidth, as some devices did still have a connection.
So I logged into my router and checked the connected devices bandwidth usage and saw that PC which was showing high usage. Lo and behold windows update was running, which was sucking all the bandwidth and killing the network for everyone else.
After further investigation, I discovered that one of the new features introduced in windows 10 is the ability to get updates through P2P (like how torrents work) to improve download speed. This can be a major network bottleneck due to the number of p2p connections that get opened up. So disabling this was the first step.
go to Windows Update -> Advanced Options -> Choose how updates are delivered
PCs on my local network, this will still allow you to get updates from other computers in your local network only, and not external computers, which will save your available bandwidth.
Although making this change while updates are already downloading doesn’t seem to have any effect, so you would have to stop the downloads for the setting to take effect. This also did not solve the issue by itself, it improved things, but everything was still slow.
My next step was to go into my router admin and set some throttling so that individual computers had a limit on how much bandwidth they could consume. Although if you have a basic/cheap router from your ISP then you may not have such an option available. In which case you can try setting thr throttle on the individual pc’s using BITS.
The updates happen through 2 main windows components: WUDO and BITS.
WUDO is the Windows Update Delivery Optimization is part of the Windows Update for Business and is used for the P2P installation that I disabled already.
The Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) is commonly used by Windows to download updates, so this can also be tweaked using group policy.
To open the Local Group Policy Editor from the command line:
- Click Start , type
gpedit.msc in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.
To set a bandwidth rule on the BITS:
- Navigate to
Administrative Templates ->
Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS)
Limit the maximum network bandwidth for BITS background transfers
- Set it to
- Set the time range and maximum transfer rate