Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Somebody might be listening...

I replied to some music colleagues this morning using Windows Live Mail from my desktop computer. It didn't get sent. Several hours later I saw there was something (that message) in my outbox. I clicked on Send/Receive and a little process box opened to say the send was executing. Nothing happened. The little box sat there. It didn't even show an error message or time out.

This evening I called Comcast, my internet and email provider. The first helpdesk person didn't really seem to know what was going on. She would say click on this and I wouldn't see it. So after several minutes I asked for a supervisor. After a long hold (with the Comcast recorded message chattering on my phone about what great deals await) the frontline person introduced me to the supervisor – and the line was disconnected. The supervisor did not call me back.

After waiting a while I called again. When I got a live person on the phone I said I had been connected to a supervisor, got disconnected, and I want a supervisor and I'm already annoyed. Another long wait.

I confirmed I could use my email account from their website. That ended Comcast's ability to help. Here's the Microsoft number...

I told the Comcast person I had been working with them for an hour and the issue was not resolved.

I called that Microsoft number. The person said I had been using my email account from other computers (I had while traveling) and it had been compromised. Through my email system hackers were now able to get onto my desktop computer and had somehow messed up Windows Live Mail and they needed to get onto my computer to clean all the bad stuff out. I downloaded a standard program to allow him access to my computer.

This wasn't making sense. The frontline guy wasn't able to answer my questions, so got a manager. I'm not sure I could explain what he told me. He said there was someone in Columbus, Ohio who was using my compromised email right now. All of whatever he said seemed to answer my questions so I was returned to the frontline guy. He worked the problem a bit and said this may get complicated and we may have to charge you. I asked should I get out my credit card? He emphasized the "may" part. I said if this is a breach of my computer's security program perhaps I should contact that security company.

He hung up.

Yup, all kinds of red flags on that one.

I called the security company. We did a simple test. The Windows Live Mail problem is not caused by the security program. While she was on the line I asked does this scenario make sense? No, it is not possible for someone to compromise my email and use that to get onto my computer past their product. As for the original problem, here is the Microsoft phone number and we are sure it is actually Microsoft.

I Googled the first phone number. I got hits for the helpdesk for Gmail/Hotmail. This is looking really weird.

I haven't called Microsoft yet because it is getting late. Something to do tomorrow.

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