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Turning the tables on “Windows Support” scammers by compromising their PCs

Metasploit dev releases zero-day exploit as a deterrent against offshore conmen.

Tech support scams are nothing new—we first went in-depth almost two years ago on “scareware scammers" who cold-call unsuspecting victims and try to talk them into compromising their computers by installing remote control applications and handing the keys over to the scammers.

We even managed to engage with one for a protracted length of time, with deputy editor Nate Anderson playing the role of a computer neophyte and recording the entire mess. But one developer has taken things a step further, producing a tool that will enable you to fight back if targeted—if you don’t mind a bit of bad acting yourself.

Matt Weeks is one of the developers who contributes code to the open source Metasploit Project, a sprawling and continually updated security framework that functions as a repository for software vulnerabilities and is frequently used as a Swiss Army Knife for penetration testing. Weeks has published a long report on his site detailing how he was able to reverse-engineer the encrypted communications protocol used by Ammyy Admin, one of the most popular remote control apps used by tech support scammers, and then use that knowledge to ferret out a vulnerability in the Ammyy Admin application.

The Coleco Adam, released in October of 1983, is what we would call a big, steaming mess. With a 3.58MHz Z80A CPU, 80KB of RAM, and twin cassette drives, this home computer package also came with a complete dot-matrix printer, allowing the user to simply buy the set and have a complete system out of the box, in comparison to having to purchase a more expensive printer separately for a Commodore 64. It was more featureful than the IBM PCjr at a lower cost.

But you get what you pay for, and the Adam was not very quality gear. Let me list the ways in which this system failed:

  • When you turned the computer on, it emitted an electromagnetic pulse. This was enough to completely erase any tapes in the system.
  • The manual told you to put the tapes into the computer before turning it on.
  • The power supply was part of the printer. If the printer died or went missing, the computer became a worthless paperweight.
  • There was no ROM BASIC, unlike every other home microcomputer. Instead, BASIC came on a tape, and the ROM software was a word processor.
  • To get out of word processor mode, you have to reboot the system.
  • The tape drives actually used proprietary, high-density tapes that could hold 256KB, but were unreliable. Eventually a 160KB 5.25” floppy drive was released as an addon.
  • The software developer license agreement. You were forbidden to say anything negative about Coleco or the computer, Coleco could force you to modify your product, and if Coleco ever pulled the license out from under you, you had to destroy all your stock of the software.

Coleco thought that they could pull a Tandy and go from being a leather company to a computer behemoth, but they were wrong. This console was completely marred by technical and engineering incompetence, along with a very greedy legal team. It was canned in January of 1985 and Coleco never bothered with the home computer market ever since. Though, for some reason, there are actually fans of this computer, and they created new hardware to upgrade it to make it more modern.


Smile BASIC looking super useful ⊟

The 3DS sequel to Petit Computer, the DSiWare BASIC compiler, will be shown at TGS this week (an event I won’t be attending….) and publisher Smileboom has shown off some new screens and features along with it.

These are some example games made to show what’s possible with the 3DS compiler, including an adventure game, fighting game, and a platformer. Included with the software is a sprite and in-game art editor! There’s also some kind of program that interfaces with Korg M01D? Via ColtraineGF.

BUY Nintendo 2DS & 3DS/XL, upcoming games

My latest Mouser shipment arrived!


Last week I ordered a pair or replacement RS232 line driver chips (Texas Instruments MC1488N’s to be specific) for my H89.  Hopefully this will solve the issues I was having with the terminal portion sending weak Tx signals from the H89 to my desktop that were being ignored.  I’ve already installed the replacement on the terminal board, and I’ll be performing another test here shortly!

Well, right after I make lunch.

Lucky you, actually getting your stuff from Mouser. I got two parts sitting in limbo because they won’t be in stock until November… so I just got the same parts off Digikey. And they arrived 2 days later.


The 1993 action game Doom? Yeah, it can manage *nix processes.

Initially started by a University of New Mexico student in 1999 and improved a year later, psDoom is a novelty source port that doubles as a process manager. Monsters tied to processes on the system are spawned in a secret area of E1M1 (or MAP01), with their process details printed on top of them. Wounding these “pid monsters” adjusts their priority, while killing them… kills the process. To make things a little less self-destructive, processes can’t damage each other with infighting.

From the author’s website:

I will not assume any liability for damage caused from running this code. Especially if you are running it as root. In fact, we both know that this will cause damage to the system, and that’s why you want to try it. You have been warned.

Thanks to suicunedude for reminding me of this!

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