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A question for the group

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by MikeMandaville, Sep 3, 2004.

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  1. I believe that I have caught my computer dialing a number which I do not want
    it to dial. Is such a thing even possible? More specifically, I have several
    numbers for my local sign-up service, and I do not want my computer to dial any
    number other than one of these. Is it possible that I might have
    unintentionally downloaded a virus which is capable of doing this? Is any
    virus capable of doing this? Has anyone else ever experienced this problem?
    Do I now need to build a box to defend my lame computer? Please help!

    Mike Mandaville
    Austin, Texas
  2. SioL

    SioL Guest

    Yes, it is possible. Some websites will popup a dialog for you prompting you to
    a "dialer" program. It is sometimes possible to make a mistake and click yes
    among all those
    programs. Also, many freeware programs come with an unhealthy dose of trackers,
    adware etc. Maybe even dialers. I'd be carefull.

    Check your PC with add-aware or Pest Control and many others. And get a
    firewall/popup blocker.

  3. Guest

    Its quite possible, and means you are running a flavor of Microsoft Windows

    Viruses can certainly dial a number. I suggest you maintain a good virus
    detection software package like McAfee or Norton, or whatever pleases you.
    Search the web for tools to remove spyware as well. You can buy firewall
    software, and XP has one built in, tho its not all that great.

    The nature of Microsoft software is that it is always willing to give up
    control of itself to another piece of software, so you have to be careful and
    pay attention. For reasons such as you are seeing, I stay away from Microsoft
    products. There have been instances when even Windows itself tries to "phone
    home" and either download something from father bill, or upload something that
    apparently he wants to see.

    If your modem is external, turn it off. If its an internal device, consider
    unplugging the line. Inconvenient for sure, but that is life in the world of
    windows <shrug>

  4. Ian Stirling

    Ian Stirling Guest


    Have you been visiting any hard-core porn sites?
    Often "free" sites that involve you downloading a program?

    This is a dialler that dials the site on a premium rate line.
    There are a number of solutions.
    From not running any programs that you download when signing up to websites,
    to installing hardware that will work.
    There are boxes that you plug into the phone line, and require a
    PIN before you can access the line.
    Put the PIN before your normal dialup number, and that can work.
  5. Gareth

    Gareth Guest

    Yes, well actually it is probably not strictly speaking a virus, but a
    Not personally, but I have heard of it.
    I would suggest the following, in this order:

    1) Download and run Lavasoft Ad-aware, this is a free program which
    removes spyware, adware and dialers. It can be downloaded free from here:

    Note I have not yet tried this version, but it is widely recommended.

    2) Download and run Spybot Search and Destroy, this is similar sort of
    thing to Ad-aware. See:

    3) Your phone company may be able to block premium rate numbers, thus
    preventing your computer from dialing them (I assume the computer is
    dialing premium rate numbers?). Find out if they can do this.

    4) Download AVG, a free antivirus program, from here:

    5) regularly update and run all the above programs.


  6. AtPCLogic

    AtPCLogic Guest

    Subject: Re: A question for the group
    I use all of the programs recommended and have found them to clean most but not
    all of the garbage on my pc. There are some additional programs that will find
    other types of problems but they are not free. I concur with the previous
    responder about what is happening and how to fix it. Usually dialers come with
    free games or other 'stuff'. So be careful about the sites you visit!

    PC Logic

    Schematic entry and PCB design software
  7. Ian, I like this hardware solution. I didn't know what a PIN was, but now I
    know that a PIN is a personal identification number. Can you tell me anything
    more about this solution, such as where I might be able to purchase such a box?

    And, by the way, I appreciate the other responses which I have gotten to my
    post also, all of which I have found to be very halpful.

    Mike Mandaville
  8. I believe that I have caught my computer dialing a number which I do not
    Hello, HT!

    When I bought my computer, about a year ago, it had a Linux operating system
    already installed, and I therefore surfed the web with Linux straight through
    the mowing season last year, even though this version of Linux did not even
    allow downloads, and even though I could have gotten a free internet by simply
    installing XP, which I already had. I therefore know where you are coming
    from, and, in fact, I will be going back to Linux again, once I drop AOL, which
    is not Linuix compatible. Once I discovered that the AOL software disables the
    XP firewall, that was the last straw.

    By the way, I have run across a virus which will not only hijack my dialer, but
    will also disable my computer's sound system, so that I will not hear the dial
    tones! I have found a way to override this, though. Right now I have the
    phone off the hook.

    Mike Mandaville
  9. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    What said about the security of Microsoft products
    is gospel.
    Granted that you aren't going to divest yourself of Windoze,
    the one single most effective step you can take is
    For a free alternative:
    When installing,
    it will ask you if you want to make Mozilla your default browser.
    Say YES.
  10. Chaos Master

    Chaos Master Guest

    MikeMandaville whispers:
    It can dial numbers on its own.
    It's caused usually by spyware/trojans. (read: some porn sites install bad

    As a solution, I just unplug the phone cable from the modem and connect it only
    when I go to dial.

    The dialers "die" with a "NO DIAL TONE" error coming from the modem.

    Chaos Master®, posting from Brazil. REPLY TO GROUP!
    "People told me I can't dress like a fairy.
    I say, I'm in a rock band and I can do what the hell I want!"
    -- Amy Lee

    Note: please don't give me TinyURL addresses.
  11. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    The first thing is, don't do day-to-day worked logged in as Administrator.

    Then, do the rest of these things.

    Good Luck!
  12. Don't let numbskulls use your computer, ever. All it takes is surfing
    to a "bad" website and hitting a "yes" at the wrong time, once, to
    install a dialer program. Typically they will dial long distance
    numbers in Eastern Europe (for which the recipient gets a cut of the
    long distance charges) or 900 numbers. I found two of them *running*
    in the background on a computer that an associate let his three
    teenage kids use. BTW, they also turn off the speaker on the modem so
    you might not even know unless you notice the line in use.

    It's usually not a virus, but a trojan horse program. Even with
    low-security default Microsoft settings someone has to say "yes" to
    install this executable on the computer.

    Best regards,
    Spehro Pefhany
  13. Don't let numbskulls use your computer, ever. All it takes is surfing
    Hello, Spehro.

    I have not found a poster anywhere whose writings make better reading than

    Today I reinstalled my operating system, installed the ZoneAlarm firewall, and
    tomorrow I will be stopping by Radio Shack to get another telephone, so that it
    will be more convenient for me to take the phone off the hook, just as soon as
    the term "connected" appears on my monitor.

    I have learned that if a person becomes victimized by a dialer hijacking, and
    then files a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the telephone
    company, by law, then cannot collect for a disputed charge, and cannot
    disconnect the victim's telephone because of the disputed charge. This is very
    good news, since it is not inconceivable that my computer's dialing hardware
    might have been hijacked after my last telephone bill. Fortunately, the phone
    company gave me a one-time courtesy write-off.

    Mike Mandaville
    certified hillbilly

    currently building a musical foot pedal keyboard
  14. Chaos Master

    Chaos Master Guest

    MikeMandaville() whispers:
    There are some firewalls that are better than Windows XP default one.

    But avoid ZoneAlarm as it likes to break other programs.

    Chaos Master®, posting from Brazil. REPLY TO GROUP!
    "People told me I can't dress like a fairy.
    I say, I'm in a rock band and I can do what the hell I want!"
    -- Amy Lee

    Outgoing messages are certified virus-free.
    They're plain text, anyway.
  15. Chaos Master
    The reason why I use ZoneAlarm is because it is free, and because it does
    protect me, however imperfectly. Do you know of any other free firewalls? Can
    you give me an example of ZoneAlarm breaking a program? And how can you surf
    the web when your phone is unplugged?

    Mike Mandaville

    inquiring minds want to know.
  16. Ken Taylor

    Ken Taylor Guest

    I have no problems with ZoneAlarm other than having to occasionally tell it
    that something is, or isn't, allowed to access the network. As it should be!
    It hasn't yet 'broken' any program.

  17. Chaos Master
    only when I go to dial.

    Mister Chaos, I think that I understand what you mean now. Here is a picture
    of a box which I found on the internet, and which is labeled a "modem guard":

    Evidently, this device is nothing more than a simple toggle switch which goes
    between the modem and the phone line. The key here is obviously in knowing how
    to hook up the switch.

    I installed my own telephone awhile back, and, when I did so, I purchased a
    book from Radio Shack which covers the subject of installing telephones, and
    which includes some theory. Once I have located that book, I think that I will
    be able to build such a box. In the meantime, I now have a telephone connected
    to the through socket on the back of my computer. The telephone has a
    telephone pickup type microphone, and the microphone has an amplifier.

    Mike Mandaville
  18. Not Really - Windows is *easy* to lure into executing something that it
    should not;

    One can send an attachment to Outlook in one of the "known" - by Outlook and
    Crackers that is - script formats that Outlook will execute straight on the

    Another good one is to use a html-link containing the ClassID of some benign
    format like f.ex. PDF which really points to an EXE/ActiveX control: The
    link will present as a PDF, windos *might* ask the luser if files of type
    PDF should be opened ... seing that there is no reason they should not ...
    the luser says OK.

    I also think that people as a minimum should use a hardware firewall - most
    of the USD 50 or so routers, f.ex. Linksys, contain one - and the most
    important feature is to log incoming connections: Usually a Windows PC does
    not *serve* anything to anybody, it just downloads stuff. An incoming
    connection is almost always a backdoor access.

    Most "software firewalls" have some major problems:

    First they *bleat*, *nag* and *whine* about connections all the time thus
    goading the user to switch the thing on "Auto" anyway (i..e. disable the
    blocking function).

    They are complicated-to-configure-correctly products which needs
    configuration wizards that often have faults of their own; Norton Indernet
    Secrety - a most despicable pile of shite IMO - is one such "t00l" brazenly
    branded with the Norton sticker to get people to swallow it, yet being so
    buggy it is entirely useless.

    Secondly, if the computer is attacked and compromised, the firewall and the
    logs are toast too - so no retribution can be made!
  19. Hehe:

    I have a VIA Epia-M 10000 based Linux Box for "work"; it cannot run any PC
    games and it does not attract Trojans, Virii and any Children either.

    Occasionally, I am compelled to clean out one of the Kidde-PC's for diallers
    and whatnot; Ad-Aware does that job amiacably while the CA E-secure virus
    scanner appears to have kept them out of trouble since last x-mas when
    Norton Indernet Sekrety failed and I got two systems wiped (for Games, that
  20. We need to have a campaign against software that requires administrator
    privileges for ordinary use. What that tells me is, "The developer can't be
    bothered to try it on any computers or accounts other than this own."

    Admin. is for installing software.

    Ordinary accounts are for running software.

    Got that, manufacturers?
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