Feeds

‘MS antipiracy’ hoax triggers paranoia attacks

Sometimes the simplest gags are the best ones...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

So there you are, lurking on IRC somewhere beyond the fringes of legality, and you're not sure if all of the software on your machine is entirely legitimate. Or, to paint a more realistic scenario, deep down you know that not all of the software on your machine is entirely legitimate.

Then Microsoft's anti-piracy people take control of your machine, tell you they know all of this, and they're coming round to see you. Over the past ten days or so several people have forwarded The Register screenshots that purport to show precisely this happening. There are different permutations, but the basic format is that you get a Messenger Service popup on the screen, telling you something along the following lines:

Message from Microsoft to [your IP address] on [time and date]
One or more of your Microsoft products are not genuine Microsoft products. For more information, please go to http:www.microsoft.com/piracy/ where you can find out if your product(s) are legal. Your IP has been logged by our Anti-Piracy team, and you will be contacted shortly [incident ref code]

On Friday there was also a screenshot of an IRC version posted on the web, but unfortunately this has either been blocked or pulled over the weekend. That one was a delicious piece of paranoia fodder that appeared to confirm all of the warez community's worst fears about narks from Redmond trawling their IPs from #stealmsofficenow then sending the snatch squad into their bedrooms. So it's a pity it's gone.

Naturally, The Reg was kind of suspicious about this. We thought the message was probably a hoax, but that it was quite an amusing one. Practically everybody in the world thinks that Microsoft will get up to this kind of thing one day, and practically nobody is prepared to state that it's obviously a hoax without doing some further checking.

Funnily enough this applies to Microsoft's people as well; when we called them they said it looked like a hoax, but they'd get back to us. So even within the Mighty Redmond they don't entirely discount the possibility that - say - some crazy in Microsoft Research has accidentally unleashed the Enforcementbot on the world, with all that implies to them for damage-control.

But they did get back to us, it is a hoax, and this is how you do it. You rename your machine 'Microsoft' then reboot. Then you run the command net send [target IP address] "insert menacing message here", and voila, your victim has pulled the plug out of their machine and is hiding under the bed quaking with terror. They probably reacted so fast they didn't even pause to note how strangely like a printer job popup the message looked.

It's a simple one, but it's one of those scams that convince people because they want to believe it. And anyway, it's bound to happen for real one day, isn't it? ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.