How hardware hacking (almost) made me a fraudster # I believe this article to be entirely, dangerously wrong…

…to the point where it should possibly be taken down.

Just because Windows licenses are enforced this way will not invalidate your credit cards.

Simply put: it doesn’t work like this, and Microsoft are not snitching on you to the credit card agencies.

A message popped up. “Card declined.” Nightmare.

But… no money? Really? I was sure the Wards were solvent. I had to check even though the train left in, oof, six minutes. I put the declined card in a cash machine wondering if I’d get it back. It wasn’t eaten and the Wards were flush with cash.

So, what was happening? On the train I racked my brain trying to work out why the card had been declined. My mobile rang, I answered, distracted, then sat up straight. “This is a fraud warning…” said an automated voice. It talked me through six transactions put on hold because they were suspected of being fraudulent.

I had made all of those purchases. They were all legit. What was going on?

Could it be a virus? How embarrassing would that be for someone who regularly writes about computer security.

A clue came from the first transaction flagged as potentially fraudulent. What had I done on that day? . Really? Could that be it? On that day my son Callum and I engaged in some father-son bonding by swapping the faulty motherboard on the family PC – the motherboard is the bit into which you plug all the other parts of a PC – processor, graphics card, memory et cetera. Cal and I high-fived when it booted the first time we turned on the power. A good day.

Was that it? Had a bout of harmless home hardware hackery led to me being flagged as a fraudster?

See the rest at BBC News – How hardware hacking (almost) made me a fraudster.

Hat Tip: Jerry Nicholls at Zen

3 thoughts on “How hardware hacking (almost) made me a fraudster # I believe this article to be entirely, dangerously wrong…

  1. alecm Post author

    Comments from elsewhere:

    Darren Reed: It is very unlikely that the hardware hacking had anything to do with it and that it was all of the multiple purchases in a short time frame. The only reason his motherboard’s network adapter would play a part in the IP address is if it were being exposed to the ISP. That’s almost assuredly not the case – it will be the MAC address of the ADSL modem or something else. Similarly the Windows XP points thing is not exposed to shops, that is only used for determining if you need to buy a new Windows license. A bunch of people with a little bit of knowledge have created quite a scare because as we all know, “a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous.”

    Thomas Meyer: Sensationalist reporting. Apart from the MAC address bit, there’s lots of other good information in the article, but it’s just wrapped up with the ridiculous title. It would have been better about the hazards of “digital lifestyles” tied to cards, or how organisations such as banks are trying to counter fraudsters. But no. It’s just big scary and you won’t understand it.

    Reply
  2. Martin Lewis

    Totally agreed, this is classic sensationalist claptrap – he’s made an assumption that swapping the motherboard has caused this. What he hasn’t done is backed this up with any kind of evidence – correlation does not imply causation.

    Reply
  3. Andrew

    I think this BBC person is almost certainly an idiot. All that the ISP or anyone else outside can see is the public IP address of his router/firewall and the MAC address of the ADSL interface. If banks used that for security he would get blocked every time someone used a new or different device on his home LAN. I access bank accounts from numerous PCs in various network environments, and the only time I get blocked is when we start making large payments abroad and we haven’t notified the bank in advance – for which I am very grateful.

    Windows can certainly tell when it is running on significantly different hardware, but he can avoid that by running Linux. Just about all that matters is that the new PC has a hardware interface to the old disk, and you don’t try to run x86_64 kernel on a i386 CPU (other direction is OK I think). Anyway how come the PC booted the first time without Windows complaining about license breach? And if he is such a tecnology expert does swapping a motherboard call for “high fives”?

    I have to pay £145 a year for this drivel.

    Reply

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