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Issue:- Monday, 8 February 2016

Headlines and reports on this page = 2 news item.    Page - 12.

Fake Microsoft doing the rounds. How to spot it and others…

Click on to see a larger picture of this page...

THESE sites are common place sadly, so if you type in the wrong URL, it can take you to fake websites very quickly. 

The latest being reported to us is an URL that has been sent out on emails and which can also be found if you enter in the wrong URL. This often happens on'phones, when the auto correction or suggestion system takes over. But it can also happen when you get a call from fake company representatives, who tell you, what looks to be a correct URL when you type it in, but it turns out not to be! In this case, we have changed it slightly, to stop you using the link, but how do fake sites like this work? Microsoft,com-rewards-winner,online Interestingly, if you enter an URL via the address bar, it comes up as cannot be found… but you can see it, Sometimes it may occur as a direct result of you accidently typing in the wrong URL for Hotmail or Microsoft Live… We have had reports that this has also been seen on emails as well!


or is it?


Is Microsoft,com-rewards-winner,online a fake site or legit and trustworthy?

You can take a guess, but we have posted a warning about it… It's a fake!
The URL you get to see looks like it might be a Microsoft site and says you have been "selected" or you are a "Winner" or similar wording... You check the URL and if you don't look closely, you might miss that the URL is not quite correct!

Well, it might look like Microsoft, but be assured it is a fake site, so how does this scam work? Look closely at the URL and you might spot the new top level domain extension, .online that came about in 2015. The real website is in fact com-rewards-winner,online The URL is an .online site not a .com... Microsoft is a sub domain of the URL.

So what is a sub domain and why and how should I look out for them?

All of us who use the web tend not to notice the simple file system that the web is based around. It's like your computer. On your Desktop you have folders, but are unaware of the location of them. For example, if your computer was the web and you wanted to access photographs in a folder on your Desktop, say Pictures, then you would go to the Desktop directly and then you would have access to the folder Pictures, but in the case of the internet, you can only go back to the Desktop. Any other folders or files before Desktop cannot be accessed, only those within Desktop. So the true structure of your desktop would be C:\Public\Users\User\microsoft\Desktop\Pictures\ and the file you wanted is me.jpg  In the case of the web, you would only see Desktop then have access to the folder Pictures and then the file me.jpg but me.jpg is in C:\Public\Users\User\microsoft\ and not C:\Public\Users\User\microsoft\Desktop\Pictures, however you would not find it on the web, without knowing the sub domain.  In this case it would be:- microsoft\Desktop\Pictures so you could access the files in the Microsoft folder.

It's like having a 2nd, 4th or 6th website. The existing domain name becomes the same as a .com or a .info and you can do this as many times as you like. But that sub domain always then has access to all the folders after it, but not before it! Unless you use a hypertext link. It's a cheap way of using a domain you already own to hide things. The sub domain name looks like,, . You can get and . The characters www2 and www3. are also used for load balancing in web server farms for popular websites, for example a URL's domain name might be on more than one computer, therefore just typing in would take you to the default computer and not the area you want. For example, if, shall we say, computer 2 has the photo on it, but you enter, you will just get, but no photo. It is correct information, but not what you see, so you enter and you get your photo which you wanted.

So how does this relate to Microsoft,com-rewards-winner,online In this case the com-rewards-winner,online is the real default, and Microsoft is the hidden sub domain level to com-rewards-winner,online.

Sub domains are lower level access points on the route of the domain website's host computer. Just as is the folder structure on your computer or phone. The key to spotting sub domains is to look out for the use of the . (dot) for example folder. would be a sub domain of The key idea is the use of the . (dot) to break up the levels! Any folders higher than the default then use / (forward slash) Think of a lift in a building.. You enter on ground floor, but you might not realise you have other floors below you in the foundations. Plus, you can't get to them without a key, so you only know about and have access to those about ground level that you can see! But if you get given a key then this allows access to the basement, and that gives you access to all the stuff within it. In this case the sub domain is the key to that elevator.

The use of the sub domain when it comes to this website, is not to hide the information or separate the load on a computer, but to fool you into seeing what you think is the correct URL domain you wanted. In this case your eye is expecting to a Microsoft website and the people who set this up hope you will see it as such. A classic deception trick, just as are the colours and format of the site… Other things that are used to trick you can be the use of the wording etc.

Oddly, hotmail now goes to and not to, but sadly, people are falling for this all the time! If you look very closely at the link it does not end with a / that represents a high level folder. So without realising it, you see it as Microsoft,com/rewards-winner, online... and not Microsoft,com-rewards-winner,online…. To reiterate, in reality you are not on a Microsoft website at all, but you can easily be tricked into seeing it as a real Microsoft website!

The rule is always to check what you are entering in for a URL and what you are clicking on is always important! Also, if it looks wrong or out of place…. Stop, close the browser and clear your history, especially cookies, when you re-enter… Also, check to see if the home page you are entering is the home page you set as your home page….

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