Here is Why I Don't Use Appwiz.cpl - A Scammers Story

In technology, especially when working with older people, it's important to possess the ability to solve problems. More importantly, you give them a fish and you feed them for a day, you teach them to fish and you feed them for life. If you aren't following, I am saying that it's important to educate people while solving the issues. There is no better way to solve an issue than teaching someone how it happened in the first place - to some degree. I mean, I don't sit there and educate people about flooded IP packets and subnetting. However I think it's important in difficult or hard-to-diagnose issues to at the very least create an analogy for your clients.

So you are probably wondering... "What does Appwiz.cpl have to do with that?!". Great question. First of all, it's not just appwiz. It's the many shorthand commands that us IT guys like myself use to navigate quicker. Lets be honest here... We aren't actually saving a large amount of time running shorthand commands. Sure, if we are in a time crunch, it's absolutely necessary to copy and paste our PowerShell scripts to sync GPO's and speed up our Azure Syncs. However, when we are remoting into an old lady's computer, just remember, that everything you don't tell them is another reason for them to believe that you are a computer genius.


Why "Computer Genius" is Actually a Bad Title to Have:


Well, think of it this way. Lets take our original title for example. The client has windows 10 and its updated to the latest version. An elder person needs your help uninstalling an application. You see the ticket in que and you smirk. You know that will take you 12 seconds to solve. Remote in > Ctrl+R > appwiz.cpl > enter > right click > uninstall. You could do it with your eyes closed probably!


Here is the scene that you just created for them: You call them and ask if it's okay to remote into their PC. From there, they agree to let you have UAC access into their system. They see you run a few things and boxes pop up left and right. You put some cryptic command into a small box called "Run" and then up pops a list they have never seen before that looks overwhelming. In a matter of seconds longer, you say you are done and they are all set. They take your word for it and let you go.


Can you see what's wrong with this picture?


It's not everyone that will be affected like this, by the way. I think a majority, maybe 50-60%, of people know what you are doing to some degree, and if we are totally honest (Talking to my IT literate peeps) Then you know that some people already know how to do it, they are just lazy and don't want to mess with it. All I am saying here, is that it paints a scary picture, let me tell you why.

I got a little hooked on a YouTube channel recently about these guys who call scammers. They intentionally download a virus or click on a redirected link to get a pop up asking them to call in and remove viruses from their computers. I haven't been doing it long, but there is one thing that they always use for a tactic, and it's pretty simple.

*Disclaimer: Do not call scammers/hackers!!! Ever. Unless you have the proper tools and safe measures in place and know what you are doing!


They use the art of confusion to scare people into thinking they have a virus - and they use every way possible to get you to think they

1.) Are super good with computers (aka: using every shorthand command and way to get around the computer) and

2.) They scare you into thinking what you are looking at is bad, so you pay up for a solution.

They achieve this many ways, most of them even use Command Prompt as a notepad. They do this to make it seem like they know what they are doing. If you know what they are up to, like me, and build a Virtual Machine with a bunch of fake applications, pop ups, and missing data, well then you have created a playground of joy for yourself watching these terrible people get very confused at what they are seeing - and most of them, get very mad or frustrated. For an old lady, this can be very scary and confusing!


Educate the People, Don't Confuse Them


Not the scammers, the clients, ya dummy. Please confuse the scammers, they deserve it! It's important to walk people through what you are doing and make sure that they aren't intimidated by you. This wont be everyone, like I said earlier, a lot of people don't care and wont care - that's fine. I am talking about the people who get scared when you remote in and start messing around. A more educated community might stop an old lady from buying $2000 in gift cards to satisfy the "FBI" from knocking down your door because your version of windows is "Expired".

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2019 by Anthony Terrano