Your pointer to the very best
tech support information on the Web.
Issue 57 - 1st August 2001
Welcome to Support Alert, the email newsletter that
points you to the best technical support resources
on the Internet.
Support Alert is free. If you like it, why not share
the good news and email a copy to a friend or work
Support Alert is sponsored by PC Support Advisor and
PC Network Advisor, the standard reference sources for
Check out the following free tutorials available now
* Understanding TCP/IP
* How to Dual Boot Windows 2000
* Understanding the OSI 7 Layer Model
* The Windows Registry Explained
* How to Create Bootable CDs
* IPv6 Tutorial
Plus dozens more.
FROM THE EDITOR
I receive dozens of document files via email every week, from
colleagues and from other people that I have to deal with in
the course of my work. Among the files I have received within
the past few days include a presentation to a company's Board
on the subject of quality management, a press release for a
new product, and everything I need to know about investing in
child care facilities for my workforce.
All 3 of these documents have something in common. I never
for them, and the people who sent them didn't know that they
were doing so. The documents were all sent by the SirCam virus,
which appears to have infected the computers used by many of the
people I deal with professionally.
SirCam, like Melissa and the I Love You virus, spreads by hijacking
the victim's Outlook address book and sending itself to
everyone on the list. Once the recipient runs the attachment,
he or she becomes infected and so yet another address book falls
prey to SirCam. But this virus also has another trick up its
sleeve. In addition to sending itself, ie the virus code, to
as many people as it can, it also sends a random file from the
victim's My Documents folder.
And that is why I have been receiving so many interesting files
this week. Of course, I didn't run the virus code so the PCs
in the Support Alert office remain uninfected. Instead I
loaded the attachment into a text editor and looked for the
text of the random file that I knew would be in there somewhere.
Microsoft must be feeling pretty awful at the moment. While
continues to wreak havoc on users' PCs, Internet Service Providers
and large companies are having their Web servers trashed by the
Code Red worm. In an amazing move earlier this week, the FBI held
a special news conference to highlight just how serious the
Code Red worm is. Yet the weakness in Microsoft software which
the worm exploits, ie an unchecked buffer, is something that
affected systems 25 years ago. Has Microsoft learned nothing from
the past quarter-century of computing evolution?
At the top of all Microsoft's security bulletins it used to
say "Microsoft takes security very seriously indeed". This phrase
was dropped a few months ago. I always assumed it was because
of lack of space in the bulletin. But maybe the reason is actually
much simpler than that.
PS: The Code Red worm seems to have struck, as the Internet
is proving very sluggish at the moment. We have tested all the
sites listed below, and they're all happily up and running.
If any site fails to work when you try it, the site may have
been temporarily taken down as a precaution so try again later.
IN THIS ISSUE
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
- Code Red
- Windows 2000 Migration Made Easy
- Snowy White Papers
- PDF Troubleshooter
- All About Drives
- Hush Those IBM Drives
- Guess What's In My Hand
- Intelligent Rostering
- AV for Palm
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
- Top Bug News
- RPC Server Problems
- Memory Leaks in Services for Unix
- Media Player Problem
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- HushMail 2.0
- Great VB Info
- DefCon Report
- Attack Stats
- Email News
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
- Outlook 2000 Tips and Tricks
- Your Internet Acceptable Use Policy
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
If you run Microsoft IIS, you MUST check out the advisory
on Code Red immediately. This is a pretty nasty virus, which
has been crashing and Web servers for some time now and which
will continue to do so. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Windows 2000 Migration Made Easy
Altiris is offering a free 30-day trial of its Migration Toolkit,
which is designed to help support professionals migrate users
to Windows 2000. If you're about to roll out Windows 2000 or XP
and you can't face the task of walking round to each PC to do
the job manually, check out this tool.
Snowy White Papers
Security specialist ISS has a large range of white papers
available for free download from its site. Whether you want
to know about secure e-business, setting up a VPN, or just
about anything, you'll probably find it here.
Having trouble with Acrobat? Adobe has a new intelligent (well,
sort of) online troubleshooter which will try to isolate
the cause of your problem and tell you what you're doing
wrong. Access it over the Web for free.
All About Drives
This excellent site contains all you ever wanted to know about
disk drives, and probably quite a lot that you really don't
care about. If you need to support, upgrade or fix a hard disk
then add this site to your favourites. You'll be glad you did.
Want to make your PC run faster by overclocking it? Scared
that you might damage it? What you need is a Web site dedicated
to the art of overclocking, and that's just what this is.
Everything you need to know under one roof.
Hush Those IBM Drives
IBM has made available a downloadable program which makes IBM
hard drives quieter! No, seriously. OK, so you do sacrifice
some of the speed, but if you're sick of the whining that
your IBM drive makes then take a look at the Feature Tool. It
has other nifty features too, such as allowing you to change
the defined capacity of the drive if your BIOS can't handle
this information itself.
Guess What's In My Hand
You want to upgrade your PC's processor. But first you need
to know what the current one is. The Microsoft diagnostic
tool gives a bit of information, and reading the markings
on the chip helps too. But you still need the full facts
about the model, speed, stepping etc in order to order
a compatible replacement with confidence. In short, you
need this excellent CPU ID tool.
Need to organise staff schedules for covering your support
desk? You need IntelliRoster 2000. Try it for free by
downloading a fully working demo copy.
AV for Palm
Makers of antivirus software need new markets to tap into,
and the one they're currently pursuing is the Palm OS. Whether
you really need a scanner on your handheld PC is debateable,
but, if you want one, this is as good as any.
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
Top Bug News
Be sure to check out the latest bug news on Bugnet, a well-known
site which publishes details of software bugs and the available
fixes for them. Current stories include memory leaks in Unix
Services for NT, a root account compromise bug in FreeBSD
and a problem with Windows 2000's SMTP handler which could allow
your servers to be used by spammers for mail relaying.
RPC Server Problems
Microsoft has released details of a problem with the RPC server
in Exchange, SQL Server, NT4 and Windows 2000. The server
can accept some forms of invalid input, which could lead to
denial of service attacks. Further details, plus a patch, are
on the Microsoft site.
Memory Leaks in Services for Unix
Services For Unix (SFU) v2.0, from Microsoft, contains a number
of memory leaks that could allow a remote hacker to attack
a system and possibly bring it to a grinding halt. If you're
running SFU, check out details of the patch online.
Media Player Problem
There's a bug in Microsoft Media Player 6.4, 7.0 and 7.1 which
could allow a hacker access to a user's PC via the Internet.
If you're using the Media Player then Microsoft recommends that
you download and install the patch, although most firewalls should
prevent the loophole from being exploited anyway.
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
Dublin-based Hush Communications has launched a new version
of its Web-based email system. What sets Hushmail apart from
other Web-based email systems such as Hotmail is that Hushmail
includes built-in PGP encryption so no one can read your emails
or tamper with the content.
Great VB Info
One of our favourite sources of information on Visual Basic
programming has been published in book form. Check out
the site, and read about the book, online.
Ever been to a DefCon hacker conference? No? Well if you want
to know what it was like this year, here's a great report which
tells you what you want to know.
Ever been tempted to set up a site to attract hackers, and then
to analyse just what the hackers try to do to your site?
The honeynet project did just that. Read the results and
look at the stats, to get a feel for what hackers are really like.
If you're interested in email, then have we got a site for you!
This one contains information on all aspects of Internet email.
Whether you want to be a spammer, find free Web-based mail systems
for use by your staff, find information on how the SirCam virus
spreads, or learn all about how to use email (both spam and
traditional) more effectively, you'll find it here.
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES FROM ITP
Outlook 2000 Tips and Tricks
The August issue of PC Network Advisor has just been published.
Among this month's articles is a great collection of tips and
tricks for those who use Outlook 2000 or who support people
who do. And you can read it now, online, for free.
Your Internet Acceptable Use Policy
What is an AUP? What should you put in yours? How should
you go about persuading staff to read and obey it without
generating resentment? The brand new August edition of
PC Support Advisor tells you how, and you can read the
full article online right now, free of charge.
ABOUT SUPPORT ALERT
Support Alert is produced by International Technology
Publishing, the publishers of PC Support Advisor and
PC Network Advisor, the standard resource publications
for tech support professionals.
To subscribe to Support Alert, visit our web site at
http://www.techsupportalert.com and follow the
subscription instructions. At the site, you'll also
find a searchable set of back issues plus Support
Alert's amazing catalogue of the best tech support
sites on the web.
If you really like Support Alert why not email a copy
to a friend or colleague. Better still, you can
subscribe them directly. He or she will then receive
an email request for confirmation.
To do this, send a blank email to
where aaaa is your friend or colleague's email address.
Note that you must replace the @ sign in your friend or
colleague's email address with an = sign.
E.G. To subscribe firstname.lastname@example.org send a blank email to:
To unsubscribe from Support Alert, send a blank email to
If you like Support Alert, you may like to check out some other
free IT newsletters available at http://www.freetechmail.com.
(c) Copyright International Technology Publishing 2001