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            Issue 52 - 15th May 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
colleague?

Support Alert is sponsored by PC Support Advisor and
PC Network Advisor, the standard reference sources for
support professionals.

Check out the following free tutorials available now
at http://www.pcsupportadvisor.com

* Understanding TCP/IP
* How to Dual Boot Windows 2000
* Understanding the OSI 7 Layer Model
* The Windows Registry Explained
* How to Create Bootable CDs
* JavaScript Tutorial
* IPv6 Tutorial

Plus dozens more.

               <<<>>><<<>>><<<>>>

FROM THE EDITOR

So, another week and yet another virus.  As with Melissa and
Love Bug before it, the Homepage virus managed to spread to
thousands of PCs by emailing itself to all the contacts in
people's Outlook address books.  Thankfully this virus didn't
do any major damage, except for trying to open a few porn
sites.

Two things about the Homepage virus are particularly worrying.
First, it was written by someone who didn't need to know anything
about writing viruses.  He simply downloaded a virus-writing
toolkit from the Internet, told it what sort of virus he wanted
to create, and the program did the rest.  Such toolkits have been
around for years, and were much used in the days when viruses
had to be written in machine code in order to fit onto the
boot sector of a floppy disk.  Things are different nowadays
of course, because Word macros and VBA and Windows Scripting
means that Microsoft has made virus-writing so much easier.  But
it's still interesting to note that an automatically generated
virus can do so much damage, and so quickly.

The second worrying thing about the Homepage virus is that it
managed to spread at all.  After all, surely most people have
installed antivirus software by now?  It seems not.

So, do yourself a favour.  If you don't have antivirus software,
get some as soon as possible.  And ensure that you download
the updates regularly - at least every month - to ensure that
you're covered against new viruses as well as subsequent outbreaks
of old ones.  Also, download and install the Microsoft Outlook
Security Update, which has been available free of charge from
the officeupdate.com site for months.  This stops any program
from doing bulk lookups of all the contacts in your address book
without your permission, and would thus have stopped Homepage
from spreading on your computer.  It'll also stop any other
virus in the future which attempts to replicate in this way.

Robert Schifreen
editor@techsupportalert.com
 

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IN THIS ISSUE

1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
    - Compaq's Support Site
    - Ars Technica
    - Online Security Tests
    - All About Cable Modems
    - Office XP Resource Kit

2. UTILITIES
    - DUN Manager 2.3
    - NT Password Changer
    - Vital Agent
    - WinGate 4.3

3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
    - Dell Battery Recall
    - Personal Firewall Reviews
    - Win2k Server DoS Attack
    - SQL Server Bug Revisited
    - Index Server Problem

4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
    - Windows XP Launch Date
    - IIS Administrator
    - Linux Event
    - New Security Books
    - Cram It In

5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
    - Virtual Network Computing
    - Microsoft Visual Interdev

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1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
====================

Compaq's Support Site
If you've got any Compaq hardware you'll find a great
support section on the company's Web site.  Whether you're
after general troubleshooting info, technical documents,
or drivers, you'll find it online.
http://www.compaq.com/support

Ars Technica
This site bills itself as "The PC enthusiast's resource" and
it certainly lives up to that moniker, in our opinion.  A
great place to find all sorts of technical information about
PCs and Windows.
http://arstechnica.com

Online Security Tests
We've mentioned Steve Gibson's site here before, which performs
an automatic security test on your PC by attempting to
connect back into the machine from which you are contacting
the site.  Now here's news of a similar service from another
site.  Scan your own ports now, before the hackers do it for you.
http://www.dslreports.com/scan

All About Cable Modems
Want to know about cable modems?  Need some tips on
solving cable modem problems?  You'll find it all on this
rather handy site.
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robin.d.h.walker/cmtips.html

Office XP Resource Kit
Microsoft will launch Office XP on May 31st.  If you're planning
a corporate rollout, you can read the Resource Kit documentation
and download many useful utilities right now, free of charge.
http://www.microsoft.com/office/ork

2. UTILITIES
============

DUN Manager 2.3
No sooner had we mentioned Dial-Up Networking Manager v2.2
in Support Alert 51 than v2.3 came out of beta and was
officially released.  If you use dial-up networking under
Windows, this is the ultimate tool for managing your
connections.  Highly recommended.
http://www.magsys.co.uk

NT Password Changer
This is neat, though Microsoft presumably doesn't like
it much!  If you have physical access to an NT server,
this program will create a bootable floppy that will let
you change the Administrator password, even if you don't
know the current one.
http://home.eunet.no/~pnordahl/ntpasswd

Vital Agent
Vital Agent, from Lucent, is a free tool for monitoring
network traffic.  Well worth investigating if you need
to track down connectivity problems.
http://www.lucent-networkcare.com/software/myvitalagent

WinGate 4.3
There's a new version of WinGate now available for download.
If you've never checked out this superb tool for sharing
modems over a network, do yourself a favour and get it now.
http://www.wingate.com

3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
=====================================

Dell Battery Recall
Almost 300,000 Dell notebook batteries have been recalled
because of a problem with overheating.  If you have a Dell
Inspiron 5000 machine, check out the Dell site for information
on what you need to do.
http://support.dell.com/battery

Personal Firewall Reviews
If you don't have the need, or indeed the budget, for a major
firewall product like Firewall-1, you're probably using something
like the Norton Personal Firewall or ZoneAlarm.  But which
personal firewall is the best?  Check out the reviews at BugNet,
to help you make up your mind.
http://www.bugnet.com/analysis/0104/index.html

Win2k Server DoS Attack
Microsoft has released a patch for Windows 2000 Server to fix
a security problem that could lead to a Denial of Service
Attack.  If you're running Windows 2000 Server you are advised
to download and apply the fix as soon as possible.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS01-024.asp

SQL Server Bug Revisited
Microsoft has revised a security patch for SQL Server 7 which
was first issued in June 2000.  If you run SQL Server and
you're concerned about security, check out this link.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS00-035.asp

Index Server Problem
Yet another unchecked buffer that could lead to a hacker
gaining full access to a Microsoft server product.  This
time the problem is with Index Server.  Read the technical
details and download the patch, or risk big problems later.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS01-025.asp

4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
=====================

Windows XP Launch Date
Microsoft will launch the Professional and Home versions
of Windows XP on October 25th.  If you want the server
edition you'll need to wait a little longer - there's still
no official announcement about that.  And if you're thinking
of cutting costs in the office by buying the Home edition,
think again.  WinXP Home won't even let you log onto a domain.
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp

IIS Administrator
Do you look after a Web server that runs Microsoft's IIS?
If so, you may be interested in a new publication called
IIS Administrator.  Check out this monthly printed mag.
http://www.iisadministrator.com

Linux Event
RedHat, the biggest name in Linux distributions, is holding
a series of technical conferences.  Full details of venues
and dates are on the company's Web site.
http://www.redhat-techworld.com

New Security Books
In the past we've been full of praise for a book called
Hacking Exposed.  It's now been joined by 2 similar
titles, called Hack Attacks Revealed and Hack Attacks
Denied.  If you want to know where the weaknesses in a
Windows system really are, how they get exploited, and how
to stop your systems falling prey, check them out now.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/wileypage

Cram It In
Cramsession is a great site if you're currently studying
for a MCSE, CNE, CNA or any other professional IT exam.
It's full of sample questions, technical info and everything
else you need to know.
http://www.cramsession.com

5.  TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES FROM ITP
===================================

Virtual Network Computing
Forget PC Anywhere and those other remote control software.
VNC is almost as good, it runs on loads more platforms, and
it's completely free of charge.  Even for use in commercial
situations!  Check out the review from May's issue of
PC Network Advisor, for free, by following the link below.
Why not subscribe to PCNA too, and receive lots more top-class
articles, as well as a monthly CD-ROM with our exclusive
MP3-based technology news bulletins and loads of top shareware.
http://www.pcnetworkadvisor.com

Microsoft Visual Interdev
In May's issue of PC Support Advisor, we've the first part
of a major article on Visual Interdev.  What is it, and how
can you use it to create complete Web-based applications?
Check out the article now, online, free of charge.
http://www.pcsupportadvisor.com

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                  ABOUT SUPPORT ALERT

Support Alert is produced by International Technology
Publishing, the publishers of PC Support Advisor and
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