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Issue 80 - 15th July 2002
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FROM THE EDITOR
Hi, I'm Ian Richards, your new editor. Almost everyone just
calls me "Gizmo" and I'd be flattered if you would too.
I've got some great news for you. I've pretty well beaten
Spam. It's not a complete victory, only 96%, but if you
think that's good enough then read on and I'll tell you how
you can do it too.
Over the last 6 months I've tried all sorts of approaches
and products to defeat the spammers. Almost everything I
tried failed, except for two products.
The first is called MailWasher, a neat donation-ware email
previewer we've mentioned before in Support Alert.
Apart from performing the highly useful task of allowing
you to see your mail on your email server before you
download it, MailWasher additionally allows you to bounce
any mail item direct from your server.
This means that a message is sent back to the spammer
saying that their (unwanted) message could not be delivered.
Spammers may then remove you from their list, hopefully
permanently. Of course some spammers may not even care if
their messages are not delivered. The crunch is in the
Over a four week period I managed to cut my Spam by 64%
just by bouncing unwanted mail. Not bad, particularly when
you consider I have probably been permanently removed from
their lists as well.
However that still leaves me with a third of my Spam to
contend with. So here's my next weapon, SpamNet.
Cloudmark's SpamNet is a free service and it's brilliant.
It works like this. Users of the system are tied together
invisibly by a P2P network. Users identify Spam and that
information is propagated across the network so that Spam
is filtered in the in-box of other users. At the moment
SpamNet only works through an Outlook add-in, so users of
other email clients are out of luck.
It works like a charm. You can literally watch the Spam
disappear from your in-box before your eyes. It's not
immediately deleted, just moved to a spam folder for later
review before permanent deletion.
And it's really effective, with 74% of Spam being totally
wiped out. As more users join the network the figure will
Now here's the good news. By combining SpamNet with
MailWasher I've now eliminated 96% of my Spam. Now Spam
messages are almost RARE on my computer, a threatened
species! Nice eh?
Using these two products together, while effective, is not
really an ideal solution. In some ways they work against
each other. An ideal product would include both bouncing
and network filtering in one package but for the moment, we
have to work with what we've got.
So go for it. Fight back. Give the Spammers what they
deserve and download these free products now.
PS As the new Editor, I would really appreciate your
feedback. If you like or hate an issue please tell me. And
if you have a great site or product to suggest let me know
too, but be sure to note whether you want your name
IN THIS ISSUE
1. TOP TECH SITES
- Google Eyed for Microsoft
- Preventing Web Server Attacks
- How to Obscure any URL
- $199 Windows 2000 Software Package for Free
- Web Server Technology Tutorials
- One of the Best Anti-virus Suites for Almost Nothing
- Share Clipboards
- Free NFO Viewer
- Webmail from your POP Email Client
- Stress Test Your Web Server
- Faster, Safer Browser
- Tell the Boss What You Really Think, Anonymously
- Free Anonymous Email
- Users Penetrate Corporate Firewalls
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
- Serious IE Security Vulnerability
- Outlook PGP Security Add-on is Insecure
- MS RAS Patch Patched
- DNS Resolver Problems
- New KaZaa Worm
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- The Latest in High Tech - the Felt Tip Pen!
- Bots go Commercial
- My Search Engine is Bigger Than Yours
- Cell Phones Shrink Brain Cells
- Where did you Warchalk Today
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
- Open Source Monitoring Software
- Port Scanning Tools for Windows and Linux
1. TOP TECH SITES
Google Eyed for Microsoft
Here's a little known and highly useful feature of the
Google search engine; a special search box just for
Microsoft related sites.
Preventing Web Server Attacks
You don't need sophisticated tools to attack a web site.
Many hackers simply use a normal web browser combined with
some hostile script. Some of the methods are simple but
ingenious. This site has an extremely informative
demonstration on the various techniques used and how they
can be defeated. Using their software naturally.
How to Obscure any URL
How spammers and scammers hide and confuse.
$199 Windows 2000 Software Package for Free
Beachfront Direct is a leading certification site that has
the habit of offering some top freebies. Currently it's a
free piece of software, a Windows 2000 Quizzer. I tried it
and it's excellent. It really does search out your
weaknesses and tries to boost your knowledge in those
areas. Just the thing for preparing for exams. Recommended.
Web Server Technology Tutorials
Anxious over Apache? Pondering over PHP? Muddled over
MySQL? Then try these free introductory tutorials. To
access the tutorials from the home page, click on "Setting
Up a Windows PHP server"
One of the Best Anti-virus Suites for Almost Nothing
After every mail-out of Support Alert we get inundated with
virus infected messages from readers. Here's a site that's
currently offering the latest Norton 2002 Anti-virus Suite
along with a year of updates for $8.95, with Palm &
handheld protection bundled in as well. Com'on guys, bite
the bullet and do the right thing.
Wouldn't it be handy to be able to copy from the clipboard
of one machine onto another? Well now you can with this
Many freeware files are distributed with descriptive NFO
and DIZ files as part of the distribution package. There
are just plain text files so you can view them with Notepad
or other text editor but often the formatting is lost. Try
this tiny little viewer that's built for the job. It's free
and once associated with the NFO and DIZ file types, works
seamlessly, a true "install and forget" product.
Webmail from your POP Email Client
Like to routinely collect your webmail from Outlook,
Eurodra or other email client? It's quite easy with
Web2POP, a genuinely useful shareware program. The demo
version will only handle Yahoo and Hotmail but the
registered version handles AOL, Excite and many others as
well. I use this product with Outlook 2002 to collect all
my different webmail accounts at the same time as I collect
my POP email. Works like a charm. Highly recommended.
Stress Test Your Web Server
This shareware product tests the capacity of your Web
server by simulating any number of simultaneous users. Full
statistics of performance are provided to show you how your
server coped. You can download a trial version from the
site below but while you are there, check out their free
white paper on server performance load and stress testing
which provides a useful, if somewhat basic, introduction to
Faster, Safer Browser
Why pay for a browser? That's a fair question but if
features like faster browsing, tabbed sessions a la
Mozilla, vastly improved security and in-built pop-up
window suppression appeal, then you should try the just
released Research Desk Web 3.0. Based on first impressions,
I'd have to say it's the most tempting "alternative"
browser I've tried. There's also a "Pro" version, with
even more features, which I'll report on in a future issue.
Tell the Boss What You Really Think, Anonymously
UK supplier FTXT.COM have introduced a service that allows
mobile phone users to send an anonymous SMS text message to
which no one can reply. Apparently the company's surveys
found that the most common intended use was insulting the
boss! Romance and whistle-blowing ranked well down the list
Free Anonymous Email
If you really want to send a message anonymously you don't
need SMS, there are plenty of free anonymous email services
available on the Web. This one even allows you to
anonymously pick up replies as well. Not exactly the last
word in security but adequate for most legitimate uses. By
the way, most free webmail accounts like Yahoo and Hotmail
are not confidential at all, as your real IP address is
included in the header of any message sent. Be warned.
Users Penetrate Corporate Firewalls
Many organizations have their corporate firewall set up to
prevent users from accessing News, FTP, IRC, ICQ and
personal POP email services. They won't be pleased to hear
that this readily available shareware program will allow
their users to go straight through the firewall to access
all these services by making use of their HTTP connection.
Worse still, the connections are anonymyzed to deter user
identification. What man can do ... someone else can undo.
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
Serious IE Security Vulnerability
Risk-assessment company PivX Solutions has released an
advisory on a serious Internet Explorer and Outlook
vulnerability. Discovered by Thor Larholm, a security
researcher, the vulnerability has been classified as an
extremely high risk. It uses universal cross domain
scripting, allowing the arbitrary execution of programs,
unprivileged reading of files, and stealing of server
cookies. Microsoft has advised a patch will be available
soon. Until then, Larholm recommends that users disable
ActiveX in the security settings for Internet Explorer.
Full details at site:
Outlook PGP Security Add-on is Insecure
According to Network Associates, their widely use Pretty
Good Privacy (PGP) plug-in for Outlook has a vulnerability
that could let attackers execute malicious software on a
victim's computer. Users should immediately apply a patch
which is available here:
MS RAS Patch Patched
The MS June 12 patch to fix a flaw in the phone book of
RAS, a standard part of Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and
Windows XP, may stop users from making virtual private
networks. Customers are advised to install the new version.
DNS Resolver Problems
CERT has issued a vulnerability note about a buffer
overflow in the DNS Resolver code that is used by many
different vendors. Fixes need to be supplied by individual
vendors. More details here:
New KaZaa Worm
In May KaZaa users were hit with the Benjamin Worm, now
it's KWBot, a Trojan Worm embedded in many popular files
distributed over the popular file sharing network.
According to Sophos, the anti-virus software company, the
worm copies itself into the Windows system folder as
xplorer32.exe and sets up registry values so that it will
run each time Windows is started. The Worm has backdoor
Trojan capability, which allows a hacker to gain control of
the compromised computer. Most of the anti-virus program
vendors have now updated their signature files to detect
KWBot. KaZaa users should update their virus scanner and do
a full system scan.
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
The Latest in High Tech - the Felt Tip Pen!
For some time there have been reports floating around that
the high tech copy protection used on some new audio CDs
can be defeated by using just a felt tip pen. I finally
tried it and it works. No kidding.
Bots go Commercial
Your Internet experience is not really complete until
you've spent at least some time conversing with A.L.I.C.E,
Richard Wallace's eerily human chatterbot. However quite a
few organizations are now using the free AIML AliceBot
software to provide a friendlier interface for customers
seeking information. You'll find some commercial examples
here along with more traditional personal chatterers. This
site can be a bit slow so please be patient.
Cell Phones Shrink Brain Cells
You can go into denial if you like but the evidence is
hotting up that cell phones are not friendly to your brain.
This recent study from Finland found that mobile phone
radiation can indeed cause changes in human cells.
My Search Engine is Bigger Than Yours
Owners of the search engine AlltheWeb claim they now have
more Web pages indexed than Google, the industry leader.
It's true we've often found things on AlltheWeb that eluded
us with Google but expect to do a lot of sifting as hit
relevance is not in the same league. But if you are
hunting for FTP files, AlltheWeb is the best source and I
hear that it's pretty good for MP3s and videos as well.
Where did you Warchalk Today
Ah, to me a member of the "in" crowd. If you don't even
know what warchalking is, then raise your street cred by
checking out this excellent article from Wired.
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
We've lost our sponsors, International Technology
Publishing, but here are a couple of the most
popular articles that we've run in the past. I have
to say that it's going to be tough finding material
of this quality elsewhere, but I'm looking.
Open Source Monitoring Software
Network monitoring need not be the province of expensive
commercial software. There are many open-source free
packages entirely capable of doing the job. This article
looks at 15 of them.
Port Scanning Tools for Windows and Linux
If you look after servers, you need to understand port
scanning. If you don't, rest assured that the hackers who
scan your systems certainly do.
The Small Print
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