- Virus and Spam E-mails
- New Spam Techniques
- E-mail Quotas
- Hot-cut DSL from SBC to Red Shift – seamlessly
- Tips on how to keep your computer running like new.
- Please review our AUP
1. Virus and Spam E-mails
We hear the following in our support E-mail a lot: “Someone is sending viruses (or spam) that appear to be from an address at my domain.” What may strike you at first to be a hijacking of your domain is really far more mundane, although not much less of a nuisance.
A key bit of information to know is that the “FROM” address in E-mails has nothing to do with who an E-mail is really from. Anyone or any program can put anything in that field before sending out E-mail. The true address information is buried down deep inside the E-mail headers and is in the form of an IP address; and it’s where you cannot view it without going through some extra steps (viewing FULL headers).
A major source of this problem is that spammers don’t use their own domains, as that would make it too easy to track them down. They use other hosts for their parasitical work, often chosen at random. If a virus or spam E-mail originates from an address at your domain, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re hacked or that someone in your office is sending illegitimate E-mail. This type of practice is known as “E-mail forging.”
An ISP cannot stop this because any fictitious E-mail address can be conjured up outside of an ISP’s control. An ISP has no way of knowing if a “FROM” address is valid or not. ISPs can filter out spam and viruses but they cannot ensure the validity of “FROM” addresses.
If you are using your own domain and want to stop receiving spam and virus E-mail that are forged in this manner, you can do so by using Red Shift’s PowerMail service, or by calling us and having your “catch-all” account deleted. This won’t interrupt legitimate mail delivery; it will simply stop all mail to addresses that do not actually exist at your domain.
2. New Spam Techniques
Spammers are finding new ways to get their unwanted messages into your mailbox. In the spotlight now is a security breach of Microsoft . Outlook Express wherein spammers have found ways to foil the built-in spam blocking and filtering. Not a lot of details are available right now so please visit Microsoft’s site often for updates to help deal with these emerging problems.
There is also a new approach that is becoming a favorite amongst spammers sending out pornographic solicitations. These new approaches affect all mail clients, not just Outlook Express. Whereas in the past, pornographic spam invitations took the form of mere text, they are now taking the form of images imbedded right into the E-mail itself. The image may be a lewd picture with text, or it may be an text imbedded in an image – in essence the spam message is now a picture of words. This is clever because spam filters look at the text in an E-mail to determine if it is spam. If the words are part of an image then the spam filters cannot see them.
Right now the defense against this new approach is minimal outside of avoiding all E-mail attachments. Some of the standard ISP filtering that doesn’t just look at the words in the E-mail will be effective, but not as effective as with typical spam. It may be of little comfort, but there is a disadvantage in this approach to spammers. Since they have to use images to foil increasingly advanced spam filters, that makes the size of the E-mails much larger. Therefore they cannot send E-mail as fast, or to as many people as they normally could. However people with slow connection who get this kind of spam are going to be severely affected. A dialup connection will take longer and longer to download the same number of messages if the spam E-mails themselves grow much larger in size.
We are keeping close tabs on developments and will implement solutions on our end of the connection as soon as they become available and prove trustworthy. Our E-mail system is critical to our overall quality of service aspirations, so we want to stress our commitment to tackle E-mail issues as quickly as possible. You can help us in this effort by protecting your computer against viruses, spy-ware, trojan files, etc. because these programs increase the level of spam on the Internet.
2. E-mail Quotas
We have increased our E-mail quotas for customers. E-mail quotas are the maximum allowed space your E-mail can take up on our servers. Our previous limit was 10 megs of space allowed per E-mail account. We’ve increased that to 25 megs per E-mail account. For add-on FREE E-mail accounts the limit is 15 megs. To insure you do not go over your allotted space, be sure to setup your E-mail program to “delete mail from server” once you’ve downloaded it. Many E-mail clients accumulate old mail on our servers by default without you even realizing it.
3. Hot-cut DSL from SBC to Red Shift – seamlessly
Do you have DSL currently with SBC and other accounts with Red Shift and have thought about trying our DSL service but didn’t want to go through a changeover hassle? We’ve had many inquiries from customers wanting to make that switch so that they could get away from using dialup software for DSL or get a static IP (which we offer on all DSL accounts). Now you can make the switch easily and with very little downtime.
Red Shift has signed a new agreement with SBC that allows DSL customers of SBC to hot-cut their DSL service to Red Shift seamlessly. You can also keep the same modem you use now. We just hot-cut your service over to one of our routers and give you a new (static) IP address. After the request has been processed (takes approximately 5 days from the request date), the hot-cut will occur and could take as little as 10 minutes to accomplish.
4. Tips on how to keep your computer running like new.
When you first take that computer out of the box and set it up it’s so fast! You’re thinking you have the Ferrari of computers. Six months later as you wait five minutes for it to boot up you wonder why your computer now performs more like a Moped. Not only that but every single time you go on the Internet all these pop-ups fly onto the screen and it becomes nearly impossible to use.
As you install software and use the Internet your computer gets bogged down with a lot of unnecessary programs and junk. When you use the Internet, particularly with high-speed services such as DSL, T1 or Wireless, these problems increase. Viruses and spy-ware infect your computer and cause all kinds of problems too. Owning a computer is not unlike maintaining a car – as with a car, there’s more to it than just putting fuel in it once in awhile. You need to maintain it with tune-ups, oil-chances, tire rotations, etc. It’s the same sort of theory with your computer. Your computer needs a tune-up and a cleanup every once in awhile.
Ailments occur to your computer, such as virus infections, trojans, spy-ware, Internet junk that your browser saves, inefficient spacing of data on the hard drive; and not enough memory all contribute your computer’s increasingly feeble response. This newsletter’s tip is how to tune-up your computer.
Red Shift has no affiliation with any of the software manufacturers listed, nor do we warrant the results or assume liability for the results you will get (good or bad) from the use of the following software programs or techniques mentioned. You should run a backup before installing any new software or performing any of the following functions. If you are uncomfortable with any of these functions you should consult a professional to help you as we will not assist in recovery from any problems you may encounter.
Tip one. Run a virus scanner. You decide how often you really want to do it. Weekly should be good enough. Some run theirs daily and have the virus scanner reside in memory. You should only run a virus scanner in memory if you’re hyper-sensitive about viruses destroying something really valuable – in which case you should be doing backups, but that’s another topic. Running a virus scanner in memory may slow down the computer a little so you may not want to install the memory-resident feature of those programs. To find virus scanner software check out one of these options: http://www.mcafee.com, http://www.freebyte.com/antivirus
Tip two. Run a spy-ware checker. Spy-ware is as big a nuisance as viruses and definitely affects computer performance. It is spy-ware that causes all of those pop-ups. If the problem isn’t dealt with regularly it can interfere with your computer to the point where you cannot even get online. McAfee Virus Scan is one of the virus scanners that will also look for spy-ware too, but doesn’t catch them all. The best defense is to run a dedicated spy-ware scanner along with your virus scanning software. Ad-aware by Lavasoft is an excellent choice. This software can be downloaded from: http://www.lavasoftusa.com. As with any software that deletes files – backup your data first. For even more protection from pop-ups, download the Google toolbar from www.toolbar.google.com. The Google toolbar has a pop-up blocker built in that is very effective.
Tip three. De-fragment your hard drive. As you use your computer the data on your hard drive gets moved around all over the disk. Each piece of data is very small and can be placed anywhere on the hard drive. As these pieces of data get scattered, your hard drive has to work harder and longer to locate all the pieces whenever you request data. When you de-fragment the drive, you move all the pieces that belong together to the same contiguous spot on the hard drive, thus making it much faster for the hard drive to find the data you request. De-fragmenting should be done monthly, or perhaps more often if you’re a very heavy computer user. A good de-fragmenting tool is built right into Windows. It’s under your Accessories menu from the Start/Programs menu.
Tip four. Low memory, the silent culprit. A lot of computers ship with just enough memory to run well with what they are built with. As you add programs (and unintentional junk) to your computer, memory requirements increase. If you get to the point where you don’t have enough memory to hold all your running programs, they start using the hard drive as memory (virtual memory). This is very bad because memory runs at speeds measured in nanoseconds whereas hard drives run at speeds measured in milliseconds. There’s a huge difference between a millisecond and a nanosecond. A millisecond is 1/1,000th of a second whereas a nanosecond is 1/1,000,000,000th of a second. This makes a nanosecond 1,000,000 times faster than a millisecond. Therefore when your hard drive has to take the place of memory, it’s processing requests that are orders of magnitude slower than your memory can do it. Therefore one of the wisest investments you can make is upgrading the memory in your computer. Windows XP should have a no less than 512 megs of memory to run well and accommodate the addition of new programs. If you’re going to be working with pictures or video then you should have 768 megs or 1 gigabyte. Before adding memory to your computer, be sure to backup your data. Please also be advised that adding memory is a procedure best left to a professional.
If you’re not sure how much memory you have, go to Start/Control Panel on your desktop and click on System. It will tell you how much memory (called RAM) you have installed.
5. Please review our AUP
It is important that everyone read our AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) as we have made some changes to this policy. This governs the rules and limits of service at Red Shift. You can find this document at the following address: http://www.redshift.com/copyrights/terms.php