Updated: 20 March
Dramatic increase in spam!
A dramatic increase in the amount of incoming spam, unsolicited commercial
junk email, over the last couple of weeks has been causing a lot of
problems for Chebucto's users and mail system administration. More than 1
million messages are now received each day with no end in sight to the
rate of increase in the levels of junkmail. This flood of junkmail is up
from the previous record high of 753,000 messages a day over the Christmas
holiday. It is the largest ever single month increase in the rate of
incoming junkmail, which has been doubling each year for the past several
Worse, the junkmail tends to come in waves, flooding Chebucto's incoming
mail servers and making the filtering and routing of the mail difficult,
causing mail delays and high system loads. The size of mail log files
generated daily are also growing at an incredible rate. Administering
Chebucto's mail servers is requiring a lot of system adjustments to keep
pace with the growth in traffic.
The flood of spam is effectively constituting a Denial Of Service attack
on Chebucto. According to leading security analysts some 85% of spam
comes from just six botnets, collections of millions of home and business
computers that careless owners have allowed to be taken over and used to
send out spam and funnel their owners' personal and financial information
to the overseas criminal syndicates.
Over the weekend Chebucto Postmaster Johnathan Thibodeau will be
reconfiguring the Chebucto mail system to more aggressively filter the
incoming mail stream. The task involves a major re-working of how mail
is processed on Chebucto and is expected to take several days to complete
and test out.
The Chebucto office has been flooded with user complaints about mail
delays, slow mail delivery and during the height of one major surge of
incoming junk mail Thursday March 20th, failed email logins due to the
main mail server being too busy to respond to users. The mail system
reconfiguration should alleviate these problems.
To avoid becoming part of the problem - having a personal computer become
part of a botnet - users on high speed connections should make sure their
Windows Operating System software is up-to-date, have an up-to-date
antivirus program, use a reputable anti-spyware program and are
recommended to use a router between their computer and their high speed
connection as a firewall. It should go without saying that under no
circumstances should anyone ever buy something from a spammer or send
money to a spammer, but clearly enough people do to keep the whole
criminal enterprise in action. Users at home or in the workplace on a high
speed connection who think their computer has become slower should
download fresh antivirus software, fresh anti-spyware software and fresh
anti-rootkit software and scan the entire contents of the
computer or take it to a reputable computer repair depot and get it
Chebucto Wireless update!
Development continues on Chebucto's wireless node software. Unfortunately
mail system problems due to the incredible increase in incoming junkmail
continue to dominate technical staff time. This is yet another part of the
"hidden" cost of spam.
Stability of the wireless nodes has been an ongoing issue though the
latest major software redesign has been showing very promising results in
The Chebucto Wireless project is an ambitious design to bring secure
low-cost high-speed wireless internet access to Metro residents. There
has been interest in the project from community nets and other groups
There has been zero development money from any outside source. All work
on the wireless project has been in addition to the regular technical
maintenance that Chebucto requires to keep operating.
The Chebucto Community Net plans to bring non-profit high-speed Internet
to the metro Halifax area by building a mesh network of wireless
nodes hosted by users themselves.
Chebucto Wireless would offer free public access to local metro and
government websites and full Internet access to Chebucto Plus level
memberships, currently $100 per year for individuals.
The areas to be served by the new wireless access will be determined by
the residents of metro themselves.
Chebucto is looking for residents able to host wireless nodes, the
cornerstone of the network, and when we get enough nodes in a
neighbourhood, we can look at bringing network access where it is needed.
A node sign-up form is online
Request to Chebucto members
Chebucto Community Net Chair Bernie Hart has written a letter
to all Chebucto members seeking volunteers to serve on the Chebucto
Community Net Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors is a twelve member group of volunteers who oversee
the operations of the Chebucto Community Net. Each year six of the twelve
positions are elected to two year terms at the Chebucto Annual General
Meeting by their fellow Chebucto members. This year's Annual General
Meeting is scheduled for 7:30 PM Wednesday April 23rd at the Spencer House
Senior's Center, 5596 Morris Street in Halifax. All Chebucto members are
invited to attend.
It is vitally important for members to come forward to help run the
community net. Chebucto Community Net is not some large faceless company,
it is a group of ordinary people from the community who are interested in
helping the community. To put it in blunt terms, without people
volunteering to help run the Chebucto Community Net, there will be no
Chebucto Community Net.
Chebucto members interested in serving should read Bernie Hart's
fill it in and send it to the
Chebucto Community Net office.
Chebucto Board news
Long-time Chebucto volunteer and Board member Ed Dyer has resigned from
his multiple posts as Vice-Chair of the Board effective in May, as Chair
of the Technical Committee and as Chebucto Postmaster. He was elected to
the Board for his fourth consecutive two year term at the April 2007
Annual General Meeting. Long-time Chebucto volunteer and technical staff
Johnathan Thibodeau has taken over the Technical Committee Chair and
is sharing Postmaster duties with Andrew D. Wright.
Ed Dyer, one of the last three original Chebucto volunteers still actively
involved with the running of the community net, was recognized several
times over the years for his volunteer efforts with Chebucto. He will be
very sorely missed and we all wish him the very best for the future.
Mousepad celebrates 5th year!
Chebucto Community Net's computer advice column The
Mousepad celebrated its fifth anniversary in January. There have been
128 Mousepad columns written since the first column was published in the
Sunday Herald in January 2003. Originally written by Mark
Alberstat, since June 2006 it has been written by Andrew D. Wright. The
is currently published in local newspapers
Bedford-Sackville Weekly News, Dartmouth-Cole Harbour Weekly
News and Halifax West-Clayton Park Weekly News. Appearing every
two weeks, subject to space limitations, The Mousepad offers a mix of
answers to user computer questions
and how-to columns for computer users looking to broaden their
Help promote Chebucto!
We need your help. We invite our members and supporters to
help promote the Chebucto Community Net in the community by printing
off and distributing Chebucto brochures and posters from our website.
Chebucto Community Net RSS how-to guide
Chebucto Community Net has posted a guide on how to use our RSS
news feed here:
Our RSS feed is our way of letting people know fast about important
software updates and security alerts as well as new developments at
Chebucto. Stay informed with the news as soon as we have it ourselves with
our RSS news feed.
Updated - Recommended software list
With the recent interest in Internet security and the rise in various
exploits meant to take over user machines, the Chebucto Office has
compiled this list of recommended software for user computers running
Web browser: Mozilla Firefox free from Mozilla.com
Current version: 188.8.131.52.
Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird free from Mozilla.com
Current version: 184.108.40.206.
All-in-one web browser, email client,
web page editor: Mozilla
SeaMonkey free from
Current version: 1.1.8.
free and paid versions from Lavasoft.de
A-Squared free and paid versions from
Spybot: Search & Destroy free from Safer-networking.org
Free anti-virus programs for home users (Note that both of these
programs also have paid versions which offer additional features):
FTP Software: FileZilla free from FileZilla.SourceForge.net
RSS Newsfeed Reader: RSSOwl free from
SSH Client: Putty free from
The Chebucto Office does not recommend using the Internet Explorer web
browser for any use except for accessing Microsoft's own Windows Update page. The
popular web browser has been repeatedly successfully targetted by virus
writers in particular seeking to break into home computers to use them for
criminal purposes such as sending out spam, sending out viruses to break
into other computers and being used to disrupt services on other computer
After many reports
about vulnerabilities for Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express email
programs, and the constant stream of user complaints about randomly
altered program settings and difficulty using the program, the Chebucto
Community Net Office and the Chebucto Technical Committee recommend our
users do not use either Outlook or Outlook Express as their email program.
Keeping Microsoft Windows up to date is also very important. Windows XP
users should have Service Pack 2 installed. All Microsoft Windows users
should make a point of using Internet Explorer to visit the Microsoft
Windows Update site
at least once a month and download all critical updates.
Cool Chebucto hats available!
We have available these excellent quality Chebucto
Community Net hats. Click on photo to see larger version. These
fashionable stone coloured washed cotton Chino twill hats are low fitting
with adjustable strap and antique silver ring buckle for a perfect fit
and are embroidered with the Chebucto Community Net logo and web address.
Machine washable and drip dry with a pre curved peak, this hat will
provide years of comfortable wear as well as showing your support for
Halifax's own one-of-a-kind independent Community Net.
You can get your very own Chebucto Community Net hat from the
Chebucto office for
$20 or we can mail it out to you for an additional $10.
Go to the Beacon
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