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Daily Service Bulletin (M.O.T.D.) Chebucto News Archive Permalink

Updated: 20 March 2008

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 years.

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 checked out.


Chebucto Wireless update!

Logo: Chebucto Wireless
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 early testing.

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 across Canada.

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 here.


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 letter, fill it in and send it to the Chebucto Community Net office.


Chebucto Board news

[Photo: Ed Dyer] 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 column 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 computer horizons.


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: chebucto.ca/rss/

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 Microsoft Windows.

Web browser: Mozilla Firefox free from Mozilla.com
Current version: 2.0.0.12.

Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird free from Mozilla.com
Current version: 2.0.0.12.

All-in-one web browser, email client,
web page editor: Mozilla SeaMonkey
free from Mozilla.org
Current version: 1.1.8.

Anti-Spyware Software:

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 RSSOwl.Org

SSH Client: Putty free from Simon Tatham

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 systems.

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!

[Photo: Cool Chebucto hat - click to see larger photo]   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.



 

 

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