Is my internet slow?

Or…   the Onion of Discontent

There are many reasons why an internet connection may be slow, some of them will be directly under your control, and others will be under the control of the equipment manufacturers of the devices used that the communications pass through. The extent of which is from the device you are using to the server at the far end of the connection. Various services providers share the responsibility of carrying the traffic. It is a complex picture to reconcile.

Where is the problem?

When trying to establish where a problem exists the first person you call is your service provider (BT, Talk Talk, Virgin etc). They will follow a fixed trouble shooting process which will try to prove that the problem is something you are doing, or have done or is within that part of the network you control. They adopt this approach because if nothing is listed as a fault in your area, then statistically it is most likely to be something at your end.

That will include your router/ hub, your phone wiring, the building materials used in your house, the location of WiFi access points, the list is large. They will not be as direct as that, however those are the implications. Continue reading Is my internet slow?

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Phishing Page

What is it?

We have all read about phishing trojans, but many of you probably do not know what they are or how they work. I came across one over the weekend while backing up a client’s website. My anti virus system prevented me from downloading the backup to my computer and warned me that one was present. As I was concerned about the security of this particular website I took it apart to find out where it was, and what it was doing.

Phishing

Phishing refers to a form of identity theft, it is where credentials like a user name and password are compromised, often without your knowledge. Other than reading about them, I had not come across one before. This one relates to stealing the credentials to access someones email address and email password.

I turned off my anti-virus (not recommended if you do not know the risks) and downloaded the zipped folder containing the files into a special area on my computer and then inspected the files. Two files contained code, one was a web page. Only one of the files was being flagged as the one containing the Phishing Trojan, the file contents were very simple, they packaged up the information and sent out an email to two recipients.  Continue reading Phishing Page

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Two Scams to be aware of…..

I have come across two scams this week targeting small regional charities, one about domain registration, I came across several years ago, but it looks like it is still going on. The first is encouraging you to call a premium rate number.

Scam #1  Contact me message

You all have forms on your websites, and you usually get legitimate enquiries on these forms. Do however check the contents in a message and if the only way you can contact someone is via a premium rate number then don’t bother calling. If the content is virtually non existent like this one below, it is encouraging you to call a premium rate number. In this particular case I checked the number through a web search. This individual is sending messages to websites through contact forms.  So if 10 people call back then that is £1+ they have made depending on how long they keep you on the phone, you would not know what their premium rate is prior to calling.

If you are not sure, type in the following into a Google Search form:  who called me 08712771062  (Obviously substitute the number you wish to check. In this particular case it took me to this page: http://who-called.co.uk/Number/08712771062 if you read the reported cases there, you can see the depth of the scam and other people’s comments.

Normally anyone contacting your organisation will provide more information in the form for you to process and not leave a short message like this.

Scam #2  About your domain name

In many cases I am looking after your domain names, so if you get anything like this send it to me, it is a bit more subtle than the previous one. In general domain names are registered to organisations and that registered information can be located on the internet. So a determined third party can find it and then contact you. This is how the domain scam works: Continue reading Two Scams to be aware of…..

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Divi Template Update Bug

8th Sept 2017

Important information about a bug

A new release of the Divi template occurred overnight. The chances are that sites which are based on this template will not automatically update immediately. If you have updated your site you may find that it behaves differently. The images have disappeared. This is what happened to me this morning. (8/9/17).

Divi have released some powerful animations with images, and this modification is affecting an upgraded website. The images are still in the site, but one of the settings is to make an image transparent which was not there before. So now images default to transparent. The solution is to delete your web browser cache. I am hoping that this is a problem local to me because I was on the site prior to upgrading it, and still had the site in my local cache after the upgrade. Removing the history did restore it and now it behaves normally.

If the developers had left set the new default transparency setting to visible, then this problem would not have occurred. No idea why they did it that way. I have reported it to the developers.

If you receive any reports about Divi losing images, then suspect this first, check it yourself and delete your web browser cache history. If the problem remains please get in contact with me.

I have confirmed if you see this problem, it is local to your computer, your users will not see it.

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Adding a signature to webmail

I  had a question about how to add a signature to webmail. A signature allows you to pre-compose part of your message, and for this to be added to any standard email. So in other words you do not need to write the end of your email each time.   This is a feature that is in Thunderbird, Outlook and many other mail programs. It will be buried in the features somewhere. At the end of this piece I will tell you where you can locate it in Outlook. For now this concentrates on Webmail.

What is Webmail?

Webmail is simply an application that runs in your browser and allows you to access (send and receive) email. It is very basic, but will meet most people’s needs without having to splash out for a mail program. Everyone in my hosting has access to this. Continue reading Adding a signature to webmail

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Good Catch ESET

Here it is a bit closer:

I have recommended to quite a few of my clients the benefit of using both an antivirus program and a personal firewall. The products I have used for around 20yrs now are from ESET.  I currently use Smart Security.

It simply runs in the background and checks things for you. I frequently use mxtoolbox.com to check out information relating to websites. I went to one just now and in my haste typed in mextoolbox.com (there is an e in there that should not be in there). A sharp hacker has taken out that domain name and used it to hide a virus. It was detected as I opened the webpage.

If you just use a free AV product, this would not have been detected. Many of the charities I work with have no AV, or free AV products. I consider myself to be very careful on the web. But even I can make a mistake.

I recommend Eset Smart Security to protect your Windows computer. You can find out about here:  https://www.eset.com/uk/home/smart-security/

As a charity you can get it heavily discounted, and if you buy more than one or multiple licenses then it is even lower cost.

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Wannacry Ransomware

On Friday the 12th of May a large cyber attack occurred infecting computers all around the world. In the UK, many NHS systems were affected bringing IT systems to a halt. Researchers indicate it is not clear why this particular event occurred so quickly, it is unlikely to simply be people clicking on links in emails, which is one way these viruses end up on computers. One researcher accidentally found a “Kill Switch” for this virus on Friday afternoon which stopped computers encrypting disks around the world. So while this last major event stopped pretty soon after it started, other variants have already appeared, but have not propagated as quickly as the one on Friday.

I have visited a few of my clients over the years, because of the nature of the business and the low IT budget, computers are often old and frequently not up to date. Another feature is some do not have any anti-virus software running on them either. These circumstances can leave you open to an attack of this type and many other less crippling viruses.  Continue reading Wannacry Ransomware

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Sending out messages to lists of people?

AKA Bulk Mailing

We have had an issue in May with mailing messages out to large groups of people using the BCC field in emails. This is generally used as a way of preventing people from seeing who else is on a mailing list. Within the hosting there is a limit of 25 email addresses in the BCC field before it is detected as a possible spam source by the hosting company. If a mail is detected as suspect and flagged as such, a rate limit will apply for the next hour limiting the number of mails sent out to 25. If this happens to you, you will receive warning messages from the mail system. Do note here that an email sent to 5 people is counted as 5 emails.

Why?

The practice of using the bcc field in emails is also one regularly adopted by hackers and spammers to send out bulk mail. The hosting not only checks mail coming into the system, but also checks it going out. If it considers the mail to be suspect it is marked as such which may cause problems at the receiving end too, BT and AOL are particularly sensitive to mail coming in marked as a possible spam message. Continue reading Sending out messages to lists of people?

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I did not receive your email…..

Over the past 4-5 years there have been some strange issues with email. I have had to dig quite deeply into the protocols and supporting services to make sure that any third party receiving mail from the mail servers we use have access to responses that show the mail server is legitimate.

For the most part 99.99% of it works without any issues. I have come across problems with BT accounts (all of the BT family) where changes have been made to their mail processing, suddenly things stop working or become intermittent. I use BT for my broadband, but I do not use my BT address because I know some mail may get filtered coming into it. The problem is you don’t know about it. I have never set up any filtering, so this is a BT unilateral decision.  From time to time there have been issues with the Talk Talk family of addresses and AOL.

The reasons why these service providers are trying to filter mail is the sheer volume of junk mail that is around these days. Occasionally the wrong things are filtered. The rest of this post is about things you can try if you think mail is being filtered. Continue reading I did not receive your email…..

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