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Updated: 1 February 2004

Message Of The Day Chebucto News Archive

Chebucto grows in 2003!

For the first time since 1996, Chebucto Community Net user numbers grew rather than fell. In 2003 there were 1496 renewed accounts and 387 new accounts for a total of 1883 accounts. Of these, 802 were Chebucto Plus accounts. In 2002 there were 1665 renewed accounts and 205 new accounts for a total of 1870 accounts. Of those, 640 were Chebucto Plus accounts.

MyDoom virus hits hard.

[Photo: Graph of MyDoom virus interception.]
The MyDoom virus has kept the two Chebucto Community Net mail filtering servers busy this week with more than 40,000 copies a day being blocked. In the space of one week since it was introduced, the MyDoom virus now ranks second of all viruses filtered with 223,764 copies being intercepted. The W32/Sobig.F virus remains number one for the moment with 555,504 copies intercepted but the interception rate for Sobig.F has dropped to 100 - 300 a day.

To give these figures some scale, this time last year 40,000 emails a day was the total amount of mail Chebucto would process on a fairly busy day. This week Chebucto was receiving a new copy of MyDoom every two seconds.

The MyDoom virus is spread through email attachments and file sharing programs like Kazaa. More information on it is here: F-Secure MyDoom info.

New 1-800 Access for Plus!

Chebucto Plus users needing dialup access while travelling across North America can now connect using a toll-free 1-800 Access number. Time on the 1-800 Access line is booked in advance in one or two hour increments, $6.00 per hour or $10 for two hours. 1-800 Access details here

The 1-800 Access service has been a popular request for some time now. For the present, 1-800 Access is good only from anywhere in North America but if demand is sufficiently high, it could conceivably be expanded in the future.

New main server working well!

[Photo: Putting in the last settings.]  Chebucto's new main server 'halifax' seems to be working fine. The new server boasts two CPUs running a 64 bit Operating System and two large capacity hard drives in a mirrored RAID array so information is instantly backed up as it is written. Despite a dramatic increase in the amount of incoming mail to Chebucto since the new server was installed, there have been no timeouts or delays as the old server was prone to when overloaded.

When we were ten

Chebucto Community Net is celebrating its first decade and we're looking for ideas and people interested in helping out with organizing the festivities. If you are interested in helping out, please get in touch with the Chebucto Community Net office here.

More digital lines added to Plus

[Photo: What 92 digital phone lines look like.]  Due to an increase in demand for the Chebucto Plus dialup service, on December 5th another 23 digital phone lines were added for a total of 92 lines available for Plus users to dial in on. Each of the blue cards in the photo represents 24 digital channels or phone lines; one channel per card is used for a control channel.

With the addition of the extra digital lines, all available modems on the Ascend 6096 purchased in July 2002 are now in use. For Chebucto to add more lines to the Chebucto Plus 56 K service will require the purchase of another multiple digital modem unit like the Ascend. Chebucto is currently engaged in negotiations for such a machine.

Chebucto Plus signups are up 20% over the same period last year.

Alert: New trojans and worms hit unsuspecting users!

Three unwary Chebucto users have been caught sending spam messages using their home computers on their Chebucto connection, according to the Chebucto Policy Committee. In all three cases the users had been infected by a trojan horse program and were sending out the admail without their knowledge. A trojan horse program is, like the myth, something disguised as an innocent program but which does nasty things too. In this case, every time the victim connected to the Internet, their computer would download spam ads and instructions and then begin sending out hundreds of spam ads all over the Internet. The users were each taken offline until they could get their computers disinfected.

A series of new trojans, worms and cons are targetting users of online banking services, online auction services, online payment services and online file sharing services. Many of these exploits or attacks are using what is called "social engineering" (making up a plausible story to trick people) to "phish" (or collect) sensitive user information such as credit card numbers or other account information. These new scams at first blush appear to be legitimate requests from your bank or other service you use to update your information, usually because of some sort of "security update". They direct you to a website which looks genuine where you are supposed to type in your information. The website is false and the information is used to rob you. File sharing services are being targetted by a new worm which makes up tantalizing fake file names which are in fact the new worm infecting the shared folder of the user. Windows users are being targetted by fake email "Windows Updates". Microsoft never releases updates by email.

As always we strongly advise all of our users to have good anti-virus software and to keep the virus definitions updated. We also strongly recommend all users with computers running Microsoft Windows (all versions but especially Windows XP and Windows 2000) to keep updated with the latest security updates from Microsoft's own Windows Update site. There are major security holes in the Microsoft Windows Operating System, Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser and Microsoft's Outlook Express email program which can be fixed with these software patches. Microsoft Office users should also check with Microsoft for patches for recent vulnerabilities.

Unpatched versions of these Microsoft products are vulnerable to many viruses, worms, trojan programs and exploits where hostile users can get access to your computer and files. Users are strongly advised to keep current with Service Packs and Critical Updates for Microsoft products, which are released on a regular basis. Since the beginning of September there have been several new Critical level updates released.

Cool new Chebucto hats available!

[Photo: New 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.

Chebucto Newspaper Column Give-aways!

[Photo: New Chebucto Mousepad] Chebucto's Mousepad newspaper column, written by Chebucto Board member Mark Alberstat with occasional help from some fellow Chebucto volunteers, is now archived here at Chebucto. The column is published every second week in the Sunday Chronicle Herald. The Mousepad focuses on computers and internet technologies and how they can be used by people for an almost infinite variety of purposes. People can write in questions to the column and if they are used they will get a cool new Chebucto Community Net mousepad. Email questions to the Mousepad at

Chebucto mousepads may be purchased from the Chebucto Office for $10 each or mailed out for $15 each. Contact to order.

Chebucto Users still tops in *.NS.CA SETI processing

SETI, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, has been processing their radio telescope data with home users' computers for years now. Using an innovative screensaver which runs whenever the user computer is not in use, SETI has had more than 1,789,000 years of high quality computer processor time donated to it.

Of all the computer domains ending in the letters NS.CA, denoting Nova Scotia, now ranks number one, producing more than double the results of both the government of Nova Scotia and the vast resources of EdNet, the schools network combined. Current stats here. Chebucto users have sent in more than 27,000 results, representing more than 51 years of CPU time that would otherwise have been wasted.

SETI is about to complete a new observation phase, targetting the top 200 candidate signals for direct observation using the full resources of the world's largest radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Outlook user email advisory

After the continuing wave of viruses specifically targetting users of 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.

Windows Users can find a selection of email programs available for download here and Macintosh users can find a selection of email programs here. Mozilla Thunderbird, available free for Windows, Macintosh and Linux from Mozilla.Org is a popular alternative.



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