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Updated: 10 November 2006
New mail scanning machines fighting off attackA Denial of Service attack in the form of a deluge of incoming junk mail is being overcome by adding new mail scanning computers. As of Friday evening (November 10, 2006) there were about 60,000 messages in the mail queue waiting to be sorted, down from nearly 400,000 queued messages at the peak of the attack earlier in the week. All delayed mail should be sorted and delivered before Saturday morning.
Prior to this attack Chebucto had two mail scanning machines processing around 100,000 messages a day, with more than 90% of all incoming mail being tagged as spam or virus mail. Back before spam became the problem it is now a typical day's mail volume for Chebucto would have been around 30,000 messages a day.
Technical Chair Ed Dyer and Johnathan Thibodeau (shown here working late Monday evening) constructed three new mail scanning servers from spare parts earlier this week. A fourth machine which had been set up to be used with the new upgraded mail service was reconfigured and brought into service Wednesday making for six machines working on the mail backlog.
A seventh, very powerful mail scanning server was brought online Friday evening and began processing the last of the delayed mail at a rate of more than 400 messages a minute.
Chebucto users have reported some email messages coming through up to a week late while other messages are delivered quickly. The messages in the mail queue are being processed out of order, each of the mail scanning servers sorting mail as fast as possible. The Chebucto Office reports that users have been understanding about the mail delays once they know the cause.
The latest deluge of junk mail, mostly promoting garbage penny stocks and
pharmaceutical products, is hitting mail servers all over the Internet. It
is coming from botnets - hijacked home computers, vulnerable to takeover
because they have not been kept upgraded and patched. These zombie
computers are now being linked up to millions of other hijacked computers
to act in unison sending out uncountable billions of junk emails.
Chebucto wifi development ongoingChebucto Chair Bernard Hart and Chebucto Office staff Andrew Wright went door to door this week informing residents living in the area to be served by Chebucto's first wireless access point of the plans to bring community owned and operated highspeed internet access to their neighbourhood.
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.
Currently in active development, Chebucto's plan 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.
Due to other pressing technical issues - mostly mail system management and
system upgrades - there has been little time for further wifi equipment
testing. We hope to get back to this testing soon.
Big mailboxes still on the wayWork continues, albeit slowly, on the plan to greatly expand the size of Chebucto mailboxes. Hardware for the expansion has been purchased and is in place. Software configuration is mostly complete except for some final software installation to be done on Chebucto's main server.
Progress has been delayed due to the recent increase in incoming junk mail and lack of technical volunteer time.
Chebucto's mail system, which offers more mail options than any other internet service provider, has been custom written, evolving over the past thirteen years tightly integrated with the rest of the software running on Chebucto's main server.
The mail system is being re-organized from top to bottom. The first
priority is to make sure it all works properly before the switch rather
than rush to get it into place. Chebucto supports many different ways to
access email - the standard POP3 and IMAP as well as Webmail and our
text-only inline PINE. We also support strong encryption for all forms of
email access on Chebucto.
Help promote Chebucto!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.
We have added a new brochure for promoting our new wireless service in
Chebucto services maintenance windowThe Chebucto Technical Committee wishes to advise Chebucto users of upcoming regularly scheduled planned maintenance downtimes. Chebucto Community Net services may be unavailable between 3:30 AM and 4:30 AM Tuesdays to allow for system upgrades. Some or all Chebucto services may go down with minimum or no warning during this maintenance window as systems are shut down and restarted.
Chebucto Community Net RSS how-to guideChebucto 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 listWith 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.org
Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird free from Mozilla.org
Firewall: Zone Alarm free and paid versions from Zonelabs.com
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
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!
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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