Nov 18 , 2003 Volume 3 Issue 23
Danger ahead: Terrorism by e-mail
Webmaster, radio show host, speaker, writer and friend Bill Blinn and I have enjoyed several lively discussions about E-mail and SPAM.
Bill writes in his newsletter, Random Thoughts a collection of words that is just plain good. So, with permission, I've stolen it. And share here and now with you.
As bad as spam is, the Internet brings us things that are even worse: worms and viruses. The Homeland Security folks suggest that we'll see a major attack on the Internet. I think they're right and I believe that it will happen sooner rather than later.
Microsoft is a large part of the problem, but users who haven't bothered to learn how to protect their computers and why this is important share some of the blame. I'm writing this on August 20, as the latest round of the "SoBig" virus is ripping through computers at an unprecedented rate.
The systems administrator at a large university in the Midwest announced earlier today that in 13.5 hours, their central mail servers detected over 60,000 copies of the Sobig.f virus from several thousand unique IP addresses. How bad is that? It's more than double the number of viruses detected in the university's previous worst month! That's right. In slightly more than half a day, they detected more viruses than in their previous worst month.
The math is easy: That's about a 60-times increase!
The university's help desk e-mail address and their Listserv server's administrative address have been forged on copies of the Sobig.f virus.
Last week, it was the MS Blaster worm. What will show up in your mailbox next week? Chances are, it won't be pretty.
Worms and viruses
Worms can replicate across an entire network in a few minutes because once they're on your network they need no human action to continue the spread. Nobody has to receive, send, or open an e-mail. Worms look for ports that are needlessly open and unnecessary services that are running.
Many of the current problems are combination worm-virus attacks. In many cases, the attacks use the Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express e-mail application to send messages with forged "from" lines to addresses found anywhere on your computer. I've already received several virus warnings from systems that received messages "from" me. Needless to say, I haven't sent any infected messages. I was caught once, several years ago, by the first e-mail trick. Never again.
Being on the font lines
In the "good old days" , viruses and worms were mainly the work of adolescent boys (mainly boys) who weren't bright enough to write useful applications they could sell. Instead of slashing tires, scratching new paint, or throwing rocks through store windows, they got their enjoyment by releasing malware that crashed computers or networks and occasionally deleted files.
It should come as no surprise to any of us that some people don't much care for "The West" in general and the United States in particular. For whatever reasons – some say it's because they have been unable to develop an open society or an economic system that will allow anyone but a few at the top to accumulate any wealth – their goal is to destroy what others have developed.
What appeals to these largely powerless individuals about the Internet is that they can attack without having to leave the discomfort of their cave or hovel and there is little chance that they will ever be identified, located, or prosecuted. And because so many of us have become so dependent on the ability to obtain information, buy or sell products or services, and communicate with each other via the Internet, the target is particularly attractive.
And when you consider that most home computers and many corporate networks are operated by people who have had no training at all in computer security, the target becomes irresistible.
Viruses and worms will become harder to identify and eradicate. It is possible for rogue websites and malicious e-mail attachments to install pieces of apparently harmless code on your computer today. The code appears harmless because it is harmless – by itself. Imagine a malware application that loads a little "ammonium nitrate fertilizer" into your computer one day and another malware application that adds some "kerosene" the next day. A week or two later, a third piece of malware loads a "detonator" . A fourth component arrives later. It checks in each day with a remote application that one day sends a message to all computers that have been loaded with "explosives" to "detonate" .
Of course it's impossible to load fertilizer, kerosene, and a detonator into your computer via the Internet, but it is possible to load several code components that could be combined and then executed. What would be the result of 1,000,000 computers staging attacks on a few hundred carefully identified sites? What if all of the files on 10,000,000 computers suddenly vanished? Or 100,000,000?
The City of Columbus recently had to hand check every single police cruiser because most of the on-board computers had been infected with the MS Blaster worm. If something like this doesn't make you nervous, what does it take to make you nervous?
What you can do
Without even thinking about it very hard, I see at least 6 essential steps. More may occur to you, but start with these.
First, understand that conditions aren't going to improve anytime soon.
Second, practice thinking about safety. When I received an e-mail with an attachment but no message, I didn't open the attachment even thought the message was from someone I knew. Instead, I sent a message to ask if the person sent a PowerPoint presentation to me. She had sent it, and it was safe. A small delay saved what could have been a mess.
Third, install a firewall. There are hardware firewalls and software firewalls. I no longer consider these as optional, "nice-to-have" additions. If your computer doesn't have a firewall, you have effectively hung out a sign that says "Take my computer and do anything you want with it. I don't care." If you have a home computer network that is behind a router/switch, the router/switch uses network address translation (NAT). This is not secure. You still need a firewall.
Fourth, be absolutely certain that you have an antivirus program installed and that your application automatically checks for new updates at least once per day. Do not depend on the antivirus program to detect every virus, though. Every antivirus program has some shortcomings and all antivirus programs will miss new viruses that can often spread in the wild for several days before the antivirus program has updated definitions.
Fifth, if your operating system offers an automatic update service (many version of Windows and Apple's OS X offer an update service) turn it on and be certain to install every security-related patch.
Sixth, never trust anything you receive by e-mail – particularly if it has anything to do with money or credit cards. Make sure that the message has come from the person or company that it claims to be from.
The Internet is just a tool
Tools aren't good or evil; they're just tools. A hammer can be used to build a house that will keep a family warm and dry, or it can be used to commit a brutal murder. The automobile gives us mobility that people could have barely foreseen even 100 years ago, yet it is responsible for dirtying our air and killing tens of thousands every year. Even immunizations that protect us from horrific diseases occasionally – instead of providing protection – cause disability, disfigurement, or death.
The Internet is simply a tool. We use it to do our jobs better and faster. We use it for entertainment and enjoyment. We use it to share knowledge and to keep in touch with friends and family. But it can also be used against us for great harm.
I encourage you – Please! Take computer security seriously starting this very minute.
Before the end of this day, I hope you'll be sure that your antivirus program is up to date and that you will have installed Zone Alarm (or have ordered a hardware firewall). All of us have had more than adequate warning about what is likely to happen. We can continue to ignore the signs or we can take prudent actions to protect ourselves, our computers, and our data. The threat is real. The time is now.
. . . more about Proverbs
A first grade teacher collected old, well known proverbs. She gave each student in her class the first half of a proverb, and had them complete the saying.
Here's what the students came up with;
Two's Company, Three's ... The Musketeers.
It's Always Darkest Before ...Daylight Savings Time.
Strike While The ... Bug Is Close.
Never Under Estimate The Power Of ... Termites.
You Can Lead A Horse To Water But ... How?
Better Be Safe Than ... Punch A 5th Grader.
Don't Bite The Hand That ... Looks Dirty.
No News Is ... Impossible.
A Miss Is As Good As A ... Mister
You Can't Teach An Old Dog New ... Math.
If You Lie Down With The Dogs, You'll ... Stink In The Morning.
Love All, Trust ... Me
An Idle Mind Is ... The Best Way To Relax.
Where There's Smoke, There's ... Pollution.
Happy The Bride Who ... Gets All The Presents!
A Penny Saved Is ... Not Much.
The Pen Is Mightier Than The ... Pigs.
Don't Put Off Tomorrow What ... You Put On To Go To Bed.
Laugh And The Whole World Laughs With You,
Children Should Be Seen And Not ... Spanked Or Grounded.
If At First You Don't Succeed ... Get New Batteries.
You Get Out Of Something What You ... See Pictured On The Box.
When The Blind Leadeth The Blind ... Get Out Of The Way.
A FREE Audio Tape for YOU!
Because Ray Speaks ... it is expected he'll have audio and video tapes.
Why? To share with speakers bureaus, meeting planners and others interested in what he may have to say. So "yes", there is an audio tape. And he'll be happy to send you a copy. FREE. No strings attached.
The tape is a selection from several speaking gigs. A few case histories, some "how to..." ideas. And such. About an hour's worth of chatter ... some of it actually very entertaining!
If you'd like you very own copy, send an E-mail to ...
Your tape will be on the way to you within the day.
Oh, when you have a need for a speaker, and feel a demo video tape could be valuable to you, just ask for a copy. Not much use for video these days - with the Web - still, we'll be happy to forward one to you.
... and one more Idea
An eon ago Burt Dubin came into my life. And has stayed. We continue to swap ideas.
One area of common ground is we're both speakers. And, Burt is a "teacher" ... working with professionals helping them grow to masters - as well as new comers just breaking in to the speaker business.
To learn more about what Burt might offer you, visit his exclusive resource and most interesting web site. Plus, you may wish to opt-in for his FREE E-zine. It's easy - surf to www.SpeakingBizSuccess.com and take a tour. Or send an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"It IS What's Next!"
It's become known as "the story".
I've shared it with a number of health care organizations, a database marketing business, a direct marketing firm, a publishing organization, a DM association - and several others. And I'm ready to bring it to your group. (Visit It IS What's Next!)
When you have a need for a 40-60 minute program, I'll give you this different, interesting, meaningful, warm and true action presentation. If you want a half-day interactive seminar, that can happen, too. For your club. Your company. Your organization. Your association. Your school or University. Any group you have. At any place. At any time. For any reason.
It IS What’s Next! is available to you as a Keynote Address. As a special program. As an opening or closing presentation. As a different / unique session.
Marketing, Direct Marketing & Sales.
That's what this E-zine is about. That's with I'm about. So, this serious related quote from Anonymous;
"They don't pay off on effort ... they pay off on results."
"Quotes with Direction" has been a part of my web site collection from day one. If you like quotes visit the archives ... www.rayjutkins.com/quotes/. There's a new batch up every 4 weeks.
... another Idea
New business friend Gerry Sacks of Houston, Texas sent me here. It turns out this leading information resource from the financial world offers a collection of marketing & sales ideas. Still, no matter your business, you will find good material here. Offered by 80+ experts (including me!) ... visit ProducersWEB.com
Magic Marketing Minutes
6 Ways to Make Your Admail Personal
Frequently our Direct Mail letters are not totally "personalized".
We don't always know the name of the person we are writing to. We are writing to a title. Or, we are writing to a large audience in which a number of different people might be our prospects.
How can we make our printed, less personalized, letter look more personal?
Here are 6 ideas:
And, write personal Direct Mail.
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.