Actrix Newsletter September 2004

This newsletter has been produced to help you get the most out of the Internet,
and to keep you, as an Actrix customer, informed of developments and services within the company.
Past newsletters may be viewed at http://editor.actrix.co.nz/
Newsletters are now archived by article at http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle/
Questions and comments about the newsletter can be e-mailed to editor@actrix.co.nz
Other inquiries should be e-mailed to support@actrix.co.nz

The Net of the Living Dead

From Lucio Fulci's movie: Zombie!

There's been a fair bit of news around lately regarding zombie machines and their contribution to the Spam and virus problem. In this article I want to explain what zombies are, how they are harvested, what they do, and how you can protect yourself from having your PC harvested and "zombified."

What are zombies?

Zombies are machines that have been deliberately "possessed" by someone else, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of them on the Internet. No doubt there are plenty here in New Zealand, and no doubt they include some belonging to Actrix customers. The frightening thing is that the owners are not likely to realise that their PC has been hijacked by someone else for nefarious purposes. That's part and parcel of the whole zombie experience.

A machine becomes a zombie when a nasty program (usually referred to as a Trojan) is installed on it. The Trojan normally gets there when the machine becomes infected with a virus that opens a doorway for someone else on the Internet to use to access the machine remotely. It's called a Trojan after the story of the horse of Troy, of course.

Recent viruses such as Sobig, MyDoom and Bagle all contained this sort of code (sometimes also known as malware). While the machines' owners are innocently writing e-mails and surfing websites, their computers are broadcasting a message out onto the Internet that they're open for evil business to anyone who knows how to connect to them through the new backdoor.

What do the hackers want?

In most cases these days, the hackers behind the zombies are not primarily after sensitive information on your PC, though they'd certainly be capable of getting your credit card number if you had it stored there. What they seem to want most is to set up a proxy mail servers on the zombie machines so that they can use it to send Spam.

The world is cracking down on Spammers and many countries are putting strict laws and penalties in place. ISPs tend to be watching customers' sending volumes and closing the accounts of anyone suddenly sending out massive amounts of e-mails. In order to evade the law and to hide themselves, these hackers will use the zombie machine to send out the Spam in their stead. That way the spam can't be traced back to them, and someone else has to pay any traffic bills associated with the millions of e-mails sent!

Some experts estimate that 40% of all Spam originates from zombies, and some go as far as to suggest that 80% of it comes from these poor bedevilled computers. Of course, in a sort of "zombie-get-zombie" scheme, the infected machine will also be used to send out more viruses and copies of the Trojan that now controls it.

Zombies can also be used for what is called a DDoS attack. DDoS is short for "distributed denial of service." A DDoS attack is used to bog down another computer on the Internet so that it can no longer function. If a hacker wanted to attack Microsoft, for example, he or she would get hundreds of zombie machines under his or her control to send lots of useless or corrupt information to Microsoft servers all at once.  The servers become so busy trying to make sense of the massive data influx that they can't do their normal work. In effect, the server would go "down."

Lately, it has become common for people who have remote control over hundreds of zombies to "rent them out" to anyone who wants to use them for a day, an afternoon or a week. It's becoming quite a profitable little underground business.

What Should You Do?

There are several things you can do to reduce the risk of becoming a zombie yourself. None of this advice is new, but many people are slow to move on these matters, and this is the very reason that the evil zombie overlords are able to keep on getting away with it.

Windows Update: The first thing you have to do (and I can't stress enough how essential this is) is to keep your PC up-to-date with the latest patches from Microsoft. Viruses, malware, Trojans; they all exploit weaknesses in your software. As these weaknesses are discovered, Microsoft releases patches that you can download to correct them. When you correct them, the malware sent to you can't do its business because the flaw that it is designed to exploit isn't there anymore. Updating your software is even more important than running anti-virus programs. To visit the Windows Update page (which will analyse your machine and tell you what you need to download) open Internet Explorer. Click Tools and then Windows Update. You can surf to the page by using http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com.

Ant-Virus: The second thing to do is run your own personal anti-virus software. Actrix CyberScan will catch most viruses that come via e-mail, but these days, viruses can connect to you straight across the Internet (if your machine is unpatched), and Actrix is not usually able to catch these for you. Your personal anti-virus program should also help protect you from malware that comes on floppy disks, though this seems to be less of a problem these days. Anti-Virus software needn't cost you big money. Free software is available at http://www.grisoft.com and at www.clamwin.net

Firewall: Lastly, you may want to think about a firewall. The advantages of a firewall are twofold. Firstly, they hide you while you are online by disallowing any program on your computer from accessing the Internet without your knowledge and consent. This means that your computer won't reply to any hacker scanning for vulnerable machines. They don't even know you're there.

Firewalls such as Zone Alarm (http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/home.jsp) can be downloaded for free, but they come with problems of their own, and people unfamiliar with how the Internet works can sometimes struggle to wrap their heads around them. You may want to get someone knowledgeable to help you install a firewall, if that might be you. However, an up-to-date patched machine is enough of a disincentive for any hacker. There are plenty of easier targets for them out there.

Printer friendly version of this article...


Readers' Forum

If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send me an e-mail with the word "Forum" in the subject line. I'll try and answer your question by return e-mail, and will also post the answer here for the benefit of others who may have a similar question or problem. By the same token, if you read something here and think you may have something to suggest, please feel more than free. Please also note that questions and answers may turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).

Kevin writes: Hello Rob. There has been much said about anti virus systems. I am using AVG anti virus system free edition. This is updated on a regular basis. I also download the critical windows updates as they become available. But in my local paper an article appeared that stated that free anti virus systems were not worth the paper they were written on. The article recommended to use one offered by Symantec (Nortons). In your view, or that of your readers, am I safely covered by AVG?

Hi Kevin, Thanks for this and for providing me with a scan of the article from the Otago Daily Times. It was an interesting read, though I wish the writer had been clearer on just why he found the free anti-virus programs so poor. Our experience has been that they do the same job as the ones you pay for, with a few less bells and whistles. I use a free anti-virus program (ClamWin) with which I am happy, and I hear only good reports about AVG.

To me, though, anti-virus programs aren't the important issue. These sorts of programs should be seen as the last line of defence. Many sensible computer users I know don't use anything at all. The key issues are updating your Windows system every month (so the weaknesses that viruses exploit get patched), and never clicking attachments that look the slightest bit suspicious. If people did these two things, viruses wouldn't stand a chance.

I'd be interested in hearing others' views or stories regarding whether they've found free anti-virus programs to be markedly inferior.

ClamWin - http://www.clamwin.net/
AVG - http://www.grisoft.com/us/us_index.php  

Eva writes: Dear Rob, My problem is a free firewall system.I downloaded Zonelabs- Zone Alarm Firewall - but could not install it, as it tells me "only suitable for 98". Therein lies my problem. I have Windows 95. My family and friends tell me a firewall is as essential as an anti virus programme. Can you advise a free firewall system for my 95? Thanking you in anticipation, Eva.

Hi Eva, There are a couple of free firewalls that are supposed to work okay on Windows 95. I have not had personal experience with either program, though, and it's been a while since I've been near a WIN95 system!

Sygate Personal Firewall will run on W95. I'm told it's fairly easy to use.
Omniquad Personal Firewall will also run on WIN95 and gets good reviews. I hope one of these works out okay for you.

Tim writes: I like reading overseas newspapers online. Recently my favourite sites want reader registration before they will let me get at the body of articles. Presumably an e-mail address would be required when registering. My nasty suspicious little mind means I don't like handing over details so freely in times like these . What is a way around this one? I thought of having a secondary account which I might never actually read, but wouldn't this just clutter up the Actrix system?

Hi Tim, You're probably very wise not to hand over your e-mail address so readily. Not all newspaper sites would onsell your e-mail address to Spammers, but you never know, and guarding your e-mail address carefully is a good habit to keep. Some Actrix plans come with extra e-mail addresses, and one of those could be used for times like you mention. If you entered an e-mail address you never used, then you'd never see any Spam sent to it. It probably wouldn't clutter up the system too much now that we have a system that deletes Spam every 30 days. If you never used it for anything else (so you could be sure anything in it was Spam) it would be easy enough for you to go online and delete its entire contents every month.

However, a lot of people open a hotmail or yahoo account for this sort of thing, and then never check it. The thing is, most of the sites that require you to log in send a validation e-mail to the e-mail address you use to sign up. You have to respond to that e-mail before your account is created. Therefore, you would normally have to check e-mail to that address at least once. If you didn't have to check it, then you wouldn't need a valid e-mail address at all. In cases like that you could just enter some gobbledegook into the e-mail address field.

Printer friendly version of this article...


Thought About Broadband?

Have you ever wondered about whether or not it might be time to speed up your Internet connection? You wouldn't be alone. Amazing things have been accomplished online and dialup modems have served subscribers well over the last ten years. However, broadband is the way of the future. We don't think dialup will disappear for a long while yet, but world trends, even amongst domestic users are definitely moving towards higher speed connections.

The fastest growing high speed connection world-wide is DSL, marketed here in New Zealand as JetStream. This short article will look briefly at its pros and cons, and will also cover some of its basic costs. We'd be happy to talk to you if you'd like to know more.

Put really simply, DSL (digital subscriber line) splits the copper of your phoneline in two (metaphorically). By utilising different frequencies for transmitting data, it allows the same piece of copper to act as a phoneline while it also acts as a high speed Internet connection. The benefits of such a system are pretty obvious when you think about it. Firstly, you already have the copper coming right into your house. There's no need for a complicated installation procedure. Secondly, your Internet connection no longer ties up your phone line. You can be surfing away or sending e-mails, and the phone will still ring as normal.

There are other advantages of JetStream or DSL. Firstly, it is always on. This means that when your computer is on, one click will take you onto the Internet. You don't have to worry about waiting to dial in, or dialling in again if you become disconnected. The second advantage, of course, is the speed. Dialup modems are great, but the net is growing often beyond what can be handled comfortably with a 56K modem. Web sites are becoming more animated. online gaming is becoming more popular, peer to peer file-sharing can tie your phoneline up for hours, Windows updates are now usually too massive to download meaning people are often slow to update their machines with the latest security patches. A broadband connection, such as DSL, can help with all of these things.

The disadvantages of DSL are mainly to do with its cost, of course, but the good news is that prices are coming down. More on that below.

First of all, a DSL connection does require a special modem that sits between your computer and your phone jack. The second initial expense is the Telecom installation. A DSL modem can be yours for around $200, but then you own it. The Telecom installation is a one-time fee of $88.00 + GST (a little more if you need extra wiring done, but most people don't). Oftentimes, Telecom will waive these fees, especially when specials are on. The last disadvantage is that there is often a traffic allowance meaning you will be charged per megabyte if you download more than your allocated quota in a given month. For most people this isn't a problem either. It's just a matter of selecting the right plan from the outset.

There are lots of variations of JetStream plans. See the Actrix home page (Domestic/High Speed Plans) for an idea. Note however that JetStream Starter (which used to be known as JetStart) is being withdrawn by Telecom later this year. Pricing for the JetStream Surf plans with Actrix is given below. This is the typical sort of plan a customer wanting to move up from a dialup connection might consider.

  Actrix Charge Telecom Charge Total Charge Traffic Allowance Excess Usage Charge
Surf 1GB $20.00 $29.95/month $49.95 1GB 5 cents/MB
Surf 3GB $20.00 $39.95/month $59.95 3GB 5 cents/MB
Surf Flatrate $20.00 $59.95/month $79.95 Unlimited N/A

If you consider that JetStream Surf is a 256Kb connection (about five times the speed of dialup) then these prices are not so bad after the installation expenses. Those starting to hanker for more speed might be surprised by this. Of course most people who get around to broadband wonder how they ever coped on dialup.

In terms of traffic, 1 GB (a Gigabyte is 1024 Megabytes and one average mp3 is about 3.5 Megabytes) is a lot of data, and the average domestic user would find this ample. As stated, there are lots of other plans, and we'd be happy to help you find the one that is just right for you.

To make things easier, our marketing department is currently working on some specials to help you make the leap. These may well include installation deals, great pricing, and/or pre-configured modems so all you have to do is plug them in and you're away. Watch this space (as well as our web site) for more details in the very near future.

Printer friendly version of this article...


Actrix Anti-Spam/Anti-Virus Update

August
2004
Emails scanned: 5,392,011
Viruses found: 753,912
Spam found: 2,543,998
Percentage of emails containing viruses: 13.98
Percentage of emails containing Spam: 47.18
Top 10 Viruses for August 2004
Worm.Zafi.B 540,297
Worm.SomeFool.P 70,288
Worm.SomeFool.Gen-1 39,684
Worm.SomeFool.Z 23,782
Worm.SomeFool.Gen-2 12,380
Worm.Lovegate.X 10,904
Worm.MyDoom.M 6,089
Trojan.Dropper.VBS.Zerolin-enc 5,285
Worm.SomeFool.Q 5,046
Worm.MyDoom.S 4,891

The Actrix Spam-filtering system is humming along nicely. We trust that customers have noticed great improvements over the last few weeks as the filters have developed and learned.

An e-mail was sent to all customers on Monday 19 July explaining how the new filters work, how to opt out if you don't want them, how to check your online Spam folder, how the filters work with CyberFilter, etc. A copy of that e-mail can be found here: http://www.actrix.co.nz/whatsnew.php?articleid=27.

Please note: To check your Spam folder, you have to go into Web Mail, and then click the Spam link over on the left.

We'll be reporting on both Spam and virus catch figures each month. The table to the left details anti-virus and Spam catch statistics for the month of August 2004.

The Actrix Spam filters run on a points system. Each e-mail that passes through our mail servers is assessed for Spam-likelihood. If it gets enough Spam points it is filtered off into a separate Spam folder stored within Web Mail for each customer mailbox. We're continuing to update the Spam criteria by which e-mail is judged, so the system is becoming "smarter everyday." Currently we're successfully catching around 90% of Spam. This should improve as we refine the filtering criteria over time.

Thank you to all those customers who have given positive feedback. This has been appreciated and shared around the office. There have been far too many to answer individually.


Interesting Sites (Click the picture links to access the sites)

Please note: Actrix supplies links to these sites for your interest and possible use. We cannot endorse or take any responsibility for their contents.

Got a site you think would be neat to share with other readers? Click here to e-mail and let me know and receive a free Norrie the Nerd chocolate bar courtesy of Actrix!

NewsZone
www.newszone.co.nz - This flash-based site is especially aimed at kids interested in newspapers and journalism. It has a a few interesting sections including one with information about what's involved in producing a newspaper. There's a page for asking a journalist a question, and even a section allowing kids to write and layout their own front page. Different NZ daily papers can be selected when the site loads, and slightly different content is there for each one (e.g. The "Meet the Editor" section).
Reading Speed Test
http://mindbluff.com/askread.htm - How many words per minute do you read? "Press the Start button and begin reading. Read at your natural pace. Do not skim. When a minute has passed, you'll hear and see the alert on your screen. Stop reading. Press OK on the alert. To see your results, click the last word you read when the alert appeared."
The Skeptiseum
www.skeptiseum.org/ - "Welcome to the Skeptiseum, the skeptical museum of the paranormal hosted by The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). Please take a look around: you'll see that we have many galleries filled with artifacts and information that we hope you'll find both educational and entertaining."
Fun Trivia
www.funtrivia.com - This site was suggested by Siobhan Hughes, and it's a doozy for anyone who loves quizzes. What's especially great about it is the wide range of quizzes. There are literally thousands of them (52,638 quizzes in 8,038 categories, to be exact). It will not be difficult to find something you think you're a bit of an authority on. Now you can put what you know to the test and see how you compare to others who have done the same quiz. A wide range of theme-based crossword puzzles is also featured. Great site Siobhan! Chocolate coming your way!
Dwight's Amazing Cat Collection
www.amazingcatcollection.com/ - Everybody loves cats. If they don't, then they love to hate them instead. Dwight here provides pages and pages of pictures of cats being particularly cute (or particularly horrible). You may need to be patient while all the photos load. Not enough? Here's another page full of pictures: http://www.stud.ntnu.no/~shane/stasj/pics/dyr/cats/unger/.
Is John Kerry Fit for Command?
www.swiftvets.com/ - I'm not a great fan of any of the presidential candidates, so I'm not taking sides. I've included this anti-Kerry site just out of interest. It has been set up by those who served with him during his brief stint in Vietnam. These soldiers have grave concerns about what Kerry has been saying happened there, and what actually did occur. Goodness me, could this be a case of a politician lying?
Lateral Thinking Puzzles
http://rec-puzzles.org/lateral.html - Remember these? "Lateral thinking puzzles are often strange situations which require an explanation. They are solved through a dialogue between the quizmaster who sets the puzzle and the solver or solvers who try to figure out the answer. The puzzles as stated generally do not contain sufficient information for the solver to uncover the solution. So a key part of the process is the asking of questions. The questions can receive one of only three possible answers - yes, no or irrelevant."
Clickable Geography Quizzes
www.lizardpoint.com/fun/geoquiz/ - Just select the area of the globe you'd like to test yourself on. The page will ask you to click on the state or country. You get three goes before you have to move on to the next question, and your score depends on how many clicks it takes you to get the right result. There isn't one for New Zealand, but some of the others should present a fun challenge or two.
Lists Of Bests
http://listsofbests.com/ - “The best of the ‘Best of’ lists in one place. Our purpose is to provide a one-stop shop to find all the "best of" books, music, and movie lists. We're adding more lists all the time, so check back again if you don't find what you're looking for." Lists include: Rolling Stones' Reader's 100 Albums, BBC's "The Big Read" - Top 100 Books, AFI's 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time and heaps more. A handy search feature is included.
Six Trusted Alien Snapshots
http://ufocasebook.com/caponi.html - "This is the account of the repeated encounter between a humanoid being and a 23 year old Italian from Pretare d'Arquata, who took a series of six Polaroid pictures of the being... They show, in sequence, a being in a various positions, in seemingly painful physical conditions although this may be only an anthropomorphic impression..." Check the UFO Casebook for more of this sort of stuff.
The Best Movie Mistakes
www.moviemistakes.com/best.php - Star Wars: When the stormtroopers break into the control room, watch very carefully and you will be able to see a storm trooper nearly render himself unconscious by smacking his head off a door frame. Thousands of mistakes are listed on this site. Use the features on the right to navigate the site and find mistakes for lots of different movies organised under lots of different categories.
Games, Riddles and Mental Tricks
http://mindbluff.com/ - Mind Bluff explores infinite mysteries of the human mind. [Their] growing collection includes some of the web's best mental and visual brain teasers, optical illusions, word puzzles, and tactile illusions - a virtual "workshop" of creativity! Take a few moments to sit back, lean your brain forward, and start thinking.

Cyberspace News Snippets

New Zealand

Men embrace internet shopping - study: The internet has converted men to an activity many claim to loath – shopping. Click here for more.

Death certificates can be requested online: A resident of a Porirua rest home last week became the first New Zealander to have his death notified online. Click here for more.

Submissions favour Spam law : Submissions received in response to a government discussion document are overwhelmingly in favour of making it illegal to send Spam but show differing views on how Spam should be defined. Click here for more.

General

Go green: Shut down idle PCs: I've heard that frequently turning my computer on and off can hurt the performance of internal parts. But I don't want to leave it on all the time either and waste power. What's the best course? Click here for more.

Catholics E-Mail Prayers and Candles to Lourdes: Roman Catholics who can't make it to France for Pope John Paul's pilgrimage to Lourdes this weekend can now say a prayer and light candles there thanks to a new Internet service. Click here for more.

Web carries unfettered diet of gruesome death: The United States television news networks count down the hours while a man waits to see whether his captors will deliver on their promise to cut his head off. Click here for more.

Beyond IE: Four alternatives: The web-browser wars are over and Microsoft has won. Internet Explorer's market share of well over 90 per cent means any competition is pretty much doomed from the start. But someone's forgotten to tell the competition, which is alive and packing in features lacking from Microsoft's flagship browser. Click here for more.

The battle for email privacy: Ah, humanity. We are a sneaky species, forever attempting to get a leg up on everyone else in as underhanded a manner as possible. Click here for more.

PayPal settlement e-mails confuse recipients: Millions of PayPal users received an e-mail this week offering them a chance to receive a little money just for filling out an online form -- and for once, the e-mail wasn't a fake. Click here for more.

News Sites, Where the Men Are: If you're reading this, chances are you're a man. Recent surveys found that a large majority of people who read news online are male. Click here for more.

Online credit card usage soars: Online credit card usage has soared five-fold during the past four years, figures show. Click here for more.

Bulgarian defaces terror website: BULGARIAN HACKERS have declared war on terror groups hoping to spread their Jihad onto the web. Click here for more.

Life's not the same without the Net: Our lives just wouldn't be the same without the Internet, yet we're somehow living most of our lives offline. So says the latest study. Click here for more.

Torn on porn's net effect: Pornography is good for people, the academic leading a taxpayer-funded study of the subject said yesterday, as the Coalition and Labor traded jibes... Click here for more.

Replace and disable Internet Explorer now: Before you go removing your only Web browser, you need to have something to replace it with. There are two primary alternatives to Internet Explorer: Mozilla and Opera. Click here for more.

FBI action over illegal file-swap: US agents have raided five homes across America as part of the first federal criminal copyright action taken against file-sharing networks. Click here for more.

53 arrested for Internet crimes: "Operation Web Snare is the largest and most successful collaborative law-enforcement operation ever conducted to prosecute online fraud, stop identity theft, and prevent other computer-related crimes," Ashcroft said. Click here for more.

The Internet at 35: Still evolving: Thirty-five years after computer scientists at UCLA linked two bulky computers using a 15-foot gray cable, testing a new way to exchange data over networks, what would ultimately become the Internet remains a work in progress. Click here for more.

Viruses

Web worm abating, leaving systems exposed: Computer security firms warned the MyDoom worm had left many computer systems' vulnerable to follow-on attacks by allowing the mysterious author of the worm to go straight to MyDoom-infected computers in the future to launch other viruses rather than scan the Internet to find vulnerable systems. Click here for more.

Staff blamed for virus outbreaks: People are the weak link when it comes to computer viruses, a study shows. Click here for more.

Email viruses getting smarter: Computer viruses spread by email are growing more sophisticated as virus writers and "spammers" are thought to be joining forces in an effort to make smarter bugs, a computer security group says. Click here for more.

Meet the Peeping Tom worm: A worm capable of using webcams to spy on users is circulating across the Net. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

In the zone: Firewall and anti-virus software are two of the most important weapons in the daily struggle to keep internet-connected computers secure. Click here for more.

Home PCs hijacked to spread spam: There is a good chance that your home computer has been hijacked by spammers if you have a broadband net link, but are not using a firewall or anti-virus software to protect your PC. Click here for more.

Google queries provide stolen credit cards: ... the latest example of "Google hacking" highlights increasing concern that knowledgeable Web surfers can turn up sensitive information by mining the world's best-known search engine. Click here for more.

Russian hackers pose an increasing threat: Russia, with its highly educated workforce and inefficient police force, has become infamous for computer piracy and crime. Click here for more.

Hunt for service pack flaws seen in full swing: While users are testing Service Pack 2 for Windows XP to prevent compatibility problems, hackers are picking apart the security-focused software update looking for vulnerabilities, security experts say. Click here for more.

Spam, Eggs, Baked Beans, Spam, Spam and Spam

Spamming for Dummies: Let's call him Stan. Our entirely fictitious character begins his work day, as many of us do, by opening his email client and checking for new messages. As usual, a few legitimate emails are hidden amongst a deluge of spam, one of which catches his eye. Click here for more.

Spam poetry: transcending the junk mail paradigm: Girl scout negotiates a prenuptial agreement with fruit cake; Translucent gibbon rucksack bonanza; Pine cone living with wheelbarrow feels nagging remorse. Click here for more.

Messaging spam heads for your PC: As internet firms are doing all they can to combat junk e-mail, a new form of virtual irritation is emerging. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Windows update causes headaches: Games, security software and popular business programs are clashing with Microsoft's long-awaited security update for Windows XP. Click here for more.

Open Source Stress: Late last month, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told Wall Street analysts that the commercial software industry faces a risk: Open-source software could threaten the sector's profits in the next decade. Click here for more.

Microsoft announces 'XP Lite' in Asia: Microsoft announced Wednesday it would offer a low-cost starter edition of its Windows XP operating system in Asia starting in October, as it strives to hold onto market share facing erosion from the open-source Linux system and software piracy. Click here for more.

XP SP2 über patch already needs fixing: The first new vulnerability affecting Internet Explorer on Windows XP with SP2 has been discovered. The vulnerability allows malicious websites to place an executable file in a user's start-up folder when a user drags or clicks on a program masqueraded as an image. Click here for more.

Q&A on the Windows XP update: After a year or more of preparation, home users can now get their hands on the SP2 security update for Windows XP. Here BBC News Online answers some of the most common questions about the package. Click here for more.

Unix/Linux Line

Asterisk joins 'family': Telecom has acquired Linux specialist Asterisk as a by-product of its $62.3 million acquisition of IT services firm Gen-i last month. Click here for more.

Linux Scare Tactics: It used to be that enemies of Linux were the ones spreading "fear, uncertainty and doubt" about the free operating system. Now the F.U.D. comes from Linux zealots themselves... Click here for more.

Mozilla to pay bounty on bugs: Users who identify and report serious security vulnerabilities involving Mozilla are to be rewarded for finding bugs in the open source Web browser software. Click here for more.

Microsoft's Singing A New Tune On Linux: Microsoft has finally met its match against software that is largely downloadable for free. Click here for more.

Microsoft's Linux ad 'misleading': Microsoft has been reprimanded over misleading advertising by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Click here for more.

Mac News

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has cancer surgery: Apple Computer Chief Executive Steve Jobs has had successful surgery for a rare form of pancreatic cancer, the company's co-founder told employees in a company-wide email. Click here for more.

Apple Fans Pull for Jobs: News of Steve Jobs' cancer operation has Mac news sites seeing record traffic, forums are bulging with unprecedented numbers of postings, and Apple is being swamped with messages of sympathy. Click here for more.

The Cult of Apple: While I have received the occasional Intel, AMD, and Sun tattoo pictures, as well as a few Linux Tux and FreeBSD tattoos, no computer company has as many tattooed users as Apple does. Click here for more.

The Weird, Weird Web

Revenge of the Tattooed Nerds: While I have received the occasional Intel, AMD, and Sun tattoo pictures, as well as a few Linux Tux and FreeBSD tattoos, no computer company has as many tattooed users as Apple does. Click here for more.

Web addiction excuses conscripts: A number of Finnish conscripts have been excused their full term of military service because they are addicted to the Internet, the Finnish Defence Forces said. Click here for more.

Dangers of pro-anorexia websites: There are hundreds of "Pro-ana" websites creating an online community where fellow anorexics encourage each other to starve themselves further. Click here for more.


A Little Levity

You Might be a Computer Geek if...


Bringing It All Back Home

Thanks again for reading the Actrix newsletter. Feedback can be sent to me via the e-mail address listed below. Please limit this to comments/suggestions regarding the newsletter. Requests for support should go to the Actrix Help Desk (support@actrix.co.nz) or to the Accounts Department (accounts@actrix.co.nz).

Take care through September,

Rob Zorn
editor@actrix.co.nz
http://editor.actrix.co.nz