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    Quote of the month  
  • "We're a million monkeys running on treadmills, chasing the latest banana."

    - Steve Rubel on the sound and fury surrounding Web 2.0









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The Actrix Online Informer is published each month to help keep Actrix customers up-to-date with what's happening on the Internet, and to help ensure they have every opportunity to benefit from it.

Questions and comments about the Actrix Online Informer can be e-mailed to
Other inquiries should be e-mailed to

Actrix - New Zealand's first Internet Service Provider

Welcome to the August Actrix Online Informer!

Welcome to the August Actrix Online Informer. This month we have a bit of spam/security theme, with a revised version of an article on passwords, and one about malicious postcard notifications. Both are issues facing Internet users at the moment, so we really urge you to be careful.

The new website is up and looking really good. We're sorry it took so long, but, because we're such perfectionists, we had to spend a good deal of time making sure it all worked perfectly. If you find a bug, go to and click the 'Report a bug' link to the top-right. The first one to do so will get a warm feeling of accomplishment and win $10 credit.

I hope you're keeping warm and dry.

Rob Zorn

Choosing a good password 

This is an updated version of an article we ran back in October 2005. Always masters of innovation, spammers have begun a new tactic of guessing people's main account passwords, and then setting up sub mailboxes under the accounts to use as e-mail addresses from which to send spam.

One of the reasons they like to do this is because most ISPs' e-mail servers don't allow relaying (sending e-mail from addresses they don't know about or can't verify). If a spammer in, say, Asia or the United States, had cracked an Actrix account, they would theoretically be able to connect to the Actrix mail servers and start sending spam through them because we'd see them as a legitimate customer. We might soon question the volume of mail they were sending, but the point is they'd be able to do it for a while, and they'd be near impossible to trace.

And if they've cracked your account in order to set up a mailbox, they can also read your mail and get up to all sorts of other worrying mischief.

It doesn't take long for them to do this, because spammers have bot programs especially designed to 'brute force' username/password guessing. This heavy duty software cycles through a bunch of common passwords, hoping to hit a match that works. Because a surprising number of people have poor passwords - success is virtually guaranteed for them in no time.

It is also reasonably common for customers to contact us because someone else has their password and is using their account. They've either guessed it or found it written down somewhere. 

When it comes to robust and secure passwords, there are two important issues that should be remembered. Firstly, passwords need to be well chosen so that they are not easily guessed or cracked by 'brute force' bot programs. Secondly, they need to be protected. This article will look at both of these issues. We'll finish up with a summary of general dos and don'ts.

But first, there are a number of generalisations about Kiwis and their passwords that could be made from experience in dealing with customers and passwords over the years. Kiwis have a number of bad password habits that might make it easy to guess of 'brute force' their passwords.

1) The most common form of password is either a pet's or child's name with the letter 1 after it. I think this is because many people don't think about a password until they're setting up an account or log in. Typically they are informed that a password should have letters and numbers, and the first thing that comes into their head that they think they will remember is their child's (the firstborn, or the most recent-born is the most common) or their pet's name. The 1 gets added because they have to have a number in the password and this is the easiest number to remember.

If I wanted to guess your password, then, I would try a few combinations on your kids' or pets' names first. A 'brute force' bot program will be able to try thousands of combinations around common pet or child names in seconds.

If that didn't work, I might also try a few combinations around anything else I might know to be important to you - your favourite singer, or something to do with your hobbies or sporting interests. If you were an Highlanders supporter, for example, I'd start with combinations around the word "anton" or "oliver." The very worst form of this sort of lack of thought is when a password is arrived at by simply adding the number 1 to the username. 

2) It is extremely common for people to substitute letters for numbers that look like letters. The letter 'o' gets replaced by a zero. The letters 'i' or 'l' get replaced with a 1. The letter 's' gets replaced by a 5, and the letter 'g' gets replaced by a 9, etc. So, if I was that Otago fan (and they're only my second favourite team, by the way) my password might be ant0n0l1ver. Anybody who knew me reasonably well and who was familiar with password trends and habits, would probably have worked this one out in less than ten tries.

3) Many people still use a birthdate or part of their phone number for the required number(s) in their password. These may be easy to remember, but such numbers are also easily guessed.

0510passwords.jpg (10971 bytes)4) Almost unbelievably, some people still think the most obvious password is the one that will never be guessed. Some people use the word "password" or pa55word," or phrases like "letmein" and think they're being really clever. Unfortunately, they're not nearly as original as they think they are. Be sure the 'brute force' bots know all of these!

5) Many people go years without changing their passwords. Reasons for this would include them not finding the matter important, or just having too many passwords at all sorts of different places, so the thought of changing each one becomes all a bit too much. Probably too, a lot of people have forgotten their passwords, and sometimes you need to know your password before you can change it.

There are two schools of thought on how often to change your password. Some argue that if you have a really good password, then you don't need to change it all that often. They may be right - but the key point is having a really good and uncrackable password that bears no apparent semblance to any real word.

6) People use the same password at various places. Again, this is done so that not too many passwords need to be remembered, and the same password can be used for logging onto the Internet, onto the banking site(s), the auction site(s) and the online dating site or web forum. Unfortunately, though, if your password is harvested, and the harvester knows anything about you, they suddenly have access to everything you've got.

Okay, so how can you choose a good password?

A good password should be a mixture of letters and numbers, and there should also be a mixture of capital and lower-case letters. But a good password also needs to be memorable, and for most of us, remembering a string of gobbledegook (e.g. kq9Ph3I9) is not easy, especially if we have lots of different passwords to remember.

Changing your Actrix Password

You can change your account password by logging into My Actrix on the Actrix homepage (

You will also need to change the password in the account settings of your e-mail program. In Outlook Express this setting is found under Tools/Accounts.

If you're having trouble, or can't remember your password, give our help desk a call on 0800 228749.

One suggestion is to think of a core password that would look like gobbledegook to anyone else, but would make sense to you because you know its key. You could then use that core at all of your different log-ins, with a variation added to it that pertains to the particular log in.

Confused? Let me explain.

Think of a short phrase such as a line from a nursery rhyme (e.g "to market to buy a fat pig") and reduce it to a series of letters. The core of our password suite will thus become "tmtbafp". Next change the "to" to the numeral 2 and the b to an 8 (which looks like a capital b). Our password is now tm28afp (which isn't too hard to remember if we know how it was derived).

The next step is to think of a unique identifier for each of the sites where you log in. The main colour of a site might be an example. So, if I was logging into my National Bank (mainly green in colour) web account, I might add GR to the front of the password. As soon as I accessed the National Bank site, the main colour would remind me that my password for this site starts with GR, and because I've memorised the core password, I can remember that my password is GRtm28afp. If I was logging into an ANZ web site my password would be BLtm28afp. Clear as mud? Of course, colours is just one option. Perhaps there's some other unique identifier for each site: the first or last two letters of the company's name... the first two vowels? 

Next time I change my core password to lb15fd (london bridge is falling down), my password at the National Bank site would change to GRlb15fd. My password at the ANZ site would change to BLlb15fd, and so forth. There are probably lots of unique identifiers that could be thought of.

Another simple method for choosing passwords is to use nonsense syllables and separate them with numbers such as the following: breeN91gilB, ritT81bleeG, or fiM43drutT. Nonsense syllables are easier to remember because they are pronounceable, but they won't make sense to anyone else, and are therefore pretty unguessable. However, if you're changing your password regularly, these become harder to remember, in my opinion, because there is no system to them.

Should you use non alpha-numeric characters marks in a password?

Of course, including non alpha-numeric characters in a password makes it harder to guess, but it also has some drawbacks, and a good combination of letters, numbers and capitalisation should make your password robust enough. Non alpha-numeric characters are harder to remember, and if you're changing your password regularly, memorability becomes an issue. Keep in mind, too, that Actrix will not allow any non-alphanumeric characters apart from _ (underscore), - (dash) and + (plus). Also, a double dash (--) is not allowed.

How and why should you protect your password?

It is one thing to choose a good password that is not easily guessed, but the best password in the world is of little value if you are careless with it.

The most obvious thing that comes to mind here is phishing scams. We've all had those e-mails turn up that purport to come from our ISP, or from PayPal, or Trade Me, or eBay, or our bank warning us that we're about to be cut off or that something has gone wrong with our account, and could we please go to a special page to log in and stop this terrible thing from happening. Of course, behind the scenes, this web page only looks like the authentic one, and it is really designed to capture your log in details for some hacker's nefarious purposes.

Most people are probably aware of phishing scams by now, and are less likely to fall for them, but hackers and web-tricksters are always finding new ways to part people from their passwords, and a high level of suspicion regarding any request for your password is appropriate. Reputable companies seek to combat phishing by making it their policy never to request your password in an e-mail, so anyone who does it is highly suspect. The general rule of thumb is to never give it out unless you are sure you someone isn't trying to hoodwink you. If in doubt, get on the phone to the company in question, or call our friendly help desk for advice (0800-228749).

Writing your passwords down is a bit of a tricky one. If they're written down on a piece of paper (and some security advisors recommend this instead of storing them electronically), then they are not vulnerable to a hacker who may have compromised your computer. They are, however, vulnerable to anyone who might be looking through your drawers or papers. The general rule of thumb here is to never store your passwords electronically (e.g. in an e-mail or WORD document). If you can't remember them or must write them down, make sure you lock them in a filing cabinet or somewhere else no one will have access to.

It's generally good practice, too, not to have your user name and password (e.g. dialup or browser-based log-ins) remembered automatically by your browser. If you do this, and your computer is stolen, make sure you contact your online providers immediately to have the password(s) changed.

Some sites allow you to retrieve your password by means of a question and answer if you have forgotten it. Usually there will be a series of standards such as what is your mother's maiden name, or your city of birth, and you can lodge an answer to one of these questions when you first set up your log in. If you forget your password, the sites will give you the question, and e-mail your password to you if you can answer it correctly. Sure, they only e-mail it to you, they don't just give it out, but most people's security is breached by people who already have access to their computer, and therefore won't have too much trouble getting access to any e-mail containing your password sent to you by the site. Generally, this whole process is a good idea, but you really need to make sure you choose a question and answer no one will know the answer to but you. If at all possible, use a question and answer of your own, and make it a hard one!

Lastly, exercise extreme care in choosing who you share any password with. I have been surprised on more than one occasion to find that customers have complained that someone else has been using their account and it turns out to be an ex-boarder, or someone with whom they've had a relationship break-up. Our terms and conditions state that your account is for your use alone. Understandably, couples etc will be sharing accounts and we don't mind that, but you give your password out to anyone else at your own peril, especially if you forget to change it once they've moved on. This is even more serious a risk when it comes to your banking password.

Some General Dos and Don'ts by way of summary

  • Don't use a password that involves anything you're well-known for being enthusiastic about. This includes your pets, kids and hobbies.
  • Don't use a birth date for the numbers in your password. This is one of the first things a hacker will experiment with. The same could be said for license plates and street numbers.
  • If you do substitute numbers for letters in your password, make sure that isn't the only variable you use. Also include some capital letters.
  • Never use a word that can be found in the dictionary. One hacking trick is to use what's known as a dictionary attack. This involves a hacker firing potentially every word in the dictionary at a web log-in password field, and remember, computers can do things very fast. Anyone with a normal word as their password is much more vulnerable to such an attack.
  • Use non alpha numeric numbers if you like, but only _ (underscore), - (dash) and + (plus) will be allowed with Actrix accounts. Also, a double dash (--) is not allowed.
  • Don't use the same password at multiple sites or log-ins. If you do, someone only has to hack you once and your whole life is theirs
  • Find a way to make your password meaningful and memorable for you, but apparent gobbledegook to anyone else.
  • Be sensibly paranoid about handing over your password in response to any e-mail asking for it. Reputable sites and companies will not ask for your password in an e-mail.
  • If you must write your passwords down, keep whatever they're written on well-hidden, and preferably behind a lock.
  • Don't share your password. If you do, remember to change it immediately if you no longer want the other person to have access.
  • Compose every password of a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, as well as numbers. Be random with the capitalising, and mix the numbers inside any words used.
  • Use at least eight characters, and more if you can.
  • Never store your passwords in a document on your computer, and never, ever, ever put them in an e-mail.
  • Don't use easy-to-guess questions and answers for password retrieval. Anyone close to you at all may know your mother's maiden-name, or your city of birth. If you can, set your own question, and make it a hard one.
  • Be familiar enough with your password that you can type it quickly. This makes it harder for someone to steal your password by watching over your shoulder.

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You've received a nasty postcard

You may have noticed you've been getting the odd e-mail lately claiming that someone you know (a school mate, friend, partner, neighbour, family member - or even a worshipper) has sent you a postcard. All you have to do is click the link provided to be taken to it. The e-mails claim to come from either Hallmark, Riversongs, Ecards, Greetings123 or some other variant.

Unfortunately, you're not as popular as you might think. In fact these e-mails are malicious attempts to get recipients to click links that will take them to websites where an attempt will be made to install a variant of the Storm Trojan. If Storm is successfully installed on your computer, it will open up a door allowing your computer to be remotely controlled by someone else. Your machine will become what is known as a 'zombie' and will be used to send spam or more fake greeting card notifications to others.

There are a number of legitimate sites that offer this sort of service where a postcard can be created and a link sent by e-mail to a friend, and these fake notifications are designed to imitate such services in order to catch the unsuspecting out. The legitimate ones usually let you know who the person is who sent you the postcard, but you'll notice all the fake ones are conveniently anonymous.

Our spam and virus filters are filtering out most of them, but all sorts of tricks are used by the senders of these e-mails, so a number of them may make it through to you.

If you have good antivirus or firewall software installed and it is up-to-date, the websites probably won't be able to install the Trojans on your computer, but even so, you should never click the links in these e-mails.

You can expect that this sort of thing will evolve over the next few months as other spammers and zombie lords jump on the bandwagon, and especially as this scam becomes widely known. The greeting cards may stop and be replaced by some other unsolicited notification requesting you to click a link. Make it your practice never to click anything in an e-mail that has come to you uninvited, or from someone you don't know.

Lastly, these spammer-scammers only go to the trouble of doing all this because they know there are plenty of people out there with unpatched, unprotected computers. Make sure you aren't on of these.  Make sure your Windows firewall is turned on if you haven't got a good proprietary firewall installed. There's also lots of free antivirus software online that does the trick without a lots of bells and whistles such as AVG ( Remember, too, that Actrix will soon be introducing the CA Security Suite, an excellent suite of security programs such as antivirus, anti-spam, firewall, parental controls etc. You can read more about that in our recent June Online Informer.

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Readers' forum

If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send us an e-mail with the word "Forum" in the subject line. I'll try and get an answer to you 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 also turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (


Pat writes: I have recently downloaded Firefox to my computer and would like to know how to transfer Favourites from Internet Explorer to Bookmarks in Firefox. I thought was automatic.

Hi Pat, It's not an automatic process to import your bookmarks from Internet Explorer into Firefox, but it is pretty easy.

  1. With Firefox open, click on File and then Import to invoke the Import wizard.
  2. Make sure the dot is in the 'Microsoft Internet Explorer' radio button, and click Next.
  3. In the next screen you'll see you can bring over a few other settings, besides Favourites, if you want. You may want to include Browsing History and Saved passwords. I wouldn't bother with Cookies. The other options are up to you. Just un-tick the ones you don't need to bring over.
  4. Click Next, and you’re done.

Internet Explorer Favourites will now appear in the Firefox dropdown Bookmarks menu in a folder called 'From Internet Explorer'. You can use your left mouse button to drag them out and drop them straight into the Firefox dropdown if you want.

I hope that helps.


Peter writes: Hi Rob, My partner Denise and I have been Globe customers for the past 10 years and it is through Globe that we have been able to discover the world of the internet. Now that Globe has become part of Actrix, Actrix has become part of the connection for us. Together we run a genealogy site, which has received more than almost 200,000 visitors over the past eight years, and is at  We also do a site which publishes the stories I write about Wellington (run out of Hamburg in Germany by a friend -  The stories may be found in Zeitblick issues Nr 8 through Nr 23.

Just though I would point these out as being something that we have been able to accomplish through our Actrix connection. It would be interesting to have people write in and say "what my internet connection has allowed me to do". Just a thought. Perhaps through the internet ("through my Actrix connection") everyone can achieve what Andy Warhol called their "15 minutes of fame"?

All the best. Peter

Thanks Peter, and yes, the possibilities through just a simple Internet connection are amazing! Well done on the sites. I would be delighted if there were others who wanted to have a crack at 15 minutes of fame by sending in something similar! -Ed.

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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!

8 Tribes - John Wort suggested this site. Thanks John. He writes, "If you go there and click on "Discover Your Tribal Profile" you get a graph which shows which New Zealand regional "tribes" you belong to." The site is actually a marketing tool for a book, which made us a little hesitant about including it, but it was certainly interesting and you don't have to pay to generate your tribal profile.
Mythbusters - Just the bullet points - This site provides just the bullet points about all the myths dealt to by the Mysthbusters show and whether they were confirmed or busted. Click the tabs along the top to check out other seasons and episodes. What fun those guys must have!
Hollywood Star Trash - "If it's not star trash, it's just trash," proclaims this site dedicated to auctioning off rubbish stolen from Paris Hilton's garbage cans. Items up for auction now and in the past include used floss, empty cat food cans, and a "foot shaped thingy." Past items and what they sold for are also listed. One example is a Coke can that sold for $51.00! I'd sell one of mine for much less than that.
Lolcats - I am almost convinced that cute things with cats is the second biggest pre-occupation on the Internet. We coud feature a cat-related site every month if we were inclined. This one isn't bad. Cute cat pictures with captions in youthspeak. There are pages and pages of them.
Cadaver calculator - "So you've bitten the big one and instead of pushing up daisies your loved ones decided it would be best to sell your body to science. This survey will tell you approximately how much money they'd get for it. Cadaver values are primarily based on overall health and the level of interest your corpse holds to the medical research industry."
World clock - Well, if you want to know everything happening in the world by the second, here's your chance. It's pretty sobering watching. One consoling feature is we seem to be producing more bicycles than cars...
Mayo Clinic symptom checker - On Star Trek Voyager, the holographic doctor was programmed with the medical knowledge of 1000s of worlds. This isn't quite that, but we're getting closer. Enter your symptoms to discover the most common causes of what's ailing you..
10 bizarre sports - I'd heard of cheese chasing, bog snorkelling and buzkashi (polo played with a headless goat instead of a ball). But wife carrying and chess boxing were new ones on me. Unicycle hockey looks like fun, but I think the underwater rugby in a four metre deep pool wouldn't be much of a spectator sport.
Lost in translation - "What happens when an English phrase is translated (by computer) back and forth between five different languages? The resulting half-English, half-foreign, and totally non sequitur response bears almost no resemblance to the original. Remember the old game of "Telephone"? Something is lost, and sometimes something is gained. Try it for yourself!"
The 25 worst websites,127116/printable.html - "From unforgettable flame-outs to some of the most popular destinations around, no one is safe from [this] look at the world's dumbest dot-coms and silliest sites." They have an interesting choice as number one, too!


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Traders warned of fake payment services: Kiwi internet traders are being warned of a rising tide of fake payment services operated by scammers that are preying on visitors to overseas auction sites. Click here for more.

Unprotected users liable for net banking fraud: Hundreds of thousands of people risk losing all the money they have in their bank accounts by logging on to internet banking using computers that do not have up-to-date operating systems, anti-spyware, anti-virus software and firewalls. Click here for more.

Seven NZers arrested in global porn sting: The ring was based in Germany, and involved a number of online message forums, and a file sharing site with links to some 40 New Zealand internet addresses. Click here for more.

Can't afford land? Go virtual for $230: Harcourts real estate agency bought an island in the popular computer-generated world of Second Life which it divided into 100 lots of between 450-1000 virtual square metres. It is selling these for $230-$270 each. Click here for more.

Let us pray in online world: Wellingtonian Mark Brown is spearheading a project to create the first cathedral and Anglican ministry in the online virtual world of Second Life, complete with regular virtual services. Click here for more.

Major changes required to ISP Spam Code: InternetNZ, the Telecommunications Carriers Forum and the Marketing Association has received more substantial recommendations for amendment than it was expecting. Click here for more.

NZ net banking code attracts international comment: A new code reserving the right of banks to check the security of customer PCs in fraud cases has raised questions and quite a few hackles among users and commentators. Click here for more.

Telecom rejects TUANZ claim of gross lack of investment: Telecom has refuted user group TUANZ's criticism that it is under-investing in, and making excess profits from — the New Zealand market, saying TUANZ’s figures are out-of-date. Click here for more.


Internet group expects more domain names next year: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which manages the Internet's domain-name address system, said on Friday it was on track to allow an expanded number of domain names next year. Click here for more.

Net growth prompts privacy update: The world's leading industrialised nations have been forced to update privacy laws made obsolete by the huge volume of data moving around the net. Click here for more.

AllofMP3 shut down - technically: A controversial Russian music download website that was the ire of the worldwide recording industry has been shut down, only to re-emerge in another form. Click here for more.

Are my online friends for real?: This guy is a busy entrepreneur and he says that wherever he goes, people marvel at the energy he still manages to put into blogging and networking - and he then tells them it is all being done by a guy he pays to do it. Click here for more.

Three jailed for inciting terror over web: Three men have been sentenced to a total of 24 years in prison after admitting to inciting terrorism over the internet in the first case of its kind in Britain, British police said. Click here for more.

Time to let a thousand domains bloom?: Tight control over domain names will damage the internet, says Bill Thompson. Click here for more.

Are gadgets, and the Internet, actually addictive?: When the users of BlackBerries could not send or receive e-mails for 11 hours in April because of a glitch in the system, hospital administrator Paul Levy pronounced it a "national disaster" because of all the BlackBerry "addicts" forced into withdrawal. Click here for more.

Internet blamed for Shanghai's teen pregnancies: Nearly half of the pregnant teens in China's financial hub, Shanghai, met their partners on the Internet, China's state media said. Click here for more.

Muslim clerics say Web weddings A-0K: An influential and conservative Islamic theological school in India said on Thursday marriages of Muslim couples using Internet Web cameras were acceptable and legal. Click here for more.

Now PDF Is The Format For Spam Delivery: The never-ending game of whack-a-spammer-mole continues, with spammers now adopting PDF files as the new mechanism for delivering their junk mail. Click here for more.

Will You Marry Me? :): The little smiley face :) and its cousins, known in most circles as Emoticons, turn 25 this year. Click here for more.

Harry Potter spawns internet parallel universe: The Harry Potter books have spawned a parallel universe on the Internet, where sites attract millions of fans every day and play a maj target="_blank"or part in the success of the novels and their Hollywood adaptations. Click here for more.

Fast food brands hit kids online: Fast food brands are getting around laws banning the promotion of unhealthy snacks online, research suggests. Click here for more.

Google cookies will 'auto delete': Google has said that its cookies, tiny files stored on a computer when a user visits a website, will auto delete after two years. Click here for more.

Internet aid plan delivers porn to schoolchildren: Nigerian schoolchildren who received laptops from a US aid organisation have used them to explore pornographic sites on the internet, the official News Agency of Nigeria says. Click here for more.

Lithuania plans internet voting: Lithuania aims to follow fellow Baltic state Estonia and use the internet for voting in elections, the government said. Click here for more.

Dancing atoms building blocks for ultra-fast computing: Suspended in laser light, thousands of atoms pair up and dance, each moving in perfect counterpoint to its partner. They are the building blocks of what may one day become an enormously powerful quantum computer capable of solving in seconds problems that take today's fastest machines years to crack Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Teens prey to Skype stalkers: International child predators are using the popular internet site Skype to contact impressionable teenagers, engage them in cyber-sex, and "groom" them for offline meetings. Click here for more.

Private Facebook Pages Are Not So Private: Private Facebook profiles aren't quite as hidden as many users might think they are. Pages that are supposedly restricted are visible to anyone using searches based on religion, sexual orientation or relationship status. Click here for more.

The 'anti-child grooming' website: Crisp Thinking looks at interactions between people on instant messenger or other applications to gauge whether one half of the conversation is coming from a groomer rather than a child. Click here for more.

Online auction for security bugs: Security researchers who find holes in software can now sell their findings to the highest bidder. Click here for more.

Trojan creates bogus webmail accounts to punt drugs: Miscreants have created a strain of malware capable of setting up bogus Hotmail and Yahoo! accounts in order to send spam. Click here for more.

The fight against net crime: The recent high profile investigation into a UK-based internet paedophile ring has served to highlight the dark side of the web. Click here for more.

Net criminals shun virus attacks: Hi-tech criminals have found novel ways to carry out web-based attacks that are much harder to spot and stop, warn security experts. Click here for more.

Woman scammed by internet suitor: A 30-year-old Adelaide woman has been duped into sending more than $A30,000 ($NZ33,250) to a Nigerian suitor she met over the internet. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Microsoft gets privacy warm fuzzies: Microsoft says it is taking new steps to protect consumer privacy in the areas of web search and online advertising and called on the Internet industry to support it. Click here for more.

Unix, Linux and Open Source

Mozilla Firefox Still At Risk: Sometimes you get the flaw fixed right the first time and sometimes you don't. For Mozilla, apparently they have not properly fixed at least two types of flaws which they previously claimed to have fixed. Click here for more.

The Weird, Weird Web

Cyberstalker to spend six months in jail: Convicted cyberstalker Felicity Jane Lowde has been sentenced to six months in chokey for her "vicious, vitriolic and vindictive" campaign of harassment against Rachel North, a survivor of the July 2005 London bombings. Click here for more.

Website ban as surname not 'proper': Homophobia of the computerised kind struck a woman with the surname Gay when a popular social networking website declined her attempt to sign up, telling her to "enter a proper name". Click here for more.

Cyberspace: the new toilet wall: The Internet has given people the anonymity to say what they like - as rudely as they like, writes Andrew Stevenson. Click here for more.


It was five years ago today

Each month we dredge through our archives to pull out stories from the Actrix Newsletter of exactly five years ago. Sometimes these stories will show just how much the net has changed in such a short time, and sometimes they'll be included just because they're interesting.

Spam attacks growing: Three one-hundredths of a penny -- that's the per-message cost for sending out spam e-mail. To put it a more realistic way, you can hit 25 million mailboxes for a mere $7,999. Click here for more.

Why your PC is no better than a $15 wristwatch: Working behind the scenes, a small government agency headquartered outside of Denver operates a network of 14 servers capable of changing the operating systems on your PC - and millions of others - in less than a second. Click here for more.

The Dark Side of eBay: To say that eBay has a devoted following is like saying the Beatles were liked by some teenage girls. While true, the statement does not reflect the full scope of fans' zeal. Analysts love the company, competitors fear its power, and users flock in ever-greater numbers to its homespun marketplace. Click here for more.

Bringing it all back home

Rob ZornThanks again for reading the Actrix Online Informer. Feedback can be sent to me via the e-mail address listed below. Please limit this to comments/suggestions regarding the newsletter. Non-forum requests for support should go to the Actrix Help Desk ( or to the Accounts Department (

Take care through August!

Rob Zorn 


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