Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are links to our growing list of answers to questions that we're often asked at Internet Partners. If you have a problem that isn't addressed here, why not try browsing our list of how-to guides, or our collection of net resources?

Why you should NEVER use the “unsubscribe” link in an eMail

If you use an unsubscribe link in an eMail, not only are you saying this is a valid eMail address, you are also have the risk of downloading a Trojan Horse program that turns your computer into an open relay for sending SPAM, Viruses, and Trojan Horse programs.

Why do I need a password, or anything more than a simple password ?

Computerworld - Study: Weak passwords really do help hackers. Four computers left online for 24 days were hit by 270,000 hacking attempts. Click here for details.

Why do I need to update my computer?

Even if your computer is behind a firewall, NAT [Network Address Translator], Proxy, or any other device that denies direct access from the outside world you still need to keep all of the software on your computer up to date. The reason is that there are a number of ways that you computer can be attacked. When you connected to another host computer on the Internet you have opened a connection that allows two-way communication with that host. This is one of many ways your computer can be attacked. What are called “Spybots” are one of many ways that your computer host can be attacked.

On July 12 of 2001, a computer virus classified as a “worm” type, later named "Code Red", propagated and unleashed its destructive power on the Internet. After the smoke cleared and the damage was done, Code Red had cost private business, U.S. government and military institutions over $1.2 billion. Microsoft had already released a patch in May of 2001 for this problem however a very large percentage of the computer system around the world where not updated.

Code Red response article excerpt - "On July 19, 2001 more than 359,000 computers were infected with the Code-Red (CRv2) worm in less than 14 hours. At the peak of the infection frenzy, more than 2,000 new hosts were infected each minute. Forty three percent of all infected hosts were in the United States, while 11% originated in Korea followed by 5% in China and 4% in Taiwan. The .NET Top Level Domain (TLD) accounted for 19% of all compromised machines, followed by .COM with 14% and .EDU with 2%. We also observed 136 (0.04%).MIL and 213 (0.05%).GOV hosts infected by the worm."

As an example of what can happen once a computer inside the network is infected let us take a look at the “W32.Spybot.JPB” Worm. This is a worm that tries to do a number of things. One of the first things it does is try to attack Microsoft Windows systems on the LAN [Local Area Network]. If these local computers are not patched they themselves will be come infected, and for the most part be turned into what are termed ‘zombie’, or "bot" computer hosts. Not only will these units turn around and in concert with the computer that infected it try to infect even more systems on the LAN they will also try to infect systems on the Internet. In the future if this worm is not removed it will listen for commands that allow the attacker to perform even more actions against host computer system on the LAN, and the Internet.
 

Why does it sometimes take a long time to deliver an eMail message?

We have come to expect eMails to take seconds to be delivered. We often regard eMails as an instantaneous method of communication. Almost like a telephone call.  We then are very surprised if an eMail takes over one hour to deliver. But did you know it can take days? This article gives the reasons for the speed of delivery and also the reasons why delivery can take days.

Overview of eMail Delivery

Pressing the Send Button

After the eMail has been written composed and spell checked the send button is pressed. This causes the eMail to be sent from the PC to a mail host known as a SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) sever.

Sender's SMTP host Locates the Recipient's SMTP host's IP Address

If the sender's domain name if different from the recipient's domain name the SMTP host cannot deliver the eMail to the recipient. It needs to pass the message onto an SMTP host that knows how to deliver the message. The sender's SMTP host tries to find the IP (Internet Protocol) address of the recipient's SMTP host. The Internet is a busy and congested place and this request could fail. The SMTP host does not give up at that point. It will try many times before giving up. Most SMTP hosts will try for five days before throwing in the towel! Our SMTP hosts will inform the sender if the message cannot be sent within 4 hours, but still it will continue to try. Eventually, the SMTP will find the IP address of the recipient. Now it can try to pass the message on.

Sender's SMTP host Passes Message to the Recipient's SMTP host's

Now that the sender's SMTP host knows the IP address (similar to a telephone number) of the recipient's SMTP host, it call it and ask for permission to send the message. Most times this works but sometimes the recipient's SMTP host will reject the call. This can be for many reasons - such as the host is too busy (specially when viruses are being propagated around the world). If it does fail, the sender's SMTP host will continue to try before giving up. Usually, the message will be sent to the recipient's SMTP host before the five days has passed. However, this is not the whole story.

A recipient usually has 2 SMTP hosts. Some organization have many more - AOL has at least 4. If the main host is busy, the sender's SMTP host will also call any other of the recipient's hosts.

Recipient's SMTP host Passes Message to another SMTP host

If the message was not passed to the recipient's SMTP host than can deliver the mail, the message will be passed to another SMTP host that may be closer to the recipient. Like the previous section, this could take seconds, minutes, hours or even days. This situation occurs a lot in business where the main receiving SMTP host is owned by a third party and checks all incoming eMails for viruses and spam. If they pass the tests, the message is passed to the recipient's SMTP host.

Recipient's SMTP host Places Message into Recipient's Mailbox

At last, the message has arrived at a SMTP host that knows where the recipient's mailbox is located. Once the message is in the mailbox it can be seen and viewed by the recipient.


How Long Does it Take

In over 95% of cases the above process takes less than a minute. Far quicker than it took to read the explanation. In most cases when the message is not delivered with a few minutes it is delivered with a few hours.  In a few cases the message could take as long as 5 days to complete its trip from sender to recipient. It rarely takes move than 5 days as one of the SMTP hosts will send the message back as undeliverable. And yes, the error messages could take 5 days to get back!

Attorney General of Washington Consumer Protections Division

February 13, 2006 - Tips for Safer Computing. Click here for more details

June 7, 2001 - The Washington Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the state's anti-spam e-mail law in the nation's first case involving a state law designed to protect Internet users from deceptive commercial e-mail. Click here for more details

 

Security and your connection

The Linksys Instant Broadband EtherFast Cable/DSL Router is the perfect option to connect multiple PCs to a high-speed Broadband Internet connection or to an Ethernet back-bone. Allowing up to 253 users, the built-in NAT technology acts as a firewall protecting your internal network. www.linksys.com   See a review by Mark Gibbs at http://www.nwfusion.com/columnists/2000/0814gearhead.html about these devices as firewalls.

Federal Trade Commission site Safe at Any Speed: How To Stay Safe Online if You Use High-Speed Internet Access. (click here)

Signs your PC's under siege, and what you can do - By Byron Acohido and Jon Swartz, USA TODAY - If your Windows PC is being used as a zombie, you may notice recurring slowdowns of e-mail and Web browsing. Or you may not be able to e-mail or browse at all. If your PC has been infected with a self-replicating network worm, a dormant backdoor Trojan horse or several other types of stealthy programs, you may not notice anything. Click Here for details.

Are hackers using your PC to spew spam and steal? - By Byron Acohido and Jon Swartz, USA TODAY - Since early 2003, wave after wave of infectious programs have begun to saturate the Internet, causing the number of PCs hijacked by hackers and turned into so-called zombies to soar into the millions. Click Here for details.

Two sites for Personal Firewall software ZoneAlarm , Outpost, and ESafe .

Can I check my email from anywhere in the world?

Internet Partners, Inc. has added a new secure version of Horde’s IMP web based eMail program with OpenSLL   Through IMP's intuitive interface, you'll be able to access and manage your IMAP mail account using the simplicity of a standard web browser using a secure connection from anywhere in the world via the Internet ( click here to access it now ).

Some of the new features are the ability to send, and receive attachments through this interface, and to use a spell checker. The spell checker cannot show you words that are not in its dictionary. To look for correct spelling you may wish to use an on-line dictionary like Merriam-Webster's Online .

Got SPAM? Here's How to help Stop It

q       Never respond directly to junk "SPAM" eMail

o       If you respond to junk eMail then the sender knows that they have a valid eMail address.  So do not reply in any way.

 q       When posting to Newsgroups do not use a valid address

o       Mailbots are used to harvest eMail addresses from newsgroups so do not use a valid eMail address.

 q       Have your eMail address aliasesed

o       Have your eMail address setup as " john.smith@ipinc.net ", or " j.t.smith@ipinc.net " not  " john@ipinc.net ", or " jsmith@ipinc.net ".  Spammers use "dictionary attacks" to sort through possible names hoping to find a valid address. Thus, a common name such as “ john@ipinc.net “, or “ jsmith@ipinc.net “ will be much more likely to receive SPAM than a unique name like “ john.smith@ipinc.net, or " j.t.smith@ipinc.net ".  NOTE: our eMail host limits your address to eight charters so we would setup an underlying non-standard aliases address.

 q       Filter your eMail

o       Check your eMail software to see if you can add filters, or blocks.

o       Use a third party software like MailWasher . How to setup MailWasher not to bounce eMail Click here .

q       Report SPAM

o       Use services such as Spamcop.net to report SPAM

o       Reading eMail headers

 

Stopping SPAM Before It Starts By David A. Vance Click here for the article .

Head off junk e-mail before it reaches your in-box with these tips and tools. Click here for more details

Check Blacklists

Check this site to see if your eMail server is blacklisted.  If you where blacklisted, and have fixed the problem on your eMail server this is the site you need to check to see if you are on any other list.  Click Here for more details.

I did not send an eMail which I am now receiving a reply for

I did not send an eMail which I am now receiving a reply for. This is what is referred to in the business as "backscatter".

A spammer somewhere is sending spam with your eMail forged as a sender. One of the recipients is attempting to deliver an error message back to the sender. Since the spammer has forged your address as the sender's address, you get the error message.

Don't feel special, spammers are very egalitarian when choosing who to use as a forged sender's address on their spam - everyone on the Internet has been selected for this honor at one time or another.

Chances that the message actually originated from your computer are next to nothing.

How big is the virus problem?

[Microsoft] There are at least 60,000 known viruses and more are written every day. About 95-98% of viruses come through e-mail and instant messaging. Often viruses arrive with e-mail disguised as something entertaining, like pictures, music, or greeting cards.

Why can people not send me eMail ?

Is there an issue with Internet Partners refusing email from certain servers??  I have a few people who can not  email me.  In most cases where people are have problems sending you email the senders email server is configured incorrectly, and it can serve as a security risk to everyone on the internet.  We at Internet Partners are willing to work with the administrators of these servers to help solve this problem. 

What do I do if my DSL connections has problems?

Click here to see the steps you need to take if your DSL connection is not working.

What is a DoS/DDoS Attack ?

Short for Denial of Service attack, a type of attack on a network that is designed to bring the network to its knees by flooding it with useless traffic. Many DoS attacks, such as the Ping of Death and Teardrop attacks, exploit limitations in the TCP/IP protocols. For all known DoS attacks, there are software fixes that system administrators can install to limit the damage caused by the attacks. But, like viruses, new DoS attacks are constantly being dreamed up by hackers.

Distributed Denial of Service - A hacker (or, if you prefer, cracker) begins a DDoS attack by exploiting a vulnerability in a computer system on the Internet and making it the DDoS "master" zombie. It is from the master zombie system that the intruder identifies, and communicates with other computers that can be compromised. These systems are then made into zombie systems used in the attack. The intruder loads cracking tools available on the Internet on multiple -- sometimes thousands of -- compromised zombie systems. With a single command to the "master" zombie, the intruder instructs the "master" zombie to send commands to the other zombie controlled systems to launch one of many flood attacks against a specified target. The inundation of packets to the target from these multiple zombies causes a Denial of Service.

Always keep your computers software up to date with software updates, and patches.  This is the best way to keep your computer from becoming a zombie.

Graph from Internet Traffic Report website that shows the current Backbone DDoS activity. Click Here for details.

Qwest ADSL modem firmware upgrade procedures

In case you find you must upgrade a Cisco 675 or 678 external DSL Customer Premise Equipment (CPE, incorrectly known as a "modem), here's the following procedure to do this. Note that upgrades to prevent trouble from Nimda scans are NOT necessary if the CPE is running in Bridged mode, but Qwest.net is generally using PPP mode.

Why is the Internet so Slow  ?

Public network exchange points are a good thing, but they often suffer from traffic congestion. The bottlenecks usually occur when an ISP has more data to get out of the exchange point than its connection can handle.

10 Digit Dialing how do I setup my computer

Starting October 1, 2000 the 503 area code will be switching to 10-digit dialing. This will soon be true also in the 360 area code.  This means all of our dialup customers will need to change the phone number you dial to connect to us to reflect the new 10 digit dialing (for instructions click here).

56K modems: X2, v.90, K56Flex

Confused about the terms X2? What about V.90, or 56K? Our X2 / V.90 FAQ should help you further understand the standard for modem connectivity on the Internet.

Personal Websites

One question we get asked quite a lot is "How do I access my personal website?" Read our FAQ on personal websites at IP for help.  Click Here

What is FTP ?  File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a type of protocol supported on the Internet that allows you to easily transfer files from your computer to another computer. To use FTP, you need the address of a server that supports FTP and a client software package that supports FTP running on your computer.  FTP allows uploading and downloading of files to users with valid logins to the FTP site. If you do not have a valid login to the FTP site you can use what is called the 'anonymous' login. Anonymous logins are available on most FTP sites and allows anyone to login to the site with limited access. When using an anonymous login, downloading is usually allowed but uploading is not. To use the anonymous login, login to the site as anonymous, or just ftp, and your entire email address as the password.  You can download files from an FTP site through two methods: ASCII (plain text) or binary (machine language). Certain FTP software packages require you to set the transfer type when installing the package, so be careful not to download a software program as a text file, or it will become corrupt and you will not be able to run it.

What is WebDAV ? Briefly: WebDAV stands for "Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning". It is a set of extensions to the HTTP protocol which allows users to collaboratively edit and manage files on remote web servers. Click here for details.

Cisco Router Recommendations

Planning on purchasing and installing a router? Consider browsing through our recommendations for Cisco products.

Use of NAT or Proxy Servers

Getting even deeper in setting up your network? Perhaps you would like to read our notes on Network Address Translation and proxy servers.

How do I setup a VPN connection through my LinkSys router

Steps to setup a VPN connection through a LinkSys router. Click Here
 

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