Tag Archive for Email

Did Network Solutions Have a Massive eMail Breach?

Not sure, but this past few days gave me some strange indications that something was up on more than my client’s accounts. It all began with his hard drive (the actual hard drive assembly) having a complete failure. All data lost for regular recovery methods, this is one where the drive has been sent to a specialist that can possibly bring a dead drive back to life. Lesson all too well learned: Have backups.
Net impact of the failure of the drive: Time to upgrade to a new computer that supports RAID 1 (mirroring), so there is a completely redundant drive in place at all times. Next, reload Windows 7 and all the programs. Run updates (over 200 of them) and, from a drive replaced from last summer, get as much data as possible to use as a jumping off point. Done!
Now: Set up Outlook 2010 and configure for the emails. After digging out the server settings, they are there and the “Test Account Settings” are working. Check the Inbox. Nothing. Look in the Sent box. Nothing. Rinse, wash, repeat. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Of course, I checked, double checked and triple checked. Mail was coming in to Outlook, but the odd thing was a regularly sent email would appear to process through and show in the Sent box after moving via the Outbox, but no one was receiving anything. Set one of the accounts up on a separate computer. Same results. Disabled all the security systems in case I had a firewall issue in the new installation that may be blocking ports needed that I had set before. Still nothing. Swirling all around this were other things to get the business back to full capability. The end of the first day, I hadn’t figured it out, but I still believed it was on our end.

Day 2 came and in between the rest of the work to get moving forward, I had time to pick up the phone and contact Network Solutions provider for eMail support, Webs.com. The tech and I checked the settings and verified the account testing built into OutLook was working. He “reset the server.” Told me to wait about 15 minutes, then try again. I did….same results.

Day 3: Convinced it wasn’t me causing the problem, we contacted the support line. This time I went to the web based mail and was able to send and receive mail without problems. After some discussion of the settings, the testing, the POP3 accounts (about 20 minutes), the tech said the email accounts was suspended. Of course I wanted to know why, but, since I wasn’t the account owner, they said they couldn’t discuss it with me. Unfortunately, the owner was out at meetings, unable to get on the phone. I hung up and called later. One of the interesting things greeting me as I began the wait on hold was an announcement that if you’re using the web mail, your server might periodically go down and to try logging back in. Interesting. So not only am I having issues, sounds like someone else is. In this session, the tech told me that the passwords for the email accounts weren’t strong enough (from a security standpoint) and they had to be changed. Good reason to do so anyhow, so I did, following the direction to use at least one capital, one number, and one special character and have a length between 8 and 14. I did so, told the tech it was done and he said he’d lift the suspension, but had to call me and verify the account administrator was who he had been talking with (I had been added to the account by now). I told him I wasn’t at the office (since I had gone home) and asked if he had the number (assuming caller ID got recorded) and told him I wasn’t at the office. He acknowledged, hung up and my phone never rang.
About 20 minutes later, I checked the mail email account for incoming and there was one, saying no one answered the phone for validation. The number listed in the email was the office line. First I went to log back into the management account and a warning came up on the screen saying account management wasn’t available and to try again in about an hour. Seems to me more significant technology issues.
I called and the greeting message was that they were doing an emergency server replacement. This was the global message on the support line, before it even took you to the push this number prompts, so now I sense something is amiss. Add to this that the time from the earlier call to this one was about 4 hours. I gave up, it being about midnight by now.
Got up early, picked up the phone and called the support line, after logging into manage the account. This time there was no warning about the management function being down, so in I went. I will admit I was, let me say, terse with the tech who answered. I rapid fired the problem that began, the steps that had been taken and the dis-connect from the evening before, and added that it was now the fourth day of my client not being able to use the mail accounts, that were paid for and receiving. The answer was the password had to be strong when the scanners checked it, otherwise it couldn’t be unsuspended. I responded that the passwords had been changed last night, then summarized the correct implementation of their guidelines, and clearly stated they had suspended the accounts with no notice to the client, and now had kept him offline for 4 days. At that point she said she would lift the suspension, and it should be cleared in about 10 minutes. She added a warning that if the scanners saw it didn’t meet the specs, it would suspend them (note: automatically) again.
Analysis from my intelligence gathering training:
Network Solutions, for some reason, most likely as another barricade to email accounts on their servers being hacked into, has instituted an automated process to ensure email account passwords meet a minimum security standard. I agree. What bothers me is the client had no notice from them when the automated system injected itself into the process.
Network Solutions was making emergency replacements of servers, telling me either a major physical disaster happened (fire?), or they had been compromised so badly, they had to take them offline.
The observed issue of the notice that if you’re using webmail, you might be logged off, combined with the emergency server replacement tells me the issue happened in the email department.
I did a search as soon as I got off the phone this morning and checking the unsuspension. No indication of a breach at Network Solutions, but…sounds like something happened if a company that size, something happened for sure.

Do you have a strong password? Do you use it a lot?

Here’s the reality of our digital lives: We have lots of online accounts and they need passwords. Many people use ones that are easy for them to remember, and tend to use sometimes only one.

How does that affect you? Well, think about this: Once “they” get the one, then you’re life can be laid wide open to those interested in digging further. Since it’s not uncommon for sign ins to be your email address….someone (or a programmed crawling robot) could just travel the known email universe and common places like FaceBook and give it a whirl with your email and a common, made once, used always password of yours.

That’s bad enough, if you are in this category, but even if not, there is now an article that brings to light the technology that allows gamers to get really life like graphics, and for scientists to explore climatology, cancer, and signal from space, is also being exploited by hackers.

I invite you to take this introduction, and read as much of the ARS Technica “Why passwords have never been weaker—and crackers have never been stronger” and read it until you are sufficiently convinced you need to take action to protect yourself by putting some effort into your password selections.

Yes, this will take some mental energy, and changes to your daily digital operations, but….I’m sure you wouldn’t want to wake up to a screen full of mail, indicating your email has been exploited and your bank accounts have been emptied, etc, etc, etc.

Please help protect yourself!

Is Your eMail Connecting you to Your Brand?

Question: What is the domain of your email you hand out for business?

Another: Is it the same as your website?

One more: If not, why not?

Don’t risk leaving your contacts out in the cold…actually, leaving you out of the loop if you need to switch your home internet service provider (ISP). If you’re not using an email that is part of the website for your business, you risk getting lost, or, at the least, not looking as professional as you might, when you show up to network with a Hotmail/GMail/Yahoo mail account.

The advantages of having your email associated with your own domain are many. The disadvantages of not doing this are also many. Which many do you choose, as having a domain based email wipes about about all the disadvantages or not having it that way.

In most all cases, you have at least a few, if not way too many email accounts you can set up as a function of the cost of your hosting service for your domain name and website package. You should check into that. If it’s not easy to figure it out, call the person who set up your website and ask them to configure an email for you.

You don’t have to even have Microsoft Outlook to get access to this type of service. Again, in all likelyhood, you have free email client software on your machine, or you can get something like ThunderBird to use.

So, avoid being disconnected from your suppliers, prospects and clients by merging your communications with your website!

What did you say is your eMail address is?

I travel among many networking groups in my area, and I collect lots of business cards.  Generally, by first visual search is to the email address listed, followed by the website.

What makes me look harder than a scan is when the email/email domain isn’t associated with the website.  Why?  In this day and age, there is almost no excuse to not have an email that is linked to your domain.  It’s inexpensive and….it protects you from the horrors of disconnection from the world.

Here’s the baseline issue:  Using your home’s ISP email is a particular sticking point with me.  While we’d all like to believe we’ll live there for a long time, maybe, particularly now, we won’t.  What happens when you move?  You may get the same ISP, but…you may not have that choice.  Now, you’re on an entirely new email address, and tell me:  How many people take the time to change their contact list when you send them the “I’ve changed my email address?”  Some, but I guarantee not all of them.  You just lost business.

Now, so you don’t move.  One day, you get so aggravated, or to think positive, some one comes down the street with a better service/price, so you switch.  Yep, same as before.  You’ll have a new email address and lose some of your contacts.

Add to this you’ll be intermingling your person email, most likely, with your business might get buried under the pile of well circulated jokes the Internet is famous for, let alone the “If you don’t forward this to 10 friends a fire will consume you in the night!” (my personal ‘favorites’) incoming mail.

The solution:  If you have a domain name and a website (surprisingly, many do, and they then use their home/free email), find out how to have an email, or maybe several related to your business, be set up.  Yes, you’ll get disconnected, but you will still be getting emails under the home one, and you can keep reminding them to change.  It’s the least painful and best probability to keep the information flowing method.

The other, lesser offense is the use of “free emails.”  Yes, they will follow you all over, unlike the change in residence scenario, but what’s the impression you provide to a customer, as you say your are the professional/expert?  If you market is single person businesses, then the impact isn’t much of an issue, but if you’re working to position yourself as a provider of goods and services to multi-person companies and corporations, you may want to rethink this.

Questions?  The comment section is certainly open below.

Remember, it’s all in the message you convey, and Bob Turel, the Presentation Coach,  says “its not the only thing, its everything!”

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