Aardvark Daily aardvark (ard'-vark) a controversial animal with a long probing nose used for sniffing out the facts and stimulating thought and discussion.

NZ's leading source of Net-Industry news and commentary since 1995
Australasia's "New Economy" News And Commentary Site
Headlines | XML feed | Contact | New Sites | Press Bin | Job Centre | News Search | For Sale
Note: This column represents the opinions of the writer and as such, is not represented as fact
Xtra Says Don't Email Us 18 October 2001 Edition
Previous Edition

Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
Click To See
Like most Internet users, my firewall gets a hammering from script-kiddies, dweebs, dorks and evil sods.

Many of these probes come from overseas, often bounced off poorly configured servers in distant lands such as Korea, Japan, Taiwan or some Eastern European location.

However, about six or seven times a week, I get some local idiot using an Xtra dial-up account who is searching for a vulnerable user who unknowingly has the SubSeven trojan or some other back door program sitting quietly on their PC.

Now I'm not at all concerned -- my defenses are up and I keep a very close eye on my firewall and security logs.

Need Cutting-Edge Copy?
As NZ's longest-running online commentator, I'm looking for extra syndication opportunities for this daily publication -- or I'm happy to write casual or regular material specifically to order for print or Net-based publications. If you're interested, drop me a line

However, as we all know, there are many thousands of local Net users who would probably suggest you dial 111 if you mentioned the word "firewall" and who are running "out of the box" copies of Windows 95, complete with Netbios bound to their dial-up adapters.

Until recently, I felt that it was a "good neighbor" thing to report the activities of the Xtra-based script-kiddies and their evil probing activities to Xtra's security team.

When someone probed my cyber-regions from an xxx-xxx-xxx-xxx.dialup.xtra.co.nz IP I would simply fire off an email to security@xtra.co.nz. I'd include the time/date, the type of probe and the IP number of the offender.

I would inevitably (sometimes a few weeks later) receive a courteous reply informing me that the user had been "warned." Funny thing is I never once got an email telling me "we've kicked the evil little sod off our network and banned him from ever getting another Xtra account" -- such is the need for Telecom to spin a profit I guess :-(

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • Understanding Business... - Mike
  • The internet is not just the www... - Ian
  • Telecom can't communicate... - David
  • Reporting hackers... - Chris
  • Xtra abuse... - Simon
  • Have Your Say

    During the Code Red infection period, I also reported a number of obviously infected machines in order that the owners could be notified and fix their systems. It's all part of being a good netizen.

    However, I'm not going to be submitting any more reports to Xtra, and neither are a lot of readers who have written to me bitching about the change of policy over there at Xtra's security department.

    It seems that emailed security or spam abuse reports are no longer good enough for the Telco giant.

    Attempts to send reports to abuse@xtra.co.nz or security@xtra.co.nz now produce an automated response that says, in part:

    Xtra has automated the procedures for reporting allegations of abuse and security breaches involving our network or customers. From 14 August 2001, we no longer accept complaints via email. Please complete the appropriate web forms at http://xtra.co.nz/help/0,,4128-647432,00.html.

    Get off!

    Hey guys, I'm trying to do your vulnerable users a favour and report a dork on your network. Don't go out of your way to make my life difficult by forcing me to fill out some lame form!

    I'm sure the justification will be that the team were receiving too many emails that contained incomplete data and this was making the resolution of such incidents too time consuming or even impossible.

    There may be some validity to such a claim -- but what about those of us who do know what we're doing and exactly what information is required? Why force us through the same hoops as the neophytes?

    It takes me just a few seconds to fire off all the details required in an email but it takes much longer to fill out some dumb form.

    And just who designed the form for reporting network abuse?

    I suspect that many of those who might wish to complain about some dork using an Xtra dial-up or DSL account will be using some other ISP for their Net access. So why are the fields "Your Xtra Username/Login ID" and "Password" flagged as Mandatory? Hell, half the time they won't even apply!

    Or is this Xtra's way of saying "we're only interested in receiving complaints from our own customers"?

    Here are some suggestions for Xtra:

    1. Accept emailed reports -- direct people to the form ONLY if they've failed to supply some critical information.
    2. Fix that dumb form so that the type of novice who needs to use it isn't going to be confused by not having an Xtra ID and password to put in the "mandatory" fields.
    3. If your customers spam or attempt to hack into other people's computers then cancel their accounts -- don't just pat them on the head and say "you are warned."
    Note that in point three (above) I was going to say "enforce your terms of service" -- but I see that Xtra's terms and policies don't seem to actually forbid users from trying to hack into others computers. Or if it does, I can't find it.

    Mind you -- there are pages and pages of stuff there about payment, billing money, etc, etc. It seems that hacking or spamming pale into insignificance against the evil crime of being late with that cheque :-)

    Save The Aardvark Fund
    Yes, I have had several donations to the Aardvark fund and I thank those who put their money where their mouse is :-)

    If guilt is gnawing away inside you then there's still time to donate.

    Just drop by and hand over your loot.

    Free News Syndicated From 7amNews.com
    Add it to your own site


    Add Aardvark To Your Own Website!
    Got a moment? Want a little extra fresh content for your own website or page?

    Just add a couple of lines of JavaScript to your pages and you can get a free summary of Aardvark's daily commentary -- automatically updated each and every week-day.

    Aardvark also makes a summary of this daily column available via XML using the RSS format. More details can be found here.

    Contact me if you decide to use either of these feeds and have any problems.

    Did you tell someone else about Aardvark today? If not then do it now!

    There are new Vacancies Last added 2 Oct In The Job Centre

    There are 14 Domain Names for sale

    Security Alerts
    Microsoft tightens software security (CNet - 16/08/2001t)

    Code Red Worm A 'Runaway Success' (7amNews - 20/07/2001)

    Solaris bug gives hackers free rein (ZDNet - 22/06/2001)

    Microsoft Admits Another 'Serious Vunerability' In IIS 7amNews - 19/06/2001)

    Virus Alerts
    Tripple-threat Worm Strikes (Aardvark - 19/09/2001)

    New worm spreading slowly (CNet - 4/09/2001)

    Trojan horse breaks Windows PCs (ZDNet - 24/08/2001)

    Bookmark This Page Now!


    NZL Sites
    NZ Netguide
    NZ Herald Tech
    PC World NZ
    NZOOM Technology

    AUS Sites
    Fairfax IT
    Australian IT
    AFR Tech
    AUS Netguide
    NineMSN Tech
    APC Magazine

    USA Sites
    CNNfn Tech
    Yahoo Tech
    ZDNet Tech
    USA Today Tech
    7am.com SciTech

    UK Sites
    The Register
    BBC SciTech


    The Day's Top News
    Open in New Window = open in new window
    New Zealand

    Open in New Window Uncertainty surrounds broadband allocations
    There is still uncertainty and potential for dispute over allocation of the government's rural broadband facilitation grants, particularly in the South Island...

    Open in New Window Microsoft seeks copyright changes
    Microsoft New Zealand says several copyright issues need to be addressed by the Government if it is to create an "innovative industry and society"...


    Open in New Window No Evidence Bin Laden Tampered with Web -Experts
    Amid heightened concern about cyberterrorism, U.S. scientists said they have found no signs that Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network have used technology to hide secret messages on the Internet...

    Open in New Window New anthrax worm is a dud
    A computer worm attempts to ride on the coattails of the anthrax scare, but multiple author errors stymie its spread...

    Open in New Window Windows XP: Battle over the Internet
    Windows XP: Battle over the Internet If there is any doubt about Microsoft's determination to expand its Internet strategy through Windows XP, consumers may be reminded of it no fewer than five times as soon as they try the new operating system...

    Open in New Window 'Stung' Russian Hacker Guilty
    A Russian computer expert lured by the FBI to hack into a contrived American network is found guilty on 20 charges in Washington state...

    Open in New Window Music Rights Battle Spins On
    The record industry is under investigation in the United States and Europe. Antitrust slurs are flying. But the inquiry is too late for most digital music companies and in the end it could do what the RIAA hasn't accomplished...


    Open in New Window RequestDSL deal with Telstra
    RequestDSL, the year-old broadband telco, has responded to tough market conditions by slipping into bed with its big competitor, Telstra...

    Open in New Window 'Click' go the polls
    While most agree that Internet-based voting remains, at best, a distant possibility, the promise of online voting is one step closer to reality with news that a legislative election in the Australian Capital Territory is offering electronic voting facilities...


    Open in New Window Internet Watchdog Takes Down Pirated Software Site
    An Austrian-based Web site that allegedly became a popular online exchange for software pirates around the globe has been shut down by an industry watchdog group, officials said on Wednesday...

    Open in New Window Win-XP denounced as terrorism tool
    A computer forensics specialist warns that default security features in Windows-XP might bring civilization to its knees at the hands of pedophiles, tax cheats, and, of course, international terrorists...
    The Register

    Open in New Window Apple hints at 'breakthrough' device
    Apple Computer may be looking to trump Microsoft's Windows XP launch by unveiling a new product of its own...

    Open in New Window Hackers take to the air
    Wireless computer networks pose a threat to the security of anyone using them, warn security experts...

    Open in New Window Internet Traffic Data in Dispute in Tight Ad Market
    What is the most popular destination on the Internet? Depends on who you ask...

    Looking For More News or Information?

    Search WWW Search Aardvark
    Try the Aardvark News Search page or look here.co.nz

    Privacy Policy | Copyright © 2001, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request

    jet engine page