Amcho Computer Services
Newsletter - June 2000



Paranoia (continued)
Viruses are a good thing?
Search Engines
Good Newsletters
Feedback & Helpline

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Paranoia (continued)

Last newsletter we looked at how cookies can be used to invade your privacy.
The article generated a lot of feedback:

What are these 'cookies' and why should I not eat them?

A cookie is a small text file that is sent to your browser by some websites.
The cookie is stored on your computer.
When you revistit the website your browser will send the cookie back to the website.
This can be used by a website to, say, only display messages that have arrived since your last visit. If you have filled out a form and given that website your name you might see a message along the lines of "Welcome back, Fred Bloggs, What have you been up to since your visit on April 1st 2001'

A cookie can be used to remember your login name and password and save you having to login again on your next visit, just do not do this if someone else has access to your computer.

If you use Internet Explorer you can examine your cookies, they are to be found at c:\windows\cookies for other browsers try searching your disk for files named cookie*.*

If you want to be notified when a website is trying to set a cookie you can change the security settings in your browser to prompt before accepting cookies.

While we are on the subject of privacy, anyone sitting at your pc can see what websites you have recently visited: In internet explorer: View - Explorer Bar - History Click on 'last week' to see what websites were visited during the last week. If there is nothing there, someone has been covering their tracks by (again in internet exprorer): Tools - Internet Options - General - Clear History
The pages can still be viewed in c:\windows\TemporaryInternetFiles

If you have set 'remember passwords' that person may also have access to your bank account!

Viruses are a good thing?

Well, the headline got your attention!

There is, in fact, a good side effect caused by the fear of viruses; doing regular backups is the best protection against the damage that can result from a virus attack.

There are now probably thousands of computers that are being backed up because the owner is afraid of catching a virus. There are also probably many instances of data being recovered after a computer failure that was not related to viruses, just because a backup was done before loading that suspect program or reading that suspect email.

So you have not dared to get out of bed, let alone switch on the computer, since the Melissa and the LoveBug scares. Read on, I will give you a few tips on how to carry on a normal life while reducing the risks caused by computer viruses and other nasty programs.

Anti Virus Protection Checklist:
1. Do Regular Backups
2. Create a Recovery Plan
3. Set The Correct Security Settings
4. Install the latest security patches
5. Install and Use a Virus Scanner
6. Install and Use a Firewall
7. Delete all email attachments
8. Do you really need that screen saver? or other program.
9. Links to other virus resources

1. Do Regular Backups

This is rule number one.
As well as allowing you to recover after a virus attack, it will also get you up and running after any other unforseen accidental data loss.

Everyone says that - but how do you do it
if, like most PC users, your hard disk holds many gigabytes of data and can only backup onto floppies. To do a full backup you will need hundreds of floppy disks!

If you can afford it, buy yourself a tape drive and backup software. Make sure that the capacity of the tape is greater than that of your hard drive, also when working out your needed tape capacity allow for any hard disk upgrades you may be thinking of.

Any backup system that is not automated and does not allow a one click full backup will probably sooner or later let you down. But, if funds are limited, any backup system is better than none: Make a checklist of your most important documents and files and at least back these up regularly.

2. Create a Recovery Plan

Assume that you switch on your PC one morning and nothing happens.
Think of the steps that you will need to perform to get up and running again. Write these down. Test your recovery plan.

Lets get real now, unless your are an employee and your boss tells you to, you are not going to do any of the above. You do not have the time nor the inclination.
So instead why not use it as a justification to upgrade your system to the newest, latest, DVD enabled PC (with a good backup system), after all, how else will you be able to do a proper full recovery test?
(A slightly modified version of this newsletter is now being prepared for the next management board meeting!)

3. Set the correct security settings on your PC

One way that viruses can get into your system is because you roll out the red carpet and invite them in! So lets close some stable doors:


Many viruses use VBS (Visual Basic Script) to do their nefarious deed, most people do not use macros and do not need scripting support so disable these (in windows 98). (if this causes problems you can always turn them on again) Start - Settings - Control Panel - Add/Remove Programs Windows Setup - Accessories. Uncheck Windows Scripting Host if it is checked, then click OK to save your changes or just click Cancel if the box is not checked.
The tip above from Henri Delger


A number of viruses will infect ordinary documents sent as email attachments. Sometimes we are not able to just delete an email attachment. If your best customer sends you a document in word, you are going to have to read it. You can protect yourself to a certain extent by disabling macros in word, excel, and powerpoint and any other program that allows macros: In word excel and powerpoint: tools -options - general - set the macro virus protection to ON this will warn you that a document contains a macro - let it run at your own risk!


If you have set printer and file sharing to ON and are not running a network, who are you sharing your resources with?? So switch off printer and file sharing: Start - Settings - Control Panel - Network - Configuration File and Print Sharing - uncheck both boxes


Set correct internet security options
This one can be difficult:
set it to HIGH and almost nothing will get past,
set it to LOW and you will be hosting parties for all sorts of malware.
Start - Settings - Control Panel - Internet Options Security - then set your desired option,

4. Install the latest security patches

Virus writers have targetted microsoft products because everybody uses microsoft products, and to a virus writer it is much more fun to bring down the whole internet then just the dozen or so people who use xyz product that no one has heard of.

Microsoft are good at posting patches to defend against the latest security loophole that has come to light in their products - keep a close eye on the microsoft web site for the latest patch, and install the microsoft security upgrade. >

5. Install and Use a Virus Scanner

If you install software, read emails, or surf the web you need to run an anti-virus program to protect yourself. But do not depend on it as there are new viruses being created every day that your virus checker will not know about.

you do not have to click on an attachment. for details look up bubbleboy and kak-worm, these hide themselves in an email signature. When you read the email in MS Outlook an active-x control is run that infects your system.
The fun part is that your virus scanner may detect the virus and clean it.
You can then re boot your machine and - no virus.
Your machine will stay clean until you open up the infected email and - welcome back virus!

The solution is to install the microsoft security patch mentioned above as well as disinfecting the PC.

6. Install and Use a Firewall

If you don't, the rats will get you!
Rats are another fun piece of malware; remote access trojans.
You might get one of these when you install a 'useful' bit of software, say a screen saver.
The software will work fine.
But as well as doing the good things that you want, it will also be sitting there on your machine waiting for a command from its creator when it will hand over control of your PC.
All your data, all your passwords, everything is now in the hands of the intruder, and you may not even be aware of anything wrong!

To protect yourself from this threat you need to control what software is using your modem when you are on line. If you install a firewall it can monitor your connection and warn you whenever your pc is being accessed from the outside and whenever a program on your system is trying to send data to the net.

7. Delete all email attachments

I have said this already:
the only good attachment is a deleted attachment.
If you receive an attachment from an unknown source don't think twice - just delete it.
If you know the sender - then only consider opening the attachment if you were expecting the email and also that the email was going to contain an attachment. Then phone the sender to confirm.

If you can avoid it, do not send attachments, why not just include the text as part of a standard email.

If you are applying for a job - do not include your CV as a word document unless the company has specifically asked you to send it in that format.

8. Do you really need that screen saver?

Download a program and risk getting a virus or a worm or a rat.
Enjoy that screen saver while you can, and wonder why your modem lights are flashing.

9. Links to other virus resources

The following are links to other virus related resources on the web, a lot of the information above was collated from many of the following sources:

Henri Delger writes the 'virus tip of the day',
worth subscribing to at

Information about computer virus myths, hoaxes, and urban legends.
66% of PCs did NOT suffer a virus attack in the last year

Anti Virus Certified Products
The Virus Bulletin
University of Tampere Virus Reasearch Unit

Anti-Virus Programs:


A list of the viruses most likly to cause you a problem:

A longer description of the more infamous:

MS info about the KAK-WORM

How to get infected by just surfing the net:

An autoresponder on Data Security For Small Businesses by Paul Myers contains information on backing up, RATs, firewalls.... Send a blank email to
His newsletter is also worth subscribing to, and there is a lot of other good stuff on the website.

Search Engines

I noticed that the hit counter on one of my advert pages suddenly went through the roof.
The page was receiving a lot of hits from search engines from people looking for, for example, "swingers in yorshire". The policy of my site is no adult material, so there should be no adverts for "swingers" on the ad pages. On checking the page the word swingers did indeed appear on the page in the following context: (No swingers please). There should be a meta tag to tell search engines that even though a word or phrase appears on a page that word or phrase should be ignored by the search engine spiders.

Email signature Tags

I use my signature tag to advertise my own business,
some people use it to spread a little humanity over the net, this is my thank you to them for making me smile

Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.


Helpline Digest - Feedback

Please send comments and interesting questions to Your question and reply may be reproduced in a future newsletter The names of the innocent and the guilty will be disguised.

Feedback from Cornish Quay Holidays

Good news!
Using the advice from your website,
I have now got one of my pages popping up successfully in the top ten on various search engines.
Funnily enough it isn't my main page but one of the more interesting pages within the site. There doesn't seem to be any logic to how you appear because pages I registered earlier have not appeared yet but this one has. Weird!
Have got a couple of bookings from the site now and overall very pleased.

Good Newsletters

A recent (and frequent) choice for my goodnewsletter autoresponder was
The Copyriters' Digest a publication of
Edited by Joe Robson
Subscribe by sending a blank email to

Some random quotes from the newsletter:

did you realize that international customers can NOT use your US toll-free number?
In these days of ultra cheap international phone rates,
it costs less to phone from the UK to the USA than it does to call someone in my own home town.

Your USP is NOT just a big benefit, that your competitors can't offer.
Your USP is NOT just something that is different
Your USP is something which your customers' PERCEIVE to be unique and which will benefit them!

I have added the following to my list of pages to read:
USP tutorial at:

Do not use cliches in your Sales Copy,
it can destroy the impact of your message, an example:
If you're looking for XYZ You've Come To The Right Place.

Send any other good cliches that you see to

Another link to visit: Computer Newbies Club If Computerish Sounds Like Gibberish You Need Windows For Newbies' It's In English

To see my current choice of newsletter please send a blank email to


© 2000 Amcho Computer Services Ltd. All rights reserved.
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but please check with us before reproducing the content,
normally all we will ask is a link to our website.

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Mike Choroszewski
Amcho Computer Services Ltd
Little Honeycombe, Tamar Way, Gunnislake, Cornwall, Pl18 9DH. UK
phone: 08707 41 40 50 UK National Rate
fax: 0870 124 6863 UK National Rate June 2000 May - June 2000 April - May 2000 March 2000 February 2000 January 2000 December 1999 November 1999 October 1999 September 1999

AMCHO Computer Services Ltd, Tamar Way, Gunnislake, Cornwall, PL18 9DH, UK
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