NinerNet Communications™
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New Canadian address

24 January 2019 09:23:44 +0000

Our Canadian head office mailing address has changed effective immediately. The new address is:

NinerNet Communications Company
202-15388 24 Avenue
Surrey BC  V4A 2J2

Our apologies for any inconvenience. We do provide ways to pay your invoices online; see the payment link in any invoice or payment reminder email.

Thank-you for your attention to this matter.

Quarterly kwacha rate review, Q1 2019

1 January 2019 00:00:20 +0000

Based on the current value of the Zambian kwacha in US dollars and recent trends, we are maintaining our retail kwacha prices until the next quarterly review.

Some sample rates:

  • webONE hosting plan (monthly): ZMW 187.50
  • mailONE hosting plan (monthly): ZMW 125.00
  • gTLD domain (annually): ZMW 237.50

Our kwacha rates are available on our website.

Scammers never sleep

31 December 2018 10:02:41 +0000

If you thought you could get a break from scammers over Christmas, think again. This one landed in our in box on Christmas day, as is clear from the date the countdown starts!

From: greatroadnorth.com is about to expire. <no-replay@renewal-service.info>
Reply-to: “greatroadnorth.com is about to expire.” <no-replay@renewal-service.info>
Subject: Domain Administrator
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2018 17:52:19 +0000
Return-path: <01020167e67ef75e-d5d2ee16-fd2f-457e-9a8d-00dba3dc6492-000000@eu-west-1.amazonses.com>
X-spam-score: 2.125

Tucows Domains Inc.
====================
IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION
====================
greatroadnorth.com
Date: 2018-12-25

Dear Domain Administrator,

The Domain SEO-listing shown below are set for renewal and need to be processed in the next 48 hours.

No need to worry, please go to this link and follow the instructions:
renewal-service.info/greatroadnorth.com

Your product details are listed below:
====================

Product Name:
SEO-Renewal for greatroadnorth.com
Expire Time:
48 hours from 2018-12-25
Renewal cost per annum:
$69.00

====================
Amount due: $69.00

PAYMENT INFORMATION
Information on how to renew your domain can be found here:
renewal-service.info/greatroadnorth.com

This offer is only valid for 48 hours as a courtesy to let you know that your domain is expiring soon and this search engine optimization offer will expire.
Should your domain name expire, there is going to be a signifcant drop
in search engine services for your website, email and any other associated services.
This domain seo registration for greatroadnorth.com limited time offer will end in 48 hours from 2018-12-25.

Thank you!

Sincerely,
Renewal department

====================

Note:
You received this message because you elected to receive notification offers. Should you no longer wish to receive our offers, please unsubscribe here. If you have multiple accounts with us, you must opt out for each one individually.

Some characteristics of this spam/scam:

  • Your name (available from the WHOIS) will be in the subject, along with a flag emoji to draw attention to the email.
  • The name of your legitimate domain registrar (also available from the WHOIS) will be at the top of the email, even though they did not send the email.
  • There is the usual very close deadline (48 hours), after which the world will end for you and your domain.
  • The plain-looking links in the email mask tracking links to the domain wizz.netvalue.io.
  • The scammer makes the unusual claim that not sending them money will cause “a signifcant [sic] drop in search engine services for your … email”. This, of course, is absolutely false, as your email traffic is not tied directly to search engine traffic anyway.
  • Sent through the best and biggest “bulletproof” spam hosting service in the world: Amazon.

Given the fact that most gTLD registrars (including the ones we use) have not pubished WHOIS information since May 2018, these scams are being sent to old mailing lists compiled before publishing stopped, and are out of date. (For example, the domain that is the subject of this email no longer exists.) Changing the contact email address on your domain and shutting down the old address is something you should consider doing.

Christmas hours and wishes

26 December 2018 12:05:20 +0000

As another year comes to a close, we wish you, your family, your employees and colleagues and their families the best for the holiday season, a Happy Christmas, and all the best for the New Year. We thank you for your business in 2018; we have enjoyed serving you, and look forward to continuing to do so in 2019.

Please note that general administrative services will be unavailable between 22 December 2018 and 7 January 2019. We will once again be available at the start of the day on Monday 7 January.

That said, technical support will continue to be available at all times over the holiday, and all services and servers will continue to be monitored and maintained as necessary 24/7. Please email us if you need anything.

Thank-you again for your business and continuing to trust us.

Spam and virus filtering on the mail server

11 October 2018 15:15:22 +0000

Over the last five months we’ve been monitoring the effectiveness of the anti-spam systems on server NC036 with a view to setting the point at which emails are considered by the system to be spam. We have slowly lowered the cut-off point from the default of 6.2 to 3.0, and have found that at 3.0 the rate of legitimate email caught in the filter rises sharply. Therefore we have now set the default, server-wide level at 3.5. At this point we’re blocking about one thousand to fifteen hundred spams a day, and anywhere from a handful to a few dozen viruses a month.

You can set a different cut-off point for spam to your domain(s) as follows:

  1. Log into the mail server control panel.
  2. Click “Domains & Accounts”.
  3. Click the domain you want to manage.
  4. Click “Spam Policy”.
  5. Enter a different number in the “Classify mail as spam when score is >=” field.
  6. Click the green “Save changes” button.

In short, the lower you set the score the more spam is caught, but the greater the likelihood of legitimate email being classified as spam. Conversely, the higher the score you set the less spam will be caught and the lower the likelihood of legitimate email being classified as spam.

You can also manage other aspects of the spam filter on this page, but we recommend that you do not. The server-wide defaults are to enable all four checks (spam, virus, bad headers and banned files) and to quarantine spam and viruses. If you want to allow any of those four classes of undesirable emails through on your domain that’s your call, but you take full responsibility for the results. The results include everything from annoyance to compromised machines, devices and accounts. NinerNet does charge for time spent recovering and cleaning up compromised accounts.

Please note that the spam and virus filters monitor both incoming and outgoing email.

We strongly recommend, now that we have finished our evaluation, that you conduct your own evaluation of the situation with undesirable email on your own domain or domains. Once logged into the mail server control panel, please navigate to System -> Quarantined Mails. There you will find spam and virus emails to and from your domain(s) for approximately the last week. As mentioned above, if you find that too many legitimate emails are being classified as spam, you have two options: 1) Increase the score at which messages are considered spam, and/or 2) Whitelist any legitimate senders or domains that consistently receive high scores. To whitelist a “sender” (a single email address) or a domain or a domain and all of its sub-domains, follow these instructions:

  1. Log into the mail server control panel.
  2. Click “Domains & Accounts”.
  3. Click the domain you want to manage.
  4. Click “White/Blacklist”.
  5. Follow the instructions on the right of the page to add records to the appropriate whitelist, incoming or outgoing.

Please note that it might be tempting to add something like @yourdomain.com to the outgoing whitelist (thereby whitelisting all addresses on your domain), but we strongly advise you not to. If you do, and a machine on your network is infected with a virus or is compromised and starts spamming, the system will follow your instructions and let it all through. Please see above about our fees for cleaning up after a mess like this. The emails will likely be blocked on the receiving server anyway, and your domain possibly blacklisted. You don’t want you domain (or our mail server) blacklisted, so not whitelisting all of your users is a defence against getting your domain (and our mail server) blacklisted.

Something else to note is that it’s fairly pointless to blacklist spammers and virus senders. If you blacklist bob@example.com because he sent a virus that the virus scanner caught, you’ll also block the legitimate email he sends once he cleans up his machine and sends you an email to apologise. Similarly, spammers rarely use the same email address or domain more than a few times, so you’ll just be filling your blacklist with a lot of crap. Of course, if a persistent spammer keeps getting through the spam filter, then go ahead and blacklist them if they’re actually using the same email address or domain.

Please monitor your quarantine on a regular basis so that you notice trends and compensate for them. With our evaluation ended we will only occasionally monitor the quarantine to make human judgement calls about letting some emails through, as we have been doing over the last five months.

It is worth noting here a couple of points. One is that no spam filter is perfect. During our evaluation we have seen spam come in that was scored less than 3.5, and so will make it through the filter now that we have settled on a cut-off of 3.5. Another is that some legitimate email from senders hosted on this server — i.e., you and your colleagues and employees — has been scored above 3.5 and so has been (or will be) quarantined instead of being delivered to the sender’s mail server. This is why you need to keep an eye on the quarantine for the domains under your account, and if necessary release legitimate emails for delivery. This is how you release emails:

  1. Log into the mail server control panel.
  2. Navigate to System -> Quarantined Mails.
  3. Select the legitimate email or emails.
  4. At the bottom of the page select “release selected” from the “Choose Action” drop-down list.
  5. Click the green “Apply” button.

The emails will then disappear from the quarantine and will be delivered to the recipients. You may also select one of the other three “release” options if you want to release the email and add the sender to your whitelist if their email is consistently being scored highly. As mentioned above, it’s generally a waste of time to select one of the blacklisting options; there’s also no need to manually delete items from the quarantine, as they are rotated out after about a week.

With respect to your own emails being marked as spam, there are some glaring spam markers that we’ve seen commonly used that you and your colleagues and employees can avoid by following these suggestions:

  • Don’t use blank subjects.
  • Don’t use ALL CAPITALS subjects. If you do, keep in mind that your method of trying to get the recipient’s attention might fail completely if your message is blocked as spam.
  • Avoid using very short subjects.
  • Avoid using “Dear xxxx” in your salutations. Email is a less formal mode of communication than letters, and opening an email with “Dear” is a classic spam marker and will give your email enough extra points that it could push it over the cut-off score, especially when combined with other spam markers listed here.
    • Update: Thanks to a client for pointing out that “Dear Bob” or “Dear Mrs. Smith” are not scored as badly as generic salutations such as “Dear sir”, “Dear madam”, “Dear investor”, “Dear home owner”, “Dear winner”, “Dear beneficiary”, “Dear friend”, “Dear you@example.com”, etc.
  • Don’t send blank emails with only an attachment.

Please note that we don’t read your email. This data is gleaned from the spam reports and the reasons that certain messages were blocked because they were classified as spam.

This spam filter is much better than what we had on the old email server, and now you have access to the information it contains and control over how it works. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact NinerNet support. Thank-you.

Quarterly kwacha rate review, Q4 2018

1 October 2018 00:00:17 +0000

Based on the current value of the Zambian kwacha in US dollars and recent trends, we are increasing our retail kwacha prices effective today and until the next quarterly review by about 19%.

Some sample rates:

  • webONE hosting plan (monthly): ZMW 187.50
  • mailONE hosting plan (monthly): ZMW 125.00
  • gTLD domain (annually): ZMW 237.50

Our new kwacha rates will be online within 24 hours.

Extortion scam email

24 July 2018 04:57:43 +0000

We have had a particularly nasty extortion email brought to our attention by two different clients in the last four days. Some research reveals that it has been around since at least late last year, but variants of extortion emails are almost as old as email itself. However, the personal nature of the current incarnation of these emails is alarming to those who receive it, even those with a clear conscience.

Unfortunately, as with most (if not all) scams, the scammers have been successful. In this case, because they demand payment of their ransom in Bitcoin, and the Bitcoin system allows public tracking of all transactions (just not the identities of the senders and receivers), researchers have been able to see that the Bitcoin addresses used in these scam emails have indeed received payments. A quick glance shows payments reaching into six figures (in US dollars) for some Bitcoin addresses (like bank account numbers, but not subject to the same scrutiny as happens when you open a bank account), and since it seems that few (if any) Bitcoin addresses have been used twice (although they are probably controlled by a small number of criminals), you can multiply that many times over.

One of the key features of the current round of emails that seem to have cropped up in the last week is the inclusion of a password that you may have used at some point in the past, both in the subject and the body of the email, to get your attention. This adds plausibility to the extortion attempt. However, keep in mind that huge databases of personal information are being breached by hackers all the time. The well-known tracking website “Have I Been Pwned” includes over five billion breached accounts (and growing) in its database. They compile their database from the raw data released by hackers after they penetrate the systems of the likes of LinkedIn, MySpace, Adobe, Ashley Madison and many others, so those databases are out there and will be forever. If a website or company you use was hacked and your password was stored by them in an unencrypted form, then there are databases out there that contain enough information to put together your email address and a password you have used, and possibly your name, address and phone number too. (Some people have received these extortion attempts via postal mail.) Do an old-fashioned mail merge and voila, you have an email message that could scare you into parting with anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousand of dollars in a vain attempt to keep a secret that a scammer made up in his or her own imagination.

As with all spam and scam emails, these are best ignored. They are just mass produced by the millions and fired out at the Internet shotgun-style.

Some have commented in the links we provide below that they have contacted the police about these emails (or letters) and received the cold shoulder. This is unsurprising. One of the benefits of computers is also one of their downsides; the fact that you can send an hilarious cat video to a few thousand of your closest friends is the same technology that allows scammers to multiply their own efforts considerably and with very little effort or expense. Your national police force probably already has this in their in tray, and when combined with other law-enforcement efforts it will probably rise to the top one day when they pull Guido over for speeding and realise that he is the mastermind behind all of this. Case closed.

There are many “top ten things you should do to remain safe on the Internet” lists out there. None will cover it all in only ten items, but here are some things for you to consider in the vein of the contents of these emails that we have reproduced below:

  • Don’t reuse passwords. If you consistently use the same email address and password for different websites, then when one of them is breached, all of your accounts are breached. Use a different password for every single website. It’s not that hard. Use a password manager like KeePass to generate and track random, complicated passwords that you will never remember and never need to remember.
  • Cover your webcam lens with an opaque cover when it is not in use. Some webcams include such a cover you can flip over the lens. If yours doesn’t, you can get a sticky cover that you can easily remove and reapply that doesn’t leave residue on the lens. We buy ours from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but you can get generic ones or small metal covers you can install that you then slide to cover the lens (do a Web search for “webcam cover“), or you could use a sticky note or even a plaster / adhesive bandage.
  • Tell your friends and family. Friends don’t let friends pay bogus ransoms for bogus extortion attempts. Send them a link to this post at blog.niner.net/2018/07/24/extortion-scam-email

If you have any questions or concerns about this, please contact us and we will be happy to answer your questions. Thanks for your time.

Links to external websites with additional information documenting this scam

The two emails brought to our attention are below. The wording is not identical, but the style and substance are the same and they seem to be written by the same person. In these emails we have masked our clients’ names, email addresses and passwords, of course.

Email 1

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Juliana Bradford <ydewillyfx@outlook.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2018 at 19:46
Subject: CLIENT NAME – PASSWORD
To: CLIENT EMAIL ADDRESS

I am well aware PASSWORD one of your passphrase. Lets get right to point. There is no one who has compensated me to investigate you. You do not know me and you’re most likely wondering why you’re getting this e-mail?

In fact, I actually setup a malware on the X streaming (pornography) web-site and do you know what, you visited this web site to experience fun (you know what I mean). While you were viewing videos, your internet browser began functioning as a Remote control Desktop that has a key logger which provided me accessibility to your screen and web camera. Right after that, my software collected all your contacts from your Messenger, social networks, as well as e-mailaccount. After that I created a video. First part displays the video you were viewing (you have a nice taste haha), and 2nd part displays the view of your cam, yea it is you.

You get two alternatives. Shall we read each of these choices in particulars:

First choice is to disregard this email message. In this scenario, I am going to send out your very own recorded material to every single one of your contacts and also just think concerning the awkwardness you will see. And consequently if you happen to be in an important relationship, just how it will eventually affect?

2nd alternative is to pay me $7000. Lets refer to it as a donation. Consequently, I most certainly will without delay discard your video recording. You could go on your daily life like this never occurred and you surely will never hear back again from me.

You will make the payment by Bitcoin (if you don’t know this, search for “how to buy bitcoin” in Google).

BTC Address to send to: 18sPsLXYDqKZnZ6Mb5xbYS168QFPYrQC75
[case sensitive, copy & paste it]

Should you are planning on going to the law enforcement, well, this mail can not be traced back to me. I have covered my actions. I am just not looking to ask you for money a whole lot, I simply want to be paid. I’ve a special pixel within this mail, and right now I know that you have read this message. You have one day to make the payment. If I do not receive the BitCoins, I will certainly send your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, co-workers, and many others. Nevertheless, if I do get paid, I will destroy the video right away. If you need proof, reply with Yea then I will certainly send out your video recording to your 7 friends. It’s a nonnegotiable offer and so please don’t waste my personal time & yours by responding to this message.

Email 2

——– Forwarded Message ——–
Subject: RE: CLIENT NAME – PASSWORD
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2018 05:03:35 +0000
From: Antonio Simmons <jrcsxeugeniouks@outlook.com>
To: CLIENT EMAIL ADDRESS

I will directly come to the point. I do know PASSWORD is your pass word. More to the point, I am aware about your secret and I’ve evidence of your secret. You do not know me personally and nobody paid me to look into you.

It’s just your bad luck that I came across your bad deeds. Well, I placed a malware on the adult video clips (porno) and you visited this site to have fun (you know what I mean). While you were busy watching videos, your internet browser initiated operating as a Rdp (Remote desktop) that has a key logger which gave me access to your display screen as well as web camera. Right after that, my software program gathered your entire contacts from messenger, facebook, and mailbox.

Next, I put in more hours than I probably should’ve looking into your life and made a two view video. 1st part shows the video you were watching and second part shows the view from your web camera (its you doing dirty things).

Honestly, I am ready to forget all information about you and let you continue with your daily life. And I am going to present you 2 options that will make it happen. Those two option is with the idea to ignore this letter, or simply pay me $ 2900. Let’s explore these 2 options in more detail.

Option One is to ignore this email message. Let us see what is going to happen if you opt this option. I will certainly send your video to your entire contacts including family members, co-workers, and so forth. It does not shield you from the humiliation your self will face when family and friends discover your dirty details from me.

Option 2 is to send me $ 2900. We will call it my “privacy tip”. Now lets see what will happen if you choose this option. Your secret remains your secret. I’ll erase the recording immediately. You go on with your routine life that none of this ever occurred.

At this point you may be thinking, “I will complain to the police”. Let me tell you, I have covered my steps in order that this e mail cannot be linked to me plus it won’t prevent the evidence from destroying your lifetime. I’m not seeking to steal all your savings. I just want to get compensated for the time I placed into investigating you. Let’s assume you decide to produce all of this vanish entirely and pay me my confidentiality fee. You will make the payment via Bitcoin (if you don’t know how, type “how to buy bitcoins” on google search)

Amount to be paid: $ 2900
Bitcoin Address to Send to: 1GQK1MNV5N7B9pV8L63W7nGfChJkKp7ymq
(It is CASE sensitive, so you should copy and paste it carefully)

Tell nobody what you should use the bitcoin for or they may not provide it to you. The method to get bitcoin will take a short time so do not delay.
I’ve a specific pixel within this email message, and now I know that you’ve read this e mail. You have 24 hours to make the payment. If I don’t get the BitCoin, I will definately send out your video to your contacts including close relatives, colleagues, and many others. You better come up with an excuse for friends and family before they find out. Nonetheless, if I do get paid, I’ll destroy the video and all other proofs immediately. It’s a non negotiable offer, thus do not waste my personal time & yours. Your time is running out.

WHOIS privacy for domain registrations

17 July 2018 12:58:23 +0000

We have offered so-called private registrations (“WHOIS privacy”) to clients for years, but it’s not a service we have gone out of our way to push. This is because the public record of your domain registration is (or was) an important factor in establishing the authenticity of your business, and hiding it is (in our opinion) counterproductive for that use.

However, one of the major effects of the GDPR on the Internet industry is that, for now at least, all of your contact information for your domain registrations is no longer available to the public. This is a welcome development, as far as keeping your email address out of the hands of the spammers and fraud artists who mined the WHOIS for email addresses is concerned

We do offer WHOIS privacy, and will continue to do so with our new registrar. However, our contract with the new registrar means that we can only offer it to non-commercial registrants. The use of WHOIS privacy by individuals is entirely prudent and sometimes necessary, but should not be necessary for businesses. Therefore, for that small percentage of our commercial clients who have been using WHOIS privacy up to this point, we will no longer charge you for it and it will be removed from your domain registration once your domain is transferred to the new registrar.

Per your domain registration agreement, all domain registration data for domains registered with us are still available to us, the registrar and (if necessary and armed with the required legal documents) law enforcement, so this change changes nothing in that regard. We’re just giving our business clients notice that WHOIS privacy will no longer be available to them, but the good news is that it’s no longer really necessary with access to the WHOIS being restricted by default now.

Something you might want to consider is changing the contact email address for your domain(s) if it receives a lot of spam. The fact that spammers can no longer harvest email addresses from the WHOIS will not stop them from spamming addresses they already have. However, if you set up a brand new address for the WHOIS and delete the old one after a short overlap period, your new address should receive far less spam.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know. Thank-you.

Quarterly kwacha rate review, Q3 2018

1 July 2018 02:21:08 +0000

Based on the current value of the Zambian kwacha in US dollars and recent trends, we are maintaining our retail kwacha prices until the next quarterly review.

Some sample rates:

  • webONE hosting plan (monthly): ZMW 157.50
  • mailONE hosting plan (monthly): ZMW 105.00
  • gTLD domain (annually): ZMW 199.50

Our kwacha rates are available on our website.

Mathematically speaking, by the slimmest of margins, we should be increasing our rates to the next level. If the trend continues then we will next quarter, but the trend is just as likely to stay the same or even reverse marginally, and so in the interests of stability we’re keeping our rates where they are.

Change of domain registrar

28 June 2018 06:39:22 +0000

Over the next year, starting today, we will be migrating all domain registrations under our management to a different domain registrar. For the most part these migrations will take place as the domains are renewed.

To be clear about NinerNet‘s position in the domain ecosystem, we are a reseller of domain registrations, reselling domains registered with domain name registrars, who in turn register domains from domain name registries. For the last seventeen years we have been a reseller for OpenSRS, a subsidiary of Tucows; going forward we will be a reseller for RRPproxy, a subsidiary of Key-Systems, a member of the KeyDrive Group.

Automated emails about your domains will continue to be sent from the same email address we’ve been using for years: domainsupport on the niner.net domain. You will notice a change in the format and language used in these emails. At least initially, links in those emails — such as those requesting you to validate your email address — will be on domains controlled by RRPproxy; however, we will work on using the niner.net domain at some point in the future, but we don’t have a timetable for that yet. The domain used in links in the email address validation emails that you may receive after your domain is transferred is currently emailverification.info. (See update below.)

Unless otherwise notified, you will continue to manage your domain registration through the interface at manage.niner.net. Within the next six months the interface at that address will change.

We are looking forward to an improved experience for all clients (except those using dot-zm domains, of course) as a result of this move. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know. As always, if you are concerned about the legitimacy of an email you’ve received that pertains to your domain or hosting account with us, please forward it to us and we will advise you accordingly.

Thank-you for your business.


Update, 2018-06-29: Please note that, despite our best efforts, the transfer confirmation emails you will receive from our current registrar are sent from two different email addresses not on the niner.net domain: noreply@opensrs.email and transfers@opensrs.org. The inability of OpenSRS to consistently use our domain in messaging over the years (or even just one of their own domains) is a significant symptom of the problems that have led us to make this decision to move. Our apologies for the confusion.

Update, 2018-09-25: Links in the “Request for email address validation” emails are now on the niner.net domain.

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This is the corporate blog of NinerNet Communications. It's where we post announcements, inform and educate our clients, and discuss issues related to the Internet (web and email) hosting business and all that that entails. This includes such concomitant industries and activities such a domain registration, SSL certificates, online back-up, virtual private servers (VPS), cloud hosting, etc. Please visit our main website for more information about us.

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