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Quarterly kwacha rate review, Q3 2019

1 July 2019 00:00:50 +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 4%.

Some sample rates:

  • webONE hosting plan (monthly): ZMW 202.50
  • mailONE hosting plan (monthly): ZMW 135.00
  • gTLD domain (annually): ZMW 256.50

Our new kwacha rates will be online within 24 hours.

WordPress “PHP Update Required”

8 June 2019 09:26:11 +0000
Wordpress warning.

WordPress warning.

A number of clients have contacted us because they’ve noticed that WordPress is now displaying an ominous message on their dashboard that states, “WordPress has detected that your site is running on an insecure version of PHP.” This, unfortunately, is gratuitous, self-serving fearmongering (often referred to as “FUD“) on the part of WordPress the organisation. However, what is true is that version 5.2 of WordPress requires a higher version of PHP than our operating system vendor currently supplies. Therefore, providing the necessary version of PHP will require more work than just clicking a mythical “upgrade PHP” button somewhere, as some assume we just need to do.

Please be assured that we are alive to this issue, and are working to address it as soon as we can. However, it will likely take at least a couple of weeks.

Thank-you for your patience.

Right of registration to second-level dot-uk domains expires soon

7 June 2019 14:53:35 +0000

As you may be aware, Nominet (the registry for all dot-uk domains) now makes available registrations at the second level. This means you can now register your-company.uk, as well as or instead of your-company.co.uk — or even your-name.org.uk and other third-level domains.

As part of this process they have determined that existing owners of dot-co.uk domains have the first “right of registration” to a dot-uk domain corresponding to their existing dot-co.uk registration. In other words, if you are already the registrant of something.co.uk, you have the first right of registration to something.uk, before someone who might own something.org.uk, for example. However, this right expires on 24 June 2019. After that date anyone will be able to register any dot-uk domain, even if it is the same as your existing dot-co.uk domain, but without the “.co” part.

If you register a dot-uk domain corresponding to an existing dot-co.uk domain you will have several options with respect to the hosting of your website(s) and/or email. If you host with NinerNet, please contact us to discuss your options, or contact your hosting company if you do not host with NinerNet. If you do host with NinerNet, we can “alias” your new dot-uk domain to your existing dot-co.uk (or dot-org.uk) domain for no additional hosting charges.

If you would like to register any or all of the second-level dot-uk domains to which you are entitled, please contact us and we will work with you to register it/them before the deadline.

Quarterly kwacha rate review, Q2 2019

1 April 2019 00:00:09 +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 4%.

Some sample rates:

  • webONE hosting plan (monthly): ZMW 195.00
  • mailONE hosting plan (monthly): ZMW 130.00
  • gTLD domain (annually): ZMW 247.00

Our new kwacha rates will be online within 24 hours.

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.

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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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