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Security UPDATE--Blacklists Decrease Spam-—November 10, 2004

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Free Patch Management White Paper from St. Bernard Software

The Unofficial Guide to IM for Executives


1. In Focus: Blacklists Decrease Spam

2. Security News and Features

- Recent Security Vulnerabilities

- Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification

- Rights Management Services SP1 Beta

- Windows XP SP2: 110 Million Users and Counting

3. Security Matters Blog

- SpoofStick: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

- Mac OS X Security Guide

4. Security Toolkit


- Security Forum Featured Thread

5. New and Improved

- SSL VPN for Small-Scale Deployments

- Protect Users from Internet Threats


==== Sponsor: St. Bernard Software ====

Free Patch Management White Paper from St. Bernard Software

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==== 1. In Focus: Blacklists Decrease Spam ====

by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net

I'm sure that most, if not all, of you use some sort of mail-filtering software to help eliminate unwanted email. Some mail-filtering solutions are server-based, some are desktop-based, and some are a combination of both.

I use a desktop-based mail-filtering solution on my personal desktop system, and so far it works fairly well. As with many mail filters, mine has to be trained to recognize unwanted email messages and considers any messages that don't meet enough spam requirements to be legitimate messages. The good thing about this approach is that it decreases the possibility that I might not see a legitimate message that I really need.

The downside of the approach is that it takes a while to train the mail filter to properly filter as much spam as possible. As each message is processed, more keywords (typically called tokens) are added to the spam-filtering engine. So naturally the more spam the engine filters, the better it operates. I receive a lot of junk mail. For example, in August and September, I received over 28,000 email messages. Of those, at least 18,090 (more than 64 percent) were spam.

One thing I've found that really helps reduce the amount of spam that reaches my inbox is that my email filter supports the use of blacklist services. You might already know that blacklist services track IP addresses that are known to be used to send spam. So any mail filter that supports blacklist services can query the services for a given IP address (the sender's address or any address that might have relayed the message along the way). If the IP address is on a blacklist, then it's more probable that a message is spam.

In my testing of mail-filter software, I've found that a mail filter that uses blacklists should query every mail server found in a message's "Received:" header. Doing so increases the likelihood of detecting spam messages. But some mail filters don't query all the "Received:" headers, so they're less effective.

If your mail filter supports the use of blacklist services and you aren't using them, consider testing them to see if they help reduce the amount of unwanted email that you receive on your network. Blacklist services are somewhat controversial because of complaints that some services blacklist IP addresses at the drop of a hat without much, if any, investigation first. In my experience thus far, services such as SpamCop, Spamhaus, Relay Stop List, and Spam and Open Relay Blocking System (SORBS) work fairly well. To find other possible blacklist services, use your favorite search engine to query for "blacklist services."


==== Sponsor: Akonix Systems ====

The Unofficial Guide to IM for Executives

This free white paper will help managers, directors and executives in all types of businesses understand Instant Messaging and the powerful benefits it brings to the workplace when properly managed and controlled. According to Giga Information Group, a large majority of mid- to large-sized organizations have no formal IT support for IM. This means employees are often logging onto public IM networks without permission and without protection from viruses and worms, corporate policy control or the ability to monitor and log conversations. Start protecting your organization and get the white paper now!


==== 2. Security News and Features ====

Recent Security Vulnerabilities

If you subscribe to this newsletter, you also receive Security Alerts, which inform you about recently discovered security vulnerabilities. You can also find information about these discoveries at

Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification

Microsoft announced that it will notify all customers of impending security bulletins three days before it releases the bulletins to help administrators plan for these security patches.

Rights Management Services SP1 Beta

The Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) Service Pack 1 (SP1) beta is on the way. The new service pack will add the ability to deploy RMS without a connection to the Internet and "without an operational dependency on an external entity such as Microsoft," enhanced authentication with support for smart cards, and the ability to apply rights based on dynamic groups in Active Directory (AD).

Windows XP SP2: 110 Million Users and Counting

On November 4, Microsoft announced that it had distributed Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), released in August, to more than 110 million customers worldwide. Microsoft also said that 12.5 million users have used the Windows Security Center introduced by XP SP2 to update their antivirus software.


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==== 3. Security Matters Blog ====

by Mark Joseph Edwards,

Check out these recent entries in the Security Matters blog:

SpoofStick: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I recently heard about a tool called SpoofStick, which is a browser extension for Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) and Mozilla Firefox. The good thing about this tool is that it shows you the real URL of the site you're visiting. The tool is designed to help prevent people from falling victim to URL spoof attacks (which are bad). But there was an ugly glitch when I tried to use the product.

Mac OS X Security Guide

If you're using or planning to use Mac OS X, you might want to review the new "Apple Mac OS X v10.3.x 'Panther' Security Configuration Guide" from the National Security Agency (NSA).

==== 4. Security Toolkit ====


by John Savill,

Q: How can I install a domain controller (DC) from backup media by using a DCPromo answer file?

Find the answer at

Security Forum Featured Thread

A forum participant writes that Microsoft recommends putting Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server in a demilitarized zone (DMZ) and publishing Outlook Web Access (OWA) from a Microsoft Exchange Server front-end server on the inside network. He wonders whether skipping the front-end server and publishing the back-end server is any less secure. Join the discussion at


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==== 5. New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

SSL VPN for Small-Scale Deployments

AEP Systems offers SureWare A-Gate AG-60, a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPN designed specifically for small-scale deployments. The product supports up to 50 concurrent users and sells for $7000 per appliance with no extra licensing fees. A-Gate AG-60 supports both clientless Web-enabled applications, including Windows Terminal Services, and access to client-server applications. For more information, go to

Protect Users from Internet Threats

Armor2net released Armor2net Personal Firewall, software that provides Internet security and privacy for computers. Armor2net Personal Firewall monitors the computer and tracks all connections, both incoming and outgoing. The software will show complete details of each connection and let the user turn off unsafe connections and block dangerous Internet sites. In addition, Armor2net Personal Firewall can stop Internet pop-up ads and search for and remove spyware from a computer. Armor2net Personal Firewall runs on Windows XP/2000/Me/98 and requires 32MB of RAM and 20MB of free hard disk space. It's available for $19.99 from the Armor2net Web site at

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