North Texas Broadband

Help & Tech Support

Securing your System

Please note that the Windows 95, 98, Millennium, and XP Service Pack 1 operating systems are no longer supported by Microsoft. Installing these systems or changing the network settings for them runs the risk of making your computer inoperable. Your Internet technical support team will not be able to assist you making any changes or configuring your system due to the lack of support from Microsoft and the risk involved.

From here you can find information on how to do a number of common tasks, as well as get answers to frequently asked questions.

Securing your System

Online security is an issue that every Internet user should be concerned with, and take personal responsibility for. With new and advanced spamming tactics continuously being developed, consumers can no longer expect their Internet Service Provider to be able to block every piece of spam or any virus that circulates the Internet.

There are many steps you can take to ensure a secure system. For more detailed information about online security, please read through the following links. Feel free to contact Technical Support if you have any questions or concerns.

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Viruses, Worms & Trojans

Definition

The word virus is often used to describe three different types of computer infections: worms, trojans and viruses. These are malicious programs that get installed on a computer, often without the knowledge of the user, and can lead to privacy being invaded and/or data being destroyed or corrupted on users’ hard drives.

These infections are primarily spread in the following ways:

  • Viruses: via e-mail attachments and file sharing
  • Worms: by being connected to the Internet without effective protection (read on for more info)
  • Trojans: by visiting corrupted web sites

Symptoms of Problems

Symptoms of an infected computer include:

  • Computer is unstable and crashing frequently
  • Slow Internet connection
  • You receive a call from your Internet technical support alerting you of the situation

Recommended Solutions

  • Install a virus-checking program, and keep it up-to-date. It is worth noting that some viruses will disable virus checkers and you may need to try a few different programs to find and remove an infection.
  • Install a firewall or router (with firewall built in).
  • Microsoft provides free support for virus and Trojan infection cleanup:

Tips

  • Do not open e-mail from sources you are not expecting
  • Do not open any attachments unless you are expecting the file
  • Have a good virus checking program that is kept up-to-date
  • Have a good firewall installed and running

Spam

Definition

Spam is a name given to unwanted or unsolicited e-mail (also sometimes referred to as UCE or Unsolicited Commercial E-mail). This type of e-mail generally contains advertisements for such things as a better mortgage rate, amazing prices on non-prescription drugs, or adult websites.

There are many reasons why you might receive spam. Signing up online to get anything “free” will normally cause you to be added to a spam list. Having your e-mail address available anywhere on the web (like on a web site or message board) can cause you to be added to a spam list as well.

Symptoms of Problems

  • Receiving unwanted e-mail

Recommended Solutions

If you are already receiving a lot of spam, and want a way to filter it out, there are quite a few programs available to help you. A popular program for Windows-based computers is “Spam Inspector” (found at www.giantcompany.com/(avwscc45uau55djurxfxfm55)/default.aspx?PID=A22090). This program works well with Outlook and Outlook Express.

A commonly-used program for the MacIntosh is “SpamSieve” (available for download at www.c-command.com/spamsieve/index.shtml).

Both of these programs are excellent low-cost spam filters that will work with your current e-mail programs to help get rid of unwanted e-mail

Tips

Unfortunately there is no way to completely prevent spam; however, there are a few things you can do to slow it down.

The main way to keep your spam intake to a minimum is to only give your e-mail address to people you know. The fewer people to have your e-mail address, the lower your chances are of it ending up on a spam list.

Another tip to remember is never click on a link to unsubscribe yourself from a spam list. Doing this just confirms your e-mail address to the spammers and opens you up to even more unwanted e-mail.

There is currently no officially recognized “do not spam” list. Signing up for a supposed do-not-spam list is likely equivalent to saying, “Yes, please send me even more unsolicited mail.”

Use your company e-mail address for business use only.

Spamcontrol Instructions

Spamcontrol: Help

These settings allow you to control how the system handles incoming spam or junk email. If you have multiple email addresses from, you must set your Spamcontrol settings for each account individually by logging in with the email address as the “Username” for each account.

Please note: any changes that you make to your preferences will only take effect once you click on the “Save Settings” button. If you do not click on the “Save Settings” button, your changes will not take effect and they will be lost.

To activate the spam filter change the “What to do with spam:” from “Spam Filter OFF” to “Quarantine” or “Delete”. To select what you would like to do with spam, click on the circle next to the option that you prefer. The selected option will appear with a black mark in the middle, if a option is selected, none of the other settings will be active.

Spam Filter OFF: Allow junk mail to come through (no filtering).
Quarantine Suspected Junk Mail: Hold junk mail in a WebMail quarantine folder for 10 days.
Delete Suspected Junk Mail: Delete all incoming junk mail (deleted items cannot be recovered).
If you elect to use either the QUARANTINE or DELETE Suspected Junk Email options, you then must set the Spam Filter Sensitivity. Spam Filter Sensitivity choices include; High, Medium, and Low. A description of each level of sensitivity is included alongside the setting.

Low: will stop the most common junk mail, and is least likely to accidentally block real email.
Medium: may allow some junk mail through, but may accidentally block real email on rare occasions.
High: aggressive junk mail filtering, but may accidentally block real email.
Usage of the Whitelist and/or Blacklist settings is optional, and will not take effect if you have selected “Spam Filter OFF”. If you have selected the QUARANTINE or DELETE options, then any Whitelist and/or Blacklist settings will automatically take effect on any addresses listed.

Whitelist:

Email addresses in your Whitelist will cause the system to allow all email from that address and not treat it as spam, regardless of content, for as long as the address remains in your Whitelist. Under the Whitelist configuration, type the complete email address of the sender that you wish to allow and click on the ‘Add to Whitelist’ link. Email addresses can be removed from your Whitelist by clicking on the ‘Remove’ link next to that email address.

Blacklist:

Email addresses in your Blacklist will cause the system to automatically treat all email from that address as spam, regardless of content, as long as the address remains in your Blacklist. Under the Blacklist configuration, type the complete email address of the sender that you wish to treat as spam and click on the ‘Add to Blacklist’ link. Email addresses can be removed from your Blacklist by clicking on the ‘Remove’ link next to that email address.

Whitelist and Blacklist addresses can be a specific email address such as friend@somewhere.com, or can include the wildcards * and ? (example: *@isp.com, or *.domain.net) so that all email addresses from the specified domain will be blocked. All other metacharacters and regular expressions are not allowed.

Please note: any changes that you make to your preferences will only take effect once you click on the “Save Settings” button. If you do not click on the “Save Settings” button, your changes will not take effect and they will be lost.

If you have other questions, they may be answered in the list of Frequently Asked Questions list. If this does not answer your questions, please contact Internet Technical Support at 1-888-725-9402.

Spamcontrol Frequently Asked Questions

What is Junk Email?
Junk email (a.k.a. spam) messages are unsolicited email advertisements. Depending on what service or product they are advertising, these messages may be offensive or even fraudulent. Sorting through these messages is time-consuming and annoying.

What does the northtxbroadband.com Spamcontrol filter do? How does it work?
northtxbroadband.com Spamcontrol is a free feature that helps protect your email address from junk email. It operates on northtxbroadband.com’s email servers, using advanced technology to accurately identify junk email. Its rules for identifying junk email are updated constantly, adapting to changes in the way junk emailers try to mask junk email as legitimate messages. As a northtxbroadband.com email user, you choose how junk email messages are handled by selecting an option in northtxbroadband.com WebMail Preferences or by going to http://spamcontrol.northtxbroadband.com. If you wish, you can even choose not to use Spamcontrol and allow any junk mail to continue through to your Inbox. (See “What are the configuration options? Which one should I choose?” below.)

What are the configuration options? Which one should I choose?
There are three different options for handling junk email: Spam filter OFF, Quarantine Suspected Junk Email, and Delete Suspected Junk Email. More information about each of these options is included when you are setting your Spamcontrol Preferences.

How do I activate filtering?
You can activate Spamcontrol by modifying your Spamcontrol Preferences in the northtxbroadband.com WebMail Preferences or by going to http://spamcontrol.northtxbroadband.com

Do I need any special email programs to use Spamcontrol?
No. Spamcontrol operates on northtxbroadband.com’s email servers, not on customers’ computers. No additional software is required and the email program you currently use will continue to work when using Spamcontrol.

Do I have to pay to use Spamcontrol?
No. Spamcontrol is available to all northtxbroadband.com Internet customers free of charge.

How do I know it is working?
If you select “Quarantine” as your junk email configuration option you will be able to see any email that has been identified as spam by viewing the Quarantine folder in your northtxbroadband.com WebMail at http://webmail.northtxbroadband.com (remember, junk email will be automatically deleted from your Quarantine folder after 10 days). If you selected “Delete” then you will notice a significant decrease in the amount of junk email you receive.

What do I do if email messages have been filtered incorrectly?
If you are using Spamcontrol to Quarantine or Delete suspected junk email, you can also use Whitelist and Blacklist features to increase the accuracy of the filtering. By adding the email addresses of your friends and associates to your Whitelist, email from those senders will be assured of not getting caught by Spamcontrol. Adding email addresses to your Blacklist of senders of spam or email addresses that you DO NOT want to receive email from will ensure that messages from those senders will get caught by Spamcontrol in the future.

Does the Spamcontrol detect messages containing viruses?
To some extent, yes. While Spamcontrol focuses on detecting junk email, many messages that contain viruses have similar characteristics as junk email messages and will often be detected as junk email. However, using Spamcontrol is not a substitute for using anti-virus software.

Does anyone read my email?
No. Spamcontrol is a computer software system. Detection and filtering of junk email is therefore accomplished without human interaction with your messages.

Do I need to take any additional measures to avoid junk email?
While you should not require other anti-spam software programs for your northtxbroadband.com provided email, regular precautions should still be taken to help avoid becoming a target for junk emailers.

Spyware & Adware

Definition

Spyware is software that is installed on your computer without your knowledge, and is used to steal your personal information. This information can include web browsing habits, e-mail addresses, credit card numbers, and more. It is installed on your computer automatically when you download seemingly innocent free software. Spyware then sends information about you to the software distributor. Usually the information sent is benign in nature, mostly concerning general marketing information.

Adware is advertising-supported software. It is software that can be downloaded free from the Web, but contains banner advertisements that create revenue for the company. Adware is software that is installed on your computer the same way spyware is, but it’s used for less harmful applications. Adware can change your home page, add extra bookmarks to your web browser, put advertisements on your desktop, and change your search results on Internet search engines like Yahoo and Google to advertisements.

Symptoms of Problems

Computers that have Spyware running may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Internet browser crashes frequently
  • Computer runs slower
  • Computer takes longer to start up
  • “Illegal Operation” errors occur
  • Pop-up advertisements appear when you are offline
  • The default homepage of your browser changes without your knowledge

Recommended Solutions

The best way to prevent Spyware/Adware from being installed is to not let websites add programs to your computer. Most Adware is installed when a pop-up appears, while you are browsing the Internet, asking you to click “ok” to install a piece of software to “help” you. Most of this software is Adware and it will definitely not help you.

If you already have Spyware or Adware on your computer, a helpful tool to get rid of it is a program called “Adaware” available atwww.lavasoftusa.com. This is a free tool that will get rid of almost all Adware and Spyware.

Passwords

Tips for choosing a good password

Choosing a good password, and changing it often, will make it difficult for hackers, crackers, or even someone you know, to make educated guesses about what you’ve chosen. Here are some tips to help you choose a good password:

Don’t Use:

  • Your name – any part of it (first, last, middle, or intials)
  • Your social security number
  • Names of friends, family, or pets
  • Birthdates
  • Phone numbers or addresses
  • Any other personal information that could be guessed
  • Place names
  • Words from the English dictionary
  • Words from a foreign dictionary
  • Your username or login name
  • Your computer’s name
  • Repetition of the same letter
  • Sequences of keyboard keys, such as “12345” or “qwerty”, or sequences of letters such as “abcde”
  • Any minor variation of the above, such as spelling backwards or
  • appending a character to the end of your name

Do Use:

  • Six or more characters
  • Non-alpha/numeric characters (for example: *!$+) mixed with letters and numbers
  • A mix of upper and lower-case letters (placing capital letters in random locations throughout a password is also highly effective)
  • A password you can type quickly, without having to look at the keyboard. This will make it harder for someone to steal your password by looking over your shoulder.
  • Nonsense words that are easy to pronounce (and to remember, so you don’t have to write them down) but aren’t listed in any dictionaries

Note: A good way to choose a secure, but easy-to-remember password is to use the first character of each word in a phrase, poem, or song lyric. For instance, “Asb*Mf” stands for “April showers bring May flowers”; the asterisk in the middle is included for extra security. (But don’t use this password now that it’s been given as an example!)

It is important that you change your password regularly, and never give it out to anyone. If someone has learned your password, change it immediately.

Firewalls

Definition

A firewall is a software or hardware device used to prevent people from getting into your computer by blocking intrusion attempts from harmful hackers (or crackers).

The best firewall is offered in a hardware device called a “router”. These devices provide superior protection against outside computers trying to access your computer. Routers also have the ability to connect extra computers to your Internet connection, and to each other.

Symptoms of Problems

Hackers have hundreds of tools for breaking into computers. Some of the symptoms of someone else utilizing your computer:

  • Call from Internet technical support letting you know that you have a virus or worm
  • Computer crashing often
  • Slower than normal Internet access that persists
  • Running out of Windows ‘resources”
  • Having to reboot often

Recommended Solutions

Update to the latest security packs from Microsoft and Apple.

For more information on routers, you should want to contact your local computer dealer. Some common brands are:

For software firewalls on your computer:

Pop-ups

Definition

Pop-ups are windows that open on their own, or as part of a web site, while you are logged on to the Internet.
Pop-ups can also acts as advertising on certain websites: sometimes legitimately, sometimes not.

Symptoms of Problems

  • multiple unwanted windows popping up on your screen

Recommended Solutions

Some software programs that can aid in the elimination of pop-ups are:

Both programs seek out and remove pop-up programs, cookies, and other potentially annoying advertising-related devices.

Be aware, however, that some ad-supported programs (e.g. free online games) won’t run if their ad components are removed. You’ll either have to give them up, or, if available, pay the money for full no-ad versions.

Some spammers use Windows’ built-in Messenger service, which sends messages in a broadcast across a network. The way to block these annoying messages is to disable the Messenger service. In Windows XP, you can do this through the Control Panel. Navigate to “Administrative Tools | Services”, double-click on “Messenger” and click on “Stop”. Then set the “Startup Type” to “Manual” or “Disable”. Click on “OK” and the pop-up spam should be blocked.

Tips

  • install one of the suggested software programs from “Recommended Solutions”
  • never download or install unknown software from websites
  • disable Microsoft Messenger
General Security Tips

Definition

Behavior that can improve your online security:

  • Do not open e-mail attachments (even from friends!) that have two extensions (for example, .vbs.scr, or .scr.exe). Multiple extension attachments are the first sign that a file could be more than it seems. Single extension .exe files can be dangerous as well.
  • Chat programs can be harbingers for spreading viruses too, so you should never accept or open a file from someone they do not implicitly trust.
  • Always run a firewall (unless a Technical Support representative is helping you troubleshoot your Internet connection, at which time you may have to disable the firewall temporarily). Even un-installing and re-installing your firewall program every once in awhile is great for finding programs that may have slipped through at some point. For even better protection, get a router, which is more secure than just having a software firewall doing all the work.
  • Update your security programs constantly. Even with the best security software in place, all it takes is a failed update/download to make yourself vulnerable to the latest virus/security loophole.
  • Don’t believe everything you see/hear/read about security issues. If you are ever in doubt about what to do, contact Technical Support. Many security scares are just hoaxes, which are almost as bad as actual viruses. They end up getting you to delete some important file from your computer, which then makes your unstable (sometimes to the point of crashing it).

Symptoms of Problems

  • Slow connection
  • Identity theft (e.g. people accessing personal data on your computer)

Recommended Solutions

  • Run a spyware remover on your computer, such as Adaware (www.ada-ware.com)
  • Windows XP includes the Internet Connection Firewall, which provides strong security for your home or small business network. If you don’t have Windows XP, you can download a free software firewall called Zonealarm (www.zonelabs.com). This will help to protect your computer from attackers.
  • It is also necessary to keep your version of Windows updated. You can update your Windows software by going to www.microsoft.com and clicking on “Windows update”, which is listed on the left-hand side of the page. This will scan your computer for updates and install them accordingly. If you don’t keep your computer updated, you can be vulnerable to attackers gaining access to (and controlling) your system.
  • You should also keep your antivirus program updated to the latest virus list, and run a full system scan on your computer every week. If this is an inconvenience, you can set your virus program to run this can at a scheduled time each week.
  • When checking your e-mail, you shouldn’t open any attachments that you are not expecting. Viruses are spread via e-mail attachments. You should particularly watch for attachments that end with .exe or .scr.exe. If you open the attachment and it contains a virus, it will infect your computer ? and potentially spread the virus to everyone on your contacts/mailing list.

Tips

  • Don’t use file sharing programs like Kazaa (if you do, be sure to close the program immediately after using it).
  • Never open attachments from people you don’t know.
  • Don’t open attachments from people you do know unless they told you ahead of time they were sending one.
Peer to Peer File Sharing

Definition

‘P2P’, as it is sometimes known, is a file sharing protocol allowing Internet users to download files from another computer using programs such as Kazaa, Limewire, Bearshare, and WinMX. Even Chat programs such as mIRC, MSN/Yahoo Messenger, and ICQ are capable of file-transfering.

Symptoms of Problems

  • slow Internet performance
  • error messages that suggest your computer has “low memory”
  • increased virus attacks

Recommended Solutions

  • The best solution is to refrain from using file-sharing programs. If that’s not an option for you, use these programs as sparingly as possible, and be sure to close them as soon as you’re finished. You can also disable file-sharing so people won’t be able to download files from your computer.
  • Always scan files for viruses.
  • If you see small icons or anything running by your system “Date and Time” bar (usually located in the bottom right-hand corner of operating systems) that is related to these P2P programs, simply right click the icon and choose “EXIT/SHUTDOWN/TURN OFF” to remove it from running in the background and eating up system resources. If they return after you’ve rebooted your computer, it means that they are loading at system star-up and should be removed from your Startup folder (click on the Start button in the left-hand corner, then select “(All)Programs” and remove the program from your Startup folder).

Tips

  • Buy your music and movies from legitimate sources, don’t download them using P2P or file sharing services (the artists and your computer will thank you).
  • Don’t install programs unless you know how they work.
  • Keep a constant eye on your “Date/Time” bar, as sneaky P2P programs inhabit this spot and really should never be seen unless you are indeed using them at the time.
Privacy issues

Definition

Privacy, for citizens and consumers, means freedom from unauthorized intrusion. For organizations, privacy involves the policies that determine what information is gathered, how it is used, and how customers are informed and involved in this process. Privacy is a legal issue, but it’s also an information security issue. Customer outrage over stolen credit card numbers, for instance, is a privacy problem brought about by inadequate security.1

Many web sites include privacy statements to inform the customer about how they are going to use the information that they have collected.

Symptoms of Problems

A vast amount of personal information can be collected, stored, and used against a person.

The information collected by web sites can be used or sold to other marketing companies for target advertising. This information could also be passed on to other agencies without the user’s consent, and result in the user receiving more unsolicited email.

Recommended Solutions

Personal information is collected through cookies. A cookie is a small piece of information that a web browser stores on your computer. A cookie stores specific information that can be retrieved at a later time.

You can set your privacy settings in most recent browsers. In Internet Explorer you can choose to accept or block cookies from specific web sites, as well as specify whether web sites can access cookies that are already stored on your computer.

There are also programs such as Cookie Monster (www.snapfiles.com/get/cookiemonster.html) that allow the user to control the cookies on their computer and block or restrict certain sites from obtaining these cookies.

Blocking third party cookies that do not have a compact privacy policy or that use personally identifiable information without implicit consent.

Tips

Restrict the number of forms you complete online and review the privacy policy on the sites visited.

Set your browser to a higher privacy rating. This will allow only certain web sites to obtain or retrieve cookies from your system. This will also let you decide whether you would like to accept or reject the cookie when accessing a certain website. Keep in mind some web sites will not grant you access to them if your privacy settings are too high.

Parental Controls

Definition

Parental control software allows parents to control the Internet content available to their children. Parental control software can also help parents restrict the time that children spend on computer and Internet. This software can block access to adult sites, such as sites that contain pornography, violence, drugs and gambling. Parents can also set time controls for each child, track the sites their children have visited, and block chat rooms that are inappropriate for children.

Symptoms of Problems

Children viewing inappropriate material on the Internet, such as violence, pornography, drugs, and gambling. Viewing this content could have harmful effects on children. These sites can be restricted or monitored with software.

Recommended Solutions

Buying and installing parental controls for the web. These controls should allow the parent or guardian to filter chat/messaging rooms, block certain websites that they may consider inappropriate for children, limit Internet access times, track activity logs, and protect identity. Some examples of this software can be found at:

If you are unable to install parental control software, be sure to monitor your children’s Internet use.

Tips

Have parent or guardian take an active role in the child’s Internet time and activities. Ask more questions such as what/who the child is viewing and listening to, who they are writing to, etc.

Talk to your children about using the Internet and staying away from people that try and talk to them. You should also request that they avoid filling out any forms that ask for personal information or other information, such as credit card numbers etc. Also, if they are receiving spam in their email, let them how to deal with it. The family computer(s) should be setup in a well trafficked area of the home so that parents can monitor their children’s Internet activity.

Customer Service 1.888.365.2930


Internet Technical Support 1.888.725.9402