NinerNet Communications™
System Status

Server and System Status

Virus update 3

12 August 2020 05:41:35 +0000

As we approach a week with this issue, we are forced to make a decision. We continue to evaluate a number of options, and we’ll implement more than one, but the bottom line for us is a usable email system for our clients, or at least the vast majority of you.

In order to allow the vast majority of our clients to carry on business as usual, at 04:15 UTC today, 12 August 2020, we removed the attachment restriction we put in place late last week. According to reports, this will result in difficulty for one, or possibly two clients who have been overwhelmed recently by spam email that contained these attachments. On the other hand, we have heard those clients that have told us that their businesses have been stalled by these restrictions.

However, that isn’t the last or only action we have taken or will take on this matter. These are others:

  • The lack of speed with which our anti-virus vendor (ClamAV) has picked up this virus means we will be looking at options for either internal or external secondary virus scanning of our incoming and outgoing email streams. If this was something we already had in place, this disruption would have been hardly noticed by more than a few clients. This is the priority with which we are currently seized.
  • We continue to look into ways to apply certain restrictions to some domains and not others in a virtual-hosting environment.
  • Virus samples have been submitted to ClamAV and we anticipate that they will add the recently received viruses to their virus-detection database in due course.
  • We will make an offer to the client most affected by this virus outbreak to move their hosting to a virtual private server of their own.
  • We have blocked several thousand IP addresses that have been the sources of the problem attachments over the last week, and we will block more.
  • Server NC036 is approaching its scheduled replacement time frame. Had our plans been further along when this happened we’d have executed them immediately. However, there are always potential issues when implementing half-baked plans too far ahead of schedule, so we didn’t.

There are potential issues that you need to be aware of:

  • Some anti-virus scanners, not the least of which is ClamAV, are not detecting some of the recent viruses we have seen. You must ensure that you have anti-virus software installed on all of your machines and devices, and you must ensure that this software is automatically updated at least daily. Please remember that the responsibility for the safety of your computer(s) and your data is ultimately yours.
  • You and your employees need to be aware of the risks of opening attachments, and need to be aware of how to evaluate that risk. The risks are to both your machines and devices, and to your organisation and employees.

What have we learned from this experience? Other than our surprise at the degree to which some businesses rely significantly on Microsoft Word documents flying around the Internet, we have learned that the anti-virus vendor on which we have relied without issue for about a decade is not, in fact, infallible. We need, and will obtain, redundancy in this area.

Something else we have decided to act on is SPF (Sender Policy Framework) records. All domains we host have SPF records that tell all mail servers on the Internet that they should accept email only from our servers. The records have all ended with “~all”, but this weekend we will update all records to read “-all”. The difference is that the old records with the tilde (~) allowed receiving servers to act with some leeway, a so-called softfail; the hyphen (-) will enforce that all mail received from domains we host must come from our servers, or any others that are designated in the domain’s SPF record. What will this accomplish? One of the things we have seen is the domain of one of our clients being extensively and aggressively “spoofed”. This is when emails are sent purporting to come from a domain other than their real origin. SPF is designed to prevent this, but the directive with the tilde allows leeway that, it seems, can be too easily abused.

If you believe this may be an issue for you, or if you have any questions at all, please contact NinerNet support and we will assist.

Thank-you very much for your patience.

Virus update

10 August 2020 09:53:46 +0000

After three updates to the virus database on NC036 since Thursday we expected that the anti-virus scanner would detect and block the trojan that is currently overwhelming some of our clients. However, that is not the case.

For that reason we are once again blocking the attachments that are the cause of this problem. We sincerely apologise for this situation.

Again though, if you need to send a blocked attachment type, you can still do so if you compress the file into a .zip document. Your correspondents can also do the same.

If you are getting an error message when trying to send email, the first thing you need to do is check to see if you have attached a file to your message. If you have, and it is one of Microsoft’s typical Word documents, please remove it, compress it, attach the compressed .zip file, and then send that attachment.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact NinerNet support. Thank-you.

Zero-day virus getting through the mail server

6 August 2020 13:39:04 +0000

Within the last four hours we have been made aware of a trojan that is getting through our anti-virus scanner undetected. Once we were able to determine the file types that were attached to the emails, we blocked those kinds of attachments from being delivered to the server. Doing so also resulted in our being able to compile a list of sources of the offending messages, and we have been busy blocking email from scores of IP addresses.

Although we do scan both inbound and outbound email in real time for viruses, we do very strongly recommend that you have an anti-virus program installed on your local computers so that if anything does get through, it will protect your machines. Please remember that unsolicited attachments from unknown senders are extremely risky for you to open; even attachments from known senders are risky; please contact the sender through some other method — e.g., a quick phone call or text message — to confirm that they sent it and that it is safe to open. Even then you should first ensure your anti-virus software has been updated, save the file to your hard drive, and then manually scan it for viruses. Only if you have carried out all of the above should you consider opening the file.

Please remember that the responsibility for the safety of your computer and your data is ultimately yours.

We expect that the anti-virus vendor will update their virus signatures in due course. Until then we will be blocking all attachments that look the same as this particular outbreak. If you have a correspondent who needs to get a blocked attachment through, please tell them to compress the file and send that attachment instead.

If you have any questions, please contact NinerNet support. Thank-you.

NC036: Migration update 7

4 June 2018 08:56:05 +0000

My apologies for not getting an update out sooner, but there have been some inevitable issues.

  • mail27.niner.net: First, if you have somehow been using the mail27.niner.net sub-domain in your email configuration, this was not a sub-domain intended to be used that way, and so was not pointed to the new server. However, we have reconsidered, and it is now pointing to the new server to assist those who apparently have it configured in their email.
  • Control panels: We are moving away from the unhelpful “cp” (control panel) sub-domains. The new mail control panel is located at mail.niner.net.
  • Webmail: This is now located at webmail.niner.net. We’ll be updating your domains with a “webmail” sub-domain to redirect to this in due course.
  • Control panel user names: If you used to log into the control panel with a user name that was your client code @mail27.niner.net, these no longer exist. We’ll be sending new log-in information within the next 24 hours. In the meantime, if you need to do anything in the control panel, please advise and we will assist.
  • Microsoft domains (Hotmail, Outlook, etc.): Despite the fact that we advised Microsoft through the proper channels that our new IP address is in their blacklist and their informing us that it would be removed, they are still blocking us. We are routing emails to their primary domains through our relay server to avoid emails being bounced, but it’s still possible that emails to these domains my end up in your correspondents’ spam folders.
  • Delays/losses: While the mail servers were down for approximately 7.5 hours — a lot longer than the four hours we optimistically forecast — incoming email to you sent while they were down will have been held on the sending server. Some of that backlog may take several hours to clear, depending on the policies of the senders’ mail servers, but the servers were down during an off-peak period anyway. Additionally, while we strive never to lose a single email during maintenance and migrations, we have seen several of our own emails to clients bounce. We will investigate and fix this issue.
  • Spam/viruses: On a more positive note, we’re already seeing this new server doing a much improved job of stopping spam and viruses.

Finally, one last apology for promising this migration three weeks ago and not actually delivering until now, and for not having all of the issues ironed out well in advance of Monday morning.

We’ll likely have additional information to post here later, but in the meantime you are welcome to contact us if you are having any issues not covered by the above.

NinerNet home page

Systems at a Glance:


Loc.SystemStatusPing
Server NC023, London, United Kingdom (Relay server), OPERATIONAL.NC023OperationalUp?
Server NC028, Vancouver, Canada (Monitoring server), INTERNAL.NC028InternalUp?
Server NC031, New York, United States of America (Web server), INTERNAL.NC031InternalUp?
Server NC033, Toronto, Canada (Primary nameserver), OPERATIONAL.NC033OperationalUp?
Server NC034, Lusaka, Zambia (Phone server), INTERNAL.NC034InternalUp?
Server NC035, Sydney, Australia (Secondary nameserver), OPERATIONAL.NC035OperationalUp?
Server NC036, Amsterdam, Netherlands (Mail server), OPERATIONAL.NC036OperationalUp?
Server NC037, Seattle, United States of America (Mail server, secondary mail server), OPERATIONAL.NC037OperationalUp?
Server NC040, Toronto, Canada (Web server), INTERNAL.NC040InternalUp?
Server NC041, New York, United States of America (Web server), OPERATIONAL.NC041OperationalUp?
Server NC042, Seattle, United States of America (Status website), OPERATIONAL.NC042OperationalUp?

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