Problem with disappearing emails for BT Internet / Sky users

I’ve had multiple reports this morning of BTInternet customers seeing mail just disappear from their accounts.

I’ve looked into this and narrowed it down to users using Outlook via IMAP.

The symptoms are that when a new message is read, one or more existing messages below it in the inbox disappear within a few minutes.

There is a thread on the BT forum about this issue that I am following to keep up with developments, which you can see here: https://community.bt.com/t5/Email/Emails-disappearing-from-inbox/td-p/1977636 and there are similar posts relating to Sky elsewhere (and apparently AT&T who also use Yahoo email).

 

Update 26/10:

According to forum postings online, Yahoo have given a predicted date of November 7th/8th for completion of the fix of the disappearing mail problem.

In the meantime, do not use Outlook for accessing your BT email accounts. You can set up a forwarding rule in the BT webmail interface to forward the mail to a non-bt email address, and then access that without fear of losing mail, or simply use the BT web interface at BT.com for mail until the problem is fixed.

This is a huge mess-up by Yahoo, and all BT customers who had not been migrated from Yahoo to the new BT Mail system when BT silently abandoned the migration in 2015 are being affected by it (if they use Outlook as their mail client).

If you know anyone else who is affected, please spread the word. Also, I think it would be useful for anyone affected to place a formal complaint with BT about this problem.

 

Update 28/10:

The problems appear to have been fixed now, and all email appears to have been restored.

Windows 10 Creators Update

A lot of Windows 10 users were annoyed when the Anniversary update, released a year after the initial release of Windows 10, suddenly decided to install itself on their machines without so much as a polite warning.

Well, this is due to happen again this month (April 2017) with the new “Creators” update, and again, most users will not have the power to prevent it. Anyone using Windows 10 Home with the default Windows Update options could find it downloading any time after April 11th. It will then be scheduled to install any time outside “active hours” which if you haven’t changed them should be 8am to 5pm. Windows will target users of new, tested devices first, and then roll out to older machines later.

You can reschedule this  restart and install in the Windows Update settings (under “Restart Options”) but you can only delay it up to 6 days.

Users of Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise or Education can defer the update further. In Windows Update settings, click “Advanced Options” under “Update Settings” and  then put a tick in the “Defer Feature updates” box. This will allow continued normal updates to be installed but will block the Creators update.

However, despite all the problems people report when installing Windows Updates, I would still recommend you install the Creators update. Among other things it promises a better Windows Update mechanism which will give users more control over when an update will install, and allow you to postpone restarts so you don’t lose your work to an unexpected reboot. There are many other improvements too, which should make Windows 10 much more bearable for most.

If the update does cause problems for you, contact me or a local professional, who will be able to help you.

Virgin.net email address closure

People with Virgin.net email addresses are probably already aware that they are going to lose access to this service soon, but there seems to be some confusion as to exactly when.

Virgin Media sold part of their business to TalkTalk last year and that included responsibility for these addresses, and it seems that TalkTalk are not going to maintain them. I have not been able to find an exact date, but it is suggested that the cut off will be at the end of June, so only a few weeks from now.

To avoid loss of email , the simplest approach is to connect to the mail service using an email client such as Windows Live Mail. Outlook or Thunderbird. and copy the mail into folders that are stored locally (on your computer).

You are going to need to get an alternative address and let everyone know you have done so. The earlier you do this the better, as there will be a transitional period where people are still using the old address. If you have that transitional period early enough you can monitor the incoming mail and let people know of the change by replying to them, or logging on to a website that has the old address and changing it to the new one. If you leave it to late, you won’t be able to tell who is still trying to mail you on the old address!

There are a few options for free web-based email. You could choose Gmail, Outlook.com (Microsoft, formerly known as Hotmail), Yahoo, or many others. My personal preference is for Gmail. Web based mail means that when you change your ISP you don’t need to change your email address too.

Alternatively you could buy your own domain name and get a web host to provide you with mailboxes. This is a cheap (but not free) way to have control over your mail. I recommend Vidahost for services like this.

If you have any questions or need any help with the process of getting away from a virgin.net address, or just with email in general, please feel free to contact me.

Upgrading to Windows 10 – Don’t rush into it!

Now that Windows 10 has been released and is being rolled out to everyone who reserved it using the little icon that’s appeared in the system tray over the last few months, I thought I should issue a word of caution.

Although Windows 10 may be a fantastic OS, and we may all want to start to use it eventually, at the start of the life of any version of Windows it takes time for software companies to make their software fully compatible with it. So if you rush into upgrading to Windows 10 without making sure that everything you have installed is compatible it can cause some fairly serious issues.

A common problem is that of antivirus software being unready, or needing special precautions during the upgrade. If compatible, some AV may still need to be removed before the upgrade, and then reinstalled once the upgrade is complete.

PC manufacturers can also lag behind when it comes to making the pre-installed software and hardware drivers compatible with new versions of Windows. At best this can lead to messages popping up all over the place to say things cannot run, and at worst this can lead to a non-bootable computer.

Some tips:

  • Do your research. Make sure that all your essential applications support Windows 10.
  • Look at the computer manufacturer’s website to make sure that the drivers for your hardware will work on Windows 10.
  • Consult your antivirus vendor to see if any special precautions need to be followed when upgrading.
  • Backup. Make sure that all your data is backed up, and if possible create an “image” of your whole PC so that you can revert if the upgrade does not go to plan.

Malware seen today – BT Digital File

A customer asked me about an email they received today, and I wanted to pass on a warning to anyone who receives anything like the following…

Subject: Important – BT Digital File

Dear Customer,

This email contains your BT Digital File. Please scan attached file and reply to this email.

To download your BT Digital File please follow the link below : <LINK REMOVED FOR SAFETY>

If you have any questions or forgotten your password, please visit the “Frequently Asked Questions” at bt.com or call the helpdesk on 0870 240 5356* between 8am and midnight.

Thank you for choosing BT Digital Vault.

Kind regards,

BT Digital Vault Team

*Calls charged up to 8 pence per minute on the BT network (minimum fee 5.5p). Mobile and other network costs may vary. See http://www.bt.com/pricing for details.

Please note that this is an automatically generated email for your information only. We are sorry, but we can not respond to a “Reply” to this address.

This electronic message contains information from British Telecommunications plc, which may be privileged or confidential. The information is intended for use only by the individual(s) or entity named above. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. If you have received this electronic message in error, please delete this email immediately.

Registered office: 81 Newgate Street London EC1A 7AJ Registered in England no: 1800000

The link in this email seems to be variable but will be designed to lull the user into a false sense of security. For example the one in my customer’s email was a school organisation, “woodingdeanptfa.org”

DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK IN THIS EMAIL! DO NOT DOWNLOAD OR RUN ANY ATTACHMENTS THAT MAY BE INCLUDED WITH THE EMAIL!

Other subjects seen while researching this problem are:

  • We have received your secure message (from Santander)
  • Customer Account Correspondence (from Lloyds)
  • (AR01) Annual Return Received

As a general rule, never open attachments on emails that look like they may be generic, even if they are from people you know. Viruses and malware will spread through an infected users address book, making the recipients think that the mail has been sent to them by a trusted source. If in any doubt whether you should open an attachment, ask the sender whether they knowingly sent it. If you don’t know the sender, and the email is unsolicited, don’t open the attachment.

Phishing Virus affecting Tesco Banking website

I was recently called out to a customer who was having trouble logging in to her bank account (credit card) online. She was using Chrome to login to Tesco bank, and the symptoms she described to me immediately made me suspect there was something amiss with her computer.

She would go to the website and put in her username on the first page and click login. This would immediately take her to the “You have logged out” page.

She had contacted Tesco about this and been talked through trying the same thing with Internet Explorer, but with very different results. The amazing thing was that the support advisor made her do things that would compromise her account and then didn’t help her change her security details afterwards.

This is an account of what she saw, and what I subsequently reproduced later.

Screen One – Tesco Bank login screen – As expected

TescoSShotLogin

Username was entered into this screen and the Login button was pressed.

Next page – Where things get more suspicious…

Heartbleed – The Basics

heartbleed.jpgThere has been a lot of publicity recently about the Heartbleed Bug, but a lack of a basic explanation of how it affects people and what they can do about it. The advice and information given out by security companies should be considered more expert than this page, but this is an attempt to make the information more accessible to the non-technical.
A Q&A page answering some questions about the bug can be found here http://heartbleed.com/ . It may, however, be too technical to be useful to many.

OpenSSL is the technology used by many, but not all, sites on the internet that encrypt data to protect it during transmission. The bug means that it is possible for someone to access the data that is encrypted by affected versions of OpenSSL. It does this by compromising the keys used to encrypt the data. The versions of OpenSSL that are vulnerable in this way have been around for a couple of years so many sites around the web are affected.

What can you do?

There is a limit to what you as a user can do to protect yourself from this, as it is mainly based at the website end rather than at your computer (although routers and other devices can also be affected). However, if you want to be as safe as possible you can change your passwords for affected sites. This will only work if the site in question has fixed the bug in their system by updating their version of OpenSSL, so go to the website and check first, or consult the lists mentioned below. Changing your password before the site has been fixed will be wasted effort.

To find out whether a particular site is vulnerable, users of the Mozilla Firefox can download and install an add-on that automatically checks sites from here https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/heartbleed-checker/

Other users can test whether a site is vulnerable or has been fixed by going to this site https://lastpass.com/heartbleed/ and putting in the address of the site in question.

Check the organisations with which you hold sensitive information, ie banks, social media and email. If they were affected but have now issued a fix, change your password. If they are affected but haven’t patched there’s not a lot you can do yet. A list of a lot of major websites and whether they are affected can be found here http://mashable.com/2014/04/09/heartbleed-bug-websites-affected/

Home routers can also be affected, so it is worth checking the website of the manufacturer of your router to see if it is affected and if there is an update for the router firmware available.

Some websites have been proactive about informing their users of the dangers of Heartbleed, often by emailing and requesting that users change their passwords. It is important that you do not let this take precedence over advice you may have been given not to click on links in unsolicited email. It would be very bad practice (although some sites including Mumsnet have done it) to email users and request that they click on a link to change their password. Do not click on these links. Go to the site in question and do it from there. It would not be at all surprising to find senders of spam and “Phishing” emails sending out fakes email over the next few weeks claiming to be legitimately requesting you to change your password in an attempt to get you to give it away. If in doubt, hover the cursor over the link and the real destination will be shown in a little pop-up box, or in the bar along the bottom of your browser or mail client window. If it doesn’t look right or you are in any doubt you should never click a link in an email.

That’s about all you can do, I hope this helps!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas to everyone who knows us. We hope everyone still manages to have a wonderful Christmas despite the terrible weather in the UK and, most importantly, that everyone is safe.

I hope we’ve been helpful this year and can do more to help you in 2014.