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, How to reduce spam emails?

Plesk Onyx or cPanel?

Plesk Onyx or cPanel?

I would say this is a question for you when you are subscribing a web hosting. Some may have been using cPanel and some use Plesk. Whatever the case do you actually need them? The control panels are not free, they are selling in monthly or paid upfront yearly for a discount.

So, the question is do you need them? And which one? I have been dealing with many Linux and Windows servers, and my answer is yes. However, cPanel is limited to Linux only. If you have a Windows server, a control panel might not be necessary but it is making your life easier and save time on a Linux server.

It has to do with the operating system. In my opinion, this is the reason why you need it on a Linux server and it is not a must or you simply forget about it. So what to do with the operating system? On a Windows server, it offers a GUI and most items are manageable through the administrator’s interface.

Unlike a Linux server, you can operate a Windows server with little understanding. Just Google searches and navigate on a Windows server, you might find setting up your website is pretty straight forward, Thanks to the GUI, it is easy to understand the steps and what to execute.

Linux server uses a SHELL, and commands can be compleated. You might need customization for some hosted situation and these adjustments done on configuration are in text format. Any mistyped or misconfiguration can cause the service related refuse to start.

Each time you have made any changes to a configuration you need to reload to take effect. To set up a website like WordPress and install the required services and components, you will take more time on a Linux server than Windows server.

Especially to a novice, it is difficult to set up on a Linux server but the success rate is high on a Windows server. So that’s mean to say it a good idea to have a control panel on Linux server but you can dave if it a Windows server.

Now, we know high chance we will need a control panel if you own a Linux server, However, cPanel or Plesk Onyx works best for you? Actually, this control panel has targetted a different type of customers in my opinion. If you are a beginner and do not spend much time to understand each function, I suggest Plesk. However, if you want to dive deeper and better control on the server, goes with cPanel.

I personally like Plesk but sometimes I hate it when I want to do a bit more like changing the behaviour of my mail service, I always ended up in SHELL but it might not be the case for cPanel. One thing I’m sure is you will save plenty of time and it is much easier working with a control panel on a Linux server.

Most control panels work well with CentOS Linux distribution, thus it is popular.

, How to reduce spam emails?

3 important functions you must know in SmarterMail

3 important functions you must know in SmarterMail

A lot of our SmarterMail users might have neglected these 3 important functions in connectivity. In my opinion, they are relatively important. It is good to understand the functions and their purpose.

The first one is cloud storage. Users can connect to their cloud storage like Google Drive, Dropbox and deposit their files via SmarterMail webmail. That’s mean to say, you can upload any attachment to your cloud storage after reading incoming emails. This will save time downloading the files and connect to your cloud storage to upload.

The second one is ‘Email Retrieval’. Like what it says retrieve email and it retrieves email using POP3 or IMAP4 from any mailbox that supports these protocol. This is especially good if you have many external email accounts and consider to consolidate them, read and reply with the same mailbox.

If you are a Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo users, refrain yourselves forwarding the email to them but fetch those emails from them. The email services have a very stringent anti-spam policy. forwarding emails might cause your mail server IP blocked. Remember a forwarding will forward the spam emails that you received.

The third one is rare and it might be a wanted feature to some user is an ‘SMTP Account’.  At the webmail, you can send emails using another SMTP mailbox but not the local SmarterMail SMTP. Which mean you can reply or write an email using another desired mail server. I found this is useful if I’m representing another organization.

I’m sure many SmarterMail users might have found it new and I thought you guys should know there are such things,

, How to reduce spam emails?

SmarterMail – Migration makes easy

SmarterMail – Migration makes easy

If you are using one of the email servers and want to migrate to SmarterMail, you can use the migration tool in the webmail as shown. Basically, SmarterMail imports all your emails stored on the current mail server either using POP3 or IMAP4, however, if you are Gmail user, you can import calendars, tasks and contacts too.

 

, How to reduce spam emails?

Brute-force Protection

Brute-force Protection

Whether you are using Exim, Postfix or others, I personally feel that the brute-force protection is necessary. I have seen unauthorized login attempts on email accounts especially the common ones.

I supposed your service provider has been telling you ‘please use the strong password’. However, Imseeing compromised account use a weak password. So, please remind yourselves always to use strong passwords.

A strong password can be 13 characters and above, a mixture of the symbols, capital letters, small letters and numbers. You don’t and never define such as strong password ‘[email protected]’ Yes. it has more than 13 characters., symbols, capital, small letters and numbers.

This type of password is very guessable, they are likely in the hacker’s dictionary. Never use this kind of password. Combination of name, birthday, handphone and NRIC number should be avoided too. A password is your first defence line, hence it is important to make sure they are not guessable.

Devices have set up with email services should install with a good anti-virus capable of detecting malicious activities like for example ports scanning which is common nowadays. This is also important to an individual, even you have a strong password, there is risk your password is stolen through a backdoor on a virus-infected devive.

If you do have the above both, the brute-force protection is useful but it is not 100% you are protected or you are safe. Hackers will attempt to login to your email account with their hacking program using a guessable password.

The ideal of brute-force protection is a rule to block further failed login after X attempts in X interval and block the source for an X period. This is effective to bar authorized access. Whoever came out the mechanism is a genius. This mechanism has protected many, not only email accesses.

Like SmarterMail has such feature out of the box, actually more like internal spammer etc. However, today topic is mainly on brute-force and yes, SmarterMail has built-in with such feature. The server admin can define the number of attempts and the block interval. SmarterMail will display the IP address and its location, should you blacklist them permanently.

I personally felt this is a great feature to protect our email users. This feature reduces the workload on email server admin too. A good email system must built-in with a good security feature and SmarterMail did it.

 

, How to reduce spam emails?

Configure maldet to detect malware infected files

Configure maldet to detect malware infected files

In the last article, we install maldet. We learn how to configure maldet today. Again, I want to mention maldet is free and only for Linux server. Let us begin the configuration, assuming you have installed maldet successfully.

For setting up maldet, the configuration file at /usr/local/maldet/conf.maldet has to make sure you be modified.

The next are some of the general options that you will may just want to set.

If you will want to be notified of the existence of malware by email, set the following selections.

email_alert : If you want to get email alerts whenever a suspect file is detected, then it should be set to 1.
email_addr : The email address to which notifications should be directed. This is used in combination with the email_alert option.
email_ignore_clean : When malware notifications have been automatically cleaned out (check the next two options), ignore dispatching email notifications. This is disabled by default. Set it to 1 to allow it, if you have decide to put up an automated daily scan that picks up and cleans the hits and you do not want to be notified of these by email.
What action will need to be used on the infected files? The following alternatives can be placed to quarantine (to push the affected files to a secure and protected area where they are unable to create any damage) the files.

quarantine_hits : The default value is 0. Set this to 1 and so that the infected files will be relocated to quarantine.
quarantine_clean : The default value is 0. This is used once quarantine_hits is set to 1. Do you want the program to further clean the files? Set this to 1 if you will want the program to try to clean the malware injections. Maintain this as zero if you want to check before cleaning.
In a multi-user conditions, the following choices may become useful.

quarantine_suspend_user : By default, the following is disabled and set to 0. If you set this to 1, the accounts of users who have got hits will be suspended. For this to function, quarantine_hits should be 1.
quarantine_suspend_user_minuid : The lowest user id which can be suspended. This is set to 500 by default.
inotify_minuid : The lowest user id above which users need to be watched. The default value is 500.
inotify_docroot : The web directory relative to the home directory of users. By default, it is set to public_html. If this is set, only this web directory will be checked.
Save and close the configuration file.

A simple scan
For a simple scan, run maldet with the –scan-all option with a path as an argument. It first builds a list of files for almost all the directories and sub-directories in that path. Then it reads through all any files and gives the number of hits. It also provides a report which you can easily view to examine the files that are suspicious. Help to make sure that you provide the full path and not the relative path.

sudo maldet –scan-all /home/username/public_html/

A notice of warning, though. The setting scan_ignore_root in the configuration file is set to 1 by default. This triggers files that are owned by root to be ignored in the file list that maldet builds. The default value is more efficient, but the assumption is that your root password has not been compromised and malware are not injected into root-owned files. Change this setting to 0 if you want root-owned files also to be scanned. This might slow down the scan. So, use it judiciously.

You can view the files that are affected by opening the report file mentioned.

Quarantine affected files
When quarantine_hits is set to 1, maldet not only scans for malware, but also moves the hits to quarantine so that your users do not have access to these files. So, your malware scan may produce results as below. In this case, quarantine_clean is set to 0.

If you view the report, you can see the affected files and their quarantine location. You can inspect the files and then decide on whether you want to clean them.

If you scan with the quarantine_hits set to 0, you need not set it to 1 and redo the scan. Instead, you could quarantine all malware results from the previous scan with

sudo maldet -quarantine SCANID

Quarantine and clean affected files
When quarantine_clean is set to 1, it moves the affected files to quarantine, maldet tries to clean them.

If you did a scan with the quarantine_hits or quarantine_clean set to 0, you can do a clean with the following option.

sudo maldet -clean SCANID

Restore a file
If you want to restore a file which was false positive as a malicious and quarantined, or if you have  cleaned the file and want it back in its proper location,

sudo maldet -restore FILENAME

Alternately, give the complete path of the quarantined file.

sudo maldet -restore /usr/local/maldetect/quarantine/FILENAME

Wildcard scan
You can also make use of wildcards in your scan path. ? is the wildcard character.

sudo maldet –scan-all /home/?/public_html/

This will check all directories inside /home and if any of them had a public_html sub-directory, then that directory will be scanned completely.

Recent scan
If you want to check the same path as a previous scan, but only those files created or modified in the recent past, you have to run maldet with the –scan-recent option and the number of days n

sudo maldet –scan-recent /home/username/public_html/

A weekly incremental check will be done by doing such a recent scan for 7 days.

Automate periodic scan
You can automate daily scans using the cronjob feature. During installation, LMD installs a cronjob at /etc/cron.daily/maldet.

This cronjob will update signatures, include new malware threats in its registry and perform a daily check of all the home directories and recent changes on the server. Whenever, it detects some malware, it will notify you specified in the configuration.

Monitor mode
The inotify monitor can be used to monitor users real-time for file creation, modification or movement. Monitoring can be done with one or more of the three options available,

Monitor users
The users option will take the home directories of all users in the system who have UID greater than inotify_minuid and monitor them. If inotify_docroot is set, the users’ web directory, if it exists, will only be monitored.

sudo maldet –monitor users

Monitor paths
Alternately, you can monitor paths. Give a comma-separated path with the –monitor option.

sudo maldet –monitor PATH1,PATH2,…
For example,sudo maldet –monitor /tmp,/home,/var

Monitor files
If you have concerns about specific files, you can monitor specific files by giving a comma-separated list of files.

sudo maldet –monitor FILE1,FILE2,..

Exclude files or paths
Certain paths or files can be excluded from the scan, by using the ignore files.

Add files or paths to be excluded from daily scan in /usr/local/maldetect/ignore_paths

Add signatures to be excluded from daily scan in /usr/local/maldetect/ignore_sigs

Add files or paths to be excluded from inotify monitoring in /usr/local/maldetect/ignore_inotify.

Add the extensions of file types that you want to exclude from daily scans (one per line) in /usr/local/maldetect/ignore_file_ext. Sample entries in file could be

.png
.jpg
Check out more options like running maldet in the background and other finer settings by using the help option.

sudo maldet –help
If you run a self-hosted website, at some point or the other, it is possible for malicious hackers to inject malware into your system. Before that happens, get your system secure and install maldet to keep ahead of such attacks.

, How to reduce spam emails?

Detect and remove malware on your Linux server

Detect and remove malware on your Linux server

Today, we learn how to remove malware in a Linux server. It is not 100% but it is the cheapest way to detect, clean or quarantine malware. I recommend this to be installed on all Linux server especially you are using open source CMS like WordPress for your website.

What is malware?

Malware is usually identified as any kind of harmful software or code that is harmful to devices.

Dangerous, invasive, and deliberately nasty, malware seeks to get into, harm, or deactivate computer systems, computer devices, networks, tablets, and mobile phone devices, often simply by taking general control over a device’s functions. Just like your flu, it disturbs with regular performance.

Malware is most about making income off you illicitly. Even though malware is not able to harm the physical equipment of devices or network system equipment it may take, encrypt, or erase your data, modify or maybe hijack main computer system capabilities, and spy on the device activity not having your knowledge or authorization.

Linux Malware Detect commonly referred to as Maldet is just an open-source malware scanner for Linux produced under the GNU GPLv2 license. The idea is built in and around the dangers experienced in shared hosted conditions. Install, configure and run this kind of free of charge software to detect and remove malware on your server.

Installation
Login as root or a user with root permissions into the server.

The source code of the current stable version of LMD or maldet is obtainable as a tarball in that link. Download it.

sudo wget http://www.rfxn.com/downloads/maldetect-current.tar.gz
Unpack that tarball.

sudo tar -xvf maldetect-current.tar.gz
After that, list its files to discover the directory in which it is set up. The directory is generally of the format maldetect-x.y.z where x.y.z is the version number. Switch to this directory.

cd maldetect-1.5
Check if perhaps the install.sh script is certainly there and installs it.

sudo ./install.sh

The next topic will teach you on how to configure maldet

, How to reduce spam emails?

Why do you need to change domain name?

Why do you need to change the domain name?

This is one of the common question asked by customers. It is not very common, but there are a few instances or website the owners change the domain name.

There are 2 common mistakes or rather I should say it is the perception of a domain name. A domain name requires registration to own it if available and your website can change the name ad it is not broken. Some website like a WordPress website requires the domain name to be updated. Should you not have the domain name was hard-coded into a URL

If you have fulfilled the above you can change the existing domain name. However, when you are changing an existing domain, you must ask yourselves on why and if the reasons are valid. There are a few reasons why you need to change a domain name.

  • The business name is changed, due to an acquisition, combine or business decision.
  • The existing domain name is too long and hard to remember.
  • The domain TLD has not to symbolized a local business.
  • The domain name was a brand name, you are no longer representing.
  • You just bought a domain name that suits your business better.

These are usually the reasons why they have changed an existing domain. To change a domain name, you need to do the followings,

  • The new domain name must be registered and the owner to it.
  • Speak to your website developer, tell them you want to use the new domain name.
  • Make the old domain as an alias to the new domain name. Emails are delivered to the new domain name.
  • A 301Wildcard redirection to redirect web traffic from the old to the new domain name.
  • Announcement to your customers and business associates.

When you have all these above, you are ready to change the domain name. On the other hand, 301 redirection is important in SEO perspective. The new domain can affect your ranking in search engines for the domain age and backlinks to your website. Thus, 301 redirection is very important.

 

, How to reduce spam emails?

Some are using shared hosting?

Some are using shared hosting?

Actually, this question has bothered me, why people are using shared hosting while VPS are dirt cheap. Probably, you can get a VPS for just $5 a month and multiply by 12 months which is equal to $60. What $60? It is cheaper than a shared hosting plan.

But wait, we miss out a few things. There are a few reasons why they are still using and looking for shared hosting. If you look at a different angle or in their socks, VPS may not a good choice.

I have spoken to some, they have no idea what is a VPS, end of the day it is about price. In the past, VPS has a higher price than shared hosting, however, because of its popularity and server are cheaper nowadays, VPS’s price has fallen tremendously.

Price is probably the main factor. Secondly is the web panel like cPanel or Plesk, they are optional in a VPS. Unlike the shared hosting, basically, you do not have to think about it. Shared hosting is a web hosting ready to go. So it is simple, good for layman or people have little IT background.

Again, consumers must give themselves with choices and not limited to shared hosting. Hosting providers like us must be able to educate the consumers on the differences between VPS and shared hosting. Consumers will understand the pros and cons, and which types of web hosting are bettter.

Here are a few advantages of buying a VPS compares to shared hosting;

  • If you host more than one website, a VPS might save you more money.
  • Dedicated IP address comes default in a VPS. You never worry if your neighbour’s IP address is blacklisted in RBL.
  • You can update the kernel at your own schedule if it is a true VM.
  • Web service, mail service and others do not share with others. You have total control over these services.
  • You can root shell to your VPS.
  • You can modify the configuration of a VPS for the behaviour you wanted.
  • You can resell spare resources & more

However, there are cons like paying more for a control panel and it is likely you need to manage your web hosting if you faced any difficulty on a VPS. Only you have more time or you have the knowledge, it is worth considering buying a VPS for your website.

 

 

, How to reduce spam emails?

How to reduce spam emails?

How to reduce spam emails?

Actually, it is frustrating if you are receiving a lot of spam email. Even you have so-called the best anti-spam on your email service, you can receiving spam email, maybe lesser and at the same time, you might treat some emails as spam email, known as false positive.

As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t 100%. With anti-spam you are receiving lesser definitely but your definition is never the same as the server. Some anti-spam require you to set rules or train them in order to be effective

Thus, you cannot eliminate those spam emails defined by you. However, you can still minimise receiving spam emails without spending a lot to or buy a good anti-spam. Here are a few tips to help you;

a. Never use your ‘work’ email to do registration online for personal use, Your email address can be sold to someone for bulk sending. Always think twice if registration is necessary.

b. Avoid common account name like help, sales, enquiry or similar. If your name is John, avoid using [email protected], and add your last name.

c. Do not advertise your email address. Spammers like to use harvesting technique to collect email addresses. Common areas like auction portals, buy & sell portal etc.

e. Make sure you use SPF in your domain name DNS allows only permitted email server to send email on your behalf. I recommend ‘-a’ at the end of SPF record if you want to enforce those emails impersonate your organization.

f. Use effective RBLs on your email server. Reputable RBLs filter emails sent from bad IP addresses.

 

 

 

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