Terry Zink: Security Talk

Discussing Internet security in (mostly) plain English

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  • Blog Post: Why does spam and phishing get through Office 365? And what can be done about it?

    Introduction As a filtering service, Office 365 (Exchange Online Protection, or EOP) is dedicated to providing the best antispam filtering possible, and we take this task seriously: We are working hard to keep spam out of your inbox We are working hard to ensure we don’t mistakenly...
  • Blog Post: Submitting spam back to Office 365

    Office 365 (Exchange Online Protection) regularly asks customers to submit spam samples back so that we can improve the service. This information is also available here: Submitting spam and non-spam messages to Microsoft for analysis http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj200769(v=exchg.150).aspx...
  • Blog Post: According to the World Economic Forum, I am helping to fight the seventh most dangerous global risk

    This is going to be a long post. How I spent my weekend This weekend I took a quick glance at the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks for 2014 report. The WEF is a Swiss nonprofit foundation that describes itself as an international organization that is dedicated to improving the state of the world by...
  • Blog Post: Understanding how Exchange Transport Rules work on the Sender

    One of the more powerful features in Exchange Online Protection (EOP) are Exchange Transport Rules, also known as ETRs. These have a variety of functionality but the one I want to focus on is how they operate on the sender of a message. The following web pages describes the predicates of an ETR, that...
  • Blog Post: Understanding identification of Bulk Email in Office 365

    Bulk email, sometimes referred to as grey mail, or gray mail, is a type of email that is difficult to classify for all users at a global level. Bulk or gray email is email that some users want but others consider spam. For example, some users want their email from Amazon Local’s Daily Deals or invitations...
  • Blog Post: Why do spammers spam? I try to explain it using the Moralization Gap

    Don’t spammers know they are irritating the rest of us? Lately, I have been thinking a little bit on why spammers spam. I have never conducted a large study of this, all of my research about their own explanations comes from my memory of articles I have read and videos I have seen of convicted spammers...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft, the NSA, the Backfire Effect and how we all make bad decisions

    A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog post on the Wall Street Journal where they were commenting on comments made by Brad Smith, Microsoft’s top legal counsel. His comments were in response to latest revelations that the NSA sometimes sniffs network traffic between data centers: Microsoft’s top lawyer...
  • Blog Post: How to setup your DMARC records if you are outsourcing some, or all, of your email – Part 2

    Continuing on in our series on authenticating outsourced email, how do we outsource our email such that we also pass a DMARC check? First , decide if you want DMARC to pass via an SPF check or a DKIM validation, or both. Second , delegate a subdomain for the 3rd party to send email “as your...
  • Blog Post: How to setup DMARC records if you are outsourcing some, or all, of your email – Part 1

    In my previous posts, I discussed how to set up your SPF, SenderID, and DKIM records if you are an organization that outsources some of its email to a 3rd party, such as advertising. For example, an airline might send out its flight confirmations from its own email servers and infrastructure, but contract...
  • Blog Post: How to set up your DKIM records if you are outsourcing some, or all, of your email and still build your reputation

    In my previous post, I described how you can set up DKIM records if you are outsourcing your advertising email to a 3rd party. In summary: You don’t have to do anything. However, this comes at the cost of not being able to generate your own domain-reputation. You may care about generating...
  • Blog Post: How to set up your DKIM records if you are outsourcing some, or all, of your email

    In my last two posts on outsourcing your email, I explained how to set up your SPF records if you are outsourcing your advertising email, and how to set up your SenderID records if you are outsourcing it. Next up is how to set up your DomainKeys Identified Mail, or DKIM, records if you are outsourcing...
  • Blog Post: How to set up your SenderID records if you are outsourcing some, or all, of your email

    In my previous post , I discussed how to structure email such that if it comes from a 3rd party on behalf of you, it will pass an SPF check. But what about passing a SenderID check? To solve this, we first have to remind ourselves what SenderID is. Let’s go back to the previous post where...
  • Blog Post: How to set up your SPF records if you are outsourcing some, or all, of your email

    I thought I would do a few posts on email authentication, specifically, how to ensure that you have good sending reputation and the proper way to set up your SPF records. In future posts, I plan to get into how to set up your DKIM records as well as your DMARC records in the case that you are an organization...
  • Blog Post: Teaching consumers security habits

    I thought I’d round out the year with a summary of Randy Abrams’ talk from Virus Bulletin entitled Teaching Consumers Security Habits from this past year’s 2012 Virus Bulletin Conference in Dallas, TX. I wanted to write about it long ago but I wanted to post my series Practical Cybersecurity first. The...
  • Blog Post: Practical Cybersecurity, Part 6 – Bringing it all together

    How young to start? Where should we teach cyber security? Should it be something that people learn on their own time? Or is it something that should be included into formal education? Paypal recently (when I first wrote this paper) released a whitepaper on combating cybercime. In it, the authors assert...
  • Blog Post: Practical Cybersecurity, Part 5 – What should we teach?

    What concepts should we teach? What topics are the most important ones for users to learn? There are so many possibilities that it is hard to narrow down to only a handful. If we only got to pick three, here are the three I would choose: The Internet is fun but only deal with trustworthy sources. This...
  • Blog Post: Practical Cybersecurity, part 4 – Metacognition

    Metacognition A third technique that supports transfer is teaching methods that incorporate metacognition. Metacognition is “thinking about thinking” – understanding the reason behind a concept. For example, we all know that the North Pole is cold. Why is it cold? Because it receives less direct sunlight...
  • Blog Post: Practical Cybersecurity, part 3 – Experience

    Whenever people learn new information, they do it in a way that fits in to their current experiences of how they view the world. There is a children’s book called Fish is Fish . The book is about a fish who lives in the ocean and wants to see the rest of the world, so he asks his friend Frog to venture...
  • Blog Post: Practical Cybersecurity, Part 2 – Expertise

    Expertise If we want to teach people to be cyber aware, they need expertise. But how much is enough? Do we want people to become security experts? Or just good enough to resist most types of scams? In other fields, experts are able to process information differently than novices. In fact, they have a...
  • Blog Post: Practical Cybersecurity, Part 1 – The problem of Education

    I thought I’d close out the year by presenting my 2011 Virus Bulletin presentation. It builds upon my 2010 presentation about why we fall for scams which I blogged about earlier this year in my series The Psychology of Spamming: Part 1 - How our brains work Part 2 - The Limbic system, cognition...
  • Blog Post: Why people keep proposing a Final Ultimate Solution to the Spam Problem (FUSSP)

    In the antispam world, from time to time somebody new likes to come in and propose a solution that will wipe out spam: Email authentication! Statistical classifiers! Blacklists! User education! These terms are derisively referred to as the Final Ultimate Solution to the Spam Problem. It’s a term that...
  • Blog Post: Google, Apple, Microsoft… why is there such fanboy-ism in tech?

    I’m going to depart from my typical security related topics to discuss another issue: fanboy-ism. You all reading this know what I mean – it’s when people have such a devotion to a certain product that they will defend, to the death, their preferred device or product and attack, to the death, their non...
  • Blog Post: Cyber security conference in Asia

    I was contacted by a reader of mine about an upcoming conference in 2013 in Asia – the 3rd Annual Cyber Security for Government Asia 2013 , to be held in Kuala Lumpur. I’m always interested by conferences over in Asia because I have so much less visibility into that part of the world. It feels like the...
  • Blog Post: The relationship between economics, malware and piracy

    Today, I read a report released by the Legatum Institute where they published their 2012 Prosperity Index . In their research, they surveyed 142 countries and ranked them against eight variables: their relative Economies, Entrepreneurship & Opportunity, Governance, Education, Health, (personal) Safety...
  • Blog Post: The Psychology of Spamming, Part 6 - The Flynn Effect

    The Flynn Effect Some of the most phished brands are Paypal, HSBC, Bank of America, Facebook, and eBay. All of these sites have security policies set up on their home pages and they are all fairly similar – they use education as a means of informing their user base about what techniques they...
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