PROGRAM FOR CONFIDENTIAL email FLAWED
New York- A widely used program that scrambles email for confidentiality has a flaw that can make scrambled messages readable, according to the software maker.
Network Associates Inc., said that a sophisticated attacker could exploit the flaw to gain access to email messages that were encrypted using the company's PGP software.
The company will post a fix for the problem on its PGP Web Site and will inform the customers, said Mike Wallach, president of the PGP security unit for the company, based in Santa Clara, California.
PGP is used by 7 million people worldwide, according to Wallach.
"This is fairly esoteric attack. It's not likely that anybody without specialized knowledge could use it," Wallach said.
The program uses a complex mathematical code to scramble email messages. To communicate privately, a sender uses a number called the 'public key', given by the recipient, to encode the message- AP
SOFTWARE: FOR email TO GET TO THE POINT
AmikaNow, a Canadian software company, now offers a service that it says will automatically extract only the most important sentences before passing them on to a wireless device. "People want email highlights," said Suhayya Abu-Hakim, the company president and chief executive.
http://www.amikafreedom.com is a Web-based variation of software the company has been selling for about a year. To use it, users must fill out a long registration form to indicate, among other things, the address of their main email servers.
AmikaNow's servers copy email messages as they arrive at the customers' main mail servers. The software then does the chopping , first by selecting the most important sentences, then by further reducing them.
The software is largely based on artificial intelligence research by Dr.Abu Hakim at the Canadian Government's National Research Council. Not all the decisions about cuts are made using complex algorithms.
The first sentence is usually the first to go, Dr Abu Hakim said, because "a lot of people begin emails with some nicety like 'it was good to see you again'.
By the company's estimate, the software has a success rate of 75% to 80%. That is partly because of the current software's limitation, Abu Hakim acknowledged.
But she said there was another important factor. "Not everyone writes well. In the case where the email makes no sense and the writing is poor, the highlight is going to be poor."
The service is currently free as it is still in development . The company plans to start charging users US2 to US$5 for the service by the end of the year.
MARKETERS GET HELP FROM email EXPERTS
Among Internet companies struggling to retain customers they have worked so hard to get, electronic mail (email) marketing is seen as the next best thing to being on the home page each time a customer goes online.
For openers, email is a relatively inexpensive marketing tool, ranging from a penny to a quarter for each message, compared with US$1(RM3.80) to US$2 for each piece for direct-mail campaigns in the actual world. Moreover, email provides immediate results, no small factor in an industry where speed is critical.
Best of all, the results of an email campaign can be measured right down to the number of people who opened the message , clicked on each link, made a purchase or forwarded the email to a friend- that is, assuming the sender has the technology to track all of this data.
And therein lies the catch. Conducting an effective email campaign is a lot more complicated than opening a new message in an email program, copying a list of customer names, typing an offer and clicking the 'send' button.
In fact, those who manage e-marketing efforts say the challenges range from basic privacy issues like getting permission to send email to customers , to technical hurdles in composing , sending and tracking large volumes of email.
Not surprisingly, an industry has emerged to help marketers manage their email strategy, from companies that function as application service providers (ASPs) , housing the infrastructure to deliver and track email campaigns to those that license or sell software to run email campaigns.
According to Forrester Research, the market for these types of services will reach US$4.8 Billion a year by 2004, up from US$156 Million in 1999.
One of the dozens of companies hoping to benefit from this opportunity is FloNetwork, an application service provider in Toronto offering email campaign management. The company, which has been in business since 1993 has been focusing on email services since 1998 and now has 185 clients including J.Crew, Continental Airlines and http://www.buy.com
Regina Brady, Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships, at FloNetwork, said many clients has initially handled their email marketing efforts in-house, but turned to a vendor as their needs outgrew their ability to handle them.
As examples of the issues e-marketers face, Brady cited formatting marketing messages so they can be read by a variety of email software, developing a system to track the response to each campaign, and dealing with the volume of incoming mail that results from mass mailing, including messages that bounce back because of invalid addresses and requests to be removed from a mailing lists.
"All of that is in-bound mail that most people don't think about," she said. "It's not sexy, but it's a real fact of life."
Another hurdle is established relationships with the major Internet Service providers (ISPs). To stem the sheer volume of unsolicited commercial email their members receive, many services have systems that detect and even block bulk email sent into their networks.
As a result, Brady said, mass mailers have to demonstrate they are legitimate enterprises to make sure their emails reach intended recipients.
FloNetwork and its competitors also offer technology enabling clients to customize email messages for each recipient. For example http://www.barnesandnoble.com which works with FloNetwork and another email service provider, Cheetahmail, originally handles its email efforts in-house, offering customers the option to sign up for email newsletters on topics such as "fiction" or "bestsellers."
When barnesandnoble.com decided to tap into its customer database and send email targeted at customers based on that information, it chose to work with a vendor. The complexity of delivering customized messages is one of the reasons marketers choose to outsource.
"That's when we really needed a partner because we wanted to work with someone with strong technology," said Roe Johnson, barnesandnoble.com director of on-line marketing.
"By using dynamic content personalization, we're able to send someone who lives near Union Square an announcement about a book signing in that store." In fact, the complexity of delivering customized messages is one of the main reasons marketers choose to work with a technology company specializing in email services.
http://www.wine.com an Internet wine retailer that merged last week with Wineshopper.com, the ability to send highly targeted email messages to customers has sharply improved the effectiveness of the company's marketing. Jim LaBelle, vice president of marketing for Wine.com said that when the company started doing email marketing, it sent email an email newsletter showcasing the same selections of wines to its entire customer base.
Working with Digital Impact, an email marketing service provider based in San Mateo, California. LaBelle said the company was able to use its database on customers' purchase history to create customized email messages based on the type of wine or price range each shopper purchased.
"If we've found one of our customers only buys Italian reds above US$20, why barrage him with other ideas?" Labelle said. The more personalized approach , he noted, "has resulted in a doubling of the revenue yielded from each newsletter.
" William Park, Chairman and chief Executive of Digital Impact, said this type of return on investment OS what his company emphasizes when approaching prospective clients.
"The cost of ownership is huge for companies doing it themselves because they don't have economies of scale," Park said. Among those costs are sophisticated hardware and software systems to handle both outbound and inbound email, Internet service charges and marketing and research employees to analyse data and fine-tune campaigns.
The company works with more than 140 clients, including Fidelity, TravelCity and Tower Records, and send more than 400 million messages last quarter on their behalf. Digital Impact typically charges two to five cents per email message sent, depending on the degree of personalization required and the volume of mail the client sends.
Park acknowledged that many companies are hesitant to outsource their email marketing efforts to a vendor. "When we are competing to win business," he said, the in-house technology department is " generally the biggest competitors."
One company that manages its own email campaigns is http://www.ehobbies.com a privately held web site for hobbyists based in Santa Monica, California. The site, which features 11 hobby categories, send two million mailings a month to members who have signed up to receive email newsletters in a particular category.
Seth Greeberg, vice president of online marketing for eHobbies said the company decided to purchase email software from Message-Media rather than rely entirely on third parties for its email efforts.
One of the main reasons for that decision, he said, was a reluctance to share customer information with a third party. "I wasn't that comfortable exposing our database to an outside vendor," Greenberg said. Purchasing software to use in-house also allowed ehobbies to have more control over the process of sending mailings, he said.
What works for a particular company Greenberg said, depends in part on internal resources. "We're fortunate to have the talent to be able to do this in-house," he said- NYT
My first email was to a cyber friend I got to know over a chat channel. Subsequently, emailing was no longer a hobby but a routine. And soon enough, emailing then became an asset even in my job.
It saved me the tedious task of having to print letters on a letter-head (correctly) and even worse, faxing them out to just get a couple of standard questions answered by the same people. Boy, was I grateful for the advent of Internet and email...forever grateful !
But as with everything else, emailing activity requires proper practices and ethics as well as planning in order to be effective
Allocate a specific time of your day to read, reply and send your email. Twice a day is sufficient- once in the early part of the day and towards the end. Avoid doing it anymore frequently. Accumulate all emailing tasks, and target specific time to execute them altogether.
Check the spelling of your email before sending it. Though spelling errors are generally accepted in emails, but one needs to look beyond acceptability and instead strive for perfection.
Furthermore, since email are used for international networking, what may be alright to a local partner may not be to an international one.
MIND YOUR (CYBER) LANGUAGE
Remember that it is both an official correspondence as well as a permanent record and can be easily forwarded to others.
Never accuse people, call them names, suggest they aren't being smart or point out their spelling errors. Assume their intentions are genuine and avoid sarcasm. Be polite and assertive, if necessary, but not vindictive.
Be careful with your punctuations. a lot of periods can separate thoughts, but the use of many exclamation marks signifies your anger. You might not intend strong emotion, but the other person you're emailing to may think you do. Also re-read your email before sending it, as quick writing often results in awkward grammar.
Avoid cyber-speak. Do not assume that everyone is familiar with the cute acronyms used in email correspondence, such as IMHO (in my humble opinion), FWIW (For what it's worth), FYI (For your information) or BTW (By the way).
Performing a mental translation each time slows down the reader and makes reading difficult for them. You don't want them to be put off or lose the essence of your message!
ATTACH, DON'T COPY documents from other programs, such as MS Word. Instead of getting apostropies and such, you may just have gibberish instead. Special formatting sends your message wonky. Instead, send the original document as an attachment. Use the cut and paste commands as you would in word processing within the email. This is helpful in repeating information or creating a type of form letter to be sent to various participants.
CLEAN IT UP If you're on a mailing list which you have no interest in, reply by writing 'unsubscribe' or 'remove' in the command box. Unwanted mail may unnecessarily congest your mailbox and server alike. Be careful though, sometimes mass mailers use your response to confirm that you have an address, and send you more stuff. In that case, you may want to block the sender instead. Such a filter will prevent mail with features that are repeated from being downloaded.
Also, delete all unnecessary mail, especially old messages. Similarly delete duplicate or reply version copies to free up space for new incoming email. Messages with attachments should also be thrown out once the downloads have been saved on the hard drive.
Filtering message to avoid junk-mail
Q. Is there anything I can stop getting so much junk email ?
The NETWORK ABUSE clearing house page http://www.abuse.net also has a section devoted to spam fighting tools. The COALITION Against Unsolicited Commercial Email http://www.cauce.org has links to spam fighting groups and a page devoted to legislative measures, past and present.
Many email programmes will let users filter incoming messages and America Online will allow its customers to block as much email as they like. Once you use your email address publicly on the Internet, your chances of getting spam greatly increase.
Some junk-mail messages have a legitimate address in the message text for you to request the removal of your name from the list, but simply hitting the "Reply Button" usually doesn't work and often just confirms your address for the spammer.
Many users swamped by spam have resorted to getting free Web-based email accounts or extra screen names just to use for filling out forms and for posting in Usenet newsgroups or other places where spammers collect addresses. That way, at least some of the spam ends up someplace other than the recipient's home or office in-box.
If you want to fight back directly, you can report spam messages to the SPAMCOP paged, the site will trace the message back to its mailer and send a complaint letter in your name to the spammer's ISP. SpamCop also offers other services for a spam-free life.
Commercial anti-spam software like Spam Killer http://www.spamkiller.com and Spam Buster http://www.contactplus.com might also help reduce the spam in your In-Box. Some anti-spam software can even let you screen out junk email that was routed through email servers in other countries on its way to you. -- New York Times.
email SPARKING INTEREST IN NEW
Electronic mail (email) has become ubiquitous, so it comes as no surprise that independent inventions as well as advertisers and consumer electronics and telecommunications companies are working on new ways to exploit this form of communication.
Anyone who has ever lost a cell phone, personal digital organiser or a laptop knows how it feels to mislay a device that may contain critical personal or professional information.
The feeling is even worse if the device is stolen. Now a Japanese inventor has capitalised on wireless technology to patent a method of sending an email to a lost or stolen device that will lock the appliance or erase the data it holds.
Mikio Hasebe of Gyoda, Japan, has developed a system with which the owner of a wireless-enabled device like a laptop chooses a password and a security response in case anything should happen to the computer. If the laptop is stolen or mislaid, the owner can write the password in the subject line of an email and send it to the device.
Assuming the computer is operating, or when it is turned on, software in the laptop would then initiate a predetermined security response, either locking the display screen so nothing would appear , showing only the name and contact information of the owner or erasing the laptop's hard drive.
Some people write emails online while others write messages and then log on to send them.
Advertisers want to reach both types of Internet users, and now a New York inventor has won a patent for Juno Online Services that would ensure that banner advertisements and other kinds of online ads will run even a message writer is not online.
Mark Moraes, of Forest Hills, Queens, created a system by which advertising is downloaded through an email server when a subscriber is online. Later, when the subscriber uses his computer to write emails, the commercials that are stored on his system flash across his screen.
Moraes recommends in his patent that the ads be aimed at the individual and frequently changed. When the subscriber logs on to send email and retrieve new messages, the email server would update the advertisements according to a predetermined distribution schedule.
The next time the user writes an email , the ads that have already appeared on his screen will have been replaced with new ones.
Many people receive emails with breathless subject lines like "Available now, millions of CDs", "Make money from home", or " Get Viagra online!".
Most avoid opening such unsolicited promotional email, lest they find their names added to even more junk email lists. But two Japanese inventors, Akira Kamakura and Hideki Tanaka, have patented a method for encouraging people to read and reply to their junk mail. The idea is to award bonus points for each answered message.
Each piece of junk email would contain an offer of bonus points, and when the recipient replied to the pitch, a database system would transfer points to their name. The bonus points accumulate, and eventually the junk email recipient can redeem them for gifts.
The invention belongs to Fujitsu in Kawasaki, Japan.
A lot people probably say that the best email enhancement they can imagine is a way to eliminate junk email altogether. A new patent awarded to a San Francisco inventor, Sunil Paul, aims to do that by screening out unsolicited mass promotions.
An email address that serves as a probe is planted along a communications network so that it is picked up and included in mass junk electronic mailings- the sizeable ones known as spam. The probe's email boxes are monitored in a control centre to look for incoming spam.
When unsolicited email is found , the system analyses its origin and creates a signal that informs Internet servers of the spam source. The alert is then forwarded to network servers and user terminals, where filters store the information and then use it to vet email from the spam source.
Junk emails can either be rejected, delivered but flagged as "Junk" or processed under special instructions from the addressee. Attachments often accompany email and many times people find themselves trying to read a document that is not formatted with compatible software.
Converting attachments is often time - consuming , and sometimes impossible if the recipient does not have the right programs. Three inventors for Siemens Information and Communications Networks in Boca Raton, Florida, have won a patent for a system that translates the file format of attachments before sending them to the recipient.
To use the system, a customer would register the format capabilities of his or her computer with a local or remote Internet Service Provider. When an email with an attachment is directed through the service provider to the customer, the system first compares the attachment format to the capabilities of the computer to which it is destined.
If it sees that the computer cannot perform the conversion, it will do it instead. The inventors are Samuel Shaffer, William Beyda and Paul Bonomo- NYT
OF ORDER, PRIVACY AND SUCH
In this second and final piece on emailing, we look at how putting the email in order, respecting privacy and downloading is the order of the day.
Now, knowing how timing , spelling, attachments and cleared mailbox are instrumental in ensuring that your communication via the cyber-space stays open and clear, there are certain other aspects that must be considered, before one can proudly boast to be email friendly.
Putting Them in Order- Do not keep all your messages in your mail box folder. Create new mail folders with names that categorize your email and move messages into them. Thus, new email is not only easier to find but quicker to load, especially when dialing in remotely.
Use a stacking tray or file folder labeled email to store paper items associated with email you plan to send. Then, you can batch them more efficiently.
Place items in separate email folders as you would with paper items. Don't use your inbox or sent mail box as catchall holding tanks. You may clog them up instead. Sort in-coming email by subject, keyword, or author so you can process related mail together.
Most people tend to find the easy way out in reply to emails by interpersing the sender's original message with points of their own reply. But what they fail to realise is that it takes a while to figure out what is original and what is new.
So , avoid wasting the reader's time and create a proper response as you would a business letter. Instead of leaving the entire message that you received intact, just make a short reference to it.
Respecting Privacy- The blind carbon copy (bcc) feature is the best way to maintain anonymity (of names and email addresses) among your mass recipients. This shows that you respect their sense of privacy and would take you a long way in establishing close business relationship with them.
At the same time, don't attach large files without getting permission from your recipient first. Likewise, don't forward personal email to a discussion group without the author's permission. Remember, do unto others as you want them to do unto you.
Downloads, websites, and such----Don't attach files when posting to discussion groups. Refer your recipients to a website where they can find the information and likewise with the web pages, don't send entire web pages to a discussion group, but just post the web address.
Also, don't blatantly promote your business by posting an advertisement to a discussion group, unless it is clearly an accepted use and you have cleared it with the moderator (if there is one) first. Offer information of value, rather than simply inviting people to your web-site.
Also, make sure your subject lines are creative, descriptive, and catchy. Most busy people only open messages with captivating subject lines. If you must forward a message, put your comments at the top. That makes your message a little more personal.
Also, you're unlikely to remember the email address of all on your mailing list, so keep an address book to save email addresses (especially of the regular correspondents) and automatically insert them into a new message.
To save yourself that embarrassment of replying to the wrong people, be sure who you are sending to. Be careful not to accidentally reply to an institute-wide message.