The internet’s been hit with increasingly tricky “phishing” scams — emails where a criminal tries to trick you with phony information.
What Do Phishers Do?
They might spoof your bank, or a company you’re likely to have an account with like Amazon or Facebook. Sometimes they spoof your ISP. Sometimes, as in the “sextortion” described above, they pretend they can watch you at your computer.
The internet — and email in particular — were originally designed with a small number of trusted users in mind. Programming to block nefarious emails has limited success, as hackers work hard to get past filters. So while email providers block most fakes, some always manage to get through.
How is Cruzio addressing the problem?
We asked our ever-resourceful and remarkably calm Customer Service manager, Justin Von Besser, about the best approach for a responsible ISP.
Says Justin: “We’ve developed procedures to kill these attacks as quickly as possible. First we report the fraud to the FBI. Next, we contact the compromised server— the owners usually know nothing about it, they just have an infected computer — and we tell them what’s happening so they can take their server down and scrub the virus. Our anti-spam software blocks most bogus messages and we are constantly working with our software vendor to make that process more effective. And we’ve been adding a network status to voice mail when an attack seems widespread, so people know what’s going on.”
What can you do to protect yourself? Here’s a summary from Boston University with great advice. We agree with them, except that instead of informing Boston University, you are welcome to tell Cruzio.
Announcements are commonplace now: hackers have stolen private information from companies like LinkedIn, Target, KickStarter, and Adobe. It’s numbing, to be honest. And that nagging worry: what really happens when our information is hacked?
Enough Information to Scare You, and a Warning About Porn
Lately, that personal information has been used for “sextortion” schemes. If your data’s been stolen, the criminal puts enough of it — maybe a stolen password you’ll instantly recognize — into an email subject line.
That gets your attention and you read the email, where the writer warns they’ve been watching you, and recording you looking at porn. They then demand a payment in bitcoin.
What to do?
First, know that the part about recording you is almost certainly bogus. The writer has simply bought your password off a hacker’s website along with many others. These emails go to everyone, hoping to find some who are embarrassed enough to pay.So:
Don’t respond. Don’t pay up.
If you’re using that password, change it immediately.
Consider using password protection programs and updating your anti-virus software.
In fact, this is a good time to check which of your accounts may have been compromised. It isn’t “have you been affected” any more, it’s “how often”.
Have You Been Pwned?
We get so many notices, it’s easy to put them to the side — but luckily you can get a big picture from haveibeenpwned.com. (“Pwned” means a hacker has gotten your account information.) You’ll doubtless find it interesting — if not shocking — to see a list of the times your information’s been stolen.For more information about sextortion and other dangers, we recommend the Electronic Freedom Foundation. Their website covers the topic of protecting privacy in great detail. Cruzio works with the EFF on Net Neutrality and other issues — they are a great non-profit, pro-consumer group.
Once a year Cruzioworks opens its doors to the community, showcasing local art, food, beer, and wine free to all visitors. We call it the Open House Extravaganza since all our coworkers can join in — it’s a big, big party with multiple hosts.
2018’s 8th annual party went swimmingly, and we say that because the theme was “Under the Sea.”
We introduced our new fiber optic mascot, the Fiberopticpus, beautifully depicted by our ultra-talented graphics artist Ani Bilgutay. We’d planned to just use it for this party, but it’s so great we’re going to keep Fiberopticpuses around in our future ads and decorations.
Octopuses were everywhere: dangling from the ceiling along with fish and shells. And there was a giant inflatable whale. The music system played “Under the Sea” and “Octopus’s Garden” — among other tunes so as not to go overboard.
This year we invited folks to try a trivia game. Families and groups of friends gathered at tables, working on the questions, which were (purposely) incredibly hard. No one got 100%!
Here at Cruzio, in our community by Monterey Bay where we’ve been installing high-speed broadband, we’re very much interested in both octopuses and fiber optics. We adopted the Fiberopticpus, above, as our fiber mascot.
And we created this trivia quiz for our eighth annual Open House Extravaganza. Missed the party? Test your knowledge at home, see how you score! Answer key follows the questions.
Cruzio’s Fiberopticpus Trivia Quiz!
Questions about Fiber:
1. What color(s) are the fibers in a fiberoptic cable
5. Octopuses can change color to precisely match their environment with chromatophores, or pigment cells, in their skin. Translated into a graphics program format, how many dots per inch (dpi) does the skin appear to have?
Cruzio’s building a world-class independent, Net Neutral network as fast as we can.
One thing that’s helped us is the law (the Telecommunications Act of 1996) that’s given companies like Cruzio the right to lease phone lines from AT&T while we construct our own. After all, the phone and cable companies had a head start on us with publicly enforced monopoly contracts while they built.
To level the playing field, the law says independent ISPs can rent the copper that goes to homes and offices. That’s how Cruzio delivers Velocity and DSL. In some areas, Cruzio’s Velocity speeds are great. In other areas, it’s the only service people can get.
We’re building fiber fast, but in the meantime copper is helping us survive and helping customers have an independent choice.
Now the phone company’s pushing to end customer choice on their lines — the lines customers are paying for. They say independent ISPs don’t need access to the copper lines and central offices any more. AT&T wants to start by raising our rental rates sky high and then, if they’re allowed, cutting us off and removing lines altogether when and where they choose.
That hurt Cruzio and other independent ISPs in communities all over the country. It would weaken and even kill already-scarce ISP competition. And without competition in an unregulated market, prices rise and service quality falls.
So on your way to the fight for Net Neutrality (which is going pretty well in California, thanks to public action), please take a moment and let the FCC know you’re opposed to their proposed change — it’s called “forbearance.” Visit savecompetition.com to register your views.
After the FCC voted to repeal Net Neutrality last December, Congress missed its chance to block the change. On June 11th, the repeal became official.
So at the federal level, Net Neutrality is done. Gone. Like a dead parrot, it is no more.
But there’s still hope for Net Neutrality. California could do it.
As we know, California is a big, powerful state. A California Net Neutrality law would have a lot of weight. Some state representatives recently offered two separate bills to establish a California version of Net Neutrality. And not to brag, but our own State Senator, Bill Monning, was a co-sponsor on the stronger of the two bills! Yay Bill. Next, the bills were combined. We had high hopes. And then…
What Happened to the Net Neutrality Bill?
Corporate lobbyists for AT&T, who just won several battles on the federal level, didn’t sit idly while California deliberated. The bill supporting Net Neutrality — which is extremely popular — was nonetheless edited late at night, in committee, in a hurry.
Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), who’s received $29,000 in campaign contributions from large ISPs this election cycle and doubtless expects more to come, led the process, and didn’t allow debate. The bill was watered down so much that its author, Scott Wiener of San Francisco, disassociated himself from it.
“This committee has turned the bill into one that doesn’t protect net neutrality,” said Wiener.
Read more about the “tense Assembly committee meeting” here.
What’s next? There will be another Assembly committee — Privacy and Consumer Protection — meeting on the bill soon. Will California wake up and protect Net Neutrality? Or will state representatives continue to cave to pressure from some of the biggest companies in the country — AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Spectrum? Follow the gritty details on Steve Blum’s blog at TellusVenture.com.
Again, the best step we can take right now is to let our state representatives know it’s important. Our local reps are on the right side, but it’s easy for politicians to let things slide if we don’t express our views.
Cruzio’s staff all pitched in to help customers update settings. What’s it like at Cruzio when we’re all focused on a single project? It looks like this:
A lot of people stopped by with laptops, phones, even desktop computers. A lot of people got help. Everyone remained calm and cheerful. Good work team!
If you use a Cruzio-supplied email address (see the list on our FAQ) you just saw a big improvement in service. Larger mailbox capacity, bigger per-message sizes, more robust system, better spam filters.
And Cruzio’s email system still upholds our values: we don’t harvest your personal information and sell it like most providers.
It was a big job, and there’s still work remaining. Out of over 7,000 email boxes upgraded, we expect some people haven’t yet updated their settings, and we are here to assist. Check our FAQ for some common answers and don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help!
Kudos to Our Lovely Staff
Upgrading such an important service for such a large number of people took a lot of planning, and our endlessly talented project manager Adia Schamber did an amazing job. So did indomitable Chief Systems Engineer Mark Hanford, who led the work on the engineering, making sure that nothing was lost and everything was doubly backed up.
So many of our lovely staff worked extra hard to make sure every email customer was updated as quickly as possible. It’s impossible to name each and every staff member individually (check the bottom of the newsletter for their names!), but we know our customers appreciate them. We got many compliments in the mail, on Yelp, etc. — and we always love compliments. Thanks, everyone, for recognizing our efforts, and enjoy the improved service!
Seems like news about telecommunications companies comes from one direction after another — the headlines are dizzying.
Why should we care about these titans clashing and marrying? Because their function, in part, is to deliver information. People use that information to make decisions, notably political decisions.
Here’s the future, if the big corporations have their way: the largest ISPs will continue to consolidate their near-monopoly market share. At the same time — through the repeal of Net Neutrality — they’ll use that market strength to either own or to demand payments from content companies, like HBO, Netflix, or YouTube. Channels or websites who don’t pay won’t be easily available. That means smaller companies will be boxed out.
How can this be okay? The cover story for merging monopolies is that no company will invest in infrastructure unless they are freed from competition — which is odd, because every other business has to compete. And as for Net Neutrality, the non-Neutral model is cable TV, not the internet we’re familiar with.
Cruzio and other independent ISPs are competition. We’re not welcome in this paradigm. In the early days of the internet, companies like ours made Net Neutrality the lay of the land. Larger ventures like AOL and Genie couldn’t compete with an open internet. Their “closed garden” models had to give way. But as competitors are being driven out, will openness survive?
Cruzio was proud and happy, once again, to host TechRaising in our coworking space last weekend.
Cruzioworks has lots of desks, ergonomic chairs, and — obviously — great internet. We’re a perfect match for TechRaising, a weekend-long hackathon-type event focusing on cooperation rather than competition (unique to TechRaising, but also a very Santa Cruz concept).
Santa Cruz is a Petri Dish
And Santa Cruz is a great community to hold events like this. We’ve got so many creative people in our area, and so many people with technical, mechanical, and other professional skills. Techraisers brew beer. They produce music. They apply physics to problems like power generation and battery life.
We’re a petri dish for creative tech — look at great Santa Cruz County garage startups like Plantronics, Netflix, or Looker. These successful companies began as local ideas, and they continue to contribute to our local tech ecosystem. Many successful entrepreneurs are on hand at Techraising as mentors and judges, along with venture capitalists from Silicon Valley.
Twenty Projects on the Big Teal Wall
Using Cruzio’s open space and big teal wall to organize, twenty would-be entrepreneurs pitched ideas for startup businesses on Friday June 1st. On Sunday, two days later, nearly all of them exhibited a “proof of concept” showing how they could present their projects to potential investors.
In the days between pitch and demo, people met new friends to collaborate with and our office space buzzed with excited talk and clicking keyboards.
“This is what our space is for,” commented a happy Peggy Dolgenos, Cruzio co-CEO.
No Live Goats Were Involved
One would-be startup (they are farmers) asked if they could bring a live baby goat into our office for their demo. We suggested that a video of the goat would be preferable.
Even without the goat, we saw some awfully creative ideas and had a lot of fun.
One of the best projects was called “Serverless.” You’ve got to see it to appreciate the creativity and technical chops that went into this demo. Tech Beat reports on it here.
Many thanks to Matthew Swinnerton, Margaret Rosas, and Andrew Mueller for setting it up! We love you guys and hope to see more TechRaisings in the the future, it’s a terrific concept and you carry it out so well.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cruzio’s Email Upgrade
Q. What happened? A. On May 22nd, 2018, Cruzio did a major upgrade of our email software. So there are new settings for some programs and a new Webmail interface. It’s a big improvement but could require some patience as you adapt to the new situation. We apologize for any inconvenience, and we think you’ll like the changes!
Q. What email addresses are affected? A. Email addresses ending in the following domain names are affected. Other addresses don’t have to make changes: @cruzio.com
Q. What’s the fastest way to get my email? A. Go to Cruzio Webmail. All you need is a login and password (and if you forget the password, you can retrieve one).
Q. I’m getting a broken link when I try to get to my email. What do I do? A. Try turning your computer (or phone, or tablet) and your modem or router off, wait 30 seconds, and turn them on again. It might be that you’ve got old information lingering in your software and this will clear it out.
Q. Why is my mailbox so much smaller? A. The new email system is removing way more spam. That means your main mailbox will have less email in it, and the Spam mailbox will have more.
Q. I am having trouble accessing my email in my usual way. What should I do? A. To get to your email right now, go to Cruzio Webmail. It’s all set up already. You only need your login to get full access to your email.
Q. But I like my other email programs. A. They will all work! To set up other ways of getting email, like Outlook, Thunderbird, Apple Mail, and other apps on your phone or tablet, we have a full set of handy instructions here. It will only take a few minutes, but we know sometimes that’s even too long, so use Cruzio Webmail if you have any trouble or you are in a hurry.
Q. I already made the settings changes and my mail program still isn’t working! A. If you have already updated your settings and you still can’t get your mail, even if a Cruzio tech walked you through it or did it for you, you probably just need to reboot your networking equipment. Turn your modem and router off, wait a few seconds, and turn them back on. This should fix the problem.
Q. Can I get more help? A. We are ready to help you. We’ve moved over 7,000 mailboxes to the new system and we know there will be people needing assistance. So let us know what’s going on and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. We also have staff (and you know our staff are friendly and knowledgeable!) on hand from 10 am to 5 pm every weekday at our front desk. If you bring in your phone, laptop, tablet, or computer, we’ll be glad to set it up with you, no appointments needed. If 10 to 5 doesn’t work, let us know and we’ll work it out.
Q. What are the improvements? A. You’ve got more storage for saved email (20GB). Bigger messages are permitted (35MB). Better spam filtering. A better way to read email with your web browser (Cruzio Webmail). And on the back end, where you can’t see it, a more robust and redundant system.
Q. What about privacy, security, net neutrality? A. Cruzio has the same standards we always have. Your email isn’t harvested for marketing material. Your personal information isn’t collected for sale. That’s never going to change.
Q. Any danger that email was lost while Cruzio moved it? A. No. We had a redundant system during the change. We’ve moved the mailboxes to a different server, but on our side, everything is there ready for you. You just have to point your email program to the new server, if you haven’t already.
Q. Is there a limit on the number of messages I can send? A. To protect against spammers, our system limits each user to sending to 500 recipients in any 24 hour period. This is 500 recipients, not 500 messages. If you need to send more messages than that, we recommend using a full-featured mailing list service like MailChimp. Mailchimp is free for up to 2000 mailing list members and up to 12,000 messages per month. It is what we use for the Cruzio newsletter.
Q. How do I change the size of the font in Cruzio Webmail? A. Click ‘Settings’ in the menu bar and then ‘font settings’ in the left-hand pane. From here you can increase the base font size up to 16px.
Q. I’m trying Webmail. My “sent” folder is missing some or all of the email that used to be in it. What’s up? A. It’s likely that the name of that folder in Webmail is just different from the name of the folder in your other email program. Sometimes it’s as simple as “Sent” vs “sent.”
To find the other “sent” emails, look through the folders. You’ll probably see another folder in the list that contains that mail.
Then, to change the name in Cruzio Webmail to match your other email program:
Click “Settings” in Webmail.
Click “Preferences” on the left.
Click “Special Folders”.
Adjust the “Sent Items” drop down to match the sent folder you used before.
Q. My messages have weird time and date stamps on them. What should I do? A. This usually happens if javacript isn’t available on your computer. It’s easy to set manually:
Click “Settings” in Webmail.
Click “Preferences” on the left.
Click “User Interface” on the center pane.
Adjust the time zone to reflect your location. Santa Cruz is -08:00GMT.
And if you set it manually, don’t forget that you’ll have to do that again if you take the device to a different time zone!
Q. How do I select multiple messages at once? A. If all of the messages you want to select are contiguous, you can click the first message, hold down the Shift key, and then click the last message. The first and last messages all messages in between are selected. If the messages are not contiguous, hold down the Ctrl key and then click each of the messages you want to select.
Q. How do I customize my spam settings? A. The default settings will deliver spam to your Spam folder. You don’t need to do anything to get it started. If a spam message reaches your inbox, tag it as spam by selecting it and clicking the ‘Spam’ button on the menu bar. If you navigate to your spam folder and see any legitimate message sin there, select them and click ‘Not Spam’ in the menu bar.
Q. Can I white-list people I don’t want sent to spam? A. To block or allow specific email addresses or domains, click ‘Settings’ in the menu bar and then ‘Spam Settings’ in the left-hand pane. You can add up to 1000 entries in each Allowed and Blocked list. Note: Domain names must be preceded by *@ (for example, *@domain.com), otherwise they will not work.
Q. How do I empty my email trash folder? A. Click the Trash folder in the left-hand pane, select all messages and click ‘Delete’ in the menu bar. If you do nothing, anything in your Trash folder will be deleted automatically after 7 days.
Accounts and Billing
Q. I notice you are charging for mailboxes that used to be free. My family/business has been using multiple email addresses for years and can’t afford to start paying for all of them. What can I do? A. The first step is to clean out any email addresses you aren’t using. For the rest, although we’re raising the price, each mailbox is only $60 per year, so consider whether it may be worth the cost. There are no contracts required, you can cancel any time. If that doesn’t make sense, we have many low-cost options which can help, including free email forwarding. Please contact us, we’ll work it out!
Q. I didn’t even know I had these mailboxes. Can you tell me what’s in them? A. We won’t read your email but we’ll help you do it: Cruzio can reset your passwords if you contact us and provide proper identification.
Q. I want to close a mailbox. What happens to all the mail? A. Before you close an email address, you’ll need to make sure you’ve downloaded any data you want to keep to your computer or other device. Cruzio will keep the email for 21 days past the date the service is closed, so you will have a last chance to restore data if there’s something you have missed.
Q. I have to download all my email? How do I do that? A. The download happens on the customer side, so Cruzio can’t do it for you. But we do have instructions and advice for you, and the process should be pretty easy. If it’s a complicated case, we’re happy to recommend a consultant. And remember, if it’s taking you a while to figure it out, the cost to keep a mailbox is only $5 per month.
Q. I use the email address as a login for services that are important to me like Facebook and my bank. Or people I’ve lost touch with have that address and might try to contact me someday. What should I do? A. We kept the per-mailbox cost low so that you can keep an email address or transition from it very slowly. We’re also providing forwarding so that email to one of your addresses can be received in another mailbox — free of charge. Contact us for advice if you need it!
Q. I liked the old interface. I’m used to it. Why did you change? A. Technology moves forward pretty relentlessly, as everyone working at Cruzio knows. There are just a lot of issues that older email clients don’t handle well. We think you’ll really like the new interface.
Q. New email interface! I’m excited! But does that mean I need to change the settings in my email readers? A. Yes, you’ll need to change them on all the devices you use to send and receive email. Instructions are here. The only way to access your email without modifying your settings is to use your web browser to access Cruzio Webmail.
Q. I have a million questions. A. We’re happy to answer them. If you ask a good one we’ll add it to this FAQ! Contact us.