Like all ISPs, once in a while, our email users get hit with a phishing scheme. Generally, they’re poorly done and obviously fake, at first glance. This weekend we got hit by a particularly nasty one.
As you can see, it looks pretty sophisticated: not too many obvious typos or grammatical errors. And they stole our logo and header!
This email started hitting our mail users at around 9:30am last Sunday. As it happens, one of the first people to notice was our Chief Technical Officer, Chris Neklason, who right away saw it was a potential security threat to our users and alerted our support team. We immediately contacted the company hosting the rogue site, as well as our email filter provider. Within a couple of hours, the rogue site was taken down and the email had been blocked and deleted from our users’ inboxes. But not before about 100 of our eagle-eyed and responsible customers had notified us of the email and, sadly, a few folks had clicked through.
A couple of things to take away from this:
1. Cruzio has your back
We identify these threats quickly and we have tools to quickly neutralize them. If you do get fooled — and it happens to everyone — change your password and contact us immediately.
2. There are always tell-tale signs
Even though it was a relatively good phishing attempt, there are a few obvious clues in this that reveal it to be spam pretty quickly. First, the actual sender was not an @cruzio mailbox, it was a totally different domain. Secondly, none of the clickable links in the email pointed to the Cruzio site. Pro tip: you can always see where a link is pointing before you click it by hovering your mouse cursor over it — depending what mail tool or browser you’re using, the destination URL will show as a pop-up or in the lower part of the window you’re in. If you do happen to click on the link, most web browsers catch scams fast and almost immediately flash a warning on the page.
As a reminder:
* Don’t enter personal information into any site you’ve reached via email unless you’re 100% sure it’s legitimate. If you have even the slightest doubt, contact the company
* The more information an email asks for, the more suspicious you should be. For example, no one should ever want your Social Security number from an email message
* The more urgent the message, the more suspicious you should be
* There are so many scams, we can’t report every one. But if you see one you feel is serious, or if it’s for a small company, report it to the FBI https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx
Bottom line: if you ever have any doubts about an email that purports to be from Cruzio, play it safe and contact us at cruzio.com/contact or call us at 459-6301 x2. Cruzio is keeping an eye out 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure your security.
This year, Cruzio turns 30. So we’ll spend some time throughout 2019 remembering what we built in the past and how it’s helped us build toward a better internet future.
Were you a part of the 1980’s tech scene in Santa Cruz? We’d love to talk to you. Just contact us and we’ll get back to you. If you talked to us for our 25th anniversary 5 years ago (has it been that long?), we’ll be trying to get in touch again. We don’t want to lose track of Santa Cruz’s place in the history of the internet.
We’ll be sure to have a party towards the end of the year. Watch this space, it’ll be a doozy!
This article was featured in our newsletter. To read more content from our newsletter, visit our archive page and sign up for our email list.
Santa Cruz can be horrifying. In the movies, that is.
We know this from Hitchcock’s The Birds (based on a real event — sooty shearwaters getting disoriented over Santa Cruz!) and from (this is a great clip) Lost Boys and, much more recently, from Jordan Peele’s new thriller, Us — which looks terrifying.
Us even recruited local extras on Facebook. Oops, missed that call!
And, do you simply dismiss Transformer movies out of hand, because you saw a couple of them and they were overly cheesed up?
Then you would have missed the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s starring role in the latest Transformers flick, Bumblebee.
Our newsletter squad doesn’t always get to the latest films but we’re assured by the much more in-the-know folks in Marketing and Business Development that Bumblebee is actually a much better movie than you’d expect. Must be Santa Cruz and the Bay Area that made the difference.
And there’s a third popular movie recently filmed in Santa Cruz — this one on Netflix — Bird Box. Another entry in super-scary cinema, this was partly filmed in Henry Cowell Park where the fog and the huge redwoods provided lots of moody atmosphere.
Maybe it’s our fog.
Want to see a big list of movies filmed locally? Someone put together a list on LocalWiki:
Before there were hipsters in Santa Cruz, there were (and are) hippies. When we introduced a brand new technology in 1999 — replacing good ol’ dialup with the new service called DSL — we had to find a way to explain it.
Here’s a script for an early DSL ad, written by the many-talented Mark Hanford, one of a handful of Cruzio employees at that time, who wrote and performed a lot of our ads in that era. He’s now our Chief Systems Engineer, but he was a pretty hilarious copywriter. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have audio, just the script:
Cruzio ‘LSD/DSL’ 60-second spot for KPIG.
(SP = Support Person)
(SD = Stoner Dude)
(SFX of phone ringing, and someone picking up)
SP: Hello, Cruzio tech support.
SD: Yeah.. ummm… I heard that you were umm… selling drugs?
SD: Yeah, I heard you had acid!
SP: Uhh.. no…
SD: No really, a friend told me about the LSD you’re offering.
SP: LS… Oh, you mean DSL! It’s always on Internet access at several times the speed of 56k.
SD: Uh… did you say speed?!? I could use some of that!
SP: No, I’m not talking about drugs, I’m talking about a high speed connection!
SD: Yeah, that’s what I need… a connection!
SP: Let me explain… Cruzio is Santa Cruz county’s oldest and largest local Internet Service provider. We offer web hosting, e-commerce, dial-up access, and new always-on, high-speed DSL connections at competitive rates. We also have some of the friendliest (and most patient) tech support and sales people around.
SD: Look, I don’t think you get what I need. Umm… Let me talk to Dave…
Tagline: Cruzio is offering a two hundred dollar cash rebate to anyone who signs up for a year of DSL service, now through May 7th. Some restrictions apply. Please visit www.cruzio.com or call 459-6301 for details.
Ad 2: Sock Monkeys
And here’s another Mark Hanford ad, circa 2000, recorded with his partner, Barbara Diamond for our web design service and classes. Have a listen!
Ad 3: Three Little Pigs
Cruzio co-founder Peggy Dolgenos wrote ads, too. Here’s a script from a KPIG ad in 2002. Peggy always wanted to get the radio stations to use lots of sound effects in the ads:
> Sound of fiddle music playing a country tune.
> Sound of pigs squealing happily.
> Pig 2: It sure is snug here in your house of bricks, brother pig!
> Pig 3: (very stupid voice) Yeah, thanks for sharing this nice house after my straw house got blown away.
> Pig 1: (slowly and grandly) I take care of you, brother pigs.
> Pig 2: Now that the house is done, what else do we need?
> Pig 3: Big screen color TV!
> Pig 2: Waffle iron!
> Pig 1: No! What we need is a good Internet connection.
> Pig 2: Brother Pig, you are always so smart.
> Pig 3: I know where to get an Internet connection made of straw!
> Pig 2: We can get one made of twigs!
> Pig 1: No straw, no twigs. For a very reasonable price we can get a connection with an excellent local company called Cruzio. It’s easy to use and very reliable. Cruzio has been around since 1989. They provide excellent service.
> Pig 3: (questioning) Cruzio????
> Pig 2: (enthusiastic) Cruzio!
> Pig 1: I’m ordering Cruzio service today.
> Pig 3: I stuck a bean up my nose, Brother Pig can you help me get it out?
In sunny weather, Cruzio’s all-pro field team installs fast new connections to our independent network. We also spend a lot of time and investment upgrading the parts of the network nobody sees, making it more robust and redundant.
We do a lot of preparation when the weather’s good because sometimes the weather is challenging, as it has been the last few weeks.
When it’s rainy, dark and cold — even snowy in some spots! — Cruzio is out there making sure all our equipment is working properly. That can mean sudden calls, late nights, and cold, wet conditions.
We take our responsibility as a lifeline service very seriously. And we’re proud to have a crew committed to making things work, even when the going is tough. Special thanks to Ali, Dan, Jay, Frost, and the rest of the team. That’s a 24/7, all-weather group.
This article was featured in our newsletter. To read more content from our newsletter, visit our archive page and sign up for our email list.
Richard Kiel played the alien in the above episode of Twilight Zone and Jaws in James Bond films
We all know what happened in 2015-2016.
Our personal information — our “profiles” — were bought and sold, not just for advertising, but for political gain. Like the episode in The Twilight Zone pictured above, something we think of as a service for our benefit (social media) turned out to have ulterior motives behind it (data collection and sale).
What kind of manipulation will the internet bring in 2019, with elections coming? How will consumers be consumed?
To be sure, there’s a big baby of good in the bathwater of the internet. We may decide some exchanges are worth the cost. Free service for exposure to ads is an example. We’ve been making that trade for decades. More concerning is the new and hidden level of advertiser access, which isn’t just one way (sending ads to our device) but two-way (sending ads and collecting data). Because that’s not a trade we’re making consciously, it doesn’t feel right.
The extent of quiet intrusion has been surprising, and mentioned in various news reports. Now that we know, what do we do?
Humans are great at fooling ourselves, so we have to watch out for “I’m not affected by propaganda, not me!” thinking. We are affected by propaganda. We are gullible, and need to guard against appeals to our own prejudices.
More we all can do toward a more accurate internet:
Use your dollars. If the market shows that people value privacy, companies will follow suit.
Don’t click on links to websites you’ve never heard of. CNN, NPR, or the Wall Street Journal are going to take responsibility for their reporting. Thousands of other “news” websites exist just to draw clicks. Don’t get lured in.
Avoid forwarding lurid, extreme news. Whatever side of the political spectrum you’re on, it’s giddy to imagine that the other side is committing crimes so foul they’ll be jailed for life. But that rarely happens. Reputable reporters (see above) will discover and describe crimes more accurately than clickbait creators.
If a friend or relative sends out irresponsible headlines, consider having a gentle word. Funny memes are one thing, stories that pretend to be news are a step beyond.
You vote with your mouse. You define yourself and your community — even, in a way, humans as a species! — with your clicks. If you’d like to see better quality stories, don’t click on the shallow ones.
Support the good guys on the internet. Donate to Wikipedia. Subscribe to legitimate online newspapers and magazine.
Use the controls available to you: Check your browser’s privacy settings. Use Facebook’s and Google’s settings.
Support legislation like the Honest Ads Act. Fight back when internet companies protest that their usage policies are easy, obvious, or even a choice (what if you *don’t* agree with Facebook’s privacy agreement? It’s not negotiable, and the service has no real competitors.)
2018 has come to a close, and as we do every year we wanted to take a look back at what an incredible year we had last year. Of course our biggest achievement was completing our very first “fiberhood” in Downtown Santa Cruz, bringing Gigabit Fiber to hundreds of homes and businesses, but we’ve done much, much more on top of that. Come join us as we take a look back, and look ahead to 2019.
We Built Gigabit Fiber to Homes and Businesses in Downtown Santa Cruz
After years of development, construction, planning, and perseverance, we were proud to announce this year that our first fiber build in our downtown neighborhood is complete! On August 30th, we lit up our very first all-fiber customer in the El Rio mobile home park. Of course, we immediately ran a speed test and saw unbelievable speeds of 956.20 Mbps for downloading, and 942.49 Mbps for uploading.
Since then, we’ve installed dozens more Fiber users, and introduced them to the same kind of speeds, for only $49.95/month. And we’re just getting started! Over the next few months we’ll be hooking up the rest of the folks in our first “fiberhood.” The first, we hope, of Cruzio’s many Santa Cruz Fiber neighborhood projects. If you’re living or working in downtown Santa Cruz right now, just let us know and we’ll be happy to sign you up as soon as we can!
Our Fiber-Backed Wireless Service, Wireless Pro, Has Expanded Even Further
In addition to our brand new in-the-ground fiber, we’ve also taken great strides in expanding our fiber-backed wireless service, Wireless Pro, to even more areas than ever, especially into areas that were previously well outside of range.
We built three brand new access points in 2018, including one along 41st Avenue that allows us to reach into Capitola for the first time with Wireless Pro. We’ve also built new access points near the Santa Cruz Elk’s Lodge and up at the UCSC Faculty housing up to the north in the Westside. Take a look at the maps above, if you live in any of these areas,let us know, and we’ll be happy to hook you up!And looking towards 2019, we’re planning to ramp up our new new access point construction even further, so keep your eyes open, as we may be coming to your area very soon!
Our Email System Is Safer, Slicker, and Better Than Ever
If you’ve got an @cruzio.com email address (or one of our many other domains like @baymoon.com or @ebold.com, for that matter) you’ve seen a big improvement in our email service this year. We dramatically increased mailbox capacity, the size of emails you can send out, and improved our spam filters exponentially when we switched over to our brand new email server. We even rolled out a brand new webmail client that looks and works better than ever. And best of all, our new email system still upholds our values of never harvesting your information and selling it like most providers would.
It was a massive undertaking all things told. During the upgrade we spoke with and met literally thousands of you all during the upgrade to make sure your email settings were correctly worked out ensure the upgrade was as smooth as possible. So make sure to give a big thank you again to our wonderful staff again for their hard work! And if you’ve still got any questions about your new email, check out ouremail FAQ, we’ve got answers for you!
We Built Out Free Public WiFi to Watsonville Plaza
Last year, we expanded ourWireless Pro services throughout Watsonville, and as a result this year we were able to bring services to South County like we’ve never been able to before. That’s why earlier this year, we started a new service to give back to the community. We began our new initiative to bring free WiFi to Watsonville Plaza in downtown Watsonville.
We partnered with The City of Watsonville, the Pajaro Valley Unified School District and the DigitalNEST to build access points throughout the Plaza, so families, students, and really anyone else, can sit in the park and have access to the internet.
Looking Toward 2019
2018 saw one of the biggest additions to our network in Cruzio’s history, with the completion of our Downtown Santa Cruz Fiber network. We’re going to ride that wave into 2019, a year which marks another huge milestone for us: our 30th Anniversary! We’re getting set to hold our biggest Open House Extravaganza ever to celebrate the occasion. We’re also looking to expand to more people than ever, but most importantly we’re going to celebrate tenants Cruzio was initially founded on those 30 years ago:
Do Right By Our Customers.
Do Right By Our Team.
Do Right By Our Community.
We wish you a Happy Holidays, a Happy New Year, and we hope your 2018 was as good as ours, and we wish you an even better 2019.
Chris, Peggy, Mark, James, another Chris, Sandi, Colin, Adia, Jesus, Alison, Dan, Justin, Andrew, David, Alex, Brooke, Ani, Max, Iasha, Laurie, Alana, Brian, Cameron, another Cameron, Dillon, Jay, and Jason;
Our fantastic apprentices, Spencer and Jessica, and intern, Lidia;
When we first started Cruzio Internet back in the eighties, we were excited by the promise of the emerging new digital communications medium. If everybody was linked through this new network, the old gatekeepers and filters of publishing would be rendered moot! Everyone would have the power of a printing press, a radio and television station at their command!
Thirty some odd years later, yes and no.
From one perspective, this is the golden age of digital publishing. Through blogging and email newsletters, millions of new authors ply their words for a previously unavailable readership. Millions more publish their visual and photo art, and multitudes of talented filmmakers, podcasters, musicians and performers are reaching a vast global audience, sometimes with little more than the camera and mic of their mobile phone.
But over time, the corrosive effects of the advertising and marketing-driven attention economy upon civil society have been revealed, and the rapaciousness of some players in the attention industry have aroused concern.
Consider the current state of the local daily newspaper business: trapped by an obsolete business model under predatory ownership, unable to meet the needs of the community, and oblivious to the rise of its successor on the near horizon.
Our local newspaper is the Santa Cruz County Sentinel. It used to be owned by the McPherson family, but was sold and resold and resold over the years as many local dailies were, until it is now owned by Digital First Media which is itself owned by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund.
There’s ongoing concern about the water supply here in Santa Cruz County because of the drought cycle. Some years there’s plenty of water, and for long stretches, not enough. As a citizen, I want to know more about the state of the local water supply. How does it work? What’s the plan to keep it working? What’s in play right now? What are the citizen inputs?
This information is collectively “known” to the Santa Cruz County Sentinel reporters who have written stories about the issue over the years, and to various members of the community. But the only way to use the newspaper website to access that collective knowledge is to go to the site search box and enter the word “water” and then read through previous stories which have the word “water” in them. As an alternative, one can pull up an article about “water” and work the “related article” links at the bottom to the same effect.
So after 30 years of Internet, the digital experience of trying to acquire knowledge about a topic through the local newspaper website is the exact same as having to thumb back through a stack of dead tree newspapers.
Newspaper websites are the way they are because it satisfies the customer requirement, and the advertiser is the primary customer in the attention economy.
Attention being a finite resource, advertisers pay a lot of money to capture a slice. All of the innovations of the attention industry are focused on better capturing human attention and better delivering a more effective payload to human eyeballs.
This is touted as “creating a more personalized user experience” and manifests, when I go to Amazon and look at a power saw, as an ad for that power saw thereafter chasing me across every website I visit until I die, and then continuing to harass my descendents.
Meanwhile, my needs as a citizen to understand how something works in my community is represented exactly nowhere in the attention economy.
Compounding the poor fit of that business model with the ongoing mission of local journalism are the interests at play in hedge fund ownership.
It’s not in the interest of the hedge fund ownership to invest in evolving the local news business in any other direction because the hedge fund is not interested in the local newspaper as an ongoing concern or invested in any way shape or form in its mission.
Hedge fund ownership considers it a win if the local newspaper folds as long as a large profit over the equity investment is made within an appropriate (short) window of time. This leads to a death spiral of cost reductions leading to a reduction of reporting leading to lower readership until the newspaper dies. The hedge fund will just strip the corpse for parts to sell and move on.
To survive, local journalism needs to make the jump to an alternative business model under alternative ownership.
Humans are social animals. We’re also civic animals. Over 60 million Americans volunteer every year. People want to do more than share content. People want to share their knowledge and energy for the good of the community. People want to raise barns.
While much is made of the size and success of the attention economy, one of the more interesting things to come out of the Internet is the rise of the online participation economy. Specifically, platforms offering tools with which people collaborate and coordinate their efforts to do good.
Change.org claims 200 million users. On Kickstarter, 5 million users have backed 15 million projects. GitHub has 28 million users and an estimated annual revenue of $300 million. Meetup.com has over 30 million users, Stack Overflow over 9 million. Survey Monkey has 25 million users and $240 million in annual revenue. Wikipedia, one of the most visited sites on the Internet, has over 25 million registered users.
It’s clear the local newspaper I want will be born of this burgeoning economic sector because it will focus on my participation and my requirements. Empowering me is the whole point of the participation economy.
So my future local newspaper won’t just stream information about what’s happening, it will also accumulate knowledge. The knowledge I want about the local water supply will be presented as something like an up to date Wikipedia article, with links to related information such as water commission budgets and commissioner contact information.
It will include current and historical water quality information collected from local creeks, beaches, school drinking fountains and kitchen faucets, presented in tabular, map and other modern information visualization formats.
It will include an online forum where members of the community can discuss water policy or argue about the cost of different approaches or trade water quality test results.
It will maintain a directory of local civic groups including those active and interested in promoting a better water supply.
It will maintain a calendar listing upcoming meetings of the water district and water invested community groups, and it will let me sign up for reminders and alerts.
The local newspaper I want will utilize an information architecture in which I am not a member of an audience or a product, I am a member of the community and a participant.
The local newspaper I want won’t display any commercial advertising.
It will be crowdfunded.
It will develop an internal online platform to manage and administrate reporting, knowledge accumulation, community building, ideation, workflow and policy development, and support itself by selling subscriptions to those tools to outside civic organizations such as Elks, Indivisible, the California Association of Realtors, the Santa Cruz County Business Council and other groups working in the community.
It will develop and monetize civic intelligence through paid newsletters and advanced analytics for premium subscribers.
It will make alliances with the local library, museum, schools, public radio and community television groups.
It will collaborate with community members hosting Internet-connected weather stations, web cams, and air, water and other environmental quality sensors.
It will foster a community of correspondents, wiki editors, contributors and participants.
The local newspaper I want won’t be a newspaper anymore. It will be a knowledge base and knowledge exchange.
But sadly, it doesn’t yet exist, and local journalism following the business model of the attention economy and the ownership of hedge funds is clearly doomed.
This is brought home by the fact that now 30 years later Cruzio owns the building in downtown Santa Cruz originally built by the Santa Cruz County Sentinel.
Thirty years ago, we never dreamed how ubiquitous the Internet would become. We had high hopes, some since fulfilled, some yet to be achieved.
The evolution of the business of local journalism is among the yet to be, but there is hope for the near future.
While ownership might be sanguine about the relentless rounds of firings and layoffs and reduction of coverage, journalists and j-schools are not, and are leading the discussion about next generation business models and methodologies.
Blogging is growing up and the blogging platform ecosystem is overlapping more into newspaper publishing and community building. The development roadmap of Automattic, maker of WordPress, looks especially promising for the next generation of local journalists.
And perhaps most important, Internet users are not only becoming more comfortable with crowdfunding and paid subscriptions to tools and reliable information, they are demanding to participate in the economy not as passive customers but as active stakeholders.
It’s inevitable that as the digital community building ecosystem and the participation economy grow, someone will finally put the pieces together.
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.