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CONTRARY to what some believe, the reality of the Internet today is that it is not used as an entertainment medium but a utility. Recent research carried out in the US and Japan by Jupiter Communication ranks email as the No.1 reason for using the Internet. Said senior analyst

Drew Ianni, at the recent Jupiter WorldView executive breakfast talk, co-organised by Jupiter Communications, ACW and Intelligent Enterprise.  
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"The results are almost identical for both the U.S and Japan. We found that people in both countries use online services primarily for email. Most of them also use search engines to do research on products and services as well as to get the latest news.

This shows how important content is compared to entertainment."

Ianni also said that the concept of WebTV will not take off on a large scale. "I don't see a lot of people wanting more interactivity with their PC.

The reality of the Internet is that there'll be some level of convergence between the 'Net and the TV, but people switching from TV programmes to surf the Net will not happen," he said. "People don't want WebTV . It just doesn't fit culturally."

On a separate note, the Jupiter Communications analyst shed some light on the latest bull run on Internet stocks. "The traditional valuation techniques are flawed when it comes to assessing Internet stocks.

The conventional valuation approach was based on tangible wealth creation where there is equipment , land, and inventory.  Today, it's different," said Ianni.

"The Key question that needs to be asked today is 'What can be concluded about future customer activity with the company? Ownership of the customer is the key. Yahoo! , for example, has done well but they don't own the customers. AOL does."

In his presentation, Ianni also emphasised that to succeed on the Internet , Asian companies must remember that it takes more than just a pretty Web Page. Success hinges on several factors including an integrated cross-marketing advertising campaign. Perseverance and the right sales strategy count too.

Commenting on the decision by Levis Strauss last October to exit it's e-commerce business, Ianni said the company "gave up too soon". "They gave up before the market was mature".

Online shopping isn't a mature market in the US yet. No one said it would be easy on the "net". Levi Strauss is reported to have abandoned its online sales strategy for reasons including high costs.

In terms of marketing, Ianni's advice is not to underestimate the power of email marketing. "There is a new breed of direct marketing. email is very impactful. Globally, there are 400 million email accounts. In Q1"99 alone, 57 million new email accounts  were created.

"Although the privacy question comes into play and you cannot totally eradicate spam, increasingly, you can get more targeted . Opt-in marketing is the way to go. Response rates are better and conversion rates of customers is higher," said Ianni

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by Margot Williams -The Star

Mailing lists are low-tech, easy and (usually) free. All you need is email and interest in some particular subject- discount air fares, jokes or Bosnia, for example - and you can step into the middle of a running dialogue about it.

In many cases you get messages, but can't respond. In others, you can talk back and your words go to all those other members.

If you subscribe to more than one list, however, the problem is keeping all the incoming messages manageable. Step away for an hour and you can come back to find your mailbox jammed.

Over the years, I've tried many remedies. I've used my email program's filtering capabilities, manually moved messages I want to read later into separate folders, requested the mailing list in "digest:" form to receive a whole day of group traffic in one long- very long- daily message.

I could also use text-retrieval software to build a searchable database  of saved messages , but that seems obsessive, wasteful and even pointless. Now I look on the World Wide Web and find that people are solving the problem for me.

Some list owners are starting to put  searchable archives on their sites. For example the 80,000 member Internet Tourbus list, which points out new sites on the global network, has put up back messages dating from 1995 at

And we're starting to see the glimmerings of a universal archive and search engine for many mailing lists- maybe even all of them one day. For example and offer list owners a searchable Web interface for archives of mailing lists. And offers both archiving and hosting of lists, free of charge.

You can start one up easily via a Web form at eGroups, it took me just 10 minutes to start a list for my family and friends. Each list can be designated public or private (private means that people can't automatically subscribe; the list administrator must approve them)

If you decide to keep an archive, you can limit it to restricted membership or open it to all. Subscribers can choose to browse , read or search the messages at eGroups instead of getting them in email.

If you already have an archive, you can sent it to e-Groups and it will host it and make it searchable. Some of the lists that have moved their archives to eGroups contain up to four years of messages.

Right now there are more than 35,000 lists at eGroups and it's growing by 500 a week, the San Francisco company's spoke-person Bill Graves said. "The purpose of the site is to let people start and read email groups easily with any Web browser, and without any other software," Graves said. "It's really old application completely brought up to date."

There are self-started groups for college alumni, bridge clubs, sports teams and fan clubs. There are  political discussions, family reunions, book clubs, software hangouts and groups in which people from countries going through tough times, like Indonesia and Eritrea, can keep-up on news from home.

A top priority at eGroups is preventing the collection of individual email addresses for mass-mailing purposes. To get to see the full email address of an individual contributor to a discussion, there's a two step process; the addresses cannot be scooped up by spammers.

More ideas on how to stamp out spam  click here

The service also limits a list owner's ability to add large number of subscribers without their specific requests to join. And if you want to remove your own messages from any list, you can.

To register for the site, you need to give your email address and ZipCode, eGroups promises not to sell this information to direct mailers.

Several million messages travel through eGroups each day, Graves said. I'd rather read them there than in my mailbox.

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email blasting without a target audience a.k.a. spamming is a method of sending unsolicited email to mailing lists or directory membership without them asking for it. Untargeted email blasting could result in clogging the recipient's mailbox as well as alienating customers.


However, email based marketing campaigns can greatly reduce marketing  costs and boost customer loyalty through personalised email.

A new channel through email marketing now joins the ranks of traditional forms of micro-marketing  like sales mass mailings, telemarketing calls, informercials appeals and newspaper inserts.

With companies like Kana Communications, which handles inbound and outbound email, the ability to market to consumers one-on-one through personalised email marketing messages or responses are now enabling  companies to manage their own marketing campaigns.

With leading technology, clients could merge existing customer data with feedback from email marketing campaigns to create customer profiles. Triggers could then be set by marketing managers to fire off marketing email to their customers, which match set criteria, and responses by recipients can then be further tracked into the database.

More ideas on how to stamp out spam  click here

email blasting, if carefully orchestrated, can offer a huge upside for any marketing manager. However, the downside would be a risk of being labeled a spammer and result in tarnishing one's brand.

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email ABUSE 

March 2000 Intelligent Enterprise

Internet and email access are basic, useful business tools companies should give their employees. In fact, email has been recognised by many companies as the second most important application after financial software.

email also allows employees to exchange important business documents without fuss, and can be used as a daily collaboration tool between colleagues and business partners. And with Internet access employees can search for useful information that can help them do their jobs better.

But email and 'Net access can be abused by employees  and there are business costs to consider.

According to a global survey conducted by Infosecurity '99, SC Magazine and NetPartners, employees spend an average of half an hour a day surfing the Web for non business use.

This non business use of the Internet  costs the employer 2500 Pounds per person (US$4087). The survey was conducted with IT Managers from 191  international companies which were predominantly large corporations.

The survey reported that 84% of employees are given unlimited access to the Internet with an estimated 54% using it for non-business  use for an average of half an hour a day. And the cost to a large company employing 1000 people on an average salary of 20,000 pounds (US$32700) per annum will come up to 2.5 million pounds (US$4 million) a year.

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Shocking email usage patterns
The survey also revealed  that 76% of workers use company time to search the web for new jobs, with 83% using the Internet for personal finance, 82 %  for sports , 85% for general entertainment , 56% were visiting chat rooms, 84% for travel, and 50% were using it to visit adult sites.


Then there's always the danger of having a careless or malicious employee who sends out highly confidential company documents (e.g. business proposal) to the wrong party.

So here's the dilemma. There is no deny that the Internet and email are critical business tools . But how can a company provide these tools without incurring any unwanted costs?

The solution is to implement a software that manages and ensures the security of electronic content that is transmitted over the company network.

Electronic content includes data, video and voice files that are attached with emails or downloaded from the Internet. With a content security software in place, companies can determine  the types of content that are allowed to go in and out of the company network.

The process is called "setting and implementing  policies". For instance, employers can determine that content with the word "pronography" in it may not be downloaded by employees.

A content security software companies can turn to is Content Technologies' MIMEsweeper. And other than setting policies and managing the types of data that are send and received, this software also monitors email attachments, as well as looks out for the file downloads that can affect network bandwidth.

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The Malay Mail 

Chicago; Anyone who has email probably experiences it. You go away for a few days- in some cases, even a few hours - boom ! Your emailbox is crammed full. John Parker's heart sank last week when he returned from a two-week vacation to find well over 250 emails awaiting him.

So he did what many increasingly overwhelmed email users are doing. "I'm afraid I just basically moved them all into the trash basket," said the Washington bureau chief for the British magazine The Economist. As far as Parker is concerned, you can opt to spend all day doing email or you can do your work. "But you can't do both."

Technology may make it easier for others to reach us. And it may increase our penchant to communicate. But email inundation is becoming so common that some people are drawing the line.

"The speed of technology is driving me insane!" says Mario Salomao, a public relations executive from San Francisco and one of dozens of people to reply to an online query about the ever-increasing volume of email and voicemail.

"If you're not conscious about it or if your goal is to accomplish you "to do" list, then you are in for a rude awakening." she says. "The list never ends." Salomao and several others said in recent months they've begun replying to fewer emails and getting fewer responses to message that they sent.

In Australia- a country that has made big efforts to get its citizens connected to the Web- tax officials have been so swamped by email questions they've had to send auto-responses telling emailers they'll have to wait at least two weeks. Even experts- including Eric Yaverbaum, author of I'll Get Back To You- are proving hard to reach.

So who's sending all this stuff anyway? So of the email jamming our boxes is , of course, unsolicited junk mail. Jupiter Communications projects that marketing -related email messages will increase 40- fold between 1999 and 2006. It says that the average online user received 1,746 emails in 1999 and will receive 2,052 this year.

Then there are people like Sreenath Sreenivasan, a professor of new media at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, who sends so much email - 250 a day- that his friends  have come up with a name for it 'sreemail'.

Some of it is school-related; some goes to people on group lists he has created, including one dedicated to news from Asia. Much of the mail he sends requires no reply. But even when he expects a response, he says it's a good idea to be patient.

"When you deal with people who only have dial-up (modem) service and have real lives and don't hang out in front of a computer like I do, you can't expect an immediate reply." Sreenivasan says.

Experts do have a few tips for dealing with an unruly emailbox. "On the receiving side, you have to prioritise," Yaverbaum says. Many popular email client programs offer message filtering that can be configured so an urgent request from, say, the boss surges to the tip of your email queue.

"On the sending side," suggests Yaverbaum, "you're got to make every email and voicemail count." In the business world, he says that means keeping it brief- and asking for a response if you expect one- AP

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A Boston University faculty member is warning of new security bugs in Microsoft Corp Software that could allow a vandal to sabotage computers by sending electronic mail (email) messages.

Unlike earlier email attacks, this new attack method doesn't rely on infected email attachments. Instead, the email itself bears the infection , and can transmit it with no warning.

Jesper Johansson, an assistant professor at the university's school of management , calls the new security lapse "one of the most serious exploits (security holes) of Windows Workstations in the last several years".

Indeed, Johansson learned of the problem several weeks ago from George Guninski, a Bulgarian computer expert who specialises in identifying bugs in Windows security.

Johansson decided not to publicize the problem immediately because doing so would have made it easy for computer vandals to launch attacks against Microsoft based computers. Johansson, who edits the respected SANS Windows security digest, decided to wait until Microsoft engineers had come up with a way to solve the problem.

After what happened, Johansson published a warning on the SANS Web site, urging Microsoft users to quickly patch their systems. Millions of Microsoft based computers were infected by the LoveBug email virus earlier this year. But that virus required the user to open an infected  file attached to the email.

In this new attack, a computer can be sabotaged by sending an email written in the hypertext markup language (HTML) format used to create Web pages. HTML messages can include embedded software written in 'scripting languages' such as Microsoft's Vision Basic for Applications.

Opening the email will activate a browser, which will run the embedded program. But with many common email  programs, such as Eudora and Microsoft Outlook, it's not even necessary  to open the message.

The email program does it automatically in a 'preview pane', so it can be read without opening it. But just previewing an HTML mail message is enough o activate the soft ware embedded inside.

Microsoft has long known about the possibility of this sort of attack, and has built in precautions against it. But Guninski discovered a couple of unsuspected security holes. He found that it was possible to write HTML, email that would tell the recipient  computer  to go to a particular Web address and download a file there.

This file, written with Microsoft's Access data base program, could contain code that could do something unpleasant, like wiping out the data on the infected computer. Then Guninski found that he could send a second HTML email message that would activate the malicious code  contained in the data base.

In effect, he had stumbled across a two-step process for sabotaging computers. "If you surfed to a malicious user's Web site, this would allow them to run code on your machine," said Microsoft's security product product manager Scott Culp.

Guninski, in an email from Bulgaria. put the matter even more bluntly; "The problems are very serious - they may allow a malicious person to take full control over user's computer," he said. "Definitely the bugs SANS are writing about are one of the worst Windows security holes ever."

There is no evidence that any computer has yet been attacked in this way, and both SANS and Microsoft are urging users to move quickly to keep it that way. The problem affects users of Microsoft Access, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as the Internet Explorer browser and any email program that displays HTML email such as Outlook or Eudora.

Software patches and other information about ways to fix the problem can be found at

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August 9, 2000 The Malay Mail

Karachi - Three young Pakistani men from 'good families' will go on trial this week in an Internet fraud case which has raised questions about the country's ability to police computer crime.

Immad Ahmed, Shahid Hussain, and Ali Owais were arrested late last month after a foreign bank complained that one of its clients had found 2.7 million rupees (RM1.9 Million) worth of unexplained purchases on his credit card.

The men have allegedly confessed to using the card number obtained from a local restaurant to go on a cyber - spending spree on a US based website. Police admit that tracking down the suspects exposed serious flaws in their approach to computer crime.

"This is new and dangerous phenomenon in Pakistan, involving kids from educated families like the three boys," said Sindh police chief Afab Nabi. Police said they had been stung into action by the case, after almost ignoring the initial complaint due to lack of experience in cyber crimes.

"I will establish a cyber crime unit soon which will work under a team of police officers specialised in computers and will be headed by the deputy inspector general of crimes," Nabi said.

The case has exposed the yawning gap between the younger generation of well educated, tech-savvy Pakistanis and the poorly funded police who still pound out reports on typewriters.

Twenty-year old Ahmed said he used a stolen credit card number to buy a laptop computer, digital camera, scanner, cordless keyboard and DVD drive after learning how to do it in an email chat session.

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