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Diagnosing Email: How to forward message headers

This is actually an article from my old site. But it is useful to point here when customers need me to analyze suspicious email messages.

When email goes wrong, one of the things your IT support may ask for is a copy of the full message headers. Headers are the audit trail of how the message was processed and the path it took to get from the sender to your inbox. Normally you don’t see most headers. The ones you do see are To:, From: and Date:, but there are many others contained in most email messages. Your IT support can use these headers to diagnose how the message was handled along the way.

Different mail clients handle forwarding headers in different ways. Here’s how to forward headers from some of the common client programs.

Outlook 2016

  1.  Start a new message.
  2. Select Attach Item from the toolbar.
  3. Select Outlook Item.
  4. Browse to the message you are inquiring about, and select it to attach it.
  5. Send the message.

Office 365 Outlook online

  1. Open the email message by double clicking it.
  2. Click on the ellipsis (the 3 dots) to the right of “Forward” to open a drop-down menu
  3. Click “View Message Details”.
  4. Select all the text (Click anywhere in the text and then press Ctrl-A) and copy it. 
  5. Close the header information window.
  6. Click on the forward icon of your message. 
  7. Paste the copied text at the beginning of the message. 
  8. Send the message.

New Business Phone Service

ComputAssist has launched a new service to help small businesses. Let me tell you about ComputAssist Business VoIP phone service.

It grew out of this pandemic we are in. As small businesses came under tremendous pressure from lost opportunities, I wondered how I could help them survive, and even stand out. With remote work and fewer people wearing more hats, flexible and fast communication seemed like a good place to start. A remarkably quick response can be the difference-maker that helps you get the attention of a potential customer.

So I built ComputAssist Business VoIP, using leading-edge phone technology that can work the way you need to work. When you can receive calls and voicemails on any device, anywhere you are, it changes how you think about business phone service. It’s not just a desk phone anymore! With VoIP you can use a desk phone, sure, and many still prefer it. But you can also use a software phone on your laptop or desktop computer, or an app on your tablet or smartphone. Receive calls wherever you are, just as if you were in the office!

Has your office outgrown its old phone system? Are you looking for more powerful features? Is cost a driver for you? How are you currently using your phone system? Is voicemail a big part of it, or do you handle most calls on demand? Do you have a mobile or remote work force?

Look into Business VoIP phone service from ComputAssist, then let’s talk about what you need to survive and thrive in the pandemic, and definitely beyond!

A Free Boost for Your Network Security

There is a way to enhance your network security just by changing a setting in your router or computer. Quad9, a non-profit DNS provider, offers filtered DNS as a free service. But first, let me explain what DNS is.

DNS = Domain Name System

DNS is the internet system that allows computers to locate each other. When you request a web site in your browser, your computer carries on a brief conversation behind the scenes. It takes the web address you’ve asked for, reduces it to just the domain name part, and then asks DNS for the network address of that domain. For example,

You: “Browser, show me https://www.computasssist.com/support!” (You make that demand by clicking a link, a bookmark, or typing the address into your browser.)
Computer: “Hey, DNS server, what’s the IP address of www.computassist.com?”
DNS server: “Computer, that address is 209.50.56.173!”
Computer: “209.50.56.173, show me your page at /support.”
You: The page appears on your screen.

Filter Me

That’s regular plain vanilla DNS. What filtered DNS does is check your request against lists of known bad sites. Quad9’s DNS filters out sites known to push malware attacks. So the above conversation would go like this:

You: “Browser, show me https://www.badsite.com/iamunaware!”
Computer: “Hey, DNS server, what’s the IP address of www.badsite.com?”
Quad9 DNS server: “Computer, that address is in my list of bad sites, so I am going to hand you a Domain Not Found result!”
Computer: “Hmm, that domain does not resolve, so I have to show the Site Not Found error.”
You: The Site Not Found page appears on your screen.
Computer: continues operating normally, having not been attacked by a malicious site.

Changing your DNS settings

The best place to set up Quad9 DNS is in your router. This protects every device on your network that uses auto-DNS configuration (probably all of them, unless you have manually altered network settings.) Every brand of router is different, so you will have to search for the steps to change your router. You are looking for the DHCP configuration, and within that, the DNS server IP addresses that are set there. Replace whatever is there with 9.9.9.9 to begin using Quad9 DNS. The next time your devices renew their network connection, they will be using Quad9.

If you don’t have the router admin password or are locked out of the router, Quad9 provides help on how to set your individual computer to use their servers. This will only protect the device on which you make this change, so change your router instead, if possible. But if not, the Quad9 setup page will walk you through the procedure for Mac and Windows.

Modern network security is layer-upon-layer of defensive strategies. I highly recommend DNS filtering as one of those layers. This one is free and easy, so why not add this layer to improve your security?

The Best Products & Services for Small Business

This post will be fairly brief, just a list of the products and services that I use and implement for customers. Everyone has favorite brands, and reasons for them. As I’ve worked in the small office environment for a long time, these are the brands that I have found reliable and deliver the best price/performance in a business office.

If you’d ask me what I recommend for your small business or church office, below are my answers. (I get no compensation for mentioning any of them.)

PRODUCT / SERVICE
BackupComputAssist, iDrive
ComputAssist for business, iDrive for home. But most important, some kind of backup & recovery solution for everywhere. This is the most important thing you can do for your digital life. If you don’t have a tested recovery solution, drop what you’re doing and fix that now!
Desktop operating systemMac OS X, Windows 10
Consider Mac OS X if you are not tied to a Windows-only line-of-business app.
Server OSDevuan Linux
Free & free, stable, reliable, cross-platform, efficient, secure.
PCDell, Lenovo, Intel NUC
Small-form-factor PCs are great for almost eveyone, energy-saving and quiet. Dell has the Micro, Lenovo has the Tiny, Intel has the NUC. All highly recommended.
LaptopMacBook Pro, Thinkpad T
As with PCs, switch to Mac unless you have a business application that only runs on Windows. Those of you who know me say, “What, no Linux?” Nope, not for everyday end users. It’s great, it’s all I use for myself, but the marketplace has trained users to expect one desktop environment, one control panel, one file manager, etc. (whether it’s Windows or Mac.) The diverse world that is Linux presents so many choices it’s baffling.
Small office serverSynology Diskstation
Phenomenal small servers that can do so much more than serve files. Backups, VPN, camera surveillance, web apps and virtual machines are all in their bag of tricks.
PrinterBrother
All printers have their bad days. I’ve had fewer with Brother than most. Brother is also the most cross-platform, work-with-anyone brand I have found. And they don’t disable your printer if you use third-party cartridges.
RouterUntangle z4 hardware
A feature-complete router/firewall/threat management system that’s still fairly easy to use, owing to their very good browser interface. They have a free or subscription based model. Both are good, but go with the subscription for business.
Workstation/laptop driveSamsung SSD
For me they are a no-brainer. Good performance, reliability and price package. Need an SSD? OK, what size Samsung would you like?
Office suiteLibreOffice
A Free and free, open-source office suite that can do what you are likely to need in a small business. Does it match MS Office feature-for-feature? No, but give it a trial and see if you miss anything. The one missing piece is an Outlook replacement. But I encourage you to quit desktop Outlook and start using a browser for email anyway.
Web browserFirefox
This web browser is the only one that is open-source and supported by a non-profit company. Mozilla’s mission is to deliver a secure, free, open-source browser without monetizing you by collecting your private data.
SearchDuckduckgo
DDG is “the search engine that doesn’t track you.” They retain no history of your web searches. They don’t sell your data to advertisers. It’s been their mission from the beginning.
Web site frameworkWordPress
There was a time when WordPress was bug-ridden and insecure, and no self-respecting web author would use it. Welcome to now, where WP is mature, powerful yet easy to use, and in use by dabblers and professionals alike. There are so many templates and plugins to add to its framework, and it can save you so much time, you’d need a specific reason to use something else.
Inexpensive cell phone planPureTalk
I discovered this MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) a number of years ago. Like many today, they offer simple no-frills plans for a great value. Get all the minutes and gigs you need at a huge discount from the big name providers.
Inexpensive home phone serviceVoIP.ms
I saved this for last, because to take advantage of it you’ll need to do a little studying. VoIP.ms provides the phone-over-internet service, and you provide the digital handset or adapter for your home. They have all the tutorials you need to get set up, and will port your number in for free. I average less than $5 a month for home phone using their services.

I hope this list is helpful to you. I’ve saved you a bunch of research, and you won’t go wrong with any of these options.