Power User: Stay up-to-date on archives, e-mail traces and bugs

John McCormick

Ever want to turn back Internet time and see what your agency's Web home page looked like a few years ago? Check out www.archive.org. The site is attempting to store all Web pages. That's a pretty tall order, but take a look at how well it's done so far.

The archive lists 137 results for www.gcn.com going back to late 1996. Archive.org pages are more than just images. They're active, and many of the links still work. For example, the earliest GCN link to an issue was for Aug. 7, 1995, in which a story about Microsoft Windows 95 commented, 'The desktop software version of a new millennium dawns.'

The archive of www.whitehouse.gov also makes for fascinating reading. The site www.whitehouse.com might be even more so, but don't enter that address by mistake.

Not only can Archive.org carry you back in Internet time to the mid-1990s, it can also serve other purposes. Say a hacker has just defaced your site. Archive.org records might save hours or days of reconstruction.

So far, Archive.org has stored 100T of data from 10 billion Web pages. It also has Arpanet archives and 16 million UseNet postings, along with 360 movies including such gems as '16mm Motion Picture Projector: Care and Maintenance, The,' a 1961 production by the Air Force's Air Photographic and Charting Service, plus theatrical ads for the 1955 Chevy.

Have you ever wondered where some e-mails came from? Products from VisualWare Inc. of Centreville, Va., at www.visualware.com, can help you understand the clues in extended mail headers.

The company's eMailTracker Pro software analyzes header data all the way back to the origin. You can download a trial version of eMailTracker to see if it gives enough information to justify paying for the registered version.

I seldom learn much more than I could by closely examining the header of an occasional suspicious message, but Microsoft Outlook users can download a plug-in to automate the tracking. EMailTracker works with any e-mail service that can display a complete header'simply cut and paste the header into the program.

If all you can see is an e-mail address, you can still get some information from VisualRoute, a companion program to eMailTracker Pro. Entering the raw address will show the host e-mail server's name and IP address.

Clicking on the server name tracks the path between your system and the originating server, mapping all the links and often the city location of the server or servers, although not for a sender who's 10,000 miles away.

The information you get from the demo version is almost identical to what Microsoft Windows 2000 users can obtain by entering command mode (Start, Run, cmd) and using the Microsoft-supplied utilities tracer, mailservername and mailserverIP.

The VisualWare utilities format the information nicely and provide geographic locations of the servers they find. If you're, say, an investigator who routinely tracks a lot of e-mail, the combined $60 registration fee for eMailTracker and VisualRoute could be a real bargain.

Knowing where new worm and virus attacks are occurring and when they first appeared can be a help in evaluating whether they have reached your network.

Antivirus vendors such as Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., at www.symantec.com, post useful information about the latest worms and viruses, usually with helpful hints for removing them. They also give general information about how widespread an infection is.

For raw data you can evaluate yourself, check out www.messagelabs.co.uk, a U.K.
e-mail service provider. The site lists each major infection with detailed statistics about when MessageLabs first encountered it, the top 20 country sources by number of incidents, the first 20 countries reporting incidents and an estimate of the chance of infection in unprotected systems.

John McCormick is a free-lance writer and computer consultant. E-mail him at [email protected].

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