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The SBC Small Business Newsletter

presented by the Peak Small Business Center



March 22, 2003

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Quote of the Week

Today is yesterday's pupil.

- Thomas Fuller



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Staff Article

by: Cary Christian

After devastating distributed denial of service attacks almost brought the Internet to its knees several weeks ago, you would think people would get the idea and make an effort to close some of the security holes that make such an event possible. Apparently, that is not the case.

The CERT Coordination Center is monitoring a group of large networks of compromised machines that are linked together through programs left behind by worms and viruses. Just one of these networks contains more than 140,000 machines.

These networks are used to launch distributed denial of service attacks and the owners and users of the machines have no clue that their assets are being used in the attacks. Making matters worse, these compromised machines make it easy for even a novice hacker to launch a devastating attack. CERT has warned that there is potential for serious long-term damage.

The really sad fact about all of this is that the worms and their "droppings" that can be used to create all this havoc have been around for awhile. There are patches available to render them useless and current anti-virus programs can all handle them. The fact that there is such immediate danger means that people are not patching their machines and they are not using current anti-virus programs, if they are using them at all!

In addition to setting the stage for distributed denial of service attacks, the existence of these worms and viruses make it much more difficult to trace the attacks once they occur. These compromised machines can also be used to hide the identity of people committing even more heinous crimes. The unprotected and unpatched PC becomes a pawn in the commission of such crimes.

Here are some things you should do right away.

1. When was the last time you downloaded a patch for your operating system? They are issued frequently. When they are issued, it is usually because the patch is needed to plug a hole in the security of your machine. If you are using a Windows operating system, take a little time to visit Windows Update at  Select "Product Updates" and follow the prompts. You'll be told what patches you need and they can be installed automatically. It's super easy and there is no excuse not to do this.

2. Check your passwords, shares and protocols. Make sure passwords are difficult to break. Do not use your mother's maiden name, your birth date, your social security number or a variation of your name. Mix it up with letters, numbers and make sure it's at least 8 characters long. Make sure your machine does not have any shared resources using Windows networking that are not protected by a password. Unless you really need it for something, don't use the NetBEUI protocol for networking. Use IP instead.

3. Scan your hard drive for viruses and worms. You can use Trend Micro's Housecall scanner at to perform a free scan and cleaning of your machine. All it will cost you is a little time and will at least provide you with the peace of mind that your machine has not been compromised.

4. Install a firewall. You can get a free version for home use from Zone Labs at
Don't think your home machine is unimportant. Probably most of the compromised machines on the Internet are home PCs.

On your business network, you'll most likely have to purchase a firewall if your ISP does not provide one for you. Zone Labs has a pro version for under $50.

5. Use an anti-virus program and keep it updated. You can download AVG Anti-Virus at  It's fr^e and it works very, very well. Just remember to have your anti-virus program load every time your computer boots up and set it to update automatically so you always have the most up to date virus database in use.

6. Test how stealthy your computer is. Hackers and worms scour the Internet looking for open ports on computers that are broadcasting their location. Without a firewall, this broadcasting, which is normal behavior, acts like a beacon to the hacker, leading them to your machine through unprotected ports. The firewall is supposed to make your machine invisible, or "stealthed." It's a good practice to check just how stealthed your machine is from time to time. Take the "Shields Up!" test at Gibson Research to find out. The URL is  There is lots of great information on security at this site in addition to computer tests.

None of the above tasks are difficult or expensive. They will require a little time but will keep you safe and help insure that your PC doesn't become a pawn in someone's evil plans. The world and the Internet are becoming a more dangerous place every day. You owe it to yourself and to everyone else who enjoys the Internet to make your machine off-limits to unauthorized use.

Copyright (c) 2003

Guest Article


By: Berwyn J. Kemp

Do you supply products and services to commercial customers and are unable to secure traditional bank financing? If so, do you very often have to wait 30 to 90 days or longer for your customers to pay your invoices? Which often leaves you short of the capital you need to effectively operate and build your business.

If you answered yes to both of these questions. Then there could be a source of business funding that could work for your business. That source of funding is the factoring of your accounts receivable invoices. Which could very well give you the capital you need to more effectively operate, expand, and grow. Because you'll no longer have to wait for your customers to pay your invoices.

What's more, the factoring of your accounts receivable invoices is much easier source of financing to access that traditional commercial bank financing. Because the factor doesn't look at the credit rating of your business, nor do they look at your personal credit rating. Both of which can be a problem particularly for new businesses. And other kinds of Businesses that don't meet the very conservative standards of most commercial banks. Instead factors base their decision to factor or not to factor your invoices on the credit of your customers.

Therefore, if you supply products and services to commercial customers who have good credit ratings, such as, government agencies, well established commercial firms, hospitals, universities, insurance companies, etc.. Then you can more than likely qualify for accounts receivable factoring.

In addition, as a rule, factors don't require long term contracts as in more traditional kinds of lending, nor do they ever audit your books. For these reasons and more, this makes obtaining an accounts receivable factoring loan a relatively quick, simple, and easy process, to give you the business funds that you need.

What the factor basically does is advance you between 70% to 80% of the value of your commercial invoices. The factor then collects the invoices directly from your customer. Once the factor collects on the invoices they subtract their fee, and then sends you the balance of the invoice amount. What will factoring cost you? Well, factoring fees start at about 4% for invoices collected within 30 days goes up to about 15% for invoices collected in 120 days or so. Thus, the fee depends on when the factor actually collects the invoice.

There are some business people who wrongly believe that factoring makes them appear financially unsound to their customers. If this is what you believe it is simply not true. Today many modern firms are factoring their accounts receivables. As a way to get the capital they need to effectively operate and build their profits faster. In fact, many commercial banks are actively referring they can't finance to factors. In addition, a number of major commercial banks
have actually opened factoring divisions.

While factoring is not right for every business, it could be right for your business as a source of business funds that works for you. Particularly if your business is new, or you are unable to tap traditional commercial bank financing. Then factoring could very well be the answer to your business funding needs.


Berwyn J. Kemp is a financial consultant who helps businesses get funding to start up, more effectively operate, or expand. For full information on his funding products and services visit him at: , NOW!


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