VOC Forum news
This is where I'll post simple updates that say what is happening behind the scenes in the management of the forum. I'll keep it brief in the interests of time, and this will form the basis of a journal.

Some distant history:

June 2009 - Agreed to take over maintenance of VOC website and domain.

June - July 2009 - Downloaded and installed MyBB (this software) onto my own web server for prototyping.

February 2010 - Agreement in principle to create a VOC forum, registered new domain name ( http://www.voc1903-57.co.uk ),
Old website copied across to new server.

March 2010 - Website rebuilt in simpler form, 'forum' button added,
Final review of forum and website by Club Committee.
New web domain submitted to Google,
Old web site backed up and taken down, redirection page created,
Helpdesk area created,
Example threads and initial 'How To' material produced,
Article submitted for Flutenews.

Future items will be dated by the forum software.
April 2010 - Flutenews article brings in the first wave of member registrations.
First mentor signs up (Colin Bolton) and the first threads are started to cover technical issues.
Security release applied to the forum (a software update, nothing major and we shouldn't see any difference in operation). Now at Version 1.4.13
First uploads of FluteNews placed on the forum today. As I receive new ones by post I will continue to scan them (sadly a pretty destructive process converting A3 to A4) and upload them for all to see. I have a few issues missing at the moment but will almost certainly find them, and then upload them.

There are currently 47 forum users registered:

38 are fully paid up members of the Club.
3 haven't been verified as Club members (can seeand post in the 'free' areas only).
3 look like people with no interest in cars (no posts or second visit after sign up).
3 are test accounts operated by me to check access controls.
Major forum software upgrade completed this evening, now running version 1.6 - backups of the software and the database also archived 'just in case'...
Another forum software upgrade completed this evening - now running version 1.6.4, which apparently has a few bugs fixed and some new features, I ought to post up what they are really.

Update time.

DaveD contacted me with a report of a secirity risk posed by use of the forum. I managed to replicate his experience (it was successfully trapped by both his and my antivirus software) and have investigated further.

It would seem that several of the javascript files that provide some of the prettier 'look and feel' behaviour that the forum has were different to the versions available on the MyBB download server, where I obtain updates from, so I have deleted and reinstalled the whole forum software and will monitor the situation carefully.

Searching for an explanation it is less easy to pin down exactly what has happened. It has been reported via the MyBB (forum software) authors that an unauthorised third party gained access to their website that distributes the software and infected a number of files within a previous distribution. I carried out the checks at the time that they recommended and found no infection of this forum, but with an upgrade available, I upgraded the forum just before the Christmas break, which effectively replaces a vast majority of the files anyway.

It would seem that the upgrade brought in the problem, as I have selected very complex login passwords for both the forum itself and the domain in an effort to keep these routes of attack secure. In the end of course, if a competent hacker wants to gain access, they will eventually manage to do so on any system.

So, currently, the forum is clean, the files and posts have been backed up again tonight and I'd encourage normal use of it, as I will be.

For anyone who is unsure, I will offer the following advice. Please make sure that you have antivirus software installed, make sure it's up to date and also take the opportunity to update your web browser. There is a lot of information on the web on this, but there are a few points to note:

1) To ensure that you don't carry any previous files into your use of this (or any other) site that could cause false reporting of viruses, please delete the 'temporary internet files' that are stored by your browser. These fall into some specific categories, so delete only the ones marked as 'Temporary internet files' and not 'cookies', 'passwords' and the like.

2) Internet Explorer 6 is flawed and is not being maintained by Microsoft. Please upgrade to IE8 or IE9. If you use Firefox, or another browser, please make sure it is the latest version and check it regularly.

3) If you have antivirus software, please make sure it's set to automatically update and then periodically check to be sure that it is successfully updating. If you don't have virus software, I have experience of two of the free options and would recommend either:

a) Microsoft Security Essentials - This is my preferred option, seems to be the fastest and integrates very well with Windows. It's free to install and use and appears to be Microsoft's attempt at ridding Windows of it's reputation for viruses and unreliability. I'd add that it appears to provide equivalent functionality to many of the big name software options that require paid subscriptions.

b) AVG Free - AVG support two versions, one is free and the other is subscription based. All the protection you need for simple web surfing is included in the free version. It's updated frequently and has been good over the last 5+ years I've been using it. I only switched to the Microsoft offering due to a personal recommendation and agree that the MS one is quicker.

Hopefully the above goes some way to reassure you all that I've investigated and found the offending files, deleted them and eradicated the reported virus from the forum. Please do report any future issues and I will investigate without delay.

Hello Ian, I changed from AVG to Microsoft Security Essentials some time ago and it does seem to be quite effective.
Another update, as the spam merchants have been at it again. Over the last few days we've had about 20 new user registrations, some of whom have seen fit to offer us wristwatches that look like ones made by well known brands, shoes, clothes the like. Needless to say I doubt they're offering anything that's of interest to us here and so I've been deleting posts and bannning these users as I find them.

Thanks go to DaveD as I see you've been doing the same - keep it up. Smile

I have taken the opportunity to update the forum software too, this time to version 1.6.8. I haven't read up on the changes yet, but if anyone notices anything new and exciting about hw the forum works, feel free to post up an we can all take a look.

As ever, please let me know about any problems and I'll address them asap.


An apology...

I was beseiged with spam registrations over Christmas (each successful registration results in an email being sent to me so I can check in to the forum to make sure that any issues can be dealt with swiftly). Realising that the 'anti-robot' protection features weren't working very effectively, I altered the settings and (it seems) killed the registration page, which should have asked a security question and also requested that new registrants copy some mangled letters from a graphic into a little text box. It seems the latter got broken and I didn't realise.

So if you've tried to register and been frustrated by that, I'm sorry. Blush

Any issues with the forum, please do get in touch and I'll help as much as I can.


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