Is Public Wi-Fi Really That Dangerous?

OB One Communications Target URL: http://www.ob-one.com

With the Internet becoming more and more of a basic human right, many shops, restaurants, and even public transportation systems like New York’s MTA are providing free Wi-Fi to the public.

Initially, this might seem like a great advantage in this fast-paced society. But do public Wi-Fi networks put wireless security at a greater risk?

Let’s take a look.

What Risks Are Involved With Using Public Wi-Fi?

As with everything that’s free, there is a price to pay for public Wi-Fi. Just because while there’s not a physical theft of a cell phone or laptop doesn’t mean thieves can’t still steal personal and confidential information.

Here are a few problems with using a public Wi-Fi.

Snooping

Private Wi-Fi systems are encrypted. This means that a private password needs to be used to access any information.

No one except the user can view what information has been accessed.

Not so when using a public Wi-Fi system. There, anyone can see what unencrypted pages are being viewed. Additionally, no password is needed to access unencrypted pages. This means that anyone can see what information is typed in unencrypted forms.

Finally, anyone can see which encrypted sites have been visited

And there’s literally no way to know when or if someone is looking into that type of personal information.

It’s not like they have to look over a shoulder to do the spying. All they need is an unencrypted Wi-Fi and an unsuspecting victim.

Device is Compromised

When a person walks into a room and sneezes without covering their mouth, germs are spread. Something similar can happen when a compromised device is nearby. These devices can easily spread their infection to other laptops.

To avoid any problems, always select “Public Network” rather than “Home” to ensure no files or sensitive data is being shared.

Malicious Hotspots Galore

Just like spam e-mails that claim to be from the bank, a malicious hotspot can claim to be a legitimate Wi-Fi spot. It’s not always easy to spot the legitimate Wi-Fi spots from the malicious ones, either.

How to Keep Information Safe and Secure

Luckily, there are plenty of steps to take to ensure any device is always kept safe and secure.

One step is to rely on security experts, like those at OB One Communications, who will install a safe and secure wireless system so you never have to worry about your data being stolen.

There are a few other steps you can take to protect laptops, cell phones, and iPads.

Only browse encrypted sites using the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension – this can be enabled to ensure all sites accessed will automatically have this extension. Then, make sure all security patches and firewalls are up-to-date. Always use a VPN (virtual private connection.)

Next, turn off sharing in public spaces. To do this, go to System Preferences or Control Panel. Always remember to turn off Wi-Fi when not needed – this will also prolong the device’s battery life.

Keep in mind that you can always buy an unlimited Wi-Fi plan and never rely on public Wi-Fi again.

Lastly, implementing a two-factor authentication for sensitive sites will prevent malicious hackers from logging onto the site, even if they’ve somehow gained access to the passwords for those sites.

Why and How to Prepare Your Website for Holiday Traffic

holiday traffic

Would you go into the holiday season without preparing if you ran a physical store?

No, of course you wouldn’t.

It’s just as important to get set for the holidays when you’re selling online.

In November and December 2016, online sales hit over $110 billion.

If you want a share of that cash, then you need to make sure that your website is optimized for the increase in visitors.

Don’t let increased holiday traffic be your downfall.

Why is it so important to prepare for holiday traffic?

A website that isn’t properly prepared for the increase in hits during the holiday season could face all sorts of problems.

You might deal with:

  • Too many visitors causing your site to crash
  • Pages loading slowly and putting customers off
  • Slow checkout processes causing customers to abandon their carts

That’s not what you want during one of the most crucial sales periods, right?

Right. So here’s how to stop it from happening.

Check your current speeds

Before you start making changes or assessing the effects of increased holiday traffic, you’ll want to get an idea of where your site currently stands.

There are a few methods for this:

  • Test the site yourself, and ask yourself if it’s fast enough. Use multiple devices, including PCs, mobile phones, and tablets.
  • Use free site speed testing tools – just Google ‘site speed checker’ and take your pick.
  • Pay for user testing. This is valuable for assessing user experience on your site, as well as loading times. A trained tester will record themselves while browsing your site.
  • Sign up for a service that notifies you when your site is down and gives tips on a resolution.

If any issues come up, take these actions before moving on.

Boost your hosting plan

Most eCommerce stores start off on the most basic hosting plan.

That’s understandable, since it’s the cheapest and might work fine most of the time.

However, as your business grows, and during busy periods, you might find that you need to upgrade.

Check your current usage with your hosting provider, and upgrade to the next level if you’re worried about hitting your limits during the holidays.

This ensures your customers won’t be hit with a pesky ‘site unavailable’ notice at a crucial moment during their purchase.

Update your theme and plugins

If you’re using WordPress, make sure all themes and plugins are 100% updated, and keep checking back regularly for new versions.

Out of date plugins can slow down your site, create errors for visitors, and may pose a security risk, making you vulnerable to hackers.

That’s not what you want during the holidays.

No matter which provider you’re using for your site, it’s crucial to keep everything up to date.

Cache your content

What’s caching, you ask?

Well, in simple terms, it means that when customers browse pages they’ve already visited before, they won’t have to wait as long for content to load.

Cached images will show up immediately, leading to faster speeds overall.

Add caching plugins to your WordPress site and they’ll do all the work for you – all you have to do it sit back and enjoy your speedy site.

This step is really important if you have lots of images per page or use very large images.

The holiday season could be the most profitable period for your online store.

Don’t let a poorly optimized website lose you valuable holiday traffic.

Start preparing today.

How to Fix Slow-Loading Images to Boost Performance

loading time

To keep your website attractive to consumers and up to date, it needs to be easy to use. Not only should the interface make sense, but your design should also be appealing and interactive.

For sites who have those two things, that’s great!

But what if even a well-designed site isn’t loading fast enough to make users stay on it? If the design doesn’t load quickly, it doesn’t matter if it’s high quality. No one will wait around to see it.

If your site is having this issue, don’t lose hope. Here, you’ll explore what can be done to fix slow loading images and boost your site’s overall performance.

Test your Site

If there has been an unexplained drop in web traffic lately, it’s worth running a few tests on the site.

These are available for free and will help identify if there’s an issue and what it is. Checking a site often is worth doing even if it’s experiencing great web traffic. If any problems were to arise, it’s best to catch them before they start affecting consumers.

Quick Fixes

There are still lots of ways to fix this issue. Their difficulty and pay-off will all vary. Quick fixes are easier since they don’t change anything in your website code.

Is this Image Necessary?

It’s worth noting that your website needs images. They catch people’s attention and provide information without taking up valuable word space. That being said, not every image needs to be displayed on your site.

The first and easiest solution to slow loading images is to get rid of some. The fewer pictures a site has, the lighter the page will be. This means it will load quickly. Use data from your website to determine what images are worth keeping and which aren’t.

For example, is there a specific page that customers leave quickly or don’t stay on as long? It might be because it has trouble loading. See what on that page can be taken off without sacrificing key information.

For those who are attached to these images, you don’t have to get rid of them for good! An easy solution is to take those pictures and use them as Instagram or Facebook content.

Consumers like to see different images than the ones they see on your site. Plus, this way you’ll have that much less content you need to produce. Customers also like it when websites keep them safe from hackers. Don’t know how? Check it out here.

If you don’t feel like getting rid of or re-purposing your images, don’t lose hope. Resizing pictures is another option.

Resizing Pictures

The quality of pictures can make a big dent on web page weight. The better quality it is, the heavier it will be. Downgrading picture quality sounds like something that will lower your overall web experience — but it’s not.

Keep in mind that when consumers load the site, it’s very unlikely that everything is displayed exactly as it was designed. Differences in computer processing and display change the way websites are presented to their audiences.

Additionally, over 50% of people are now accessing websites from mobile devices, which are less capable of loading high-res images. When we consider these facts, resizing your site’s photos seems like a worthwhile sacrifice.

At first, try going down one or two resolution levels then checking the results on both a computer and a mobile device. Since this image is familiar, it may be hard to see the difference.

To stay objective, show someone who is not aware of the downgrade in resolution the changes. If they can’t tell you’ve made a change, then you’re on the right track.

Then, test the speed of the site at the new resolution level. Hopefully, it will have made an obvious difference. If not, you may need to go down another level or consider a more complex solution.

Code-Based Fixes

If the fixes we looked at before weren’t enough to make a difference, then you may need to edit your site code. There are changes you can make to your code that will help with your image loading.

Not all of these coding changes will make your images load more quickly, but they will provide some improvement.

Simple Image Lazy Load and Fade

Simple Image Lazy Load and Fade is a JavaScript technique that was developed by David Walsh. This coding change changes the way that images load. Instead of the image being white until it’s fully loaded, it will have a fade-in effect.

With this change, consumers are able to see what the image will be — or at least know that the site’s design isn’t broken.

Progressively Enhanced Lazy Loading

If the site having issues has a lot of photos that are necessary for its functionality, there is this coding solution from Robin Osbourne. It works by loading the images at the top of the page first. Then, it will only load the later images if the user scrolls through.

This method tricks browsers into thinking that the images are on separate pages, so the page weight is dispersed.

Blurred Image Effect

Similar to the fade in effect, this coding change shows a blurred version of images to consumers as they load. Many sites are now using this method. This is because it gives the consumer confidence that there will eventually be something to look at.

However, this solution will take some serious code changing. It will have to be built into your code and developed for your specific site. The other two are coding add-ons. This means that you might need the services of a professional in order to get it to work correctly.

Many large and successful sites are using this method and it seems to be working for their customers. Don’t let the cost or workload of this method be frightening if it seems like the right choice for your site.

Well, functioning and well-designed websites are the most important things for keeping traffic steady. The second most important thing? Keeping customers safe from hackers.

 

5 Ways to Protect Your Health Website From Hackers

cybersecurity

If you’re running a health website, you do everything you can to protect the well-being of your clients.

But are you doing everything you can to protect their personal information against hackers and viruses?

Read on to find out how you can keep their data from being compromised.

1. Run Software Updates

When your customers are making inquiries about sensitive information like lap band surgery or a weight loss detox cleanse, the last thing they want is for that to be made public.

One of the easiest things you can do to keep this kind of data private?

Always run updates. Yes, it can be frustrating to have to wait for your computer to boot up. But it’s certainly a lot less frustrating than having all your customers’ personal information exposed.

2. Choose the Right Passwords

This should be a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by some of the phrases you find on this list of the most common passwords.

Is your password among them?

In general, it’s always a good idea to come up with passwords that include letters, numbers, and special characters.

You’ll also need to change your passwords frequently — about once a month to stay safe. Finally, don’t use the same password for all of your accounts. If you do this, you could face a complete disaster if hackers manage to guess it.

3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks

Sure, public and unsecured Wi-Fi is convenient, free, and available when you need it.

It’s also a great way for hackers to get a hold of your customers’ data, and then to hold it for ransom.

A hacker could be sitting at the table right across from you at the coffee shop, stealing your customers’ credit card information while you sip your latte, totally unaware.

Always instruct your employees to avoid public Wi-Fi networks. It’s just not worth the risk.

4. Beware of Suspicious Emails

Some spam emails that likely contain viruses are easier to spot than others.

But especially in today’s world, when so many employees are able to work remotely, you’ll need to take extra care to ensure hackers don’t get a hold of your website.

To ensure nothing goes wrong, it’s a good idea to ask your employees not to check their personal emails on their work computers. It can wait until they get home.

Additionally, avoid opening emails from addresses you don’t know. If you open a spam email and hackers begin infiltrating your network, get professional help immediately.

5. Consider Professional Virus Protection Services

When you’re dealing with sensitive information like someone’s weight, diet, and workout schedule, sometimes the “DIY” approach just isn’t secure enough.

Professional security services can routinely comb through your website and data and look for any suspicious activity. They can create backups of your information, update your software for you, and more.

They’re also always up-to-date with the latest techniques hackers are using.

Protect Your Customers — And Your Brand’s Reputation

With about 30,000 websites hacked every single day, there’s no such thing as being over-prepared when it comes to the security of your website.

Thanks to the tips in this post, you can start taking preventative action today.

 

Laugh Out Loud: 5 Writing Tips for a Humor Site

man and woman laughing over phone

So you’d like to write a funny blog, or at the very least, spice up the blog you’ve already got with a little more humor. After all, blogs are not just there to inform but also to entertain.

The only problem is, you’re not sure how to get started. Maybe you consider yourself a funny guy, based on others’ reactions. Or maybe you’ve been told you’re not that funny and you’d like to get some help.

Well, no problem! Here are some tips that can help you decide what to write about in a humor blog, or how to punch up a serious blog with a little levity.

1. The Unusual and Unexpected

A lot of people mistake shock comedy for the funniest type of comedy but all humor does tend to be based in eliciting some sort of surprise reaction from people. Think of slapstick.

Modern humor is a little more complicated than that, especially when it comes to the written word. But we’ve all had absurd “wtf” moments enter our lives out of nowhere.

Think of something that happened to you or someone you know, some anecdote that seemed really bizarre but still ended up okay. Cultivate a taste for the weird and learn how to spot it in everyday life.

2. Metaphors and Similes

A great way to punch up your writing with humor is to draw exaggerated, absurd comparisons between one set of circumstances and another.

Metaphors and similes often get confused: When you make a direct comparison between two things, that’s a metaphor, but when you say one thing is “like” another or “as” another, that’s a simile.

Wordplay, in general, is a great idea, but try to be witty about it: you shouldn’t use puns, for example, unless they fit the situation and the word perfectly. Bad puns are called “groaners” for a reason.

3. Sarcasm and Irony

These are two concepts that often get confused as well. Sarcasm occurs when you feel one way but pretend to feel the exact opposite; irony is what happens to all of us when life decides to reveal something we didn’t previously know.

Rain on your wedding day is not ironic, unless you’re marrying a meteorologist who insisted on having the wedding outside. If you sing “You Are My Sunshine” to her at the reception, that’s sarcasm.

4. Parody and Satire

Also confused at times, even though they form the backbone of a lot of today’s comedy. The “Family Guy” Star Wars episodes, for example, are parody: they take a sometimes loving, sometimes biting approach to something everyone loves.

Satire usually has a larger point to make about society itself. Think of the hilarious fake news site “The Onion” and all its many terrible imitators.

5. Quotes and Anecdotes

Finally, if you’re out of ideas, or you want to lighten the seriousness of your original ideas with some humor, you can always try funny quotes and anecdotes. Both work best when the subject is something people take pretty seriously: for example, football quotes or political anecdotes.

Again, you’re looking for an unusual or out of the ordinary situation or reaction.

So there you go!

Five pairs of ideas that can jumpstart your comedy blog or improve your serious one. Your tone can be as absurd or deadpan as you want it to be, but it’s your tone and you need to set it.

Laughs make your content memorable… and no matter what your blog is about, it’ll keep folks coming back!

What You Need To Know About Managing Your Digital Marketing Budget

digital marketing budget

In this day and age, marketing is all about dominating the digital space. According to Forbes, over the next five years, businesses in the United States will spend 120 billion on digital marketing alone.

Yes, you read that right. 120 Billion. With a “B.”

This spending shows the direction marketing trends are taking. With all that money swirling around, it’s important that businesses employ sound strategies to manage their marketing budgets.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best strategies your company should be using to manage your budget smartly.

Budget, Plan, Forecast, and Actual

It may seem obvious, but many businesses overlook this essential, yet ever important step.

Using a three-pronged approach to managing your budget is a surefire way to ensure you spend your money wisely and that you’re on track with expectations.

Your budget dictates where to allocate funds over an extended period, such as a year. It should be directly inline with your goals. Once you set your budget, it should remain untouched. Knowing that priorities change, you now introduce the planning portion.

The planning stage is where you can make changes and indicate where you need to spend more or fewer funds. Planning allows you the flexibility to grow with the changing business environment. This part of your budget is perfect for quarterly planning.

The “Forecast” portion is where you input what you actually spend on each area. You should update this mid-month, and when the month ends, you change this over to “actual.”

Using this strategy helps keep a clear focus on spending and your needs as they change.

Diversify Your Budget

Diversifying a marketing budget is an excellent way to make sure you’re hitting all the vital areas for growth.

A good rule of thumb to start with is the 70/20/10 rule.

This rule dictates that 70% of your marketing budget is devoted to tried and true methods. This area would include strategies or products that have a proven ROI time and time again.

20% of the budget should be allocated to safer bets, perhaps products that are newer on the scene but shows real growth potential.

10% is devoted to experimental channels, ones that with some risk, may lead to significant payoffs.

By employing this strategy, you are making sure you’ll hit your marks monthly, quarterly, etc. but also leave room for expanding and getting in on new and profitable trends.

Feel free to change the percentages around, as this is just a general guideline. Do what works for your business and risk tolerance.

Check In Often

Any successful business will tell you a budget should not only help manage your money but provide important insight as well.

To fully utilize the knowledge your budget can give you, you need to check in often. Experts suggest checking in on your spending middle of the month, end of the month, mid-quarter, end of each quarter and yearly.

By taking full stock of your corporate accounting, you can avoid surprises and adjust accordingly.

It’s also important is to analyze your ROI by employing services such as Google Analytics to make sure your methods are working, and that you’re on target.

While just one of the strategies can help you better spend your marketing money, using them in conjunction with each other is an excellent way to maximize your ROI potential.

Use these three strategies for managing your digital marketing budget, and you’ll be sure to have wisely spent your portion of that 120 billion over the next five years.

 

How to Merge Animation With UX Workflow

motion design

The goal of any business is to make the customer experience as seamless as possible. Understanding the customer’s wants and needs is necessary to create this seamless experience.

Did you know that incorporating animation can help the user experience? When do you know the right time to use animation in your UX workflow?

We’re here to help. Read on to learn how to integrate animation to improve your workflow.

What are some of the benefits of animation?

You may be wondering how the use of animation can help users have a better experience. The first key is to understand what the user needs help with understanding. Any type of animation that you incorporate should be valuable to your customer.

Here are some ways that animation functions:

  • Clarify information for the user
  • Direct the customer to the appropriate place
  • Easily help the user navigate through a system
  • Communicate the brand’s message

In order to better incorporate animation, you’ll need to know exactly what issues the users are facing. You’ll need to do some research to clarify the most important user needs. For this, you have to speak directly with users through interviews and tests.

Ask questions such as:

  • Are you having trouble focusing on the platform?
  • Do you understand what the data is telling you?
  • Do you know what to do next?
  • Are you aware of the most important pieces?
  • Do you like to use this tool?

You may also need to use a CRM system that will provide you a better understanding of the customer.

Integrate Motion Design into UX Workflow

Now that you’ve done a bit of research and understand how animation can help, you need to learn how to place animation into your UX workflow.

Align

You already know what your users need in your design. So now you need to make sure that you’re incorporating them in a way that will be useful for the user.

Think of how it will help the customer as you go through your design workflow.

Design

Whether you’re using a storyboard or a sketch pad, you’ll need to start designing your animation. You can then share this information with your team to get feedback.

Prototype

Before your final product, you and your team members will want to see how the animation will play out in real time. Creating a prototype allows you to showcase your ideas before you spend the time and money on the final product.

There are a few approaches to your prototype. The one you decide on depends on the type of animation and your time schedule. Either you can use a fully coded prototype or a simple prototype that won’t take much time or effort.

Test

While your prototype is important, you’ll also need to make sure that your users, the ones who will actually be using the design, will be satisfied.

Choose a group of testers who will be aligned with your target audience. You’ll then conduct a test run through and have the users provide feedback. This feedback will be used to adjust in areas that users don’t find valuable.

Conclusion

Understanding a customer’s needs is imperative when you’re adding animation to UX design workflow. It requires a lot of research and testing in order to get everything right.

While it may be a process, providing your customers with the best possible experience is the most important result.

How have you incorporated animation into UX design? Let us know in the comments.

Top 5 IT Admin Errors that Lead to Network Downtime

downtimeCreating and maintaining a website is crucial for businesses today. And if you don’t want your customers to switch to one of your competitors, you better make sure your online presence is conveniently accessible.

But today it’s no longer enough to just have a website. You must be prepared to manage things like downtime.

Why Downtime Management Is So Important

Downtime refers to periods of time when a system, such as a network, becomes unavailable. This hiccup can have detrimental effects for your business. And it happens probably more than you think.

Businesses deal with unplanned downtime an average of 13 times per year. The average cost of just one hour of downtime for a highly critical application? More than $82K.

But network downtime costs affect more than real dollar amounts. It can also negatively affect a company’s reputation, SEO and SERPs, loss of data, and the customer experience.

All of these, of course, are bad news for a business’s bottom line.

Consider the fact that 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase. Now, imagine someone was trying to either conduct further research on one of your products or was going back to your site to make a purchase.

If your site was down and refused to load because of an internal issue, chances are that person would do a Google search for the same type of product and look elsewhere.

After all, convenience and timeliness have everything to do with the customer experience and how customers—both new and existing ones—perceive your brand.

Research shows that companies that prioritize the customer experience earn 60% more profits than their competitors.

In August 2013, the New York Times’ site went down—but only for two hours. Still, one of its top competitors, the Wall Street Journal, took advantage. The Journal temporarily dropped its paywall in an effort to convert Times’ readers.

Additionally, the Times’ stock dropped.

Downtime can happen due to a number of reasons, some of which are within your control.

In fact, human error is the cause of as much as 75% of downtime.

Below, we discuss the top five preventable IT admin errors that can lead to network downtime.

Top 5 IT Admin Errors

1. Failure to backup systems.

This may sound like an amateur move for IT professionals, but it does happen.

In order to salvage intel if a system goes down, a clear backup plan is needed.

Make sure your backup is fully functioning the way it should be for whatever type of infrastructure you have.

Double check that all intended storage devices are included in the backup, and be aware that the backup you’re using is the most current.

Another error that some companies face is cutting corners by not investing in the most current updates or security measures.

These investments will actually benefit you in the long run.

2. Not getting everyone on board with policies and procedures.

Training is a crucial aspect of almost any job, but especially in a position where instrumental data is involved.

In this case, it’s important to make sure there are policies and plans in place for staff to follow consistently.

You want to make sure your IT team is following these procedures across the board. Aside from regular check-ups, make sure there are policies in place—what to do and when to execute on them—when things do go wrong.

This protocol should include a comprehensive checklist and regular testing procedures. Testing is non-negotiable but it’s important to also remember to test partial parts of a whole system.

Partial failures can occur in both the network hardware as well as in electrical switchgear.

What are your recovery options? Do you know how much storage your system can handle? Are you keeping up with updates necessary to speed up any slowdowns? Is your backup equipped with the most current information? And are you documenting the details of each issue?

Is your backup equipped with the most current information? And are you documenting the details of each issue?

These are questions your team should always be asking themselves and know how to answer.

Having post-procedures in place when things slow down or go down is key. It prevents more chaos around an already stressful situation when time is of the essence. It also minimizes downtime.

3. Taking security lightly.

Another cause of downtime is through intentional human error in the form of a cyber attack.

Cyber attacks occur when stored information systems are not fully secure. And they’re quite common.

The number of reported data breaches last year was 781. This number has increased 23% since 2013.

Cyber attacks do more than threaten the loyalty of your customer base and the reputation of your company. It also costs a lot of money in recovery.

The average total cost of a data breach in the U.S. is $6.5 million. And the global cost of cyber attacks in 2019 is projected to be $2.1 trillion.

Make sure your security systems are tight, consistently tested, and updated when necessary.

4. Not investing in redundant parts.

When purchasing parts of a system, such as CPUs, fans, and power supplies, an IT manager may initially choose the cheaper option to save the department money. Cheaper options usually include one set of parts to a system.

However, if downtime should occur, getting those redundant parts for backup errors will cost you time and money. And that’s something you’ll want to avoid for the sake of the company’s reputation as well as your own.

Preparing for an outage means investing in the protection of the parts needed for the system to run, even if that means it’ll cost you more to begin with.

Consider which elements should be redundant—from batteries to Internet providers, and everything in between.

5. Not investing in a real-time service.

It’s nearly impossible and unrealistic to manually check your website every few minutes.

As a business owner, you’ve got a million and one things on your to-do list. Your staff is busy with their respective tasks.

Even your IT team, the people in charge of making sure your systems are secure, has a lot of other responsibilities to manage.

It’s also important to note that your employees aren’t working 24 hours like your website is.

Investing in a service that notifies you in real-time if your site goes down is a big piece of the puzzle to minimize the duration of downtime.

Have questions about how this type of service could help your business, or just want more information? We’ve got you covered here.

Secure Web Hosting for Your Business: What to Watch For

secure web hosting Security. Sounds like a powerful word, doesn’t it?

Truth is, it is powerful.

Think about the difference between the term “web hosting” and the term “secure web hosting.” Sounds like you would consider choosing the second one, right?

Over the years, online security has become vital. Registering a domain name, designing a killer website and being online is no longer enough.

After all, when you create a website, it’s like you put all your information on a cyberspace where hackers can enter and grab all the information they might need. The first thing you want to do is look for a host which provides you with the security needed.

Before we start, let’s take a look at the types of people who might want to break your website’s security protocol:

Identity Thieves

These hackers have one simple goal: Gather essential information about their victims and use them for personal gain.

Either it is your e-mails or your clients’ information, these hackers will definitely benefit from you and move on to their next victim because that’s what they do.

Actual Thieves

Do you know how much money moves via wireless signals, optic fibers, or even cell phones? Literally billions. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but there are people who have the knowledge and the resources to steal parts of these billions.

If you own or run an e-shop, secure web hosting is absolutely essential. Look for web hosts featuring SSL certificate, and secure all the data transmitted to and from your website.

The Tricksters

To be honest, they are the worst. They just hack a website, take it down or even destroy it just for fun. However, even though it is a hobby for them, their work can definitely cause a number of problems to you and your business (loss of revenue, your clients will lose their trust in you etc.)

Are you are an individual trying to secure their essential information or a company monitoring a bunch of websites? The list below will definitely help you with your web server’s security:

Secure Web Hosting Basic Tools

Before you go deeper into the world of secure web hosting, there are three basic tools you have to learn how to use. All three of them will add a basic layer of security to your website and they will help you avoid all the drama hacking comes with:

Anti-Virus Software

Think of the internet as a hospital where 50 percent of the people are affected by a virus and the other 50 percent are visiting. The point is that anything that is online is vulnerable to viruses and your website is not an exception.

Find an open-source cPanel or Plesk anti-virus software and scan all of your directories for suspicious files that could destroy your online presence in a snap. Two of the most popular ones are ClamAV are avast!

Rootkit Scanner

Think of rootkits as small spiders that sneak into your web server. These spiders are so tiny that your anti-virus is not always able to detect them, so you need a rootkit scanner to get rid of them.

Firewall

Sure, it sounds like a really fancy term. You have certainly watched movies about hackers trying to break a company’s firewall and get into the server to steal valuable data. However, the truth is that not all firewalls are equally strong.

Use a basic, free firewall to protect your server and block unauthorized access. It might not be as strong as CIA’s firewall, but it will get some job done.

Whatever you do, when looking for a host you have to make sure they offer you all these three basic applications to optimize and improve your server’s protection. Since they are not so sophisticated or that hard to find, they will most likely be free of charge.

FTP Settings

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. A useful protocol for every time you want to upload new files on your server. Generally speaking, FTP is a secure protocol, but this doesn’t mean that hackers are not able to attack it by modifying your uploaded files.

Talk with your web host provider and ask about SFTP availability. Yes, you guessed it right, that “S” stand for “secure”. This tiny little layer of protection will not be all you are going to need but it will be just another way to help you rest better at night.

After all, secure web hosting involves a number of steps.

Extra FTP tip: We are sure you already have, but we have to mention it. Uncheck that option which says “Allow Anonymous Uploads” and “Allow Anonymous Logins”. This will help you block strangers from uploading files to your web server. You’re welcome!

Updating Your Control Panel

Whatever your web hosting control panel is (Plesk or cPanel) make sure you always update it to the latest version. You see, the latest versions usually fix all the security bugs the previous ones had –and, trust us, you want that fix.

Talk with your host and ask them about your control panel’s updates. Do they automatically do it for you? How does your server’s updating process affect your website? Yes, all you have to do is ask.

Backup Like There is No Tomorrow

You already know how important backups are but, for some reason, we always feel the need to remind it. Because no matter how important backups are, people always tend to forget about them. If you are one of them, have one of your employees do it for you.

Even after you have done your best to protect your website from annoying intruders, unexpected things can always happen when you are at least prepared for them. There is only one solution to this –more common than you think— problem. BACKUPS.

No matter what attack or unlucky incident you may be dealing with, a backup will never disappoint you. It will always be there for you and help you get your website up and running at no time. Eat that, hackers!

Most hosts come with tools to help you manage your backups, but what about theirs? Ask them how often they backup their servers, what procedures they prefer, and where they store the data collected. After all, you have the right to know!

Monitoring your website 24/7 might sound hard and the truth is that it really is. Being on the constant lookout for cyber-attacks; trying to figure out what has gone wrong; searching for that part of your server that needs extra attention. It is a hard word.

If all of the above, sound intimidating, feel free to sign up today and get your own, personalized website report! We’ll be happy to help!

The Dyn DDoS Attack that Broke the Internet: Here’s What Happened

Dyn DDos AttackEven internet giants can’t consider themselves infallible in 2016. This is especially true after the most recent DDOS attack that took down websites like Twitter, Reddit, and Netflix.

Understanding DDOS attacks is helpful to knowing why your favorite websites are down. It’s also helpful when putting plans in place to protect your own website.

SiteUptime provides network performance monitoring services that make sure that your website is accessible from many points of the internet.

You’ll love our affordable service plans. SiteUpTime helps protect your website from hackers looking to steal information or bring your website down with a DDOS attack.

These attacks may seem random and unpredictable at times. There seems to be little anyone can do to prevent the internet from “breaking” during the time when these hackers wreck their havoc.

What a DDOS attack is

“DDOS” stands for Distributed Denial of Service. These attacks happen when a number of hackers and their bots go to a site all at once. This rush overwhelms the servers and causes the service to fail.

During this downtime, there isn’t much web hosts, web developers, and individual users can do to bring the website back to working order. This is evident in the latest DDOS attack on Dyn, a widely used internet performance manager.

These attacks, sometimes coming from the “darknet” can cost just $150 for a week-long DDOS attack. This makes the chances of a DDOS occurring higher since these cheap prices are in the budget for most people with malicious intent.

Interestingly enough, these attacks do not typically occur as an attempt to steal data from websites. But, in some attacks, this information can become compromised.

Instead, DDoS attacks block others from accessing the site and the information they have on it. Favorite videos on Youtube, sending out orders on Etsy or viewing your personal bank account information can all be stopped with an attack.

Ensuring that your website is secure is a first step in ensuring that a DDOS attack doesn’t harm your business.

There are ways to take steps that can help you avoid or prevent a DDoS attack. Try giving your employees additional training in online security and creating detailed online policies and strategies.

Botnets

Botnets are a network of computers that have been infected by malicious viruses that remain hidden on the computer until an event like a DDOS attack occurs.

During this time, the “botmaster” is able to coordinate an attack and collect control of infected computers. Just one botnet could bring down a website.

However, these botnets may work collectively to target larger websites and networks in order to bring down the sites for a longer period of time and over a larger geographical area.

In the case of the Dyn DDoS attack, a collective of hackers and botnets worked together across the globe.

Since they were located in different areas, the botnets completely took out Dyn databases on the east coast of the United States.

This was accomplished by them targeting the Dyn servers that linked back to the East Cost but were located in other countries.

The Dyn DDoS attack

On October 21st, 2016, your access to many favorite websites may have suddenly stopped working.

Some of the websites that were taken offline caused massive problems. Twitter, Reddit, GitHub, Etsy, Imgur, PayPal, Spotify, Yelp, and the PlayStation Network reported problems stemming from the Dyn DDos attack.

Problematically, this attack stopped users from accessing their information and cost these companies hours of business. For internet-based companies, this can be devasting.

SiteUptime aids in internet performance monitoring to find out exactly how much downtime your web site endures.

This information, along with the other data our services gather, can help with your personal understanding of DDos attacks in relation to your business.

As some have noted, DDoS attacks typically target a single website. Usually, this happens when someone or some group has a personal reason to remove that company from full online functionality for an uncertain amount of time.

In the case of the Dyn attack, the unprecedented incident took out a host that allowed multiple large websites to function.

Surprisingly, for this DDoS attack, Network World reported that only 10% of the world’s botnets were involved in the Dyn DDoS attack.

This particular DDoS attack took out websites for the east coast for almost the entire day– beginning at internet “primetime” in the morning and a third wave of the attack occurring just after 4pm est.

What’s happening now

As for Dyn, all of the websites taken down by the October 21st attack have returned to full function. Users can once again enjoy their services and business owners can go back to providing goods and making their living.

However, this massive attack has called for a review of the way websites and servers currently run.

Improving the technology and coding behind websites like Dyn may be able to prevent a future attack, but staying one step ahead of massive networks of hackers is a difficult task.

The remedy to this problem is not very clearly, unfortunately. As with many things coming from the dark side of the internet, finding out motives and solutions will be difficult.

Dyn has produced a piece that outlines the impact, timeline, and possible solutions to remove the possibility of DDoS attacks from happening in the future.

While SiteUptime is absolutely on board with fighting for a solution, it is our biggest priority to keep you up-to-date with the correct information.

We help your business by monitoring the internet performance of your website to provide great service to your customers.

Conclusion:

The DDoS attack on Dyn is a good example of why internet security is an important topic that should be at the forefront of any business owner’s mind. Security is important regardless of whether or not the company is small or large.

SiteUptime provides monitoring locations across the globe to test the functionality of your website from different points on the map.

With multiple locations, SiteUptime checks that problems like DDoS attacks don’t take down your website to different user groups.

Our locations are currently New York City, San Fransisco, Portland, Brazil, Ireland, Australia, and Singapore. Being across the globe is just another step we take to ensure that your website is monitoring and prepared for problems like DDoS attacks.