The Importance of Selecting the Right Web Hosting Business

If you have a website storefront, your website speed might be affecting your bottom line.

When people access the internet, they expect to find things fast. We’ve been trained over the years to expect instant gratification in our online experiences.

And we tend to wander away from anything that takes too long to access.

The statistics back this up. In fact, over 40% of users will abandon a site that takes more than four seconds to load and 47% of user expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less.

Despite the fact we’ve forgotten what the early days of the internet were like, users expect speed. They expect reliability.

And the only place you’re going to get those things for your website is through the right web hosting business.

But how do you know what the right web hosting business is? We’re going to give you a few pointers and hope that by the end of this article you too can know.

Bad Things Happen If You Choose the Wrong Web Hosting Business

Sometimes, choosing what looks good takes knowing what looks bad.

Here are a few things that the wrong web host will do for you.

Make You Lose Revenue

We already talked about what happens with slow speeds. But downtime also affects your revenue in various ways.

If a site goes down and you try to access it, you get an error message of some sort.

This makes people go ack! And then it makes them go somewhere else.

If Google goes down, where do you turn to? Bing? Yahoo?

On average, small businesses lose $55,000 due to downtime every year.

And if you choose the wrong web hosting business, this number could be a lot worse for you.

Bad Security

The wrong web hosting business could get you in trouble by opening you up to data loss.

If your site is hacked and the information irreparably corrupted or deleted or changed, then you need a backup from which to restore.

But if don’t have a good web hosting service behind you, they might not have a backup option.

You want someone who cares about your data security and you want someone who will be there for your 24/7.

SEO Impact

We spend a lot of time and money making sure our websites are at the top of the SERPs.

But what if your website suddenly becomes unreliable? Do you think Google will notice?

They absolutely will. And your website will not go unpunished.

In fact, Google recently started tracking speed as one of their ranking signals.

And, while it’s only a small percentage of the signals tracked, it can affect your rankings.

What Do I Consider When Selecting the Right Web Hosting Business?

It might be a little overwhelming thinking of all the factors that go into website operation.

But there are only a few select things that you should look out for when it comes to choosing a web hosting service.

Here are the things you should consider:

Price

You get what you pay for most of the time in this world.

You buy a McDonald’s dollar menu burger, you don’t get grass-fed, local beef. You get McDonald’s factory-farmed beef.

So, you probably don’t want to run to the cheapest option right away.

If you rely on your website to make money, you want the best value for your money.

And you really do want to check out reviews before you sign on for a web hosting business to help you out.

There are a few price comparison websites out there. HostMonk and WHReviews are two reliable shopping guides.

Area of Focus

Some web hosting businesses host very specific niches. And if the hosting site doesn’t do you niche, you should probably find out why.

Make sure you go with a company that is reputable in your field. Find out what your competitors are using. And if there is a majority that uses one service, find out why.

Tech Support

Becuase you don’t want downtime to happen, you need that sweet, sweet 24/7 support service.

A good web hosting business will deliver on this one. And will offer multiple channels for contact.

Look at reviews and make sure their support centers deliver excellent service.

Are the call center staff knowledgeable? Are they clear and succinct in their instructions?

These are important things. You need to be able to rely on this company at 3 AM when your customers on the other side of the world are trying to purchase your product.

Hardware

If you don’t understand server hardware, you’re going to have to do some digging and research.

If they run the best hardware, you won’t have to worry much about downtime and server issues.

But if they used spit and duct tape and a prayer to build their server facility, then you’re looking at some major downtime coming your way.

Also, if they won’t tell you about their servers, or their representatives say they don’t know, that’s a red flag.

Turn hide and run. That’s not a good web hosting business.

A good web hosting business will know their hardware inside and out.

Email Features

Spam seems like a fact of life. But it’s also dangerous.

If you have a Spam problem, there might be a support group for that.

But if you have an e-mail spam problem, then it might be your web hosting company’s fault.

A good web hosting business has great spam solutions and a great email service.

UI/Control Panel

We expect a lot in the tech world to be user-friendly now. And really, there is no excuse for a user interface not to be these days.

What kinds of control panel options do they offer?

How is their interface? Is it easy to use? Or would you have to call customer support just to learn how to use it?

A good web hosting service will have a control panel/UI that’s usable right out of the box.

Use a Great API on Your Current or Future Website

Whatever service you go with, make sure you use an API that keeps them accountable.

If you want a great API to monitor your website, check out SiteUptime.

Big Data and Cybersecurity: How Big Data Will Affect the Future of Cybersecurity

big data and cybersecurity

Big data and cybersecurity are at odds with each other.

On one hand, big data is essential to marketing campaigns. On the other, however, it requires that we sacrifice some degree of cybersecurity.

How exactly, though, will big data affect cybersecurity in the future? How will it exploit cybersecurity? How will it inspire changes in how we secure our data on the web?

From the cloud to artificial intelligence, we’ll be exploring how big data and cybersecurity interact with each other. That said, don’t go anywhere just yet. You’ve got a lot to learn.

Cloud Control

The cloud has changed how we store data in today’s world. We’d say that the change has been overwhelmingly positive.

Unfortunately, though, this change has also welcomed data theft on a few occasions.

Just last year, Fox Business published an article about why the cloud attracts hackers. According to Thomas Barrabi, “a major company’s cloud system is a treasure trove.” Such cloud systems can house “millions of bank account logins, email addresses and Social Security numbers.”

Several major companies have already experienced data breaches in the age of information. Yahoo, for example, experienced a data breach only a few years ago.

Even so, companies continue to rely on the cloud in the workplace. Some companies even share a majority of their information with employees via the cloud.

So is this dependence on the cloud necessarily a bad thing?

Not exactly.

As it turns out, the cloud is pretty secure. New York Times writer Quentin Hardy actually writes that most cyber attacks “hit traditional servers.” As a matter of fact, “none of the most catastrophic hacks have been on the big public clouds.”

Still, we shouldn’t rest easy. Clouds contain massive amounts of sensitive data. There is no reason to think that big data and cybersecurity won’t bump heads in a major way.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has become trendy over the past decade or so. Companies are using chatbots to converse with customers. Other processes are slowly being automated as well.

But what does artificial intelligence actually have to do with big data and cybersecurity?

This Harvard Business Review article should give you some idea.

The article’s contributors assert that “AI adds a new layer to cyber risk.” They give numerous reasons for the increase in risk.

One of the biggest reasons they give for the increase?

Less human labor.

The article’s contributors point out that chatbots and other automated processes can be used by hackers to steal data. Yes, humans program chatbots. Humans, though, unlike chatbots, can’t be hacked.

Despite these concerns, automated processes are here to stay. Luckily for us, there is hope for the security of our data in the future.

Companies need only balance “the demands between automation and information security.” They can do so by “making cybersecurity integral – not an afterthought – to an organization’s information structure.”

The integration is easier said than achieved. With the right cyber professionals, though, it’s more than doable.

New Lines of Defense

We hope that we haven’t been too glum thus far. We just want to be honest about how big data and cybersecurity play together.

We also, however, want to highlight some ways in which big data can be good for cybersecurity.

In this section, we’ll go over some of the initiatives that can be taken in the future. Not only that, but we’ll talk about some initiatives that are already underway.

Data Storage

We’ve touched on some major concerns about storing data in the infamous cloud. Consequently, you already know that major companies and investors have been hit hard by hacks.

You might not know that even governments have identified cyber attacks as major threats to their infrastructures.

Ex-president Obama, for instance, began a counterattack on cyber attackers early last year. He called for “a surge in funding to counter cyber security threats.” His top intelligence official had actually concluded that “computer attacks were among the most imminent security challenges facing the United States.”

His top intelligence official had actually concluded that “computer attacks were among the most imminent security challenges facing the United States.”

What types of changes in infrastructure, then, did the Obama administration have its eyes on?

Well, for one, data storage. Obama signed an “executive order creating a permanent Federal Privacy Council.” The council “aims to connect privacy officials across the government to develop comprehensive guidelines for how personal data is collected and stored.”

Obama signed an “executive order creating a permanent Federal Privacy Council.” The council “aims to connect privacy officials across the government to develop comprehensive guidelines for how personal data is collected and stored.”

The administration also prioritized hiring qualified professionals to handle data. Keep reading to find out more about these cyber professionals.

Cyber Professionals

As we stated above, government officials wanted to “expand efforts to attract and retain qualified cyber professionals.”

Perhaps doing so seems somewhat easy. After all, the government seems to have an almost endless amount of resources.

Unfortunately, though, finding qualified professionals to manage big data is not a walk in the park.

Wall Street Journal contributor John Jordan beat the government to the punchline in 2013. Jordan wrote an article titled, “The Risks of Big Data for Companies.”

In that article, Jordan surmised that companies weren’t ready to handle big data. He even went so far as to say that “many companies don’t have the skills to work with big-data tools.”

As it turns out, he was right. Companies are struggling under the weight of all of the data they’ve amassed. If that info is compromised, so is their credibility.

In any case, companies have started to see the error of their ways. Recent data breaches have opened their eyes. Their epiphany has led them to sniff out qualified cyber professionals.

Their epiphany has led them to sniff out qualified cyber professionals. Hopefully, those professionals will handle their big data and cybersecurity concerns skillfully.

Big Data and Cybersecurity Will Continue to Duke It Out

The new changes in how companies deal with data are reassuring.

And, in some ways, we have big data to thank for those changes.

Still, big data and cybersecurity will continue to battle things out for years to come.

So what can you do to keep your data safe?

We’ll give you 2 tips, the first of which is to tighten up your internet security policy. Make sure that your employees know what the procedure is and that they follow it.

Our second tip? Secure everything, from your company’s website to your Twitter account. You’ll never regret the extra security.

Want more tips on how to keep your data safe? Reach out to us. We’re just a phone call or email away.

How Digital Convenience Undermines The Importance of Cyber Security

It is sometimes hard to believe that you might be the victim of a cyber attack. However, cyber attacks happen every day. Many of the victims placed their bets on the belief they would not be attacked in the first place.

Most internet users do not know much about the importance of cyber security, despite the fact that they make payments online. They probably have a Paypal account, and their credit card is linked to it, too.

Worst of all, they do not use any security system that protects their personal data from cyber attacks.

A report by AARP Fraud Watch Network noticed some behavior patterns in the behavior of internet users who ignore the importance of cyber security.

All the behavioral patterns are linked to convenience. It is more convenient to save all of the passwords on all of your devices instead of typing them every time.

Also, most of the participants also had the same password for all of their accounts, simply because it is easier to remember one password.

We crafted a guide on how you can protect yourself from cyber attacks and what the most common targets of attacks are.

Small businesses are the most vulnerable

There are many people out there who believe that only NASA should worry about cyber attacks.

The irony lies in the fact that the ones who ignore the importance of cyber security get attacked more often, simply because they are walking targets.

What makes them walking targets?

Most small business owners believe they are insignificant. But they do hold a lot of valuable information without even knowing it.

If you have the Paypal information of your clients and of your workers, then you should start worrying about cyber attacks.

If you avoid doing anything for the security of your website, you should know you are at risk of becoming a target. Not only will you be affected, but your clients and employee too.

Not to mention that you might have to face some legal issues due to negligence. In some cases, people can lose large amounts of money after shopping on your website.

You do not know about the importance of cyber security until you get attacked

Some lessons are better off not learned the hard way.

What most business owners do not know is that a large part of the attacks come from the inside of the company.

As shocking as it sounds, some attackers are easily tempted by easy prey.

Make sure you train your employee not to share important information over the phones, in voicemails or emails that are not secure.

If you still believe you have the Irish’s luck, you should look at the odds of being the next victim.

According to Forbes, over 10 millions of cyber attacks happen every day.

How to protect your business from cyber attacks

You will be surprised by the things people do just because it is more convenient. Besides, everyone does it, right?

Make sure you make a list of don’t’s when training your new employee on the job.

We made a small list of the most common mistakes people make that get both them and the company they work for in big trouble.

1. Watch out for con artists online

Some people connect their devices to public wifi all the time, especially remote workers who enjoy working in coffee shops and other public spaces.

The problem arises when your computer contains vital information, such as your credit card password and the password of a website you own.

This can be extremely dangerous. In public spaces, some people make a “twin” network. You might think you are connecting yourself to the coffee shop’s wi-fi, but you are not.

Someone else carries a small wireless device and renames the network with a name similar as the coffee shop to get access to your information.

Some even purchase from online stores using public wi-fi. This is an open invitation for hackers to access their bank accounts.

What is the moral of the story?

Keep your work laptop away from public wi-fi.

2. Do not save the passwords or use the same password everywhere

Some of us actually use the same password when we subscribe to a newsletter too.

If the owner of the website has bad intentions, he can easily get into your email. Worst of all, he may be able to get into your bank account, simply because you use the same password everywhere.

Make sure you use a password for your smartphone too. Many people get hacked after their smartphone is stolen. Make sure you never use the same password for different devices.

3. Use numbers and symbols in your password

Out of convenience, many users keep the same password over the years. Many use the name of their loved ones in their passwords too. Plus, let us not forget about the “old trick” with your birth date and year as your password.

The importance of cyber security is often set aside just because passwords such as “admin123” are easier to remember.

If you want to stay out of trouble, make sure you change your password every 90 days. Use numbers and symbols, too.

Your should train your employees to aways use sophisticated passwords at their workplace too.

Also, no important information of any kind should be transmitted over unsecured emails and phones.

Wrapping up

Adding an extra layer of security to your business is up to you.

But keep in mind that you are exposing yourself to a huge risk every day by not doing so.

It only gets more complicated when you own a business. If your website gets attacked, your clients might be attacked too, because they shared important information with you while making a purchase.

If you want to find out more about the importance of cyber security and how to defend yourself from attacks, do not hesitate to take a look at our blog.

If you are thinking about improving the security of your business, feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.

How to Use Popups to Engage Your Customers and Grow

popup

Gunbroker auctions marketers and e-tailers are sometimes wary in recent years at the very thought of integrating popups into the mix in order to engage customers, but they need not be. There is a lot of opportunities for growth to be had!

Make First Time Visitors Opt-In

As soon as visitors arrive on your page, serve them a pop up asking them to sign up for special offers. After all, 98% of buyers won’t purchase from your site the first time they visit. You have to give them a reason to come back.

If you can get them to say yes the first time, you’re more likely to get them to say yes the next time. However, if you don’t get their information, they may not come back. They may not even remember how they got to your site.

Lead them to the water you want them to drink. Email marketing is still the way to go and once you have their information you can send them valuable information, deals, and updates to engage further.

Pulling The Trigger With Popups

Timing is everything when it comes to popups. If you want to pull it as soon as they arrive, try a time driven popup. You can time it to where it shows up for them after a determined amount of time and adjust as necessary to see what works.

Alternately, you can hit your target with the popup once they make a move, like scrolling down the page 70% of the way or click through a certain number of pages. This is a little sneakier, but it probably doesn’t feel that way to those who are truly interested in purchasing from your website.

The exit intent popup is also a tried and true sales popup — when they’re about to leave, offer them something. They don’t really want to leave, do they?

Ok, maybe they do, but if you give them a reason to come back later, they just might. It’s worth a shot.

Tips For Not Being Spammy With Popups

While you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, you don’t want to misfire too many times and alienate a potential customer. Don’t go overkill with popups that won’t go away after they’re closed out. You probably won’t hear from that person again.

The subtle approach with popups can be the best one because popups in and of themselves are right in front of your audience. Use smaller popups and limit the number of popups that show up to new visitors. You don’t want to come off as desperate.

Entice Shoppers With Free Shipping Popups

47% of shoppers indicated in a recent study that they did not abandon their purchase because of the promise of free shipping. It’s a tried-and-true way to entice shoppers through pop-ups.

Use Popups For Gunbroker Auctions

Increase your gunbroker auctions sales with customizable auction templates and seller tools for an affordable price. Save time, money, and look professional. It’s worth the investment to do things right the first time.

DNS Monitoring: How to Check Your Traffic for Threats

DNS Monitoring

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks.

The Domain Name System (DNS) serves as a website’s identity and is the core component of its security architecture.

Unless your website has the appropriate DNS monitoring in place, there’s no reason why you cannot become a cybercriminal’s next victim.

We are offering informative tips on how to prevent security threats.

Why Do Cyber Criminals Target DNS?

Unfortunately, cybercriminals will target a vulnerable internet service or protocol, including a website’s DNS.

They can then register disposable domain names for a spam campaign or botnet administration.

What’s more, an attacker could use the domains to host malware or phishing downloads.

Malicious queries can also exploit a nameserver or disrupt a name solution.

Sadly, the cyber-attacks can potentially destroy a website’s performance, function, and reputation.

The servers of Dyn are a perfect example.

The company controls some of the internet’s DNS infrastructure. It experienced a cyber attack that brought down much of America and Europe’s internet on October 21st, 2016.

The new Mirai botnet attack has been classed as the largest kind in its history.

A variety of high-profile websites experienced a downtime, such as Twitter, The Guardian, CNN, Netflix, and Reddit.

While it may be a feat to prevent every potential DNS threat affecting a website, it’s essential to take action to avoid falling victim to a cyber attack.

Why DNS Monitoring?

More than a quarter of companies haven’t established responsibility for their DNS security, despite the fact DNS attacks have increased by more than 200%.

To prevent a website from becoming a cyber attack target, you must embark with regular DNS monitoring.

A DNS log monitors every connection your website makes with a visiting device.

To maintain website security, it’s essential to embark with DNS monitoring to inspect the traffic between a device and your local recursive resolver.

The forensic analysis can ensure you:

  • Identify the websites visited by an employer
  • Discover the malware/botnets connected to the C&C servers
  • Detect a DDOS attack
  • Pinpoint the Domain Generation Algorithm (DGA) and malicious domains accessed
  • Identify the dynamic domains accessed

When analyzing the DNS log, it’s essential to verify each domain against the DGA and malicious domain database.

If you’re unsure of where to start with DNS Monitoring, we’re offering six security systems to help you proactively protect your website.

1. Firewalls

Firewalls have the potential to expose DNS threats, so they’re an effective tool for DNS monitoring.

Most firewalls will allow webmasters to define rules to prevent IP spoofing.

For example, you could enter a rule that denies DNS queries from IP addresses outside an allocated number space. This could prevent a nameserver from exploitation in a DDoS attack.

It’s also beneficial to enable DNS traffic inspection for suspicious byte patterns or irregular DNS traffic, so you can take the steps to block a nameserver software exploit attack.

2. Traffic Analyzers

One of the best ways to identify harmful malware traffic is a passive traffic analysis.

A traffic analyzer will allow you to both capture and filter DNS traffic between a device and your local recursive resolver, which you can then save to a PCAP file.

Webmasters must create scripts to search the PCAP file to identify specific suspicious activities.

3. Passive DNS Replication

Passive DNS replication allows a webmaster to use sensors at the local recursive resolvers.

This creates a database containing each DNS transaction, such as the query or response, through a resolver or set of resolvers.

The replication can be instrumental in identifying one or more malware domains, particularly in cases when the malware operates algorithmically generated domain names (AGDA).

4. Intrusion Detection Systems

An effective intrusion detection system allows you to create rules that allow reporting on DNS requests from unauthorized networks.

It is beneficial to compose rules to either count or report:

  • NXDomain responses
  • DNS queries via TCP
  • Responses that contain resource records with short TTLs
  • Unusually large DNS responses
  • DNS queries to non-standard ports
  • plus more

All DNS queries should be carefully reviewed.

The intrusion detection systems can be integrated into firewalls, which will allow you to deny or permit rules for many of the checks listed above.

5. DNS Monitoring with Local Resolver Logs

Your local resolver logs are probably the most obvious and essential way to embark with DNS monitoring.

By enabling resolver logging, you can use a variety of tools to collect DNS server logs whilst exploring known malicious domains, such as OSSEC.

6. A Secure Registrar

Most websites are registered via a registrar company.

Unfortunately, if a cyber-attacker can compromise the account with the registrar, they can gain control over your domain name.

This means they can point the registrar to their chosen server, including their nameservers.

What’s more, they can transfer the domain to either a new owner or an offshore registrar – which means you might be unable to recover the domain.

Many intelligent cyber attackers may target an account’s password, or they may even launch a cyber attack on the registrar’s tech support.

You’ll want to avoid registrar hijacking, so you should select a registrar that provides heightened security precautions.

Look for services like multi-factor authentication.

Suspicious Signs to Analyze

It is important to pay close attention to any potential signs of malicious activity on your network.

We recommend analyzing the composition characteristics and length of DNS responses. This could help to identify malicious intent.

If the response messages are unusually large, this could be an amplification attack.

You should also review the answer or additional sections of the response message, which could be a sign of cache poisoning.

Conclusion

The biggest risk to a website is ignorance, which will not be bliss when you suffer a cyber attack.

There are various forms of DNS monitoring that will allow you to expose threats and keep your website secure.

It is up to a website admin to determine the right strategy to detect suspicious or malicious activity on your network.

While DNS monitoring doesn’t sound like a fun thing to do, it is essential for the security of your website.

Ensure you take the necessary steps to stop a cyber criminal in their tracks.

Our Top Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017

cypersecurity predictions

Cybersecurity is topping news feeds, and for good reason.

Last year was hailed as the year that hackers stole the show, and experts at Kaspersky Labs have said that this year is going to be no exception.

Security specialists at Mcafee are predicting a rise in the number of consumer security breaches, threats to the Internet of Things and cloud-based attacks.

With so many exciting new innovations in technology we are handing over more of our businesses and lives than we may be aware of.

As exciting as new tech is, it also brings the possibility of new and more creative threats.

So what do these new threats look like? What are big companies doing and is there any way for us to protect ourselves?

Let’s take a look at our top cybersecurity predictions for 2017.

Ransomware

A recent rise in ransomware attacks has been damaging hospitals, schools, businesses and law enforcement organizations. Many agree that ransomware is going to peak in 2017, with a 25% growth predicted until a plateau takes place.

Unfortunately, it has also been suggested that the methods being used to gain access to files are diversifying. Ransomware is extremely lucrative for hackers, especially when they target larger organizations.

Defending against it

Businesses are upping the education they give their staff regarding opening email attachments. And They’re creating more sophisticated passwords for work accounts.

Hacking Meets Home Appliances

The Internet of Things is an incredibly exciting innovation, but it also opens up opportunities for hacking to enter the home in ways it hasn’t before.

Until recently, such small devices haven’t warranted cybersecurity software or checks. But a recent DoS attack on a french company was conducted through mobile smart devices, proving that more diligence is needed.

The biggest danger here is not so much monetary, but more about the theft of personal information and private security. These devices are in our homes, privy to our everyday lives, so the risk for infiltration is very real.

Defending against it

People have started calling for more stringent cybersecurity regulations on mobile smart home appliances and a greater consumer awareness of the risks.

Or Predictions

Smart devices will be subject to the gradual introduction of integrated security software. This will help identify any devices that are performing unauthorized actions.

Mobile Security Will Still Be At Risk

Our cybersecurity predictions aren’t limited to large companies.

The humble mobile phone is also at risk, with many experts predicting a rise in mobile malware.

By using downloadable apps, users are putting their personal information at risk. Mcafee Labs detected 9 million malware apps in Apple and Google app stores, affecting 3 million devices over a 6 month period.

Defending against it

The best way to prevent mobile attacks is to avoid opening messages from strange numbers and to turn off MMS auto retrieval wherever possible.

Our Cybersecurity Predictions

Mobile security software will become increasingly important over the next year to maintain personal safety.

Threats to The Cloud

As trust in the cloud increases, more information is migrated, making it an incredibly tempting place for hackers.

Protecting the cloud is difficult due to the vast nature of it.

The first point of call for hackers is simple credentials to gain access to accounts. They’ve also started changing the way they mine the stacks for weak points, no longer just moving up and down them.

Defending Against It

Pay close attention to administration accounts and the activity on them–these are the accounts that hackers are most likely to target with credential theft.

Our Predictions

It’s been suggested that biometrics and behavioral analytics will help protect users in a way that’s even more personal to them.

Machine learning can also be used to prevent cybersecurity attacks to the cloud and will be able to predict attacks before they occur.

Apple and Adobe Weaknesses Will Be Uncovered

Until very recently, Adobe and Apple have enjoyed a relatively high degree of protection, with Microsoft taking the brunt of the infiltrations and security compromisations.

One of the cybersecurity predictions for 2017 is the ease with which malicious online perpetrators will be able to find weaknesses in Apple software.

This is partly down to Microsoft being well practiced at defending against attacks. Their ‘antiquated’ hardware is also less attractive to hackers.

They’re typically drawn to the software and platforms that experience higher engagement and more users because that’s where they stand to gain more.

Defending Against It

This is hard to defend against until you know the nature of the compromisation. Always keep your software updated and stay smart and vigilant when using your tech.

Our Cybersecurity Predictions

Apple and Adobe will up their encryption game and try to plug any holes with regular software updates.

What Do These Cybersecurity Predictions Teach Us?

This list of cybersecurity predictions is just the start of the story when it comes to protecting businesses and software this year.

Here are some simple ways you can protect yourself:

Get Smart

Teaching your team or yourself about security is a good way to make sure you stay ahead of the hackers. The rules and practices are changing all the time, so staying in touch with best practice is key here.

Consider everything: from basic things like choosing a more secure password and installing security on your phone (especially if you access cloud-based services for business, like Dropbox, for example) to sharing documents over unsecured email.

Ask Questions

Is your site hosted on a cloud-based server? Make sure you know about the security benefits offered to you by your hosting service and what they’re doing in the face of new threats.

Have a Plan

In the unfortunate event that your site does get taken down in a DoS attack, having an effective downtime strategy can help repair the damage that a non-functional website causes.

Hopefully, these cybersecurity predictions have given you plenty of warning when it comes to your own site, household technology, and everyday work essentials.

Ensure you have good security software across all your devices and that you’re installing software updates regularly.

Design Ideas to Make and Keep Your Business Relevant

web design ideas

Technology is charging forward at a breakneck pace, and the world can only try to keep up.

This is true in the tech sphere, in terms of social interactions, and, perhaps not as obviously, in the world of design.

Businesses must fight to remain relevant in a social atmosphere that relies heavily on web presence and connectivity.

This is made possible through social media, but should also be a consideration for your website and mobile platforms.

Design options are limitless, and more new and exciting options are popping up all the time.

But how do you know what to use and what to avoid?

Here are four key tips for incorporating a web and mobile design that will be a hit with your client base.

Keep it Simple

This applies to websites, banner ads, and mobile platforms.

Clean, simple lines and an uncluttered landing page are going to engage your audience quickly and keep them on your site longer.

This is not to say that using new, flashy design elements is a bad idea. GIFs, video backgrounds, and fun textures are all great things to consider.

But think of design elements the way you think of salt in the main dish. You need it to enhance the flavor, but too much and the entire meal is ruined.

Pick one key design element, but don’t feel like you need to use every single one you come across.

Don’t Try to Sell Anything

Yes, even if you are actually trying to sell something.

This isn’t to say don’t market your products. Just keep in mind that the modern consumer is wary of the “used car salesman”-type pitch.

This means go back to step one. Keep it simple. Highlight your products without bells and whistles and gimmicks.

When you are designing your marketing materials, it’s probable that you’ll want to create a banner ad. This is a great idea, with tons of applications and outlets for use.

Keep in mind, though, that you are using banner ads and other advertising materials to communicate your message in the quickest, most visually appealing way possible. So avoid clutter!

Focus on Mobile

Mobile has never been as powerful a sales tool as it is today.

Consumers are able to shop online, compare prices, and look for deals, all without ever leaving their couch.

Your mobile presence should not be an afterthought. Take the time to make the experience user-friendly and seamless.

In fact, it isn’t a bad idea to design with mobile in mind from the start, rather than trying to adapt it later.

Your functionality on mobile should be seamless and comparable to your browser or brick-and-mortar experience.

Strive for Authenticity

Modern consumers can sniff out ingenuousness at a hundred paces, and they don’t like feeling like they are being given a canned pitch.

This comes across in the language you use on your site and the voice you use in your content. Consumers want to do business with a person, not a business.

This sounds counter-intuitive, but you’ll find much better results if you make an effort to project your business as its people, rather than its products.

Keeping your business relevant in quickly changing times is a challenge. There is constantly new material to learn and discover.

Remember to keep learning, and constantly be reevaluating your digital game to bring the very best to your consumers.

What You Need to Know about Shared IP Addresses

shared ip address

If you’re serious about web hosting you’ve probably done some research on IP addresses, SEO, and other things pertaining to your website.

During this research it’s likely you’ve found conflicting information on how to maximize your website visibility and performance.

This is normal and expected when you’re dealing with anything online related. The magnitude of the Internet gives users many solutions to the same problem.

One question website owners often bring up is the viability of shared hosting. Is shared hosting safe? Will it effect my SEO? Why is it so much cheaper than a dedicated IP address?

All of those questions are important and easily answered with a little background knowledge on exactly how shared hosting works.

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about having a shared IP address.

Shared IP Address – The Basics

Let’s start with the absolute basics. An IP address is the real web address of a website or server.

Domain names like “apple.com” don’t actually tell your browser where to access information. Instead, IP addresses formatted like 222.222.22.2 designate the correct server.

In shared hosting, your website is still assigned an IP address, but that address is also assigned to many other websites hosted on the same server.

This means that the actions of one bad seed can affect things like your SEO and inclusion on email blacklists.

However, because you’re giving up a dedicated IP, you monthly bills are much cheaper with shared hosting.

It forms something of a risk/reward scenario. Are you willing to take the plunge into shared security and reputation? Is the risk reward worth it?

These are all questions that require their own scenario based on your specific needs.

Email

Emails sent from your website, “yourwebsitehere.com,” use your IP address to assign a location to your email.

It works sort of like a return mailing address. Your unique (or shared) IP lets incoming servers know where the message is coming from.

This can cause issues when sharing an IP with other users.

People sometimes abuse emails as marketing technique and send out what is commonly known as “spam.” As we’re sure you’re aware, everyone hates spam.

This includes email hosting companies such as Google. What Google does to avoid spam is blacklist (block) email from known spamming addresses (IPs).

Sometimes this inadvertently causes your emails to get caught in the blacklist. What’s worse, the blacklist is gmail wide; meaning no emails you send to any gmail address get through.

However, this doesn’t mean that all shared IP addresses are bad. Good shared hosts will monitor for email spam and terminate the contract of those responsible.

Website owners can also use a third party mail hosting provider to send email through a dedicated “email IP” address.

Your new dedicated IP is linked only to your reputation and thus isn’t in danger of blacklisting.

Security

Many people worry about security issues when sharing an IP address. While these concerns are valid, they’re probably a little overblown.

Quality web hosts don’t have many security issues. Why? Because most of the Internet utilizes shared IP addresses.

If you’re worried about security, ask your potential host these things.

  • Are users isolated from other users on the server? That is, can anyone access my root files?
  • Is your web structure such that addresses aren’t open to manipulation to access other user’s files?
  • Do you regularly update, monitor, and fix your server when problems arise?
  • How are my usernames and passwords stored on the server?
  • Who’s allowed to access my database or change user permissions?

Any reputable web host will answer these questions without hesitation.

If they pass this little test, you’re no more secure with a dedicated IP address than with their shared IP.

The only people who need a dedicated IP for security purposes are large corporations with valuable data at stake.

If you fall into this category, you can’t take any risk if an unexpected security breach does occur.

It’s smarter to just pay for the dedicated IP address and mitigate any and all security risk that might arise.

Search Engine Optimization

The entire point of maintaining a website is to draw in visitors, views, clicks; whatever you’d like to call the people who view your pages.

You’re probably inclined to believe that SEO is extremely important to businesses large and small, and you’re correct.

Search engine optimization is an enormous market consisting of digital marketers who spend their days dissecting Google’s algorithms and creating relevant content.

Website owners need SEO marketers just as much as the SEO marketers need website owners.

You might wonder, what’s the have to do with my share IP address? Well, there’s a persistent myth that shared IP addresses negatively affect SEO.

We’re here to tell you that myth is entirely false. All other things notwithstanding, dedicated IP address do no more for your SEO than a shared IP.

However, there are some things available only to dedicated IP users that can help your SEO.

For instance, SSL certificates are used to provide security over e-commerce transactions. Google has publicly stated that SSL certificates do increase SEO.

Turns out, these certificates are only available to websites with a dedicated IP address.

Dedicated IP address also help websites load faster. Less server data means an easier time returning browser requests.

This might not seem significant because load times don’t vary too much, but Google also factors web page load speed as an SEO metric.

So while in a vacuum dedicated vs. shared hosting doesn’t affect your SEO, certain elements that go along with these options might.

Looking at all of the factors involved in a dedicated IP address versus a shared IP address, it becomes clear that shared hosting doesn’t have many drawbacks.

If you pick reputable hosting companies there’s no reason shared hosting will cause you any detriment, nor will dedicated hosting bring you any benefits (unless you’re running an e-commerce store).

Ultimately the choice is yours, but feel free to refer back to our recommendation if you can’t decide.

How DoS Protection Can Reduce Website Downtime

DoS and Website Downtime

What do you think is the biggest threat to your business right now?

Some business owners may be worried about their money. They may only trust themselves to handle payroll or bank deposits. A few would never let other employees touch the company card.

Other people may be worried about their own employees. They don’t just hire for culture or talent, they want someone they can trust.

If you’re worried about the safety and stability of your business, you should be looking online. DoS protection has become an essential part of cybersecurity for a lot of businesses. And after you learn about how disruptive DoS attacks can be you’ll understand why it’s a priority.

DoS Danger

When most people think of online security issues data breeches and stolen information usually comes to mind. Your data and other sensitive information are important, but there are more pressing matters at hand.

A denial of service (DoS) attack is exactly what it sounds like. Attackers render websites and other important online resources unavailable to its intended users.

A denial of service attack is relatively simple to execute, you may have even been a part of one without knowing it. It’s simple for hackers to send out emails, messages, or social media posts with embedded links that can overwhelm a server.

A simple DoS attack is troublesome enough, and a DDoS attack can be just as troublesome. When a DDoS attack occurs, a hacker uses your system to attack another computer.

Types of Dos attacks

If you want to have good DoS protection, you need to understand the different kinds of DoS attacks.

  • Volume attacks (connectionless attacks): Also known a “flood”. The main purpose of this DoS attack is to overwhelm the bandwidth of the site and cause congestion by sending as many “people” to it as possible. They’re commonly executed with botnets, computers infected with malicious software and code that’s controlled by the hacker
  • Application layer attacks: Also known as “7 layer attacks”. These attacks target weaknesses in servers and applications. They establish a connection and overwhelm it by taking over transactions and processes. They can be difficult to detect because they don’t require a lot of computers.
  • TCP state exhaustion attack: This kind of attack is unique and focuses on attacking firewalls, web servers, and load balancers. Their goal is to disrupt connections which will overload their finite number of concurrent connections the device can support.

As you can see, a DoS attack is much more complex than a website simply going down. If you’re new to the world of cyber security you may not see why a DoS attack can be so serious.

After you learn about businesses and brands were affected by DoS attacks, you’ll see why you should be concerned.

The hacks heard round the world

Where were you on December 31st, 2015? If you were like many people you were probably celebrating New Year’s Eve, but if you worked in IT for the BBC or Donald Trump you were working overtime.

A group called New World Hacking executed a devastating DoS attack that day. The BBC’s main website and their multimedia tool iPlayer were down for at least three hours.

Trump was only campaigning at the time, but his website was also hit and was inaccessible for hours.

An attack that can cripple one of the biggest media empires in the world and the website of the future President of the United States is no laughing matter.

The same group went on to perform another massive DoS attack. In October 2016 several popular websites like Twitter, GrubHub, and Spotify were crippled by a DoS attack by the same group.

Iconic multinational brands are still vulnerable to DoS attacks in 2017. These attacks cause problems for millions of people, and also embarrassed some brands.

Why you need DoS protection

As you can see, DoS attacks can affect businesses of all sizes and cause a variety of problems. The cost to businesses DoS attacks can cause can be devastating.

Once your website is affected by a DoS attack, you need to employ IT professionals to fix it. You miss out on online sales. You lose a connection to potential customers.

The average business owner simply doesn’t have the time or money to deal with the ramifications of a DoS attack. That’s why the best way to deal with DoS threats is to try to prevent them from happening.

Aside from having a plan to deal with downtime, you need to plan for DoS attacks.

Have a strong ISP

A lot of businesses find that it’s easiest to lean on their internet service providers (ISP) for their initial DoS protection. ISPs have far more bandwidth than a standard enterprise would.

That extra amount of bandwidth could make it difficult to target your site.

Don’t think blocking will fix it

Some amateur IT professionals will try to stop a DoS attack by simply banning offending IP addresses from accessing the targetted site or server.

This method will seem like it’ll work at first, but as the attack goes on it’ll become nearly impossible to keep up with the flood of visitors. The purpose of a DoS attack is to overwhelm servers and the people trying to fix them.

Eventually, you won’t be able to individually block them all.

Once it’s clear that an attack is occurring, your DoS protection resources would be better focused on finding solutions and not blocking individual IP addresses.

Watch out for secondary attacks

Sometimes a DoS attack is just a distraction from something bigger. While your IT team is scrambling to stop the source of the DoS issue, someone could be stealing data or other sensitive information.

It’s tempting to put all of your IT resources on fixing the DoS attack. But you should always have someone checking other things to ensure that there aren’t more problems.

Hackers are always looking for ways to disrupt businesses and websites. Are there other cyber security concerns you have? Let us know so we can help you protect your business.

How to Create a Website Downtime Strategy that Works

Downtime Strategy

We can’t control everything in our lives and that’s a fact. But, as business owners, we’d all like to be able to control when our company is available for customers.

Websites can go down for many different reasons, including planned maintenance or malicious attacks. It can be unavoidable at times– but no matter what, downtime can cost your business money until everything is back online.

So, what can you do? Develop a website downtime strategy to have on the backburner.

SiteUpTime is dedicated to helping businesses understand what goes on when their website goes down and how much time the business is actually functional online.

And with many businesses averaging $1,000 lost per minute of website downtime, having your website go offline throughout the month can really add up.

If you want to learn how to create a website downtime strategy that works to keep your business safe from downtime losses, be sure to keep reading!

Why downtime should be monitored

Downtime strategies are only important if you understand why downtime can be so hazardous to your business!

Here’s a quick breakdown of why this problem should be taken seriously.

Loss of business

This one is pretty clear: if your website isn’t working, customers can’t access it.

Studies have found that people are quick to leave a website if it doesn’t load fast enough. If your site isn’t working at all, potential customers are unlikely to come back and see if it’s working again at a later point.

Remember that time is money and even Amazon feels the blows of downtime– they lost 1.6 billion dollars in sales by being down for one second!

Make sure your service is working for you

If you are working with a company that is hosting your site, you will want to monitor your downtime to make sure that they’re actually working for you.

Meeting your ROI baseline is important and spending money on a network that is leaving you with nine hours of downtime a month doesn’t help.

You will want to know what’s going on so that you can make informed decisions on what direction to take your business and its online presence.

How to come up with a website downtime strategy that works

In the case that something does happen, you’ll want to be prepared and have a good downtime strategy to make the most of the time you have.

SiteUpTime can help you monitor your site to know when you’ll have to spring into action, so consider our competitive prices and contact us if you need more information!

Have valid data backups

When your website is offline, there’s no telling what caused it to go down.

It can be as simple as your service company being down for maintenance or as catastrophic as a complete wipe out of the entire network and data.

That’s why you’ll want to have up-to-date backups of all of your information. This means saving documents and client information and transaction information.

It’s recommended that companies back up their data at least once a week. The goal? You should be backing up your information once a day to prevent data loss or having to deal with piecing together information that’s a week outdated.

Once you do that, you’ll want to make sure your backups are working properly so that they can be accessed later.

It turns out that 48% of companies who have backed up their data experienced a secondary loss because the backup didn’t function properly.

Contact your IT support

If your website is down, make sure that contacting your IT support team is high on your downtime strategy list.

You will want to contact them to alert them that your website is down, if they don’t already know, and put together a plan of how to get it back online.

IT support teams can locate the reason for a website going down and find ways to re-route your network to bring everything back up.

But this won’t be a process that can happen in a few minutes. You’ll want to check in with them regularly until everything is back to normal, but don’t flood them or panic in the meantime.

Review your web monitoring logs

As a part of your downtime strategy, you should be reviewing your web monitoring logs to see if your site being down is part of a larger trend.

Your web monitoring logs could also let you know if your website is more likely to go down from one server than another, depending on the level of detail you get.

Gathering information such as when your website went down can be useful for your IT support team as well. Knowing how long a site has been down can give them an idea of how large the problem is or could be.

So make sure you get to look through this information as soon as possible!

Notify your users

Here’s a major step that’s often overlooked in downtime strategies.

You have to notify your users that your website is down.

Some people may think not acknowledging the site is down is the best plan of action, since maybe some customers won’t notice.

But facing the issue head-on is one way to ensure that customers who did notice are aware of what’s going on.

You may want to send out a tweet or mass-email to your clients letting them know that the problem is being worked on. From there, you can send out updates and a notification once your site is back up.

The benefit? You’ll have customers feeling valued that they’re kept in the loop. And you could avoid a flood of customer service calls full of people demanding to now why they can’t access their account!

Want more information?

If you want to learn more about how having a website downtime strategy can help you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or check out our other blog posts.

SiteUpTime provides services that check your website from multiple points in the world to make sure people from anywhere can work with your company.