The Top 7 Security Measures to Take in 2017

website security measures

Web security has never been more important.

It seems like we can’t go a week without hearing about some major corporation suffering a cyber attack. Every day, we receive Facebook friend requests from people on our friends’ lists who have been hacked.

You can’t even turn on the news these days without hearing about federal investigations into whether or not foreign agents are hacking elections.

The threat of cyber attack is real, whether you’re a major corporation, an independent contractor, or a small business with a Facebook Page.

But, there are security measures you can take to keep your online information safe.

1. Stay vigilant against Phishing

Have you ever gotten an email from a relative or a Facebook message from a friend with a suspicious link? It probably had some sort of luring comment attached, like “where did they get this picture of you?”

Or maybe you’ve received an email from your internet service provider asking you to provide your password for some maintenance on your account.

You may have even received a phone call from someone claiming to be the IRS.

Chances are good that this is a phishing scheme. Hackers pose as a trusted company or individual in order to gain access to private information, and sometimes even financial assets.

If you know what to look for, phishing attacks are a mere nuisance, but thanks to more vulnerable users, phishing is going to stick around for a while.

As a general rule of thumb, always avoid suspicious links, no matter who it’s coming from.

2. Keep better track of your passwords

Let’s be honest: despite all the warnings to use a different password for every account, we’re all using the same password all across the internet.

After all, these days we have dozens of accounts: social media, email, Netflix…sometimes even our TV has a password. How are we supposed to keep track of all these unique passwords?

There’s an easy solution for that. Instead of a notebook in your desk drawer, download a password manager.

A password manager automatically creates unique passwords across all of your accounts and stores them so you don’t have to. No more fumbling through variations of that one password you use for everything.

On the off chance, one of your passwords is cracked, the rest of your accounts are safe. A password manager is the easiest way to keeping all of your proverbial eggs in different proverbial baskets.

3. Be smart with your Cloud Storage

The Cloud is everywhere. More and more people are preferring public cloud storage to other storage means.

And why not? It’s convenient, fast, and cheaper than buying another external hard drive.

But as helpful as the cloud can be, there are also glaring vulnerabilities. For all of their security, iCloud and Google Drive still expect users to take responsibility for their own security measures.

Make sure you keep a local backup of all of your cloud data. Nothing is completely foolproof.

Several companies also offer encrypted cloud services. Encryption can make all the difference in your cloud security.

If you’d prefer a service without encryption, you can encrypt your own data before uploading it to the cloud, and even add further password protection to access your data.

4. Don’t skimp on security measures.

A good anti-virus program is one of the most important security measures, but too often people take it for granted.

While you’re browsing the internet for memes, your anti-virus is picking off malware like it’s playing Asteroids.

But with anti-virus software, like most things, you get what you pay for.

It can be tempting to skimp out in preference of a free service but think about what would happen if you lost your data to a malware attack.

Can you afford not to protect your data?

Premium anti-virus software is powered by skilled professionals who work tirelessly to ensure that their customers receive the most effective protection possible.

5. Be aware of your Network Attack Surfaces

The term “network attack surfaces” refers to the sum of weak points a cyber attacker can use to steal our data. As our networks increase in size and complexity, our potential network attack surfaces increase.

Every device, connection point, or data storage increases network attack surfaces.

Minimize your vulnerability by closing unnecessary ports and keeping your access restricted to trusted users.

6. The new threat: Ransomware

As we’ve said before, Ransomware has been on the rise, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.

Ransomware is a newer method of hacking, and it’s proved very lucrative for hackers.

Ransomware bypass weak security measures and secretly steals data from a user’s device, deletes the data, and forces the user to pay a fee to get their data back. Many hospitals, schools, police departments, and businesses have already fallen victim to ransomware.

But, there are several security measures you can use to protect against ransomware.

Backup all of your data all of the time. Hackers can’t steal your data if you have the data safe in another device.

Despite the sophistication of ransomware attacks, a lot of them start with a simple phishing scheme. Remember: never click on suspicious links, even if you think the sender can be trusted.

7. Backup, backup, backup

It should go without saying, but you need to backup your data. No server is fool proof.

If you rely on a cloud service to save all your data, or if you keep all of your files on a single laptop, you’re only a few malfunctions away from losing everything.

To make a secure backup, load copies of all your files onto a device without internet access. External hard drives have never been cheaper, and many of them can be password protected for extra security.

Conclusion

The internet has its fair share of predators lurking in the shadows, but with a little caution and some extra diligence, you can create a strategy for website security measures that will keep your website and your data safe from cyber attacks and server crashes.

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

With multiple locations and a team of skilled professionals, SiteUptime can ensure that your website doesn’t fall prey to the most common security risks.

Visit our FAQ page for more details.

Uptime Monitoring: Introducing the New SiteUptime API

uptime monitoring

Downtime is a downer. Downtime can cost a business up to $1000 a minute.

And while downtime is unavoidable due to maintenance or cyber attacks, having the right information can keep your site running smoothly 99.999% of the time.

Enter uptime monitoring.

Uptime monitoring can be a lifesaver. And in the next few paragraphs, we’re going to show you how the new SiteUptime API can help keep your website secure from unnecessary downtime.

Why You Need Uptime Monitoring

Ignoring the available data from your website is like not watching your bank account.

You might move along with your plans and find yourself in a sticky situation.

You could be off resting on your laurels while all your customers and leads go to your competitor.

This means no conversions and certainly no money in your pocket.

Even at 99.9% uptime, your business could lose $109,500 in a year. And if you own a larger business, this could mean more than one million in lost dollars over a year.

But how else can downtime affect your website? Let’s take a look.

1. Downtime Can Affect Your SERPs

Although Matt Cuts once claimed a little bit of downtime won’t hurt, anything more than a day of downtime will.

Since Matt Cutts made that famous claim, Google bots became more efficient. While it used to take bots hours to days to find your site, Google now crawls websites on a regular basis.

While Google now refuses to make statements about how downtime affects SERPs, webmasters can work backward from what they observe.

And what they observe tells a story of woe. Web sites that experience downtime sees their rankings drop by 12 places in a few hours.

And sometimes this causes Google to check other signals and a website might drop even further in the SERPs.

Enough evidence exists. It all points to downtime really affecting your SERPs.

How Does Uptime Monitoring Mitigate This?

Uptime monitoring will give you live updates on your site downtime.

Knowing immediately when your site goes down means you can get it back up and running within the hour. You can quickly contact your server or troubleshoot the problem.

2. Downtime Will Change Your Reputation

Once you break someone’s trust it’s extremely difficult to regain it.

Sony found this out the hard way back in 2014 when their user data was hacked and they completely lost face with their customer base.

They’re now known as the company that let’s people hack them. And it took them several years to recover from the damage.

While downtime doesn’t affect your reputation as drastically as a major cyber attack and customer data leak, you won’t walk away without a tarnished reputation.

And once your reputation is tarnished, you may not get a chance to make-up with certain customers. You will possibly have to find new leads and new customers and rebuild from there.

How Does Uptime Monitoring Mitigate This?

You can know about downtime before your customers and potential leads do.

Instant knowledge of downtime gives you the opportunity to fix a problem before it’s evident to the world.

And if it’s something you can’t fix immediately, you can use social media to communicate with customers about a problem.

This allows you to positively manage your reputation as a company. Being honest about what’s going on with your site will increase the trust your customers have in you and your business.

You can also explain a problem before anyone has a chance to complain.

One of the biggest reputation killers on the internet today is the bad review. And with the openness and coldness of social media, people are more willing to public complain about a company now than ever before.

You can avoid this pitfall by knowing about downtime immediately.

3. Downtime Isn’t The Only Culprit

Uptime monitoring doesn’t just monitor downtime.

A slow website is another factor that could affect your conversion rate and your bounce rate and your reputation all at once.

Count four seconds. One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand.

No, we aren’t playing hide and seek, we’re counting how long it takes a user to give up on your slow website.

25% of users abandon a website after four seconds of waiting and 50% jump ship after ten seconds.

And not only will website speed affect your bounce rate, it will affect your SERPs as well.

Google expects websites to be lightning fast. And slow load times mean a drop in rankings.

And a drop in ranking means a loss of visibility. And a loss of visibility means little to no traffic and very few leads.

How Does Uptime Monitoring Mitigate This?

Uptime monitoring gives you real-time data on website speed. You can also access data on what might be causing slow speeds.

In essence, uptime monitoring keeps the service you utilize accountable for their server speeds.

And if you find your server is the problem, migrate to a new one.

You should not tolerate a slow server. There is no excuse for slow speeds outside of software or website design.

Uptime monitoring can also help identify software and web design problems. These are easily fixed issues. And fixing them will increase your website speed.

Why Is The New SiteUptime API Your Best Bet?

Some of the best deals are all-in-one packages. For physical packaging, it’s cheaper to clump products together and use one package.

For digital products, it’s just utterly convenient for the client.

With the new SiteUptime API, you add multiple monitors. This allows you to monitor multiple uptime statistics at once in real-time.

It uses Modern REST+JSON and that’s free with all standard and pro accounts.

with SiteUptime API, you can remotely manage your monitors. No longer will you have to be local to change your settings and add or remove or edit monitors.

This API also allows you to build on top of your existing control panels. If you don’t want to give up your other control panels, adding SiteUptime is extremely simple.

If you’re looking for a great uptime monitoring system to add to your website, check out our SiteUptime demo right now.

 

How HTTPS Site Security Is Making The Internet Safer

site security

Cybercrime is on the rise, putting us and our customers at risk of serious harm.

Last year, in the healthcare industry alone, nearly 250 million critical records were stolen through cyber attacks.

Banking information, Customer data, Personal health information and much more are all at risk.

Let’s look at how HTTPS site security is making the Internet safer.

What is HTTPS?

The familiar “HTTP” that heads our web addresses stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol.

This is simply the universally agreed upon coding on which the Internet is built.

When an “S” follows the “HTTP” this means that site is secure.

But the S itself isn’t what’s making the site secure, so let’s look a little closer.

HTTPS websites have been issued an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate that will be used to help verify the authenticity of the website.

SSL is now part of a more comprehensive security protocol called Transport Layer Security or TLS, but it’s still commonly referred to as an SSL certificate by many web design and web hosting companies.

This TSL works to maximize site security.

The Risks HTTPS Seeks to Address

Symantec a respected internet security research and security organization recently released a report outlining many of the risks.

Despite increased talk in the news about hacking from foreign governments, the US appears to originate more cyber attacks than any other country.

China comes in a distant second.

The healthcare sector faces an uphill battle as it works to make medical records accessible to medical providers, insurance companies, and patients while still complying with regulations.

HIPAA, the law that protects the privacy of medical information imposes stiff penalties for mishandled medical information, and yet 1/2 billion personal information records were reported stolen or lost last year.

39% of that number have been determined to be the result of malicious data site security breaches.

Ransomware usage in on the rise. In these cases, a user inadvertently triggers the download of a virus that hijacks the computer or a network making it completely inaccessible by the business until a ransom is paid.

Hackers use various techniques to compromise your computer and access your data. HTTPS works to reduce these risks.

How HTTPS Is Improving Site Security

We buy online. We bank online. We meet people online. We share our lives online, expecting information to be safe or at least restricted to that site. If you’re running a business site, your customers trust you to keep their information safe.

Fortunately, we’ve gone from around 23% of websites are using SSL Certificates (HTTPS) to secure their sites to over half of sites incorporating site security technology.

That’s good for business and good for people. Let’s look at some specific ways that it accomplishes this task.

Site Verification

The TSL (described above) verifies that the site you loaded is actually the site you were trying to load rather than an imposter.

For example, when you’re banking online, you may need to enter your bank account, credit card number, ID number or other personal information.

You must trust that you’re on the right site.

If you were trying to pull up Twitter, Amazon or eBay, someone with nefarious intentions could pretend to be the site in order to acquire your username and password to hijack your account. HTTPS prevents this.

Intercept Prevention

Each time you enter information onto a website, that data is transferred through the server to reach its destination.

Data in transit is always at risk of being intercepted by someone who wished you harm.

The TSL encrypts all data being transferred between you and the site. Encryption is the act of changing any data that you entered onto a website into a ‘secret code” called ciphertext.

If anyone were to intercept it, it would appear as complete gibberish.

What if you were logging into your Google Adwords account and someone intercepted your username and password?

This person could use your account without your permission and if your credit card were linked to it, charge it all to you. How much damage could they do before you figured it out?

Fortunately, HTTPS prevents that through TSL.

Modification Prevention

Because they can’t read it, they also can’t change it.

Imagine if when you were sending a tweet, someone could simply change what you said or attach a different video or image.

What if someone could completely rewrite your email as it traveled through cyberspace to its destination.

As much as we might like to be able to say that’s what happened when we say something stupid, fortunately, it’s not possible because of TSL encryption.

Privacy Protections

HTTPS also prevents your ISP (internet service provider) or the government from tracking what you’re doing.

If they so choose, they can see your browsing history, but they can’t see beyond the site level.

If for example, you’re on Amazon, they can see that you visited Amazon. But they cannot see what you searched for, what’s in your cart, purchase history or any other information that would be far over-reaching without a warrant.

How to Know if You’re Safe

When you’re on an HTTPS site, the web address will appear in green with a padlock beside it.

This tells you that you’re safe while on this site.

HTTPS can’t, however, keep you safe if you use the same username and password on a regular HTTP site and your HTTPS site.

Those with malicious intent can simply get your password from the unprotected site and log into your HTTPS site. Never use your high-security HTTPS password on a low-security HTTP site.

Limitations of the HTTPS

Mobile Apps

We now share as much data through mobile apps as we do through our Internet browsers.

The good news is that most reputable apps that require you to enter data that could be compromised using similar secure, encrypted connections.

The limitation at this time comes in the fact, that you can’t always tell which ones do and which do not.

Bandwidth

HTTPS websites require additional bandwidth. They can take longer to load. Because of this some sites that are hesitant to jump on board.

It’s not Perfect

No security measure can prevent 100% of attacks. But HTTPS certainly makes it a lot harder for the “bad guys” to target an HTTPS site’s customers vs. an HTTP site.

Stopping Cybercriminals in Their Tracks

HTTPS helps you keep your customer data safe. It’s not perfect, but you certainly don’t want to be without it.

If you’re transferring critical customer data, make sure your site is HTTPS. Send cyber criminals looking elsewhere for victims of their cyber crimes.

To learn more about how to keep customer data safe and your site running as it should, reach out.

Bad News from Google: The Number of Hacked Sites Increased in 2016

hacked sites

Cyber attacks on websites jumped 32 percent in 2016 compared to 2015 according to Google’s latest website security report.

But the bad news gets worse.

Google predicts the growth in the number of hacked sites is going to become a trend. Their experts are willing to bet that percentage will grow every year.

Why?

Hackers spend their time aggressively searching for every possible vulnerability in a site. As websites are updated, hackers step up their own game.

They’re effectively playing a long game of cat and mouse with your business.

So in light of this news and in case you haven’t read up on hacking and internet threats in a while, here’s a quick primer to help you understand Google’s report:

The Most Common Hacks

“Hacking” is a general term so over-used it is effectively meaningless.

In this case, a hack is an attack, but it is not a single kind of attack.

According to Google, hacked sites might be a website afflicted with user-generated spam. Cloaked images, keyword stuff, redirects, or poisonous links also throw a website into the category of hacked sites.

Essentially, Google looks for anything spammy about a site and puts it on a watch list.

This stuff may sound benign to the average person, but it isn’t.

It’s akin to cancer for your code.

For example, you’ve spotted the gibberish hack when you come upon a page filled with nonsensical words and phrases – normally keywords to boost the site on Google’s search ranking.

Google also lists the cloaked keywords hack as a prominent method.

This hack is more difficult to spot because the pages sometimes look like the original template. But, if you look closely, you can see words, images, or links that don’t belong.

In both cases, the unwanted content is hiding something malicious.

When you try to visit the page, the link redirects somewhere else. Often a pornography site, but sometimes more nefarious pages.

 

Why Have They Come for YOU?

Hackers have various motives when they go after websites.

While we can’t pretend to be in the minds of the anonymous attackers hiding behind their keyboards, some motivations are easy to discern.

If your site is privy to sensitive customer information, it holds valuable data for attackers. Credit card numbers, PII, and passwords are a mighty bounty for hackers.

Hacktivism is often spurred by political motives. Depending on your site, you might be hacked to send a social or political message.

Example: the Ashley Madison hacks in 2015 were the work of vigilantes.

Your business or website may not provide a platform for people to cheat on their spouses. But generally speaking, most businesses have enemies, even if those enemies are simply anarchists or anti-capitalists looking to take down the whole system.

Deploying malware is another common goal of hacking. By breaking into your website, the hacker can spread malware, which can mutate and spread further to achieve whatever aim was programmed into it.

The most concerning hacker incentive is fun. Some hackers simply want to vandalize your site because they can. There is no other reason. These hackers are hard to predict, which means you must be vigilant.

Mounting a Defense

You can’t prevent attacks, but you can prevent their success.

Google and any security company worth their weight in salt advocates taking preventative measures in securing your site.

Identifying vulnerabilities on your website is essential for closing the gaps and eliminating the holes hackers use to take over your site.

Google also recommends paying attention to announcements and updates provided by software and hardware vendors and any Content Management Systems.

Those updates often provide fixes for any backdoors identified by their own security teams.

You can also run a vulnerability scan on your site for a more thorough screening.

A vulnerability scan is not an antivirus scan. While antivirus looks for viruses and malware only, vulnerability scans cast the net wider while simultaneously diving deeper.

These scans will tell you about:

  • Weak passwords
  • Permissive coding (which lets hackers in)
  • Out of date software
  • Viruses hiding in admin system

When you can identify your website’s weaknesses, you’re better able to build up your defenses precisely where they’re needed.

Checking for Domain Name System (DNS) threats is also important and DNS monitoring is essential. As we told you in a previous post, DNS attacks have increased by more than 200%.

A good website monitoring service is also helpful. Website monitoring checks up on your site more often than you ever could (every 2 minutes from different locations) to make sure your site is up and running.

Having a site monitoring system in place is an effective preventative tool because if your site goes down, you’ll know immediately. No need to wait until you’re flooded with emails concerned.

Register Your Site with Google’s Search Console

Google isn’t able to warn every customer about their hacked sites. Google’s report noted “61% of webmasters who were hacked never received a notification from Google.”

Google isn’t doing this to be the bad guy – they rely on webmasters to verify their sites through Search Console to better be able to get in touch with them.

Registering your site with the Google Search Console is a simple and effective security measure with tangible benefits.

As Google says, “84% [of] webmasters who do apply for reconsideration are successful in cleaning their sites.”

Hacked Sites: The Bottom Line

Hacked sites can not only be taken down by hackers, but they often need to be removed to be cleaned on their own as well.

This is a huge deal for your company.

Industry surveys suggest an average loss of $5,600 per minute when a hacked site goes down.

After 60 minutes, the average to a business is over $300k.

That figure doesn’t include the time and resources required to fix your site.

The bottom line is no one can fully protect your site from being attacked. But you can change what happens after your site is targeted and to keep your website up and running.

The number of hacked sites will continue to grow over the next few years. Your site may be one of them.

What does your company plan to do to protect your website? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

Keep Small Business Web Hosting Account Safe From Cyber Attackers

Many business owners ignore the dangers of cyber attacks.

There is a belief, especially among small business owners, that a business can be too small to be a target of cyber attacks.

The truth is that big companies already know the importance of cyber attacks, so their security walls are almost impenetrable. On the other hand, small businesses are the perfect target.

Hackers know that most business owners don’t put a lot of thought into their online security. They also know that these owners don’t want to invest many resources in it either.

This is why the selection process for small business web hosting is so important. You should not only focus on the price but also inquire about the security benefits that come with it.

We created a short list of tactics that will help you keep your business safe.

Create a stronger password

Perhaps you heard this tip before—but for a good reason.
Creating a strong password is the first step that you should take to strengthen the security of your businesses.

A stronger password might discourage the hacker, or even stop him altogether.
If you have issues with remembering strong passwords, don’t worry. There are many password management tools to choose from.

Also, no matter how strong your password is, never connect to the internet using a public wi-fi network.

Some hackers create a second wireless network that resembles the original in the name. When someone connects to it, all the data used can be easily stolen.

Change your password more often

There are small business web hosting services that recommend changing your password regularly.

This slows down cyber attacks even more.

If you feel tempted to keep all your passwords in an unsecured document, you’re at risk. As recommended above, use only password management tools for this purpose.

Online security tactics

There are a number of ways in which you can increase the security of your online business.

Most strategies are easy to implement and only require a little bit of research on your side.

These can involve choosing a reliable small business web hosting company and eCommerce platform, and using a strong firewall.

Choose your e-commerce platform wisely

If you’re the owner of an online store, you know the risks you’re exposing yourself and you clients to in case of a cyber attack.

A secure e-commerce platform not only saves your business, but it keeps you away from legal issues as well.

Your clients could sue you if a hacker steals their personal information from your website.
Most people use WordPress and Woocommerce to host their e-commerce stores. They do this because these platforms are easy to install and are among the most secure and reliable.

They do this because these platforms are easy to install and are among the most secure and reliable.

Scammy emails

Many business owners receive emails from hackers who use the logo from well-known institutions. These emails attempt to evoke fear and urgency while asking for personal information.

For example, you may receive an email that seems to look like a PayPal customer sent it. In this email, it may ask you to send over your passwords and other details.

Tactics like these also include malicious attachments.
Never click on random files, and report suspicious activity to the authorities.

No respectable company will ever ask for your password and other personal information.

Security layers

Using firewalls, applications, and login pop up can slow down or discourage cyber attacks.

The more steps you add, the harder it is for an application-level attack to be effective.

This also helps you figure out if an actual human is on your website completing forms, or if it’s an application trying to imitate human behavior.

Hire a third party to discover security breaches

If you want to be sure that your firewalls and other security applications are doing their job, hire a security company.

A security company will try to “attack” your company while trying to find out what your site’s weaknesses are.

After they discover the weak spots, they will recommend a solution for your issues.

How small business web hosting services can protect you

Small business web hosting services usually come with a layer of security.

High-quality web hosting services aren’t free, nor do they allow open access.

These web hosting services make money from advertising on your website and are free to use. However, most of them attract hackers who create websites with malicious content.

Usually, small business web hosting services that are secure check for viruses in published content.

Most web hosting companies offer firewalls

Remember how we discussed the importance of purchasing a firewall?

Most web hosting companies offer a firewall that can protect you from cyber attacks too.

The purpose of the firewall is to ban IP addresses that are, as well as block unsecured servers.

Block executable commands

You’re probably familiar with “check if you’re human” button, or “find the photos with trees”. These type of applications help businesses weed out the humans from malicious applications.

A high-quality hosting company does offer these option to ensure the security of your website.

Malicious code

You should monitor your website for malicious code.
Now, most small business web hosting companies have the option to alert the website owner if the website is down, or if there are some security issues.

This can prove to be really useful since the website owner can work on changing the passwords and call his web security team to analyze the situation.

Also, small business hosting companies usually backup all the data on your website. In the case of a cyber attack, you won’t lose everything on your website.

Wrapping up

A lot of small business owners aren’t aware of the dangers that they expose themselves to by not investing in the security of their websites.

Small businesses are the favorite targets of hackers because they’re the most vulnerable.

If you want to find out more about how you can increase your website security, don’t hesitate to take a look at our blog.

If you have any questions or concerns that aren’t already discussed on our blog, make sure you contact us.

5 Reasons Logo Design Is Important For Your Brand

You aren’t sure if your business needs a logo?

You might think that you do not have the budget to pay for a logo either.

However, one of the most recognizable logos did not cost the company a fortune, and it should not cost you either.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that you always have to pay a lot for logo design. Fortunately, there are free resources that allow you to give logo design a try.

Why should anyone spend their valuable time making or buying a logo?

The answer is pretty simple: images tend to hit us harder than business statements or mottos.

Think about your favorite brands

Now think about their value proposition.You probably do not have a clue about it. Now try to remember their logo.

That was easy!

It is easy for your potential clients to think of you when you show them a strong image to associate you with.

A logo is what makes you stand out and be remembered. Many companies use logos as the central element of their marketing strategy.

Think about MacDonalds and Apple. How often have you seen their logos in their marketing campaigns?

The swoosh from Nike is iconic.

People think of the swoosh more than they think of the name Nike, simply because their logo encapsulated all their values in one picture.

It is almost hypnotizing how one swoosh can already make you picture success. The big “Just Do It” is empathetic with all of us who find so hard to leave the couch and trade it for jogging in the park.

Having a poorly designed logo can make you look unprofessional. However, not having one at all is worse.

Without a logo, you are practically invisible.

You make it harder for your prospects to think about you, and to associate a certain service or product with you. Additionally, since most people are looking for convenience, they will choose your competitor.

It is not convenient for the human brain to remember something that did not leave a particularly big impression.

What isn’t a logo

You probably think that learning a little bit about logo design can push your brand forward. And it can, in the right context.

However, your brand and your logo are not identical. Your logo is a visual representation of your brand.

For example, color, font, and overall design send a message about your intentions.

Like your wardrobe, the way you present your brand trough a logo sends a certain message to your audience.

Deciding how you should portray your company is a strategic move based on a number of factors, such as what feelings you want to convey when your prospects see you, what are their pain points, who is your audience, etc.

Your logo design strategy should be focused not on making the logo the most visually appealing, but on making it strike a chord with your audience.

For instance, let us take Nike’s logo as an example again.

The logo itself is fairly plain looking. There is nothing special about its design.

However, it can make people think of getting things done, by “just doing it”, as if they would swoosh trough all the obstacles that stop them from reaching their goal.

Make sure your logo is indeed the representation of your business’s core values.

If you want to find out more about how logo design can positively impact your business, read on.

1. Make them feel like they know you

If you are running a business, you know how hard it is to convince your prospects that you hold the solution to their problems.

You can use logo design to leverage your competitions by making your audience think of you first.

As I stated previously, companies without logos are invisible. A good logo design can make you stick in your audience’s mind if you strike the right chord.

A lot of businesses do not place a lot of a value on their logos to help get them clients. There are a lot of investments in the sales team, in copywriters, customer service, etc.

All of these are important. However, a logo is like a salesman that never stops talking.

Your logo will always be there, in people’s minds. This is the case if they are the right audience for your business.

It is hard to make people remember you, especially after an extended period of time with an ad or with an email in their inbox.

On the other hand, the mind enjoys shortcuts. A visual image is more easy to remember than a name or a value proposition.

2. Get your message across and build trust

You can trigger certain emotional responses by using the perfect combination of shapes and colors in your logo design process.

For example, if your services are quite pricey, you could use blue. This color evokes trust and serenity. It is like telling your customers to trust you because their hard-earned money will be used wisely.

Yellow, on the other hand, might make some people anxious, but it also recommended if you have a younger demographic as your buyer persona. When you include your logo in your marketing campaign, you also add some personality to your business.

Nobody likes unfriendly, cold looking people, and that applies to businesses too.

You can get your message across by using the right logo design. Whether you want to evoke trust or let people know you are fun to be around, a great logo can help you do both.

3. Show your audience why you are better than your competition

Not many people think about logo design in these terms.

How can a logo help me show the key benefit of people buying from me?

Just think about all the brands that use grandmas as their images, or hard working mothers, or friendly looking grandfather in their logo.

A baking company that has a logo with a grandmother translates into cakes that are made with love and care as your grandma would bake them.

By using that strategy, you are using a logo to associate yourself with something familiar to your audience: a loving grandmother that baked them cakes as a child.

These can be translated into virtually any industry. Some companies that sell toothpaste use a happy tooth as their logo or companies who sell skin care products show a dermatologist.

4. Create an emotional connection between your brand and your audience

One of the most important functions a logo has is to attract attention by using emotions.

A logo is like your clothes during an interview. It is not the deciding factor, but it says enough for the interviewer to either like or dislike you the moment you enter the room.

This could change after you exchange a few words, but the first impression can stick around. It has a lingering effect.

A playful looking logo for an institution that deals with legal issues, for example, can drive away many clients.

Your audience can even feel “amused” by seeing your brand being represented by something that has nothing to do with the solutions you are providing.

Make sure you know your audience before you start crafting a logo.

If you skip this step, you might end up creating a logo that appeals to baby boomers when your audience is actually millennials.

5. Show them what you are doing

The right logo design can quickly draw attention and send a complete message to your audience.

If you see a logo with a puppy, you are probably thinking of products and services linked to dogs.

It is easier to be remembered if you also show what you are doing and present yourself as someone who is an expert in your field.

Many make the mistake of using their name for a business, in an industry, where names do not mean much. Then they use their names in a logo design.

There are industries where names are predominant, such as the fashion industry, where everyone is familiar with Chanel and Versace.

Usually, the service provider focuses on showing you what they are doing instead of using their initials in a logo.

Logo design does not have to be expensive or complicated

Logos can be found anywhere. They help you stand out on social media, be remembered by your audience easily, establish an emotional connect, and get a message across.

You can probably remember the logos of all your favorite brands. This tells you everything you need to know.

Logo design is quite a powerful marketing tool that is used in every industry to attract more clients and represent the brand.

Creating your logo should not be a chore, especially if you are on a budget and you probably do not have the skills to use professional software.

If you read our 5 reasons why logo design is important for your brand, you probably know by now how many companies use logos in their marketing strategies.

If you are looking for a quick, easy way to create the perfect logo that will represent your company, give our online logo maker a try.

The 8 Essential Cybersecurity Tools Your Business Needs

Every business needs cybersecurity.

No matter how big your business is, or what industry you’re in, no one is immune to attacks. And if you aren’t secure, then these attacks can be incredibly damaging.

You need to know how to protect your business. If you want to succeed in business, you need to stay safe.

That’s why we’re giving you these eight cybersecurity tools.

Train your employees

The first step in cybersecurity is making sure you know what you’re up against.

In this case, “you” is actually your business. And for your business to be prepared, each and every one of your employees needs to be, as well.

That’s why you need to train them. Once you gather all of the cybersecurity tools that you need, put a plan into writing. Make sure your employees know it and can reference it easily. Offer classes.

Make sure that you give training on cybersecurity regularly. It will probably change frequently, and multiple classes will help your employees remember and retain things.

Cyber Aces offers some free cybersecurity courses to get you started.

Use SSL on all pages

“SSL” is the secure https:// that most websites use when they need to be secured.

You might be using SSL on your shop and contact page. But experts agree that you should actually be using SSL on all pages.

This will help your website be more secure because your users will have a constantly encrypted connection.

This is one of the easiest cybersecurity tools to obtain, but it’s one that a lot of companies overlook or only do halfway.

If you’re only using SSL on some of your sites, then you aren’t as secure as you need to be.

Our standard plan allows you to set up and monitor SSL servers for only $10 a month.

Monitor your website

It’s important to keep informed.

Eventually, there will probably be an attack (or at least an attempt) on your site. And if you aren’t keeping an eye on it, you’ll never know when it happens.

That’s why it’s so important to monitor your site. You need to have a professional service that regularly checks up on your site and keeps you notified when it is accessed.

You should be reading these reports and alerts carefully so that you know how often you are being targeted.

Even if the attack fails, one of the most important cyber security tools is knowing about it.

Our free plan offers monitoring every hour, while our standard and pro plans offer monitoring even more regularly for your safety.

Keep alerted

One of the most important cybersecurity tools is knowing what’s happening on your website.

When your website is checked, you should want to know. When something crashes or glitches, you should be made aware of it.

Even a simple mistake can become a security threat if you don’t know it’s there. Keep up with regular alerts and notifications.

Whatever you can get from your site, you should take the time to go over and check, to make sure there’s no unwanted business or anything else strange going on.

This will ensure that things stay safe and secure.

Our free plan offers email alerts and monthly reports, making sure that you always know what’s going on with your business.

Require authentication

It may seem like a bit of a hassle, especially if you have a lot of employees that need to use your servers.

But requiring authentication will keep out unwanted users, and make your information that much harder to breach. Even seemingly harmless information can be used against you in the wrong hands.

So while taking the easier route may seem tempting, it can ultimately cause more of a hassle for you in the long run when you have to deal with a crisis.

If you aren’t using authentication, you’re an easy target. You need to start doing so immediately.

Our standard and pro plans both offer you the option to require authentication.

Change passwords often

This is something you should hold all of your employees responsible for.

The best passwords are unexpected. They contain special characters, are case sensitive, and are mixed together with numbers and letters.

But what really strengthens a password is this: not keeping it the same for long.

While some experts claim that changing passwords doesn’t do much good, that’s only because people are not very creative. In other words, no, changing your password from “secret” to “secret1” isn’t great.

But if you encourage your employees to radically change their passwords regularly, these new passwords can be very important cybersecurity tools.

This service will regularly remind users to change their passwords.

Backup data to a secure location

Cybersecurity tools can only get you so far if your computers crash.

That’s why it’s important to back up your information to a secure cloud or something similar, to make sure that if the worst happens, you’ll be prepared.

If your data is particularly sensitive, you might find yourself in a position where you have to shut down everything to protect it. And if that happens, you’ll want to easily be able to recover anything you lost during that time.

For this reason, it’s important to have something that automatically backs up to a secure location, for you to access when you need it.

Carbonite offers backup solutions which allow you to back up your information directly to the cloud.

Know where failures come from

Sometimes, a system failure just comes from a glitch. But sometimes, it’s something more sinister.

That’s why it’s important to have something that traces any failures on your website. This will help you to stay on top of any potential threats.

It will also help to give you peace of mind, so that you know exactly what’s going on with your website. It’s one of those cybersecurity tools that serves multiple purposes.

Make sure you know what’s happening, and who you can hold accountable for failures. Keep an eye on them with a tracing service of some kind.

Our failure traceroute is offered in our pro plan for only $20 a month, and it will allow you to keep an eye on your information.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity tools?

In addition to providing you with the best cybersecurity that we can, we also want to keep you up to date on the latest information.

Check out our blog to learn more about how to use cybersecurity for your business.

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.