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How to Prevent Cybercriminals from Attacking

cyber-crimeAccording to a 2013 Small Business Technology Survey that polled 845 small business owners across industries in the U.S., small businesses lost an estimated $8,700 as a result of a cyber attack. In addition, nearly half of all small business owners surveyed claimed to have at one time been the victim of a cyber attack. To protect yourself and your business from the unwanted costs (and headaches) that come from cyber attacks, follow the five recommendations outlined below:

Keep Computers Updated

One simple way you can prevent cybercriminals from hacking into your systems and stealing sensitive information is to by making sure your company computers are up to date. Your computer manufacturur likely releases regular updates to your operating system. Often times these updates are released for the purpose of addressing security issues or weaknesses that have been found. In order to prevent cybercriminals from attacking your machines in order to steal sensitive information, always follow through with installing recommended updates to your operating system. You should also update your browsers and other plugins you use.

Use Strong Passwords

As more and more sites continue to offer innovative ways for you to store information online, it’s becoming increasingly important to be proactive when it comes to keeping your accounts secure, and your personal information out of the hands of hackers and cybercriminals. When you create passwords for your business, you should always include the following four categories:

  • Uppercase letters (A,B,C)
  • Lowercase letters (a,b,c)
  • Numbers (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  • Symbols found on the keyboard (~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ – + = { } [ ] | : ; ” ‘ < > , . ? /)

Educate Your Staff

In a Forbes article on small business cyber attacks, author George Westerman write the following, “internet security is not just a technology problem; it’s a people problem. According to CyberFactors, in-house employees commit about 40% of reported breaches. Some are disgruntled workers or ex-workers; some are serious bad guys. But often it’s people doing things they don’t even know are unsafe.” According to the article, Westerman recommends doing the following in order prevent cybercriminals from attacking your small business:

  1. Train your employees on IT risk.
  2. Create clear and simple company policies regarding technology.
  3. Put somebody in charge of security.

Install Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is software used to prevent, detect and remove malware such as: computer viruses, malicious BHOs, hijackers, ransomware, keyloggers, backdoors, rootkits, trojan horses, worms, malicious LSPs, dialers, fraudtools, adware and spyware. As a business owner, it’s crucial that you invest in antivirus software for your computer computers. Antivirus software is especially essential for computers that have sensitive client account information on them. For a list of the best antivirus software tools of 2013,

Hire a Security Consultant To Determine How Secure Your Business Is

Another way you can prevent cybercriminals or hackers from attacking your small business is by hiring an IT or cyber security consultant to evaluate how secure your business is. These security specialists can perform a security audit for you, tell you where your vulnerabilities are, and make recommendations on how to make improvements. As more and more hackers continue to develop clever ways to access private data and steal sensitive information from businesses, more and more companies are hiring security consultants and white-hat hackers (i.e. the ones who know how to hack, but use their skills to help make businesses more secure) to help improve security infrastructure.

Stay Informed

One of the biggest ways you can prevent cybercriminals from attacking your small business is by simply being informed. You should be regularly educating yourself on cyber security issues as they relate to small business. By doing so, you can work to constantly improve your security based on what you learn from other businesses who are dealing with the same security issues as you. You can stay informed by reading small business blogs, looking for articles about cybercriminals and how they operate, and downloading timely reports that offer helpful, up-to-date data on cyber attacks.

Conclusion

As mentioned in the opening of this article, according to research, small businesses can lose an estimated $8,700 as a result of a cyber attack. As a business owner, it’s your job to be proactive when it comes to preventing cybercriminals and hackers from attacking your small business. You can get started by following the recommendations outlined above. What other tips do you have for business owners like you who understand the importance of keeping sensitive data out of the hands of cybercriminals and want to start developing and implementing more effective protection strategies?

Critical glibc Vulnerability Patched on all WebHostingWorld Servers

glibc

Few days ago a critical vulnerability in  the GNU C Library (glibc) was announced alongside a proof of concept for the attack. This library is one of the main components in the majority of Linux distributions (if not all) including those, used for server OS’es. Without getting into too much technicalities, the exploit allows an attacker to remotely execute code by following a simple link. That’s one of the most severe vulnerabilities discovered in the recent years and potentially affects pretty much any Linux server out there.

Given that all WebHostingWorld servers run on CentOS – a Linux distribution, we took immediate measures to secure our machines. I am happy to announce that a patch has been applied on all our servers and our customers are well protected against this security threat!

Top 5 Tips to Reduce Spam or Junk Email

1) Use a spam filter!

It sounds obvious but it is surprising how many people do not use spam filters to protect their inbox from spam and phishing email. Here at WebHostingWorld we offer all our customers an open source solution called Spam Assassin that requires no installation on your part and most importantly it won’t cost you an arm and a leg!

2) Keep your email address private.

Don’t publish your email address ANYWHERE on the web, if your email address is posted on a public guestbook, blog or forum your inbox could very soon be cluttered with junk email. Automated bots crawl the web collecting these addresses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

3) Create a spare email address.

Treat your spare email address as your public one, use it online in forums, chat rooms and when subscribing to mailing lists and promotions. Remember your spare email address is a temporary one, don’t be afraid to change it often. And remember, if you are already a WebHostingWorld customer you can create an unlimited number of email addresses so you can change your email address as often as you like.

4) Handle with care.

You should never respond to any email address that you believe to be spam, this just tells the spammers that you are there and that their email addresses are reaching your inbox! You should also consider turning read receipts off, these are often used to determine whether the emails are reaching a live inbox. Finally, NEVER use the unsubscribe link unless you actually remember signing up to receive mail from the sender originally. This again is just another way for spammers to determine which emails are reaching the sender.

5) Use disposable mail.

If you are forced to enter an email address somewhere on the web where the authenticity of the website is questionable, use a temporary email address! A service like 10minutemail.com will give you access to a working email address so that you do not have to risk using your personal address on a web site you do not trust. Once you have finished, simply exit the website and you can leave knowing you will never receive any unwanted mail as a result of it.

The fight against spam has been ongoing since the first recorded incident in 1978, this affected 393 individuals. More than 30 years later and spam is on a whole new level reaching billions of internet users worldwide. It may not be possible to completely eliminate spam but we can all do our bit to reduce the impact it has on our inbox. Just be vigilant online and treat your email address like your house number and zip code, you wouldn’t post that everywhere would you?

 

The Importance of Back Links & How to Gather Them

Backlinks are essential for your website if you are hoping to receive free visitors from search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. A back link is counted when Website A links to Website B. Search engines recognize when one website links to another and therefore considers that website more worthy of appearing within your search results.

So to sum up, with the more back links you have pointing to your website, search engines will reward you with higher rankings.

How do I get back links?

Gathering back links (or link building as it is known) sounds complicated but there are many ways you can obtain links to your website with very little effort.

Free Internet Directories

Before there were search engines the web was filled with directories, people browsed these directories to find the website they were looking for. This has left thousands of directories on the internet such as Dmoz and Jayde, many of these are still in business and accepting new links.

The majority of these directories all work in the same way, you choose the most relevant category that suits the nature of your web site then you suggest your URL to be included. Once your link has been approved your listing will go live and you will have just achieved your first back link. Use Google to search for free website directories, there are hundreds out there.

Link Exchanges

A link exchange describe 2 websites linking to each other, so Website A links to Website B and Website B also links to Website A. This is a great way of quickly gaining back links, a free link exchange serviceis a good place to start.

Article Directories

Article directories allow you to write articles and publish them within the website’s directory, in exchange for your hard work you can include links to your website within the article. Ezine Articles is the most popular of all but there are plenty more free article sites on Google.

Link bait

Link bait is a term used to describe articles or pages on your website that are intended to attract back links from other websites. Controversial subjects, useful tools and free resources are just a few ideas, the art to bait link is about being creative – go in at an angle never thought of before.

Link bait is the most difficult form of link building but since the back links are 100% natural, the results are very rewarding.

These are just a few ways you can increase the number of incoming links to your website, there are literally hundreds more. SEOBook.com has compiled a list of 101 ways to build link popularity, the article offers some interesting ideas.

5 Steps to Building your Dream Website

The World Wide Web wouldn’t exist without websites. After all, the web is, in essence, a collection of millions of websites that just about anyone with a browser can access. Building your dream website will require some thoughtful planning on your part, beyond just color schemes and fonts. Whatever tools you choose to create your site, it’s important to lay a foundation by planning it out in advance.

STEP 1: Map Out Your Site

Before you do anything else, you should decide what you want your website to do. Do you want a place to share your thoughts on a particular topic? Perhaps you need an online space to share your body of work in a certain field. You might choose to go with a blog, an online portfolio, a message board, an ecommerce site, or perhaps a combination of the above. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish with my website?
  • How can I accomplish it?
  • What tools or outside help will I need to accomplish this?

If you want to be more specific, create a mission statement for your website, one that could possibly serve as an About page.

STEP 2: Choose a Domain Name & Keywords

A domain name and keywords make a website more identifiable on the web. Instead of looking at keywords on their own though, think of them within the context of your entire website. They should occur naturally throughout your website, in a few key places in particular: H1 title tags, URLs, internal and external links, content, and alt picture tags. When you use keywords consistently in key places on your website, they send a consistent message to search engines about what your site is about.

You might already have an idea of what keywords you would like to be known for. This is a good starting point for the rest of your keyword research. Use a combination of long tail and short tail keywords. For example, if you own an ice cream parlor in Denver, you might use “old fashioned ice cream parlor in Denver, Colorado” as a long tail keyword. A short tail keyword might be “ice cream in Denver.”

The next step would be to perform keyword research to see what other keywords your site could rank for. It’s important to go according to what people want, and not rely too much on your ideas about what ideal keywords are. If you’ve branded yourself as an IT networking specialist, and people are searching for “internet specialist,” go with what people are searching for.

It’s also a good idea to make keywords a part of your domain name too, though this won’t make or break your website. The most important thing is to make your domain name something unique yet easy to remember. A rule of thumb is to stick to less than four words, and to make it easy to identify with you or your organization.

STEP 3: Choose a Host

There are different types of web hosting to choose from, and the one you choose will depend on your needs and budget.

  • Free hosting: This is a popular option for those wanting to test the website waters without making a financial commitment. Sites that offer a free website plus free hosting include BloggerWordPress, and Weebly. The downside though is that free hosted sites might post advertising to your website, or require you to have a subdomain instead of your own domain name.
  • Shared hosting: This is a popular option for people just starting out with their own website. Your website shares a server with several other website accounts, with each account sharing a bit of the cost. Shared hosting plans are quite affordable. However, a site with increasing traffic might eventually outgrow shared hosting.
  • VPS or Dedicated hosting: This is hosting for websites with large amounts of traffic, or for organizations with several websites. Dedicated hosting is when your website or group of sites gets a private server which no one else uses. VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting partitions your website across several servers instead of one single server, and is thus a sort of halfway point between dedicated and shared hosting. Due to operating costs, these options can sometimes be the most expensive.

STEP 4: Create your Site

As mentioned in the intro, you have a lot of options for creating a website. The method you choose will also depend on your needs and budget, as well as time constraints and ability.

Blogging websites: Blogging sites are perhaps the most familiar site creation services right now, with Wordpress.com and Blogger being two of the most popular. Blogging sites offer user-friendly setup including pre-made site templates and simple customization options. They are free to use with the option to upgrade to additional features. The downside is that you don’t have complete control over customization, like with templates and site features.

Site creation software: If you have at least a cursory knowledge of HTML and want more control over the look and feel of your website, then site creation software might be just the thing you need. Adobe Dreamweaver is the industry leader in site creation software, though Siteweaver and Xara Web Designer are also competitive options.

When to hire someone: Not everyone has the time, patience, or vision to create a truly appealing website, so there may come a time where outsourcing is the best option. Hiring a web designer might also be for you if your current website isn’t getting you the results you want. A great web designer will listen to your ideas, offer their expertise, and work with you until your dream website is complete.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to use an engaging, inviting layout for your website. This means using attractive colors (preferably ones that don’t clash), clear website navigation, and uncluttered pages.

STEP 5: Get The Word Out

Marketing your website is just as important as building it. After all, there’s no point in building and maintaining a website that no one visits. Implementing your keywords solves part of this problem, but there is more you can do to get the word out about your website.

  • Tell friends and family: Appealing to people who already know and like you is a good place to start.
  • Join social media: You might be on Facebook and Twitter already, but consider setting up accounts or a fan page for your business or website in particular. Find out where your ideal fan base spends most of their time, and make yourself visible there. For example, you’re likely to find an audience for your accounting website in a LinkedIn business professionals group.
  • Your marketing materials: Add your URL to your business cards, flyers, branded promotional items, and other marketing tools you use.
  • Engage online: Join message boards, forums, and blogging communities where your audience hangs out. Participate in and start meaningful discussions that show your passion about your topic.

Building your dream website is a multi-step process that involves mapping out what you want and how to go about getting it. Not only do you need a beautiful design, but you also need an SEO strategy, a dependable web host, and a way to get the word out about your labor of love. The more willing you are to get into the nitty gritty details of building a great site, the more likely you are to succeed at having the website you’ve always wanted.