Web Host Blogs

Our WordPress sites now on PHP 5.5 and above!

SiteGround Blog -

During the past few weeks, we have undertaken a serious campaign to increase the number of the WordPress sites that use more recent PHP versions on our servers. As a result, now more than 90% of all our WordPress sites are on PHP 5.5 or higher. As scary as such a massive update may sound when you have more than 100,000 WordPress instances, it turned out to be a real success. But PHP 5.5 was available for our customers for more than an year… We are one of the few hosting companies that always make the latest PHP version available for use to all its customers as soon as it has a stable release. But we also have a philosophy that it is the customer’s own choice which PHP version will be used on each of its folders. Providing this unique flexibility we thought we have done our due. However, lately we have been hearing more and more talks in the WordPress community about the negatives of using the old PHP versions and especially PHP 5.2. That got us auditing the versions of the WordPress and PHP used on our servers. Although, the percentage of sites using PHP 5.2 was really low, we found the number of sites not using the current most widely adopted PHP version – 5.5, to be surprisingly high for our standards. We got curious what are the reasons for so many people not to use more recent PHP versions, when we have provided them with the option to easily do that. … so why did clients use old PHP versions in general? When researching the reasons why, it turns out the greater majority of the clients were either unaware of the existence of a more recent one or felt uncomfortable updating on their own and thought they need a developer to do it. As it is our mission to both keep our clients safe (by keeping their software up-to-date), and make their life easier when it comes to website maintenance, we decided to help them make the change. By stepping in we also took over any additional maintenance work related to the update. Clients were given the option to opt out if they thought this update might have bad consequences for their sites. We took the responsibility to do the move So basically our conclusion was that giving the choice to the customers may not be enough. Taking the responsibility to make the right choice for them and being there to deal with any possible consequences turned out to be a better approach. We updated the PHP version of thousands of installations. We got a handful of tickets asking for assistance after the update, which were all related to a client using a specific plugin incompatible with the PHP 5.5 version. Such cases were either fixed, where possible, or downgraded to the old version upon client’s discretion. So the conclusion of this campaign is that we will still stay true to our philosophy to value the customer freedom of choice. However, we will not let this philosophy prevent us from taking the responsibility and helping the customer make the right choice, whenever possible.

Our WordPress sites now on PHP 5.5 and above!

SiteGround Blog -

During the past few weeks, we have undertaken a serious campaign to increase the number of the WordPress sites that use more recent PHP versions on our servers. As a result, now more than 90% of all our WordPress sites are on PHP 5.5 or higher. As scary as such a massive update may sound when you have more than 100,000 WordPress instances, it turned out to be a real success. But PHP 5.5 was available for our customers for more than an year… We are one of the few hosting companies that always make the latest PHP version available for use to all its customers as soon as it has a stable release. But we also have a philosophy that it is the customer’s own choice which PHP version will be used on each of its folders. Providing this unique flexibility we thought we have done our due. However, lately we have been hearing more and more talks in the WordPress community about the negatives of using the old PHP versions and especially PHP 5.2. That got us auditing the versions of the WordPress and PHP used on our servers. Although, the percentage of sites using PHP 5.2 was really low, we found the number of sites not using the current most widely adopted PHP version – 5.5, to be surprisingly high for our standards. We got curious what are the reasons for so many people not to use more recent PHP versions, when we have provided them with the option to easily do that. … so why did clients use old PHP versions in general? When researching the reasons why, it turns out the greater majority of the clients were either unaware of the existence of a more recent one or felt uncomfortable updating on their own and thought they need a developer to do it. As it is our mission to both keep our clients safe (by keeping their software up-to-date), and make their life easier when it comes to website maintenance, we decided to help them make the change. By stepping in we also took over any additional maintenance work related to the update. Clients were given the option to opt out if they thought this update might have bad consequences for their sites. We took the responsibility to do the move So basically our conclusion was that giving the choice to the customers may not be enough. Taking the responsibility to make the right choice for them and being there to deal with any possible consequences turned out to be a better approach. We updated the PHP version of thousands of installations. We got a handful of tickets asking for assistance after the update, which were all related to a client using a specific plugin incompatible with the PHP 5.5 version. Such cases were either fixed, where possible, or downgraded to the old version upon client’s discretion. So the conclusion of this campaign is that we will still stay true to our philosophy to value the customer freedom of choice. However, we will not let this philosophy prevent us from taking the responsibility and helping the customer make the right choice, whenever possible.

Small Business Saturday: Getting Your Business Online Part 1!

The Domain.com Blog -

If you’re new to the small business space, getting online is not always the most intuitive process. For startups and small businesses, time, money, and energy are often hard to come by, and resources are easily wasted when there’s no firm plan in place. As a Small Business Saturday Official Supporter, we are committed to providing our customers with the resources needed to successfully get their businesses up and running. From a deep selection of affordable domain names, to hosting plans and email packages tailored to our small business customers, we strive to make the “get online” process simple and smooth. Follow our guide below to stay on track with what you’ll need to grow your small business successfully. Get Online. If you don’t have a website, it’s imperative you get one. If you have a brick and mortar store, that’s great, but short of driving to your actual location, how will your customers know where you’re located, your store hours, your phone number, or what you offer? It does not take much to build a website. Go to Domain.com and search for your ideal name. With over 200+ domain extensions available, you won’t have to settle for anything but exactly what you want. You will also need web hosting to get your site up and running and email to better brand your business. We have a 24/7 support team on standby ready to help. And if you don’t think you can do it yourself, consider hiring a freelance web developer or graphic designer to assist you with getting started. Marketing Matters. Once your website is up and running, you’ll need to direct traffic there. Pay Per Click (PPC) ads work well, but they can be expensive and require constant tweaking. Local radio or TV spots are also effective, but if there’s no room in that market, consider social media as an alternative. Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and Google+ pages are all great ways to help you to be seen and heard online. According to an early 2014 study conducted by LinkedIn, 81 percent of small businesses use social media and 91 percent of those businesses use it for marketing purposes[1]. If done properly, your social media efforts will drive customers to your business. Start small with frequent, relevant posts and get bolder as your become more comfortable with the space. Giveaways, contests, and social media-only sales are great ways to generate interest and build a fan base. Grand Opening. If your small business is new (or even if it just feels like a good time to reconnect with customers), don’t be afraid to make a splash with a party at your store or office. If your budget doesn’t include room for a big event, offer a discount coupon or promotion to generate buzz. If your business does not offer a tangible product available for purchase, invite prospective customers and clients to an open house. Provide light snacks and drinks, and hold a raffle drawing for attendees who sign up for your mailing list. If your small business is online only, you can still participate. Upload a celebratory banner to your homepage and invite customers to send in photos and testimonials. Consider doing a data mine of your base to determine the city or region that you’re most popular in and invite customers to a local meet-up at a bar or restaurant. Follow Through and Follow Up. Now that you’ve done the work to get customers to your website, through your door, and purchasing your products or services, don’t be afraid to reach out. One-on-one interactions go a long way when establishing lasting connections. A customer is more likely to remember a positive experience when it’s coupled with a friendly face or voice. Small Business Saturday is a reminder to all of us that there are local alternatives to the giant retail outlets and businesses that we see and shop at daily. American Express does a great job rallying neighborhoods and businesses to participate, and they offer free marketing materials to small businesses to attract customers. Our Domain.com team members plan to #ShopSmall on #SmallBizSat November 29, and we hope you do too. If you’re a small business still looking to get online, use coupon code SBS2014 at Domain.com and save 20% on new domain names, web hosting packages, and email plans. This offer ends on Nov. 30, so don’t wait! [1] http://mashable.com/2014/02/13/linkedin-social-media-study/ The post Small Business Saturday: Getting Your Business Online Part 1! appeared first on Domain.com.

The State Of OpenStack [Video]

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

A lot of the talk at OpenStack Summit Paris this month centered on the current state of OpenStack and its future. As the four-year-old project continues to grow and mature, what will OpenStack look like in five, 10 or 15 years? In the video above, we hear from Rackers Jim Curry and Van Lindberg about their thoughts on the growth of OpenStack and its future. Check out more coverage from OpenStack Summit Paris.

Social Media Mistakes to Avoid this Holiday Season

1&1 Online Success Center -

The holiday season is a great time for family gatherings, delicious food, and time away from the office. However, this time of year also has a big emphasis on shopping. Consumers are constantly making their shopping lists, and checking them twice! Both in-store and online businesses should take advantage of this shopping spotlight to help increase their end of year sales. Today, social media is considered a beneficial tool strong enough to affect shoppers’ purchasing decisions. To be sure your business is properly leveraging this platform we asked US consumers about the biggest social media mistakes businesses make and how to avoid them. Check out the top 5 mistakes and learn how to avoid them to profit this holiday season. 63% not responding to comments Not responding or interacting with users was the most common mistake consumers identified for businesses on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Google + and many other social media platforms offer an opportunity for consumers to directly interact with their favorite businesses. This is a great opportunity to increase users’ trust and loyalty to your brand. Be sure to answer and engage with all of your comments, even ones that offer criticism. Knowing that their opinions are heard and considered can go a long way in the eyes on shoppers. 39% abandoning a social page once it is created Creating a social media presence is only half the battle. Not keeping your profiles updated may leave consumers to believe that your business is not to be trusted, out of date, or may have closed. For restaurants, be sure to post your daily specials and seasonal menu changes. Retail stores should publish current sales and hours of operation, and all business should keep contact and location information updated at all times. Publishing fresh content keeps shoppers informed of everything and anything your business has to offer. 38% flooding newsfeeds Although maintaining a healthy stream of new content is important for your social media presence, it is important not to take over your users’ newsfeeds. Posting multiple posts in a short amount of time causes your content to lose effectiveness and get lost in the crowd. The best method to combat this issue is having a well thought out editorial calendar. Thinking ahead and creating out a concrete plan for your social media activity ensures that your content is spaced out and only offers the most beneficial and relevant content to your followers. 36% omitting coupons or exclusive social sales Especially this holiday season, exclusive “social media only” offers will play a big role in where consumers decide to shop.  According to a survey from MarketLive, 30 percent of respondents had made a purchase as a direct result of “engagement with a social networking site” within the past year. That was up from 18 percent the previous year.” To take advantage of this trend, create exclusive social media contests or offer promo codes to only friends and followers. This will help build excitement within your online audience and hopefully lead to increased sales. 32% being unprofessional A large benefit of social media for businesses is the opportunity to informally interact with your target audience. For example, grammar shortcuts and abbreviations are allowed when fitting a message in a 140 character Tweet. However, is it important not to throw all professionalism out the window. Your voice and presence on social media still represents your business and your brand.  Be sure to look over every item posted to your account to ensure they are in line with your company’s mission and guidelines. Although there may be an amusing picture or video taking over cyberspace, think about the possibility of offending anyone who may not find it so amusing. If you have second thoughts, it is best to leave it off the business profile. The holiday season allows businesses to get creative when interacting with their consumers on social media. Having fun with your users while remaining effective on social media allows your business to make the most of the holiday rush. Photo Credit: ©fotalia.com – Rawpixel    

Setting Up A Google+ page for your Business

1&1 Online Success Center -

The ability to segment your audience into different circles makes Google Plus a great platform to set up targeted posts and campaigns. But if you’re just starting out, how can get yourself up and running quickly? In this blog post I’ll reveal how to do just that. Profile setup Google Plus is linked to your Google account, so if you have not already done so, you’ll need to set one up. Once done, browse to your profile page, roll your mouse over the Home button in the left-hand corner and select Profile from the drop-down menu that appears. From here, switch to the About tab to fill in additional details about yourself, all of which will help others find and connect with you. Make sure this profile is about you rather than your business – your business’s presence is completely separate from your own. Set up a page Like Facebook, Google Plus provides ‘pages’ for businesses to advertise themselves. With your profile set up, roll your mouse over the navigation button (which will typically display Home or Profile depending on where you currently are) and choose Pages from the drop-down menu. Then it’s a case of following the step-by-step guide – first choose your business type (shop front, service area or brand), then locate your business details on Google. If they’re not already present, you can enter this information manually. The next step involves adding relevant content to the page, such as a description and contact details. You can also include a brand photo or logo here, and don’t forget to include links to your other online identities, from your blog and website to your Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn profiles. Populate with content With your Google Plus page set up, you can then start populating it with content in the same way you would post to your Facebook Page or LinkedIn profile – links, photos and video can all be used to generate interesting content. Don’t forget to look at related services – such as Google Hangouts for real-time webinar and chats with your audience. You can also share the burden of managing your page by adding other colleagues and staff as page managers. Also take the time to check out some of your competitors and influencers on Google Plus for inspirational ideas and a better overview of how you’ll be able to harness the social network to help drive your business and brand forward. Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/giorgiomagini

Tips for Choosing a Hosting Package

1&1 Online Success Center -

For many small businesses, selecting a hosting package for their website is completely new and unfamiliar territory. To make the decision much easier, and to walk you through the process, read this article for the very basics on selecting the best hosting provider for your business. Evaluate your needs The first step to determining the best hosting package for your business is to determine what you need to be successful. Understand what is necessary in terms of bandwidth and online storage to successfully manage your site, or choose a hosting provider that can properly anticipate these needs for you – and allow you to adapt as your business grows. Research your options WordPress hosting packages offered by 1&1 include the appropriate versions of PHP and MySQL – programming languages that are the building blocks of websites – to allow you to build your site easily and quickly. Additionally, you should have the choice of either a Windows or Linux hosting package. There are benefits of both, of course, but Linux might be more intuitive for installing a WordPress site, for example. Choosing the package If you are unsure – whether you are a beginner or uncertain about the specific needs of your website – it may be best to start with a basic package. Most hosting providers will allow you to change packages to meet your needs as your business expands, so there is no risk in starting small. It is also important to select a package that allows for easy back-up of Web files. To ensure continuous availability of your website, 1&1 offers automatic backup free of charge. Photo Credit: ©fotalia.com – tomasz zajda

Shared & Business Cloud Server Name Changes

The Homegrown Hosting Blog (A Small Orange) -

We have today started the process of renaming all Shared Hosting & Business Cloud Hosting servers from ‘name.asmallorange.com’ over to ‘name.asoshared.com’. Fear not though as the old naming pointers on asmallorange.com will remain in place so that user bookmarks to WHM, cPanel and Webmail continue to function as expected. If you currently have mail clients configured to access e-mail services with the server host name using SSL/TLS, you may receive a certificate mismatch error when accessing e-mail. To correct this, please update the mail server properties for your e-mail account and change the server name from ‘.asmallorange.com’ to ‘.asoshared.com’, for example ‘bacon2.asmallorange.com’ changes to ‘bacon2.asoshared.com’. These changes are intended to allow us to provide a more reliable hosting platform where we can enable additional server features tied to a servers host name, such as automatic subdomain creation for new accounts, CloudFlare DDoS filtering for attacks directed at server host names, free SSL services over server names and much more. We thank you for your understanding as we complete these changes over the next 24hours and apologize for any inconvenience that may result. Thank you for choosing A Small Orange.

Considering ITO Longevity Or MSP Agility?

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

During my 12 years at Dell there was a progressive partnership with Perot, effectively version 2.0 of EDS and an IT services provider that Dell ultimately acquired. Over time, Dell transformed from a master of commoditizing the supply chain and just-in-time inventory to a full IT outsourcing (ITO) behemoth. But there emerged a gradual evolution on the buying side: Customers did not necessarily want the gigantic monolithic multi-year and multi-million dollar contracts that often come with these large ITOs. I use Dell / Perot as the example because I experienced it first-hand. There are obviously many ITO providers that still exist today; and for globally complex IT ecosystems where IT is still viewed as a cost center and not an enabler to the business, there are plenty of opportunities for traditional fully integrated ITOs to add tremendous value. In many cases, bringing aboard an ITO can prove a positive return on investment (ROI) in 36 months, especially considering the technical debt that led to the decision to hire one in the first place. But for customers who need a swifter ROI, and even those who value return on agility (ROA), managed service providers (MSPs) are strongly considered a new and healthy alternative. And in some hybrid swing plan situations, MSPs are being asked to integrate and operate with existing ITOs until the contract comes to termination — yet another situation that I have experienced first-hand. ITOs are about managing existing and future assets, including people and processes. MSPs are all about providing service and scaling with dynamic technology. In many instances, the value of MSPs over ITOs is starting to shine through more vividly. Take, for example, this quote from an ITO customer (with their ITO vendor’s named redacted): “[Unnamed IT Outsourcer] is a piece of work. They make you go through rounds approvals if you want to disable physical cores in a server. It once took six months to modify a rule in our firewall.” Is this adding value or restricting innovation and agility? Not all cases are the same, of course, but at the end of the day it comes down to the size of the customer, the value of the contract and the length of the terms that dictate the ability to negotiate or shift directions in flight with your ITO provider. The ways of building partnerships with MSPs vary wildly. There are customers who are guarded and start with handful of low risk and non-critical tier three or four applications. Other consumers see immediate value and scale, thereby approaching MSPs in nearly a complete data center outsourcing (DCO) model seeking to host their tier I and tier II revenue-generating applications. What is striking is that there was a time when larger ITOs could make promises and deliver on SLAs of taking deployments from months to weeks. Now enterprises command provisioning cycles not in weeks but hours or even minutes. The demands of the enterprise are driven by the increasing expectations of the consumer. We all live in a world of “instant on” and we can never put that genie back in the bottle. MSPs of all shapes and sizes are now squarely in the center ring with heavier ITOs – something unheard of before where there was complete distinction years ago. MSPs now offer differentiated value propositions and are getting natively closer to software. They are also slowly outpacing the ITO in terms of domain expertise and specialty services. ITOs never would have thought MSPs would be a threat, then again neither would the MSP.

Today More than 250 New TLDs Are Available from 1&1 Internet!

1&1 Online Success Center -

With the addition of five new top-level domains this week, 1&1 now offers more than 250 new options for businesses and website owners to take advantage of a more unique and customized Web address. Today, the following new TLDs have been released for immediate registration: .CLICK – Useful for a wide range of websites, this new TLD provides the option for businesses to register a shorter and more memorable domain name, or possibly incorporate .CLICK into their business or website name. This TLD is only $4.99 for the first year. .DIET – Health food businesses, nutritionists, and even weight loss blogs can register the brand new .DIET domain extension to better brand themselves. For the first year, this new TLD can be registered for $14.99. .HELP – This new TLD could be a huge benefit to companies across many different industries, as nearly every website has a ‘help’ section for its visitors. Now, websites have the opportunity to register their name under the .HELP TLD to allow users to quickly find resources about the business, its products, etc. This TLD is $14.99 for the first year. .HOSTING – Beneficial not only for Web hosts, but any website that specializes in hosting media, for example, such as videos or photos. For the first year of registration, this new TLD is $19.99. .PROPERTY – In addition to similar real estate domain extensions to come out earlier this year, .PROPERTY provides one more opportunity for businesses to secure a relevant domain name. The TLD is $19.99 for the first year. For these, and more than 250 additional new TLD options, visit the 1&1 Domain Showroom to learn valuable information on current and upcoming domain names. Photo Credit: ©fotalia.com – bertold werkmann

RackConnect v3: The Hybrid Cloud Gets More Sophisticated (Monocle Not Included)

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci A vital component of Fanatical Support is the ability to simplify the sometimes-complex technical concepts that inhabit our industry. While our Managed Cloud support model allows us to do the majority of IT consulting and heavy lifting, our customers must ultimately make the decisions that are going to be right for their business and their application. That is why we see our responsibility to empower our customers through education as a fundamental prerequisite to delivering truly fanatical sales, service and support experiences. However, the only thing potentially more effective than educating our customers on the technology we employ is to engineer an experience that makes using technology seamless and simple. This level of sophistication was an early goal of the RackConnect team and is one of the key improvements to the latest iteration of RackConnect v3. Complexity, be gone “RackConnect v3 shifts complexity away from the user experience and towards software and automation, where it belongs,” explains Matt Shover, Senior Manager of Operations for RackConnect. There are a number of examples where RackConnect exhibits this level of automation to insulate the user against complexity, but one of the clearest illustrations is the new seamless Cloud Server provisioning process. In previous versions, adding a Cloud Server to your hybrid cloud configuration required the instance to be created first, and then a person or a script would log in to configure it to communicate with the rest of your devices. Not only was this inefficient and cumbersome, but it also created a weak point in the process susceptible to build failures. RackConnect v3 successfully eliminates this tedious step by configuring a new Cloud Server while it is being provisioned on the hypervisor, which means that all new instances are contributing resources to your workload as soon as it comes online. Not only does this reduce the potential for build failures, but it also speeds up scalability by reducing the post-build configuration time to zero. A true API In a previous blog post Chris Kuehl, the principal architect behind RackConnect, explained that in many ways this latest iteration “is the realization of the original vision for RackConnect.” This includes extending RackConnect’s automation capabilities by creating more tools for developers and DevOps engineers that wish to control their hybrid footprints programmatically. “Previously, the only way customers could interact with RackConnect for Load Balancing pool memberships was through Cloud Servers metadata key value pairs” explains Eric Webb, Senior Manager for RackConnect Software Development. “This was an interim solution that created a difficult experience, especially things such as communicating status back to customers via metadata keys. Instead of continuing this, we moved all of the interaction to a true public API that returns back proper response codes and allows for changes to be made after the Cloud Server has been created.” A better experience for customers and Rackers Lastly, while the benefit of simplifying a user experience might seem obvious, one of the more discreet benefits is an improved support experience. Simply put, when we make things easier for customers, we also make it easier for the Rackers responsible for delivering 24×7 Fanatical Support. This increased efficiency is especially evident in the streamlined implementation process for new RackConnect customers. When first introduced in 2010, implementing RackConnect was a very manual process. It required several days and multiple people to set up a single hybrid cloud configuration. Today, thanks to an improved design and automation, setting up RackConnect rarely requires any cabling to be done in the data center. This creates a process that is easy to track, evaluate and optimize, ensuring the highest level of service delivery. In general, better design and a long list of best practices adopted by a veteran RackConnect team has resulted in a more stable and resilient platform that can adapt to highly complex and demanding workloads. If you’d like to learn how you can benefit from the sophisticated side of the hybrid cloud, visit http://www.rackspace.com/cloud/hybrid/rackconnect/.

Key Tactics For Creating Landing Pages That Convert

Pickaweb Blog -

A landing page is a dynamic portal for users to become more engaged with your business. It can be a way for them to get onto your client list or to become buying customers. A landing page is the web page potential customers see after clicking a call to action link on a web page, […] The post Key Tactics For Creating Landing Pages That Convert appeared first on Web Hosting Blog | Pickaweb.co.uk. Related posts: Marketing automation for Small Business – free or low-cost systems A Marketing Automation Tool helps the Management automate the processes... Top 5 Ways to Create an Unforgettable Product Launch If you’re thinking of creating a new product for your... How to Increase your Sales with a Sales Funnel (the easy way) … Practical Steps to Increase your Sales with a Sales Funnel...

The CryptoPHP Infection – A Story About Getting Paid Themes and Plugins for Free

SiteGround Blog -

A few of our email servers went wild sending spam this weekend. After quickly fixing the spam issue, we started the longer process of identifying the cause for the spam. It turned out to be the CryptoPHP infection (check out the official whitepaper), activated through a few WordPress themes and plugins. What is CryptoPHP infection? The CryptoPHP infection was detected a long time ago, but seems to have been more frequently exploited over the last few months. Hackers who use that method to exploit websites, take paid WordPress, Joomla and Drupal themes and extensions, remove the code blocks that verify a certain extension/theme is licensed, and then distribute them for free. Such versions of extensions/themes are called nulled scripts. The modified themes/extensions usually contain malicious code that provides full access to the infected sites to the hacker. Inside a nulled theme/extension there is a line of code that looks similar to this: <?php include('assets/images/social.png'); ?> Most PHP developers will immediately notice that this code block looks strange. The PHP directive includes a file, which should contain PHP code. However, in this case the file is an image and it contains malicious code, which is usually obfuscated. The malicious code is used for various purposes like black-hat SEO attacks and other, such as on our servers, sending spam. What we did? First, we scanned our servers to identify how many sites were infected and we limited the access to the nulled scripts. This means that such malicious files will not run as expected on our servers and hackers will not be able to use them to access sites hosted on our infrastructure. Second, we are in the process of applying a server-wide protection to make sure any future attempts like the CryptoPHP infection are prevented. What You should do? As we cannot establish the full scope of the damages that the infection might have incurred, we sent an email to all infected users asking them to do two things: Check the list of users to their applications for admins they do not recognize and delete them. The admin user has full access to your site and if that user is not created by you for a trusted person, it is most probably created by the hacker. Run an audit of your websites for possible backdoors left by the hackers, which means – look for unknown files that are not supposed to be on your account. We also strongly recommend you never to download free extensions and themes that are supposed to be paid. No matter what type of software you download, make sure you do it from a reputable source. We also encourage you to share the information about this vulnerability and why using free themes that are supposed to be paid is not a good idea. This will help create awareness and protect more websites from the infection.

The CryptoPHP Infection – A Story About Getting Paid Themes and Plugins for Free

SiteGround Blog -

A few of our email servers went wild sending spam this weekend. After quickly fixing the spam issue, we started the longer process of identifying the cause for the spam. It turned out to be the CryptoPHP infection (check out the official whitepaper), activated through a few WordPress themes and plugins. What is CryptoPHP infection? The CryptoPHP infection was detected a long time ago, but seems to have been more frequently exploited over the last few months. Hackers who use that method to exploit websites, take paid WordPress, Joomla and Drupal themes and extensions, remove the code blocks that verify a certain extension/theme is licensed, and then distribute them for free. Such versions of extensions/themes are called nulled scripts. The modified themes/extensions usually contain malicious code that provides full access to the infected sites to the hacker. Inside a nulled theme/extension there is a line of code that looks similar to this: <?php include('assets/images/social.png'); ?> Most PHP developers will immediately notice that this code block looks strange. The PHP directive includes a file, which should contain PHP code. However, in this case the file is an image and it contains malicious code, which is usually obfuscated. The malicious code is used for various purposes like black-hat SEO attacks and other, such as on our servers, sending spam. What we did? First, we scanned our servers to identify how many sites were infected and we limited the access to the nulled scripts. This means that such malicious files will not run as expected on our servers and hackers will not be able to use them to access sites hosted on our infrastructure. Second, we are in the process of applying a server-wide protection to make sure any future attempts like the CryptoPHP infection are prevented. What You should do? As we cannot establish the full scope of the damages that the infection might have incurred, we sent an email to all infected users asking them to do two things: Check the list of users to their applications for admins they do not recognize and delete them. The admin user has full access to your site and if that user is not created by you for a trusted person, it is most probably created by the hacker. Run an audit of your websites for possible backdoors left by the hackers, which means – look for unknown files that are not supposed to be on your account. We also strongly recommend you never to download free extensions and themes that are supposed to be paid. No matter what type of software you download, make sure you do it from a reputable source. We also encourage you to share the information about this vulnerability and why using free themes that are supposed to be paid is not a good idea. This will help create awareness and protect more websites from the infection.

Name.com should look pretty awesome on your phone now

Name.com Blog -

Over the past few months our team has been hard at work behind the scenes to completely rebuild Name.com one page at a time. Why? We want to give our customers the best user experience when searching for, buying, and managing domains … especially on mobile devices. Right: Jon Liu. Left: A horse. If you work on the web you’ve probably already noticed that smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices are taking over the world. In October 2014 the total number of connected mobile devices in the world grew to just over 7.2 billion—greater than the entire human population. These incredible devices empower users more than ever. They give us instant access to information, make it easy to interact on social media, and allow us to order domains and horse head masks over the internet. Mobile traffic on the web has grown as well, from an average of about 1.56% of global web traffic in 2010 to over 33% in 2014. At the current pace, mobile web usage will overtake desktop usage sometime in early 2016. Here at Name.com we saw our own mobile traffic double in just the past two years, and we knew that we weren’t giving our mobile customers the best mobile experience. Our primary business is providing domain names, and we knew we wanted to focus efforts and energy on our own website instead of spending resources on our aging and outdated native apps. We took a long hard look at what resources we had available and how we wanted to move forward as a company with our own mobile strategy. We decided that our best approach was a mobile-first responsive web design that would adapt to any device and work on any web connected platform. The web is responsive by design. Don’t ask how do I make this site responsive; ask how I KEEP it responsive. @adactio #RWD #aeasf — Jeffrey Zeldman (@zeldman) November 18, 2014 Name.com was originally built with—as software engineering director Dave McBreen calls it— “A beautiful table-based layout.” It was recently updated using the Bootstrap 2 framework for our front-end. It was a pretty easy decision to use Bootstrap 3 as our mobile-first responsive framework, but unfortunately, Bootstrap 3 is not backwards compatible with v2.x, so our team had to manually edit every page (close to 800 files) on our website and re-write the code to work with the new framework. It ended up being a really great exercise for us, since we were able to identify and clean out many old pages and resources that we no longer needed (and weren’t worth updating).  After a few months of scraping pages, writing and rewriting code, and testing the bejeezus out of the site, we finally pushed the full end-to-end mobile-optimized website out the door. If you’re visiting Name.com on a desktop size browser it might look the same as it did before, but if you’re on a mobile device or smaller screen you should see something a bit different that still feels like Name.com. Is it perfect? Not even close. There’s still a few pages on our site that are in a separate legacy code base and need some extra attention before they become mobile-friendly. We know there’s still a lot we can do to make the Name.com better for our users and we are going to keep working on it. As technology continues to evolve and change, so will we. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be implementing GPS-based domain searches or use cameras and sensors to find that perfect domain name. We’re already working on a few top secret projects that could make building your own website and managing your domains faster, cheaper, and easier than ever. So go ahead and give it a spin on your mobile device or tablet and find that perfect domain you’ve always wanted. We’re here to help if you have questions at support@name.com or (720) 249-2374. *Want to get more specific about the nitty gritty technical details? Leave a comment below or send a tweet to @mrjonliu and I’ll do my best to answer any questions.  

Informative Panel Discussion at the First Ever 1&1 BurgerBreak in NYC!

1&1 Online Success Center -

Last week, 1&1 Internet held its very first “BurgerBreak” at David Burke Kitchen in New York City. A networking platform for NYC journalists and bloggers, members of the media were invited to take a break from the busy holiday preparations and join 1&1 for a fun, enlightening night out. Not only did participants indulge in delicious burgers crafted by Iron Chef David Burke, but they also experienced an informative panel discussion and valuable conversations with 1&1 team members. Ramon Ray, a reputable small business evangelist and founder of SmallBizTechnology.com, moderated a 30-minute discussion surrounding the night’s theme of the “Digital Divide.” Addressing the disconnect between what consumers are demanding from SMBs online and what businesses are actually delivering, attendees responded very well to the points addressed. Panelists included: - Brian Costello, 1&1 Business Developer/Partner Manager - Lauren Cucinotta, Director of Community for Decoded – Decoded is a company offering accelerated learning experiences in code, data, and cyber security for professionals - Edward Hasicka, Entrepreneur, 1&1 customer, and owner of NEXT PERFECT HOME – NPH is a successful real estate firm servicing the five NYC boroughs Supporting the Digital Divide, insightful research from 1&1 sparked dialog throughout the night. Some key findings of this study include: - 45% of consumers prefer businesses to have a mobile website but 63% of businesses are failing to make this effort (as identified by consumers). - The top three biggest business social media blunders are: not responding to comments (63%), abandoning a social page once it is created (39%), and flooding newsfeeds (38%). - 35-44 year-olds are most aware of businesses using social media and more likely than other age groups to prefer it. Stay tuned for exclusive video of the panel discussion, as well as interviews with the individual panelists!

Rethinking People Costs In Enterprise IT

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

“Employees are a company’s greatest asset—they’re your competitive advantage” is an often-repeated phrase attributed to former chairperson and CEO of Xerox, Anne M. Mulcahy. Yet how well does your organization understand the true costs of this significant asset, particularly those working for your business in IT? In our newly available Rethinking People Costs in Enterprise IT white paper, we offer a financial perspective to help businesses consider how to evolve IT from a traditional cost center into a source of innovation. The paper compares the total annual payroll cost and person-hours for five administrators required to run an on-premises system with complex database and storage requirements to the same application running on outsourced infrastructure hosted off-premises by a service provider. And the findings may surprise you! By migrating workloads to a managed cloud, companies can both reduce CapEx on equipment, infrastructure upgrades and data center facilities, as well as reallocate IT personnel from routine “keeping the lights on” work to the development and deployment of agile, customer-facing systems. This second benefit can help drive revenue growth. Why does this matter? For starters, IT is changing interactions. Businesses need to build new systems to engage with customers and the IT team is at the forefront of driving these new approaches. But to be more agile and deliver better solutions—at the same or lower costs—requires intelligent reallocation of IT spend. Financial and payback details about how businesses can spend the same amount of money—but more strategically in order to increase the speed of innovation—are available in our SlideShare presentation. If you are struggling with how to reallocate IT staff to innovation, our Rackspace consultants have years of experience helping businesses gain better financial perspective on IT labor in the new era of agile IT. Contact us to understand how “doing IT fast,” including supporting prototyping, iterative development and rapid delivery, plus enabling continuous and process-based governance can get you closer to your customers and add value to your business. [1]Marcus Blosch and Saul Brand, “Gartner’s 2013 CIO Survey Provides Keys to EA Success,” Gartner, 19 July 2013.  

Let Your Email Strategy Complement Your Social Activity

1&1 Online Success Center -

The good thing is that it’s not a case of choosing social media or email when it comes to marketing, but combining the best bits of both. Social media gives you access to a whole new audience above and beyond your email subscriber lists, and because so much of it is based around personal recommendations and endorsements (such as Facebook Likes), you’re giving your brand the best possible introduction, which could in turn lead to new subscribers. Social media is more than just a tool for growing your email list, however – it’s a tool for building relationships, and by engaging directly with your customers through the likes of Twitter and Facebook, you encourage more interest and involvement in return, which builds relevance and anticipation without significantly increasing the cost to your business. It can even be used to build user-generated content for your brand as well as encourage feedback, content sharing, and a sense of community. The key thing is to define a strategy that combines the best of both elements – there’s no point using email and social media in isolation, or simply replicating one strategy across both fields with the same content appearing across all of your channels. Instead, try these six tips to help develop your perfect email/social media marketing strategy. Improve navigation: it’s important that people can easily travel between your email, website and social media networks. Make sure there are clearly labelled and visible buttons on all of these to simplify and encourage people to move between them – also don’t forget to include links to your email opt-in programs on your social media sites. Search Google for “free social media icon set” to find hundreds of examples that will work with templates to match any style. Encourage customers to use social media as a means of providing ratings, reviews and feedback. This content can be used – with permission – to drive email subscribers to specific products based on their popularity or rating. Avoid replication – take one basic message, then make sure it’s split into different strands to take advantages of the strengths of each channel while ensuring a consistent on-brand message permeates through everything. You could, for example, post details of a new product on your website, generate buzz through announcing it through Facebook and Twitter, then use your email list to distribute the best discounts and vouchers. Then, use your email to encourage feedback, which is posted through Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you track how your customers use each channel. You may discover the overlap between channels isn’t as great as you thought. It also helps to know which social media sites are most popular among your customers – what tools can you use to quickly and easily track qualitative results? Your email provider should be able to track clicks for you, letting you see how many people have clicked a specific social media button. Remember that people signing up for email through social media may expect a different kind of experience than your existing subscribers – look to provide more education, personality and peer-recommendation in your messages to these subscribers. Tailor your preference center to include social media options – some customers might prefer to limit email to order-related information, so giving them the choice of receiving promotional material via social media networks or SMS will be helpful. Make it easy for people to find your preference center too – via your Facebook page, for example. Photo Credit: ©fotalia.com – arrow

Don’t Let Black Friday And Cyber Monday Take You Down

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

By Eric Boisjoli, Co-Founder, Bold Innovation Group Ltd. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast approaching. These two days are historically the busiest online shopping days of the year. We learned our lesson on Black Friday 2013 when we and almost 200 other apps on the Shopify platform suffered outages and service disruptions do to our servers not being able to handle the traffic explosion. Bold Apps is an ecommerce app developer. We develop and offer innovative Shopify Apps to help ecommerce sellers make more money in their online stores. Our suite of 14 Shopify Apps includes Product Discount, Product Upsell and Quantity Breaks, and we have more in development. Tune in here at 3 p.m. Monday, November 24 for a live Google Hangout and hear directly from Bold Apps about last minute steps to prep for Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Needless to say, when our apps went down on Black Friday it was a major blow. That day we left that hosting provider and found a partner that can help us stand up to the traffic influx these high traffic days bring. We moved to the Rackspace Managed Cloud and we were up and running for the rest of the weekend and Cyber Monday. And with Rackspace’s help we’re ready for whatever Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2014 throw our way (which could be huge, as the National Retail Federation estimates online sales will grow 8 percent to 11 percent this holiday season). We’re working with our Rackspace team to prepare our apps for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2014 to ensure they scale to meet demand and that we have immediate support if something goes awry. We recently outlined some of our top tips to help your app survive Black Friday and Cyber Monday on the Shopify blog. Here are some of the steps we’ve taken to ensure Black Friday and Cyber Monday are bright days for Bold Apps: We split up our database, web, batch and file storage processes so any piece of the application can be scaled up individually. This means that if you get a lot of web requests, you can simply add a few extra web servers. Or, if your batch processes are piling up, you can add another server to process the batch queue. We use a load balancer to split up the requests among all of our web servers. We use ScaleArc, which specializes in database caching and efficiency, to load balance and add caching to the database level. We added a batch level to our applications to keep our web requests snappy. Essentially, our web servers capture the data and queue up work, then the batch server comes in and picks up items in the queue to process. We developed our own method to queue and process the batch requests equally across all of our batch servers. We use application performance management and analytics solutions from New Relic to monitor our servers and apps. New Relic also helps us identify bottlenecks and slow sections in our apps. And we can set alerts to be notified if our apps experience any issues. We use CloudFlare, a CDN and DNS provider that speeds up and protects web sites, to add a level of caching to static files helps to reduce the requests that are sent to our servers. Now we don’t have to serve up all the content all the time, and our servers will have more resources available to handle the more complicated requests. We implement a “code freeze” on our production servers two weeks before Black Friday through after Cyber Monday to reduce the risk of a bad release. (We only lift the freeze in the case of an emergency fix.) Along with these technical steps, we’ve beefed up our customer support to ensure we’re available to help our customers during peak holiday traffic hours, and we’ve notified our customers of what they can expect and the steps we’ve taken to ensure their success. These steps will help us and our apps have a successful holiday shopping season. But as with anything, there are always unknowns. As you prepare for the holidays, ask yourself what would happen if your app went down or if you had a traffic spike of more than 10x. And also ensure you have a backup plan in case of an emergency. The holiday season is a happy time – don’t let downtime destroy your reputation. Want to hear more about how Bold Apps is preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Tune in to our Cloud Office Hours Hangout at 3 p.m. Monday, November 24 and hear directly from team Bold Apps. Watch it live on Google+ here: https://plus.google.com/events/cbp0jp6iq3v7fugev5nud076rok or on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gnHL6xiNb4.

Holiday Sales - How to Keep Up

iPage Blog -

Holiday Sales - How to Keep Up   If November and December are crucial months for your business you will need a strategy for the holiday sales. But where should you start? What discounts should you offer? How are you going to tell people? And how are you going to make sure your offering is heard above the noise? Here are some tips on how to keep up in the mad dash for customers that is the holiday sales.   Think of it like preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 unexpected guests. They won’t get a gourmet meal with unique twists and exotic dishes. But they will get a good meal and good company if you focus on things that are:   a)      Within your control b)      Important   Analyze your statistics   Okay, this is the boring tip. But it is important. What worked well for you last year and, more importantly, what didn't work? What has been popular this year and how has the market changed over recent months? What are your competitors doing and what are businesses that are similar to yours doing in other parts of the country?   These are all important questions to answer, so find out as much information as you can.   Focus on existing customers   Rather than spending time and money trying to find new customers during the holiday sales, you should focus on your existing ones. Give those existing customers good and highly personalized special offers and discounts. You can contact them by social media or by email. This is about focus, not exclusivity. You shouldn’t ignore new customers, but your sales will come quicker if you put some of your efforts into squeezing new dollars out of existing and previous customers.   Think mobile   Mobile devices are incredibly important for online businesses. This applies to businesses that are exclusively online and to those that have a bricks-and-mortar presence as well. Customers use their mobile devices to look up contact details and to look for information, but they also use them for comparison shopping. There is a huge current trend of consumers researching online and then going into a physical store to make their purchase.   If you don’t have a mobile version of your website you should get one. You are probably too late for this year, but the preparation is good for next year.   And there are still things you can do this year. Think about what your customers do on their mobiles. If they are looking for your address or telephone number, make it easy to find. If they are looking for information, give it to them. And if they are looking for offers make sure those offers are easy to find and easy to read.   The iPage Holiday Dash feature has more ideas on how you can optimize your website to increase sales.   Target your discounts   It is probably best to avoid universal discounts during the holiday sales. Instead you should select some products or services and apply discounts on them. This will allow you to hold the profit margin on your other items while still offering your customers something interesting.   Don’t compete on price when there is an alternative   Some people and businesses treat the internet as a blunt instrument, i.e. stack it high and sell it cheap. But that sort of business model doesn’t suit everyone. In fact it would actually damage consumer choice in the long run.   If it doesn’t suit your business then don’t follow this policy, even during the big holiday sales. You are probably thinking that is crazy – why would someone buy something from you if you are more expensive than your competitors? Well, they won’t, unless you give them a reason.   So, instead of competing on price, give your customers something more. Offer free returns, free shipping or next day delivery. You could also include free gift-wrapping, or give a better warranty on your products.   In other words, you should do something that makes your products or services stand out, while protecting your profit margins.   You can do all the things on this list quickly and without any technical expertise, but you will have to start now. Metaphorically speaking, the turkey is in the oven.   For more advice look at our 5 Tips to Attract Last Minute Holiday Shoppers or Getting Your Online Store Ready Tips. Want even more advice? Website Prep Tips for the Holidays and Black Friday/ Cyber Monday Tips.

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