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cPanel Security 101   1 comment

Posted at Dec 20, 2016 @ 10:15am Web hosting

cPanel Security 101

cPanel provides convenient server access and a user-friendly interface for managing your website. However, like any online environment, it has several potential security problems. As a responsible webmaster, it’s up to you to recognize these vulnerabilities and take steps to close any loopholes hackers could use to access your server or site. Take charge and manage critical access points with these eight cPanel security tips.

 

Create Strong Passwords

From the main cPanel portal to individual email accounts, every login point needs a strong, secure password. Guidelines for length vary, and some sources suggest as many as 14 characters to ensure protection. Longer passwords allow for more complex combinations of numbers, symbols and upper- and lower-case letters. Use a different password for accessing cPanel, FTP, email management and other secure areas, making sure none of them contain obvious information such as phone numbers or birthdays.

If you have trouble coming up with enough different combinations, try an online password generator. A password manager is useful for keeping track of your login information for all of cPanel so that you don’t have to look up each password every time you sign on.

 

Install a Firewall

A firewall lets you access cPanel while keeping unauthorized users out. Think of it as a border patrol for your server, constantly checking to ensure only the right people get through. ConfigServer Security and Firewall (CSF) is a popular firewall application for cPanel designed to serve this purpose. It scans the system on a regular basis and checks authentication logs to keep your site safe from hackers at all times. CSF also provides feedback on how to make your server more secure overall. Since more is better when it comes to security, check these reports and make any necessary changes as soon as possible.

 

Be a “Brute”

Although a firewall can prevent hackers from gaining access to your site, it won’t stop them from trying to log in. Brute force protection is a feature of cPanel used to block IP addresses after multiple failed login attempts. Found in the Security Center section, this option is easy to enable and customize. Use the IP Deny Manager to manually input IP addresses known to be malicious so that they’re never allowed to log on.

You can customize the brute force option, known as cPHulk, by setting how many minutes the tool monitors for repeated logins, the maximum number of failed logins allowed and how long each IP ban stays in place.

 

Stop Anonymous FTP Access

With anonymous FTP, anyone can log in to your site via FTP with only a username and a generic password. This may be useful for sharing files with a large number of people, but it’s like an open door to hackers. When all users can gain access to your server through such a simple process, every file becomes subject to tampering.

Set your FTP preferences to allow only for SSL logins, and require a password to be entered each time. The setting can be found under FTP Server Configuration in cPanel.

 

Make SSH Secure

Secure shell (SSH) is a convenient way to access your site from a remote location. Unfortunately, it can also provide an entry point for hackers. Information sent through SSH is authenticated and encrypted to prevent outside manipulation, so malicious users can’t touch it unless they break through your security measures.

The default port of 22 is the most common setting for SSH access. Changing it to another available port and implementing a security key for logins minimizes the risk of being hacked. Switch the settings from SSH1 to SSH2 for additional protection.

 

Protect Against Hotlinking

Hotlinking is the practice of linking an image or file on one server directly to a page on a remote website. Some people do this in ignorance, assuming the easiest way to embed an image is to use the original link, but it’s generally considered a bad practice. Hotlinked files use bandwidth from your site every time someone accesses them, and this has the potential to overload your servers if too many requests are made.

The Security section of cPanel offers hotlinking protection. Simply enable the setting to prevent third parties from linking to your files. Add an extra layer of security by specifying certain file extensions you don’t want to be hotlinked.

 

Tweak Your Settings

While you’re taking care of the larger security issues in cPanel, make sure you don’t neglect less common settings. Open Tweak Settings under Server Configuration to access an entire list of other possible security measures. With this checklist, you can:

• Help prevent the sending of unauthorized emails, including spam
• Shut down potential email attacks
• Block malicious referrals or redirects from hijacking your site
• Stop the generation of proxy domains
• Require IP validation for cookies
• Set up an additional security token for cPanel access

Enabling these supplemental security settings helps address any remaining vulnerabilities and keep hackers at bay.

 

Stay Updated

Your web host should have automatic cPanel updates in place. If not, go to Update Preferences in the Server Configuration area and enable the setting yourself. Old versions of software, including cPanel, may contain security vulnerabilities hackers can use to access your server. Automatic updates ensure you’re always running the latest version of cPanel with any associated security patches and bug fixes. Go back and check once and a while to confirm updates are running as they should. If not, update manually and contact your web host to find out why the setting isn’t working.

Security is one area of website management where you should never cut corners to save time or effort. The smartest thing you can do is implement proper security measures for cPanel as soon as your hosting account is set up. Don’t wait until disaster strikes or assume the security promised by your web host is enough. Take proactive measures to keep hackers out and stay in control of your cPanel environment.

 

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Written by David Maurer on December 20th, 2016

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8 Tips to Get Your Website Ready for the Holidays   1 comment

Posted at Nov 1, 2016 @ 10:10am Holidays,Web hosting

holiday-ready

As the holiday season draws near, it’s time to start thinking about updating your website to capitalize on the increased traffic that often accompanies this time of year. Satisfied customers and a successful holiday season will make any business owner smile, and your website can play a big role in making that happen. Taking extra time to prepare now is a good way to avoid technical problems and other issues during the holidays.

 

Optimize for Mobile Devices

Thanks to the growth of smartphones and other mobile digital devices, online shoppers don’t have to be chained to their computer desks to check off purchases from their holiday shopping lists. Developing a simple and functional theme specifically for your mobile users can increase your potential customer base. The easiest way to do this is to make use of responsive designs. With a responsive design, your website will modify itself automatically to create the optimal layout for the customer’s mobile device; these designs can accommodate both smartphones and tablets. Due to the smaller screen size typical of mobile devices you probably won’t be able to maintain the exact same design from your desktop version, but you can still use the same branding and color scheme.

 

Improve Your Website’s Loading Time

You may want a website with all the latest bells and whistles, but consider your website’s performance before you load it up with high-resolution graphics and elaborate scripts. Sluggish loading times on your website frustrate your customers and may encourage them to shop elsewhere. Before the holidays start, have your technical support team run tests on your website to see how fast each page loads for the average user. Changes to your design, such as reducing large images and eliminating complex coding scripts, can help your website perform better. You can also opt for a better hosting package for your website to see even more improvement in loading speeds.

 

Secure Customer Data

Shopping online is always risky; some websites don’t safeguard customers’ data properly, putting these individuals at risk for identity theft and other issues. Investing in robust security software is a good way to protect your customers’ important data. Your technical support staff should keep apprised of the latest developments in online security to help your customers stay safe. To help alleviate your customers’ concerns, you can include information on your website about the security protocols that you use and offer tips on how your customers can shop online safely.

 

Offer Friendly Customer Support

Browser problems, incorrect stock levels and missing orders are just some of the common customer issues your staff will need to work through. Having enough staff on hand is an essential ingredient to helping your website survive the holidays. If possible, offer a live chat support option to those who are currently browsing your website. Keep an eye on your social media profiles in case a customer tries to reach you through those networks. Some customers may prefer to use email to get in touch with you; using a ticket system to handle incoming customer emails is a good way to keep track of issues. Help your staff to cultivate a customer-centric attitude, and try to anticipate common problems so that you can develop solutions ahead of time.

 

Boost Your Search Engine Presence

Improving your search engine rankings before the holidays begin can help fuel your success during the holiday rush. There are many ways to help boost your search engine rankings, starting with updating older pages on your website; offering fresh information to your visitors is a good way to impress search engines and show that your website is active. Adding special features, such as a blog, can also help. If your blog content is particularly noteworthy, you can expect more traffic to head your way. Your blog content should offer something useful to readers, such as tips for using your products.

 

Prepare a Festive Look

A festive design for your website encourages your customers to start thinking about the holidays. You don’t need to spend excessive money on a festive look; changing some pictures and making some cosmetic changes, such as altering the font color, can help dress up your website. Your holiday look should also include banners displaying any specials you plan to run, including discount codes.

 

Brush Up Your Social Media Presence

Social media networks offer an excellent way to connect with individual customers, generate buzz about your products and direct traffic to your website. Don’t let your social media networks sit unused with only a link to your website; update them frequently and interact with your customers. Make sure your profile on each platform matches so that you have cohesive branding. As the holidays draw near, using social media to announce your specials will help you get more interest from potential customers.

 

Beef Up Your Website’s Server

If your website is unable to handle massive amounts of traffic at once, a crowd of shoppers on big sales days could lead to sluggish performance or an outright crash. Major server problems are not something to be taken lightly; investing in the right server infrastructure for your expected traffic is a good way to avoid these issues. Shared hosting can work for you if your business is small. If your customer base is larger, you might need a dedicated server to keep your website afloat during the holidays. Dedicated hosting costs more than shared hosting, but your site won’t be at the mercy of problems caused by other sites on the server.

 

Examining every aspect of your website before the holidays arrive can help you prepare a strategy to improve customer satisfaction and your own business success. A good website requires many things, including fast loading times, quality customer service and security. Working on these elements early can ensure that your website is ready long before your customers even start to think about tackling their holiday shopping lists with your business.

 

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Written by David Maurer on November 1st, 2016

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The 12 Scams of Christmas, 2010   no comments

Posted at Dec 14, 2010 @ 3:18pm Web hosting

Time for family, friends, food, presents, festivities and crime! Last year I wrote about the 12 scams of Christmas, and got a lot of positive feedback. So, I decided to write an updated 12 scams list for 2010, with help from the folks over at McAfee. Unfortunately, scams always seem to ramp up with everything else around the holidays. Be sure to watch out for these tricks to keep yourself safe this holiday season.

Scam 1: Free iPads
You’ve undoubtedly already seen links for free iPad offers this holiday season, and hopefully you haven’t fallen prey. With the iPad topping the charts for the most sought after new tech gadget, these scams are sure to ramp up as the big day approaches. This scam is rampant on social media sites where visitors are asked to take a survey for a free iPad. Be wary of any survey that asks you to submit any personal information. Often these will ask for your cell phone number and then will bill you for $10/week.

Scam 2: Social Networking – A Cybercriminal “Wants to be Your Friend”
I know how flattering it is to think perfect strangers want to be friends, but beware. This year there are more fake profiles than ever. These scammers are out to install malware on your PC and steal your password. And you just wanted to be friends!

Scam 3: Charity Phishing Scams – Be Careful Who You Give To
It’s a low down, dirty game but this scam hits you when you deserve it the least (not that you ever deserve it, but you know what I mean). Watch out for emails claiming to be from a charitable organization. They might contain links to fake websites set up to steal your donations and/or personal information.

Scam 4: Fake Gift Cards
Gift cards are extremely popular this year—in fact we ran our own gift card promotion in September. Like many other scams, fake gift card offers ask for your personal information. When in doubt, DON’T PROVIDE IT. Stay safe.

Scam 5: Help Me Overseas!
This variation on the overseas needy gets personal when scam artists hack into email accounts and send fake distress messages to family and friends. The scammers ask for wired money, claiming dire straits in foreign lands. Before sending money, give your loved one a call and make sure they really need help.

Scam 6: Fake Job Offers
This is a real heartbreaker—fake job offers targeting the out-of-work and desperate. You’ve likely encountered plenty of these scams on classified sites and otherwise legitimate job listing sites. Any time you see the words “work at home” or “I made x amount of dollars in one week” or anything else that seems too good to be true, IT IS. Avoid these scams at all costs, and protect your personal information!

Scam 7: Smishing
This silly word refers to a very serious crime. Smishing is phishing via SMS text messages sent directly to your phone. They appear to come from a retailer or your bank, and have already fooled many consumers who aren’t used to receiving spam on their phones.

Scam 8: Holiday Rentals
Many people are looking for nice rental properties for their families during the holiday season. Never send anyone a down payment unless you’re sure they’re legitimate. Use rental sites with consumer protection, and be sure to google names and locations for more information. Often, people that have been duped before you will post their experiences online to protect future consumers. Make the most of this early alarm system.

Scam 9:  The Dangers of Holiday E-Cards
Happy Holidays! Celebrate with the gift of malware. ‘Tis the season! This scam was popular last year too, and apparently it works because it’s making the list again. Beware.

Scam 10: The Recession Money Scams
This is another one that’s been around for years: low-interest and pay day loans. Don’t buy the hype: free money isn’t free! Pay-in-advance credit cards are another popular one this year.

Scam 11: Holiday-Themed Downloads
Downloads are the easiest way for cyber criminals to install malware on your computer. Be wary of holiday screensavers, apps, jingles and animations, even if the link is sent by a friend. Scammers are increasingly using the names and information they collect to target friends and family members of the stolen addressee. It’s a sad thing, but you really can’t trust anyone—even people you know.

Scam 12: Price Traps
Any time you see a deal for something you want at a price far below market, beware. Many cyber criminals are using popular classified sites to post fake deals for popular brands. Always make sure the URL of the website you’re on corresponds with the company.

Yikes!

It’s a scary Internet out there but you can protect yourself by keeping your security software up to date and your wits about you. Avoid strange links, don’t open weird attachments, and keep your chin up!

We hope you have a safe, happy and crime-free holiday!

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Written by admin on December 14th, 2010

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Driving Traffic   1 comment

Posted at May 19, 2010 @ 1:11pm TurnKey Marketing

The first step in driving traffic to your business website is to create a compelling  site that is logically laid out. Invest some time and money into creating a site that reflects your business philosophy and business goals. Make contacting you easy, and streamline the shopping and check-out process – the faster the process, the more sales you will make. Once you have the site ready, here are some techniques for bringing people to it:

  • Brand your product and website consistently. Every time your brand makes an appearance, you are building your brand recognition. Keeping that brand simple and potent is the key to building your business. Don’t dilute the brand with multiple versions of your logo. Don’t dilute your brand with different website templates. Keep the look of your company consistent and it will get consistently recognized.
  • Make your website trustable. Always make sure your content is well-written, authoritative and slick. You want to instill as much trust as possible in every single visitor you get because every visitor is a potential client. Keep your security software active and updated and let your visitors know you run a secure site. If they feel like their information is safe with you, they’ll be much more willing to spend money with you.
  • Create strong business policies. Write up a solid company policy. Include return-policies, money-back guarantees, and a strong code of ethics. Display this information prominently in your website’s footer and refer to it in your advertisements. If you have a company newsletter (and you should—more on this in another blog post soon) maintain a stringent privacy policy and make it crystal clear to your subscribers how they can opt-out. Spamming is the number one absolute no-no when it comes to building consumer trust.

  • Name each of your web pages with an SEO friendly keyword. Get your webmaster to title each of your pages accurately and with an eye towards the search engines. Internal navigability is critically important but in order for it to matter, people have to be able to find your website in the first place. Titling with keywords makes your website index-able and indexing equals traffic.
  • Add as much value to your website as possible. There are many techniques for making your clients feel like they’re getting a whole lot out of their relationship with you. Affiliate programs achieve this while also helping you mobilize your traffic to build itself. Recommending links to other related content can also add value. Ideally, you want to cultivate repeat-traffic. If you serve as a kind of index or reference for your visitors, they’ll keep coming back for more. You can also offer e-books as a bonus for purchases, filling out surveys or joining your mailing list. There are e-books out there on pretty much every topic imaginable.
  • Add a favorites or “bookmark this site” script to your pages. This one is pretty self-explanatory. If visitors can easily mark your website when they visit, they will be more likely to come back in the future. Make this as painless as possible.

  • Add a “recommend this site.” Word-of-mouth is as important today as it’s ever been—maybe even more important as social networking makes us all aware of everyone else’s opinions all the time. Make it easy for visitors to recommend you to their friends and colleagues.
  • Create a “what’s new” page, or a “recent news” section. This is especially important for large sites with a lot of fresh content scattered among many pages. You want to make it as easy as possible for your visitors to check out new updates. This is important for maintaining visitor interest and for maintaining visitor participation. It is well-known that traffic expands exponentially. Popularity builds on itself.
  • Make your site SEO friendly. I touched on this earlier, and have written about it in several other blog posts. There are several SEO websites where you can learn all the dirty secrets for optimizing your site. Here is a brief rundown of the basics:

    • Title tags: These should be 60 characters, and include keywords.
    • Header tags: These are numbered from 1-7, and aren’t recognized for every search engine but, when they are, they’re important.
    • Keyword meta tags: Meta tags should be 15-20 words long (to avoid getting flagged for spamming) and should be as directly relevant to your site content as possible.
    • Text area key words: It is particularly important to include keywords in the beginning of sentences and higher up on the page, but keywords anywhere will be helpful.

  • Submit your site to search engines. It takes a whole lot longer for search engines to find your site organically, so submit it! It can be time consuming, but submitting your site to each search engine individually will yield the best results.

  • Keep on top of links and repair or delete broken ones. Dead links are a sure give-away that you’re not keeping your website up-to-date. Clean house regularly manually or with a link-checker. There are several free link-checking tools available online.

  • Conduct periodic contests. Contests are an excellent way to build traffic. Everyone loves to win something, even when it isn’t worth a lot of money. The spirit of competition is a powerful thing. Make sure you keep a running tally of the rankings, visible to the public. If you run a contest over a few days or even weeks, you will keep contestants coming back again and again to check their standings. Contests that involve voting are especially effective. Voting gets people to involve their social networks. This can lead to a huge increase in traffic in a relatively short period of time.

  • Keep content fresh. I know. I’m starting to sound like a broken record on this one, but I really can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your website current. Nobody is going to bother coming back to visit if there isn’t ever anything new to look at. It’s obvious. It’s true.
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