If you switched on your computer tomorrow morning and found that it had been hacked, what would you do?
A British Chambers of Commerce survey discovered that only a quarter of firms surveyed have security in place to guard against hacking!
This is dangerous, for any business, but especially for those companies that store financial data (whether their own or their clients' data).
Most people have heard of the high profile hacking that Yahoo and TalkTalk experienced but hacking of smaller businesses is rampant - you need to be protected - it is your responsibility to protect any data you store, whether online or on your own hard drive.
At Webgloss we never take any financial details from our clients but we still use security - mainly that supplied by GData, a German firm with a
We also back up, everything, every day - offline, not to some cyber cloud in the sky!
What would you do if you couldn't access anything on your computer tomorrow? Do you have everything you need for your business backed up? Hacking and hard drive failures happen when you least expect them and many companies have been badly affected.
Please take security and backing up seriously - one day you may be glad that you put in that extra effort.
Ok - let's sort out some confusion here over secure socket layers (SSL) for websites and whether it is actually needed.
We've had people ask us whether their website will be secure with us. They don't know precisely what they mean by 'secure' but they have read elsewhere that paying for SSL will make their website more secure and get it higher in Google listings. They are told that it is 'protected' - but they haven't been told what exactly that protection is.
To believe in SSL's 'total protection' is like believing what you read in the Daily Mail... despite the fact that the ads say '100% Protected' as in the image on the right, SSL does not protect your website from being hacked. In fact, SSL only protects against a few, very specific things, which probably don't even apply to your business website!
To begin with the Google listings topic - the difference that a SSL certificate makes for your website in the Google search engine is
positively MINISCULE. Our websites reach page 1 of Google without SSL certificates and the trials that we have done have shown some websites actually
dropping in ACTUAL VISITS because of their SSL certificates.
This is because SSL certs can make a website take longer to load - to appear. There is what is called a 'handshake' which has to happen before a website on a SSL server can load and this leads to longer load times. These days people want websites to load quickly - they are not prepared to wait. If your website takes seconds longer than they are willing to wait then they will move to your competitor's website.
So, although the website itself may be one place higher in Google (this is rarely true for all key phrases as the SSL certificate only gives the website a MINISCULE chance of getting higher in Google), you could actually get FEWER ENQUIRIES.
Does your website have a shopping cart that is not already on a SSL? Do you ask for credit card details or passwords in your contact form?
If so, then you may need SSL, but you also need to question the way your website operates because these things should not be happening on your website.
Any web designer who implements a shopping cart on a server that does not have SSL should not be web designing!
SSL servers have 2 keys, public and private, which together form an encrypted connection and they also confirm the identity of the SSL owner (ie. the website owner). This encrypted connection only secures network communication links. It only prevents 3rd parties from listening to communications between the user and the website. It does NOT stop your website from being hacked!
Most attacks on websites happen because the server is attacked. SSL does not protect against this.
The majority of other attacks are done through malware or phishing - eg. by your computer becoming infected or your password being stolen. You should use a good anti-virus program and firewall (the default firewall that comes with Windows is not the best, but that's another topic!), you should NEVER give passwords out on the phone (even if the caller sounds trustworthy) and you should avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in emails to protect against this. SSL does not protect against this.
SSL only prevents 3rd parties from listening to communications between the user and the website. So it is needed for ECommerce websites that don't go through secure servers (PayPal has its own SSL server). It is also needed for websites where sensitive information is filled in on their online contact forms, eg. credit card numbers or passwords.
So paying for a SSL server to make your website more secure is a WASTE OF MONEY unless you have an ecommerce website or you are asking people to fill in sensitive data on your contact forms.
Unfortunately many people just hear 'it's more secure'. Nothing in the world of IT is that simple - you need to dig deeper and have a better understanding of what SSL actually does.
Our websites are not on SSL servers because we don't allow credit card details or passwords to be requested on our contact forms and we use PayPal for our
ECommerce websites. Our websites have never been hacked.
I really hope that this all this makes sense to you. You need the facts, not the hype. We could easily ask you to pay more for SSL certificates for your websites but they will not help you... and so we don't.
If there is one thing that the recent cyber attacks on the NHS and elsewhere have highlighted it's the fact that many, many people do not
update their operating systems just because Microsoft brings out a new one.
For years we have noticed that most web designers design for the latest version of operating systems. What about the thousands of people who are still using Windows Vista? Millions that still use Windows XP? They do - despite the warnings they've had that it will 'no longer be supported'. They probably briefly wondered what the support was that they were now missing - because they never noticed that they were receiving any 'support'!
Gone are the days when everything was manual and people were aware of updates to their software. You buy a new computer and the operating system is set by default to update itself. You're working away and suddenly everything slows down and you have no idea why - no idea that in the background your bandwidth is being eaten up by all the automatic updates that are happening without you even knowing about them.
If you're computer savvy then maybe you check for these when you install your software and change them to manual updates - but then you have to remember to do them! At Webgloss everything is done manually. Every single 'automatic' software update is turned off and we update manually - but then we're a bunch of computer programmers and what we do doesn't reflect the actions of the majority of computer owners.
Offices are full of obselete operating systems. Software goes out of date so quickly that people just can't keep up and they mostly feel that they shouldn't have to buy something new to fund Microsoft's ever increasing income - so they stick with what they have.
And then along comes WannaCry and systems go down across the world.
I think that Microsoft should continue to support (issue updates and patches regularly) for their older operating systems - not say 'well we're just not going to support that one anymore'.
Why? Because it was their programming in the first place that created the holes in the operating systems that allow hackers in - the holes that need 'patching'. People purchased their software in good faith without knowing that it would go out of date so quickly or that it was full of programming bugs that would need fixing!
We've kept meaning to set up a Facebook page for our web design but have always been too busy!
For some reason, even though we're busier than ever, we've managed to find time to do it this month.
And so, Webgloss is finally on Facebook.
Gosh - it's addictive - I think I've gone through around a thousand Facebook pages this month. You find someone you know and then find that they have linked to someone else you know and it just goes on and on and on!
I keep hearing about how wonderful smart meters are, how we can monitor our fuel usage so easily with them and know exactly how
much we'll have to pay. I don't want one. I already have a home full of technology with routers and radio waves swimming across the rooms.
Also, I don't feel the need to add anything called 'smart' - call me cynical, but if it's called smart I immediately have my doubts about it.
Smart homes are already pretty common amongst the elite, with lights and doors and curtains, TVs and entertainment systems all controlled by the press of a button.
I'm not a fan of cloud based technology either. If they hadn't called it 'the cloud' then perhaps I wouldn't find it so distasteful. It's just that everytime someone mentions the cloud, I want to scream that it's just a series of servers with some pretty fancy networking. It's not actually in the sky!
Recently, the problems associated with so much being 'networked' to so few became obvious to many. One of the largest companies supplying 'smart' technology had a few problems. Amazon Web Services provides cloud computing services (most cloud servers are owned by Amazon, Microsoft or Google and in 1 year Amazon Web Services made over 3.1 billion US dollars!).
Anyway, their 'outage' had a nasty knock on effect and everything came tumbling down. Smart homes stopped working, people were walking around in the dark, a huge section of the 'cloud' became unusable, websites went offline and apps stopped working.
When so much is 'linked' together there are catastrophic results when just one thing goes wrong.
I think I'll just keep giving smart technology a miss!
It's always amazing, even after all these years, when you read about what advances in technology can achieve for improving health. We all wish there was more
money put into government research, instead of private individuals having to scrape together sufficient funds when they have incredible ideas.
Give Vision has received a WIRED Health 2017 award for their goggles 'SightPlus' which enhance the remaining sight of the visually impaired. They began with very little money but have now produced prototypes of the hands-free goggles where, to quote Stan Karpenko, "Light is beamed into the eye of the visually impaired person, the camera captures the world, the software converts and ignites whatever the visually impaired person needs to see". They plan to lauch their product in 2018.
Incredible. I just wish the NHS could provide funding so that everyone who needed these could be given a pair.
Facebook is asking for a 'brain-computer interface engineer' to join them for a new 'Building 8' team.
They want to capture thoughts and share them with the world!
Surely our computers will have to come with some kind of equipment to attach to our heads to monitor brain waves to be able to achieve this?
I'm thinking that nobody would agree to do it - but then, there are people out there who would!
Mark Zuckerberg has said, "One day, I believe we'll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology. You'll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you'd like. This would be the ultimate communication technology."
A new piece of Android malware may be responsible for the biggest single theft of Google accounts on record.
'Gooligan' has infected over 1 million Android phones since August.
It steals users' tokens which verify that they are authorized to access their accounts.
'Gooligan' wants to force users into downloading fraudulant advertising apps and it is still spreading with approx. 13,000 new infections every day. It gets hold of you when you download a third party app from a website where visitors are encouraged to download software to get access to content. The stolen Google account tokens can be used to gain access to Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive and Google Photos accounts. Check Point has uncovered a store of over a million stolen Google accounts and more are being taken every day by infected phones.
What's the answer? Don't visit any dodgy websites and don't download site software to gain access to content!
At Webgloss, even though we obviously design websites, we receive many emails from people telling us how they can help our website get high in Google.
They often say that they have looked at our website (a lie) and that they can issue us a free 'performance report' if we'd like one. Or they give us a list
of things that we should be doing that we're not.
All of these emails have one thing in common - they are trying to get us to pay for services which we do not need. They just want money!
Many years ago some web designers tried to outsmart Google by using silly tricks like masses of text with key phrases written in white on white so that they were hidden. Linking sites still exist - thousands of links on a single site that link to thousands more. Google knows how to detect these things and often they will ban your website from their search engine if you follow these methods - permanently.
Please ignore unsolicited emails as there is only one way to impress Google - have a well constructed website with good, informative content.
It could be that you have paid extra for a wonderful 'CMS' site (Content Management System) - a site that has been designed so that you,
the client, can update it yourself. CMS sites are not hard to produce. Most web designers use a bought in CMS system; the more able write their own.
Basically you are just
embedding a section within a website that is a set of variables - variables that can be changed by logging into the CMS system.
Provide one of these, charge a hell of a lot more than you would for a normal website and, hey presto, the client can update it whenever
he or she feels like it.
Brilliant! Or is it?
If your web designer has correctly optimised the code behind your website when it was first completed then those updates that you do yourself could knock your website off Page 1 of Google. Perhaps not the first time you update, maybe not the second but each time you update the risk increases. At Webgloss we stopped creating CMS websites because a website that cannot be found in Google really isn't worth having.
I have a friend who hates computers. When he starts using one it's fine and he works well. After a couple of weeks everything starts to go wrong.
The computer doesn't respond as well, it's slower and he begins to hate it. Eventually it becomes useless and he tells me that it will no longer
do what he wants it to. He's changed his computer three times in the last month!
The real problem is that he refuses to spend time just getting to know how it works and what it needs. He uses it as you would a pencil (although even a pencil needs sharpening!). He sits and types, downloads what he needs and expects everything to go smoothly. He really doesn't like computers and they don't seem to like him.
It would probably be ok if he was using a Mac because, as we all know, these tend to be for people who don't really want to know what is going on behind the scenes and, let's face it, they sure are reliable (I don't really like Apple computers - my apologies to all those, including my youngest son, who love them - Jane).
A PC is different though and you do need to 'maintain it... here is how...
The Day of Reckoning
One day your computer will not work anymore.
You may have noticed that your computer is not as fast as when it was new. Perhaps it 'crashes' every so often? Maybe it just freezes and you have to switch it off and back on again?
One day it will be even worse. One day you will turn your computer on and nothing will happen.
Why? (skip this bit if you don't care why)
Computers slow down, crash and freeze for a number of reasons.
The software you use could contain 'bugs'. Most software does. Microsoft software contains thousands of 'bugs'. Software is only as good as the programmers who write it and the testers who test it and the programmers who fix it after the testing.
Software with bugs (and this is the majority of software) can cause your computer to become confused. It can try to use the same 'memory area' that another piece of software uses.
Software bugs make your computer crash.
Computers can also become clogged up. Just using your computer on a daily basis means that log files and ini files and other files are created and overwritten and deleted and archived and filed - all without you knowing about them!
Every time you use the Internet, your computer stores files to say where you have been and what you have done.
Every time you open a word processing document, your computer stores files with the detail of what you have done.
Every time your computer automatically downloads any updates, eg. from Microsoft for your operating system, or your anti virus product updates itself, a myriad of background files and logs are created.
And so it all builds up and your computer becomes clogged.
When your computer becomes clogged it slows down.
A computer is only as good as the worst of its components. It is made up of a hard drive or two, or three, a graphics card, a DVD drive etc etc. These are of varying quality and are not built to last forever. You read and write to and from the hard drives every time you use your computer. One day something will fail. Something mechanical just will not work anymore.
This is why one day you will turn your computer on and nothing will happen.
What you need to do
You cannot do much about software bugs. They will always exist. And you do need to update Windows operating systems and anti virus products, so you can't stop the background files being created.
Your computer can, however, be cleaned up.
You need to clean and restore your computer REGULARLY.
Cleaning your computer will make it go faster and lessen the risk of it freezing or crashing but it will not make its components last longer.
It will not change the fact that one day you will turn your computer on and it will not work.
How to clean your computer
The heart of your computer is called the Registry. When the Registry is screwed up strange things happen. It's best to keep the registry clean and organised.
You can do this with a free piece of software called CCleaner. CCleaner will also get rid of all those files and logs that you don't need and clear away your Internet cache - this is just a record of where you have been on the web.
We do not recommend CCleaner in any way and Webgloss holds no responsibility if it destroys your computer. We can only tell you that we use CCleaner every day and it has never harmed any of our computers.
You must decide for yourself if you wish to take the risk of using CCleaner and we must reiterate that we do NOT recommend any software for your use.
If after reading and understanding all of the above you still want to download and use CCleaner then this is where you can get it:
How to make your computer go faster
If you're now regularly cleaning your Registry and the rest of your left over files and logs it may be time to think about making your computer run even faster.
When files are stored on your computer they are allocated a suitable space according to their size. This space could be anywhere on your hard drive. When you delete files from your computer they are not actually deleted (unless you use software or settings that shred your files). Instead they are marked as being obselete and the next time your computer needs to save a file to your hard drive the space marked for overwriting is included in its free space. The files marked as obselete then may or may not be overwritten.
The result of all of this is that your hard drive is a messy mix of files that should be there, files that are marked as obselete and empty space.
The empty space is all over the place. Defragging your hard drives is a method of closing the gaps.
After defragging, the files on your hard drives are closer together and this means that, when you ask your computer to access files, your computer doesn't have to look in so many different places. It therefore takes less time and runs faster.
So defragging your hard drives once a week is an excellent idea.
You can download a free defragger called Defraggler that is a thousand times better than the ones shipped with Windows.
You must decide for yourself if you wish to take the risk of using Defraggler and we must reiterate that we do NOT recommend any software for your use. If after reading and understanding all of the above you still want to download and use Defraggler then this is where you can get it:
Here is a handy article on how to use Defraggler:
If your email address has existed for a while or if you have a website or social networking showing your email address then it's a pretty
sure bet that you have been the target of spam at some point. Most people have a 'spam' folder into which many of these spam emails arrive.
The trouble is that you really do have to check your spam folder because spam filters are never 100% reliable - they will file some emails as spam that are genuine emails.
So you end up having to check your inbox AND your spam folder. If you forget to check your spam folder then you could miss a vital business email!
It is far better not to use a spam folder and just go through everything pressing the delete key when you know that you don't want an email.
The best way to find a web designer is not through the Internet. It's by recommendation from someone who already has a website designed by them and is happy with
the service they receive.
If someone really tries to 'sell' you a website then you have to question whether their web design company is successful. If it isn't successful then you stand the risk of getting a website and possibly a domain name from a company that may not be in business after 6 months.
Web designers go out of business with frightening regularity - every week.
It's easy to begin with but maintaining any business and keeping it successful takes drive, determination and skill.
Many web designers don't actually write any code anymore. Gone are the days when they had to sit and write HTML. But, without a good knowledge of the basics they often get out of their depth and are unable to update websites correctly. Many many designers are unable to get websites high in Google.
So, it's a minefield when choosing a web designer to design a website for your business.
Be careful and ensure that you choose the right one. The effects of having to change designers may not be immediately obvious to you at the start but if you ever lose your domain name because your designer disappears (it happens!) or you find that you have a great looking site that nobody can find - then you will wish you'd chosen the right web design firm at the start.
If you need a Hampshire web designer to build a new website for your business then why not give Webgloss a go? With no tie in contract and a low
monthly charge there really isn't any risk. We'd like to design a draft for you and perhaps continue from there - if you like what we do!
There are many web designers in Hampshire and it can be difficult to make the right choice. We've been designing websites for a long time and can help you with the whole process - from start to finish. Have a look at our web design portfolio of clients, read through our website and compare us to others. Hopefully we will be offering exactly what you need.
If you'd like help or have questions then please just get in touch to speak with Jane to discuss any aspect of web design or read our FAQ for further information.