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What is Heartbleed? Is Justhost Vulnerable?

April 9th, 2014

Yesterday, an Internet-wide security threat emerged called the Heartbleed bug. Online security is a topic that we take very seriously and once we learned about this issue we began addressing it immediately and we’ve compiled this list of questions and answers to help you understand the Heartbleed bug, let you know what we’ve done to address it and let you know what you can do to protect your private information.

heartbleed

What is the Heartbleed bug?

The Heartbleed bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library used to secure information traffic across much of the Internet. Because the vulnerability itself could leak/bleed information and it involved the Heartbeat function of OpenSSL, the vulnerability was nicknamed “Heartbleed.” This weakness allows hackers to steal information normally protected by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging and some virtual private networks. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content which allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

What is being done?

This vulnerability was assigned an identifier of CVE-2014-0160 and was quickly patched by the maintainers of OpenSSL.  That patch was made publicly available and service providers across the globe, including Justhost, have already patched, tested, and verified all systems are secured.

The security of our customers is a top priority. We began addressing this issue immediately upon disclosure and have successfully applied patches to all of our platforms. The likelihood that private information was compromised is very minimal due to the lack of a public exploit at the time of the disclosure. As always, we will continue to work to protect the security of our customers and their data.

Is my server vulnerable?

There was a period when anyone relying on OpenSSL was vulnerable. Upon disclosure of the vulnerability, we immediately patched our entire platform. At this time, our servers are not vulnerable and information is secure.

Has Justhost replaced their SSLs?

Yes. Upon the disclosure of the vulnerability we immediately reached out to our SSL providers and began the process of having all of our internal and external SSLs reissued.

Will the SSL I purchased through Justhost be updated?

Yes.  While the likelihood of exploitation is extremely low, we are working with our SSL providers to reissue all certificates that were purchased through the Justhost platform.  This process will be both secured and automated, with individual customer contact as/if needed to ensure all certificates are updated.

Should I replace the SSL I purchased through a third party service?

That is a personal choice. If you feel it’s worth the time, or if you are dealing with sensitive data, then it’s a good idea to have your cert reissued. The likelihood that your private keys were compromised is very minimal due to the lack of a public exploit at the time of the disclosure. However, if you do decide you would like to have your certificate reissued, contact your certificate issuing authority.  Once you have obtained a new private key, certificate, and CA bundle, our Justhost support team will be happy to assist you.  Alternatively, you are welcome to purchase a new SSL certificate through your control panel and we will handle any similar vulnerabilities in the future on your behalf, without need for your direct involvement.

Was my security, password or privacy compromised?

There was a period when anyone relying on OpenSSL was vulnerable. Upon disclosure of the vulnerability, we immediately patched our entire platform. The likelihood that your private keys were compromised is minimal due to the lack of a public exploit at the time of the disclosure.  If you are concerned, you are welcome to use our Change Password tool to select a new password.  If you do change your password, consider that this vulnerability existed across the majority of the Internet and password changes should be done anywhere you store sensitive information.

To check potential vulnerability on the Justhost service or with any other provider, use the tool at http://heartbleedcheck.com/.

Where can I learn more about Heartbleed?

For more details about the Heartbleed bug, please visit heartbleed.com.

Websites For Beginners: 5 Tricks to Help You Succeed

January 31st, 2014

Websites For Beginners: 5 Tricks to Help You Succeed

Owning a website can be like owning a car. You detail it, put fresh oil in it, and treat it like a young child. You’re proud of it, and you want it to be the best it can be. Unfortunately, you may not know how the engine works, which may make it difficult to keep your new acquisition running on all cylinders. But never fear, site owner. When opening the hood, here are five things to keep in mind that will ensure your website runs like a dream while making you a better mechanic in the process.

Keep It Simple

In your web travels you’ve probably stumbled upon a number of sites with brilliant functionality and cool features. As a fledgling website owner you’re probably eager to put these sorts of toys and tricks into practice. The problem is, the average person has little concept of how challenging and delicate these cool features are.

Advanced web design is a fickle animal. Code is as tempestuous as it is complicated. Even features that, in practice, seem simple enough, may involve complex constructions with hundreds of lines of code. In addition, small errors in code can lead to breakdowns in site structure that are as difficult to fix as they are to comprehend.

This should in no way stymie your creativity, but for the sake of operational integrity, your early efforts at web development should be simple and manageable. Beginners may enjoy changing font families or div colors but if your knowledge is limited to that, consider doing some reading and independent practicing before making your dreams a reality. Doing so will keep the site going strong and teach you in the process.

Focus on Content

When you visit a website, you may first notice the layout. Your eyes will wander across the carefully crafted pieces, adorned with attractive colors, large-scale photographs, and beautiful fonts. At no point may you consider that these accouterments are simply window dressing for plain lines of text.

HTML, the language of web pages, is a markup language. What this means is that it is designed to adjust the way that text is displayed. But at its core, the focus remains on text. This should be an indicator to you.

You can make your site as attractive as ever, but your content will drive the design home. Beautiful pages of gibberish will please you for a time, until you realize that there’s nothing to see. Create information that is well written and engaging and the combination of text and design will carry your message home.

Consider a Theme

Of course, you want your website to look nice. But, as mentioned, custom web design is a little out of reach for the average beginner. Fortunately, others with an understanding of the need for attractive aesthetics and the prevalent lack of requisite knowledge have recognized your plight and come up with a solution.

Depending on your platform, custom themes exist that will fit both your budget and your needs. These well-crafted templates offer a professional look without the often-daunting cost of professional work. In addition, the themes are built for versatility, incorporating layouts and design considerations for multiple types of content. When selecting yours, be sure to look for one that is mobile ready. This will encourage readers by accommodating the unique needs of cell phone browsers.

Learn the Basics

As mentioned, the more sophisticated techniques of site design may be out of reach for the time being, but learning is a powerful tool. In addition to basic HTML and CSS courses online, a number of premium resources exist that can improve your coding knowledge. Because of the popularity of this information, these courses can range from basics to advanced techniques, giving you a pathway for growth.

Furthermore, the nature of coding behooves you to become privy to this knowledge. A great deal of the code on the Internet is built on the same basic building blocks. This means that understanding even the rudimentary construction of either can greatly clarify your website and enable the ability to manipulate its appearance. Demystifying the process will not only grow your website, it may grow your readership in the process.

Listen to Feedback

Ultimately, your content exists in an echo chamber if no one sees it. For this reason, special consideration should be made to take care of your readers. If you receive comments that your layout is hard to navigate, consider redesigning. At the same time, know that all feedback comes from its own place. Base your decisions on sound design and usability logic and incorporate feedback where beneficial.

The web will seem like a complicated place at first, but that won’t last. Staying true to the basics and keeping your efforts simple will help the integrity of your code and teach you valuable and important information quickly. Take a couple coding courses in order unlock the power of your site’s pages and lean on the design experience of others by choosing a theme until your masterpiece is ready. In web design, a little goes a long way, so do what little you can, and be amazed at how far you can go.

5 Steps To Building Your Dream Website

January 23rd, 2014

5 Steps To Building Your Dream Website

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

2014 Content Trends: How To Prepare For The New Year

January 10th, 2014

2014 Content Trends: How To Prepare For The New YearThe business game is changing quickly. This is nothing new; since the advent of the Information Age, available technologies and changing consumer predilections have changed almost non-stop and at light speed. Of course, this requires you to adapt along with it.

But where to begin? Throwing content at the wall when your business’ reputation is on the line is not only foolish, it’s an exercise in ignorance of the myriad findings that are shaping business practices in a platform-agnostic, on-the-go world. The process begins with understanding the nature of new platforms, your role in utilizing them, how to track the success of each effort, and the way your content manifests in an increasingly crowded landscape. In this post, we’re outlining a number of content trends you should know about and pay attention to in the coming year. Read the rest of this entry »

Improving Visibility with Google Authorship

December 11th, 2013

If you regularly author and publish content to the web, then you should definitely take advantage of the exposure that Google Authorship can offer you. With this year’s shift in focus to content, Google Authorship has moved into the SEO spotlight. A study published by Google last year on social annotations showed that a large-ish picture placed at the top of a rich snippet is 60% more likely to attract user clicks than a search result without a rich snippet, thus significantly increasing traffic to a website. But Google Authorship offers authors more than just a picture and byline. It’s also a way to verify Authorship for all content you publish to the web. Ever since its inception in 2012, Google has been constantly refining Google Authorship in an effort to find and recognize authorities in different topics.

dear diary

How it Works

In 2011, Google filed a patent for the technology they would later use to create Google+. The genius of Google+ is that it’s not only a social network, but also a way to verify a user’s identity across the entire Google platform. Once you verify who you are with Google+, your name and picture appear everywhere else where you have publicly visible information, including Google Authorship. This is done by using a simple verification process to verify both your identity and the website you write for. Once you do, your rich snippet shows up in Google search results next to relevant content you’ve published to the web.

SCREENSHOT 1

Anatomy of a Rich Snippet

A Google Authorship rich snippet has multiple components. These include:

SCREENSHOT 2

 

  1. The headline
  2. 50×50 headshot
  3. The URL
  4. Byline
  5. Summary

Compare this to a regular snippet:

SCREENSHOT 3

And you can see why Google Authorship is so important to content creators. As mentioned above, search results that include a picture are 60% more likely to get clicked on. Not only that, but users will also have access to your other content via your Google+ profile.

How To Do It

You can get verified for Google Authorship in two ways: Either link an email address on your domain (such as john@johnswebsite.com) with your Google+ profile, or link your website to your Google+ profile with a short bit of code.

Email method: Sign up for a Google+ profile if you haven’t already using the email address on your domain, and make sure you have a recognizable head shot as your profile picture. Visit this page to verify that your account is connected to your domain, and you’re all set!

Code method: If you don’t have an email address on your domain, you can use this method instead. Create a link to your profile page using this link:

<a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Google</a>

Substitute [profile_url] with the URL to your profile. So that it reads something like: <a href=”https://plus.google.com/109412257237874861202?rel=author”>Google</a>

The rel=author attribute is important, so don’t forget to include it. Paste this link in the bio box of your blog posts.

The last thing you need to do is add a link to your website to your Google+ profile.

  1. . Go to the Contributor section and click “edit.”
  2. . Click “Add custom link,” and then enter the website URL.
  3. . Optionally, click on the drop-down list to modify who can see this link.
  4. . Click “Save.”

What You Can’t Do

In order to take full advantage of Google Authorship, you should keep in mind its original intent, which is to draw attention to individuals who create valuable content. So avoid these no-no’s when using the feature:

1) Using Brands instead of people: Google Authorship is meant for individuals, not for branding companies. This is the reason why each author is required to submit a headshot to be featured in search results. Don’t use a company logo or other image, and use your real name instead of the brand name. This is also to the reader’s benefit since people are more likely to connect to other people than a brand name.

2) Linking to non-content pages: Authorship was designed to bring the best content of the web to searchers. For a while, there was some debate as to whether or not linking to non-content pages was acceptable use of Google Authorship, but Google has clarified their stance in their Authorship FAQs:

“Authorship annotation is useful to searchers because it signals that a page conveys a real person’s perspective or analysis on a topic. Since property listings and product pages are less perspective/analysis oriented, we discourage using Authorship in these cases. However, an article about products that provides helpful commentary, such as, “Camera X vs. Camera Y: Faceoff in the Arizona Desert” could have Authorship. ”

3) Listing multiple authors: For now, Authorship only supports one author per page. This might change in the future since many online sources have multiple authors, such as scholarly journals.

All in all, Google Authorship was made to shine a spotlight on the most influential content creators online. Taking advantage of this can help you to grow your audience over time by giving your content the attention it deserves.

 

How To Develop Better Content Ideas

December 5th, 2013

Content has become the driving force for today’s consumer-driven internet. Well-informed content allows you and your company to demonstrate expertise and draw users who can benefit from it. “Create content and attract customers” is a simple enough idea, but not so easy to execute. Many blog and website owners have it all together when it comes to web design, but struggle with the issue of coming up with content ideas. If this is you, then not to worry. Once you change your approach to developing content ideas, you’ll find yourself brimming with them.

rsz_better-content-ideas-300x271 Read the rest of this entry »

6 Ways to Tell Your Brand Story on Your Website

November 25th, 2013

For every brand online and offline today, telling captivating stories is an essential part of differentiating from competition. As competition for new online customers continues to intensify day after day, more and more business owners, management teams, and marketing directors are spending time thinking about how to effectively tell their brand stories online.  In the following post, we’ll outline a few ways you can tell your brand story on your website in order to help prospective customers understand what makes your business, products, and services unique.

Can you hear me?

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Top 5 Web Design Mistakes

November 13th, 2013

It’s that time of year again. You’ve made it through the summer, fall is winding down, the New Year is just around the corner, and you’re thinking about how to spruce up your website for 2014. If you’re a business owner and you’ve been searching for tips on how to improve your website in order to make more sales or increase foot traffic at your brick-and-mortar, look no further. In this article, we’re outlining the top 5 web design mistakes you might have made when you launched your site—and what you can do to fix them.

two men and woman working on project with laptop Read the rest of this entry »

Why You Need a Website for Your Personal Brand

November 7th, 2013

If you keep up on any websites or blogs that offer marketing and branding business advice, chances are you’ve probably seen the term “personal branding” mentioned in a handful of articles this year. Thanks to the huge amount of information available on the Internet today, consumers are spending more and more time doing their research on companies, brands, and products before making any purchasing decisions. Many also spend time doing research on the individuals associated with the companies they’re considering buying products and services from. For this reason, many CEOs, managers, salespeople, and other professionals within organizations have started developing their own personal brands online. In the post below, we’ll explain what a personal brand is, why you need to spend time managing your own, and how to get started.

Business Man


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The Future of Reading Online

October 9th, 2013

The Future of Reading OnlineWithout a doubt, the popularity shift from print to online content has certainly changed the way people consume information. Ebook readership has skyrocketed in the past few years, while popular blogs like Mashable and engadget boast several million unique visitors each month. The digital format is certainly here to stay, so what does this mean for your content marketing efforts? Certain trends are influencing the way people read online, and websites that keep with the trends are likely to attract the largest audiences. Read the rest of this entry »