I own an established web design company in Ocean County for the last 25 years. We have, in that time, added a data center to house our own servers and established ourselves in the internet marketing workplace. We have a rich background in this area. NetCetra, LLC has completed thousands of web site designs and currently hosts that many web sites and business servers for various companies. I have never, in all those years, witnessed the magnitude of what the Lazars went through more than a few times. Costs for web sites have fluctuated in the past few years Companies like Go Daddy, who offer low cost sites and hosting to start, are counting on a degree of sophistication from the client or their web designer. Using a business email address with your domain address adds credibility to your business. We offer mail server addresses for this purpose. I always advise my clients to have a third-party email address like G Mail to add security. Unfortunately, the Lazars contracted off shore. The pricing was too cheap and there was realistically not enough time to be ready for their busiest selling period. Unless you already have an established presence on the internet, you will not be able to develop even a local presence without using “pay per click”. Present day requirements of security certificates, ecommerce carts, ADA requirements and many more aspects, depending on your site mission, cannot be done cheaply, securely and quickly anymore.
The same thing always happens, as I can attest as someone who runs a hosting company with email servers. I get a support request to check their email address because they are not getting any mail. Sometimes, it can be fixed without asking questions and sometimes it can’t. Then, since we are unable to communicate with that person, the support request goes unanswered until they reach out to us in a different way. The best way to avoid this situation is to always have a back up email address. Google’s G Mail is a perfect program for this. It’s free and reliable. I do not recommend it for a main business address. Your business email address should be associated with your web site address. First, it’s more professional and secondly it can be construed that you are not a genuine business.
A backup email program will allow you to communicate even when your main email address has a problem or worse, when it gets hacked. I also prefer to use it when I’m not sure if I want the other party finding out who I am right away. Sometimes giving your business email address can get you swamped with spam. Let G Mail catch it all. Also, get rid of your AOL address. It has a bad reputation in the business world and not very professional.
NetCetra just went through a few years helping our clients upgrade their web sites to conform to Google’s requirements for “responsive” (easy to read on any device) and “secure visitor viewing” of your web site through https.
We have been watching the WCAG guidelines that were established in 2008. We felt, at the time, that it would not impact many of our clients for some time. Well, that time is here, along with the lawsuits due to the guidelines. The lawsuits are occurring because the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations are outdated. Here is a short outline of why over 1,000 businesses were sued in the first half of 2018.
- You must provide non-text alternatives for any text content so that it can be clearly understood by a person with a disability. An example of this is a restaurant menu. It must offer an alternative of either very large text, audio or symbols.
- Prerecorded video: An alternative must be offered to allow a person with a disability to understand the video. An example could be a video production explaining a product or service. Either an alternative for time-based media or an audio track is provided that presents equivalent information for prerecorded video-only content.
- Captions for live and prerecorded media. Creating captions similar to text alternatives in the first point.
A complete description is available by searching for “How to Meet WCAG 2”. Retailers and professional services are the most vulnerable at this time. The ADA is trying to address this.
Once regulations are established, litigation will fall under the government and not civil law suits. It is recommended that you review your web site and decide how you can avoid this problem.
We believe that this is not only NOT going away but will become even more widespread in the future. A simple product like Google Translator, offered in over 100 languages, can eliminate the language barrier, however according to the ADA it is still a legal issue.
How easy! How cheap! Send out 3000 emails for the cost of the ESP (email service provider) monthly fee. Most of the time it is a great deal cost wise and the templates help you set up the email so it looks professional. The problem is how often do you send a broadcast out? Once a month, twice a month? Every time you have a special or news? That is where the problem occurs. It is better to have a news letter that comes out monthly and contains a few different topics. Something for everyone in your customer’s demographics. Here is an example of a newsletter based on a template to cover varied news and images.
Header – Company logo
Main Body – Introduction for the month
Featured product, service, employee or event
Spotlight on customers using your product or service (testimonial)
Or possibly a Case Study of a recent project or event
Remember to link back to your web site for “additional information”. This accomplishes two things. First, it allows you to keep the information in the newsletter brief and secondly, Google likes to see links going to your site. It helps with visibility.
Keeping to this time table will keep customers from opting out of your newsletter and if you really have something very important to say then they will notice it and you will have a better chance of them reading it.
Some businesses do not have the time or expertise to handle this project, NetCetra does it for many clients. Let us know and we can review the best layout to help you stay in front of your customers.
I recently spoke to Melanie Willoughby, Executive Director of the New Jersey Business Action Center. This is a state run organization to help businesses in NJ.
She was kind enough to send the following information to help with any questions.
On our team it would be Bill and for the U.S. DOC it would be North and South offices all info below.
South is anyone in Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex Counties and below.
Mr. William E. SPEAR
International Business Advocate
NJ Business Action Center
Trenton, NJ 08625-0820 USA
P: 609-777-4125 F: 609-292-5509
Susan Widmer, Director
U.S. Commercial Service, Northern New Jersey
U.S. Department of Commerce | International Trade Administration
Tel: 973-645-4682 ext. 216
Janice C. Barlow
Sr. International Trade Specialist
U.S. Department of Commerce/U.S. Commercial Service
997 Lenox Drive, Building 3 – Suite 111
Lawrenceville, NJ 08628
They seem eager to get answers.
The GDPR was approved and adopted by the EU Parliament in April 2016. The regulation will take effect after a two-year transition period and, unlike a Directive it does not require any enabling legislation to be passed by government; meaning it will be in force May 25 2018.
The first question we are asked is:
Does this apply to me?
The GDPR not only applies to organizations located within the EU but it will also apply to organizations located outside of the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behavior of, EU data subjects. It applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the European Union, regardless of the company’s location.
Penalties if you are not complaint will reach 4% of your global business.
What it covers:
Any information related to a natural person or ‘Data Subject’ that can be used to directly or indirectly identify the person. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer IP address.
If this applies to you then please visit, https://www.eugdpr.org/eugdpr.org.html. Google has already sent message to many businesses. Everyone is trying to get the word out to be sure they are compliant.
Cyber Security & Big Data Analytics
I recently attended a symposium on “New Strategies for Encryption and Protection against Data Breaches”. The keynote speaker was: Steve Lutinski, Director, Cyber Security Services, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. Steve introduced Verizon’s DBIR Report (Data Breach Investigation Report) for 2017. You may view it here: https://www.verizonenterprise.com/verizon-insights-lab/dbir/.
Some of the points that were brought out by Steve were based on mid to large size companies but the same points remain for all size businesses.
- It takes 208 days for a company to discover a data breach.
- 82% of bad actors (data hackers) hack in in minutes.
The three most vulnerable areas according to the report are:
Who – 71% External Hackers (data mining)
What – 56% Personal
Why – 45% Money (Intellectual Property)
How – 67% Breaches
- Health Care
Who – 32% *External Hackers
What – 69% Medical Records
Why – 64% Financial
How – 81% Breaches
*Most breaches are from internal people – 68%
- Public Sector
Ransom Wear Attacks Are #1 among All Industries
2015 – 1000 Attacks
2017 – 8000+ Attacks
26% of all Security Incidents Were DOS Attacks
Human error is still the number one cause for hackers breaching web sites, mail servers and data bases. Verizon is going to be pushing two step verification for every level.
Google and Google Chrome is going to start to block http in the next several months. Certificates for https will be mandatory in order to be found in the Google searches.
EU Compliance Evolves. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) proposed by the European Commission will strengthen and unify data protection for individuals within the European Union (EU), whilst addressing the export of personal data outside the EU. This will effect American companies within the next 100 days.
Verizon is recommending that when possible even in local communities, IT personnel should, PREPARE – be PROACTIVE – PARTNER with fellow companies and professionals.
A company’s domain name remains one of the major unseen issues facing a lot of businesses on line. I am still amazed how many businesses are not truly in control of their domain names. They think that they are because their web site comes up and that they see the domain they picked a few years ago. But who actually owns the domain name and who gets emailed when it is time to be renewed? This is such a big problem that it has actually developed into a cottage industry. The most common issue happens when the web designer is given permission to register the domain name. Most businesses do not understand it, don’t want to understand it and just let the designer handle it. Most of the time, they get it right but not all the time. The more inexperienced designers put their own information in the registration and figure they will change it after they finish designing the site or do not even know how to do it correctly. So, the site is completed and it is up and running. A few years later it goes down because the email address associated with the site is not businesses and but the designer, who either is not in business anymore, changed their email address or does not respond to that email address. It happens all the time.
The owner of a domain name should have:
• The name of the registrant company it was registered with
• A user and password to get into the control panel of that company
The minimum a business should have is a current breakout of the “Whois” information. This information shows:
• The Registering Company
• When it was purchased
• When it expires
• The Registrant (owner of the domain)
• The Administrative Contact (controller of the domain name, 1st. level)
• The Technical Contact (controller of the domain name, 2nd. Level)
• Domain Name Servers Addresses (Where the site is hosted)
The contact information should have current addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Most registrations companies send out “review info” notices every two years. This is where the problem generally occurs. When it is wrong, that is when email notifications, for review and 45 days before domain name expirations, are sent out. If they are not responded to in a timely manner they are then picked up by companies that will sell it back to you at very high rates. Generally this happens when the site goes down and the business cannot figure out who has control of the domain name. Again, this is a common problem.
The best way to avoid this situation is to be involved in the sign up of your domain name. If you already have a domain name then go to internic.com and go to their link, “whois” and look up your domain name. It will give you the name of the registering company. Go to registering company and go to their web site “whois”. At that point, if you do not agreed results, call that company’s support phone number. They will walk you through the procedure to reclaim your domain name. Do not wait till your site goes down. Also, make sure to privatize your domain name in the “whois” so you are not overwhelmed with sales calls and emails.
NetCetra is a little different than most web design, hosting and marketing companies. We handle domain registration through Open SRS. So, we control the entire process. Our clients can contact us to fix any issue with their domain name.
All this information is very helpful when companies receive fake notices that their domain name is expiring and they include an invoice which is a total fraud.
Know Your Domain Name
Interestingly enough, in the 24 years that I have been designing web sites as well as marketing and hosting them, they have gone through many changes. The one aspect that has not really changed in all this time is the complexity in designing a web site. We see the ads for ways to build a site in less than one hour. Yes, you can do this but the problem is twofold. Let’s say that you want to leave your hosting company that you created it on, good luck moving it. These sites are created using WYSIWYG, “What You See Is What You Get”. This is not clean programming. It is literally thrown together by a software program with the only logic being that everything will end up where you want it when you first create it. This makes it very difficult to make major changes or transfer it to another server. Also, if you want to add internet marketing to the site for visibility on searches, it is extremely difficult. A professional programmer knows how to set up a web site so a marketing person can develop a marketing campaign with site changes and modifications on a regular basis. Automated site development can not accomplish this.
This leads to another issue that is occurring quite a bit with web design. Years ago, one person could create a web site and add it to a server for hosting and register a domain name. It is no longer that easy to do. Web sites that represent a brand new business web site, domain name and hosting can accomplish this fairly easy. But, the problem with this process occurs when the business owner tries to expand the web site with professional email addresses, a data base or wants better customer support. You are now limited if you do not have a team of professionals behind you.
One of the biggest problems that we face at NetCetra is the client that uses an inexperienced web designer, who is trying to do everything himself. Saves the client money up front but then pays for it with the additional outside support and time it requires to get the project completed. Our favorite is the designer who is creating a new site for one of our hosting clients and convinces them to move the site to the hosting company they are working with. Our support team generally gets an email asking us to change where the domain name is pointing to from our servers to the new hosting company. The problem with this is, the owner of the domain name has control over that. Our support team tells them that and they don’t understand why we cannot do it. Then, the support team asks them where they are putting the email address information. Again, lots of confusion and eventually they generally say that there is no problem. They are going to start all over again. That’s fine if the client is not storing messages and contacts on our mail server.
The bottom line regarding web site design, hosting and marketing is if you want it done correctly, you will really need a team of professionals to do correctly the first time. Web sites are constantly expanding for even the smallest client. Google adds requirements all the time i.e.; responsive web sites and secure web sites. You must comply with these rules if you want Google to keep you visible to prospective customers.
Net Neutrality is about to change. Under the Obama administration, Net Neutrality meant that everyone delivered data at the same rate of speed. Now making companies like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T “common carriers”, they will be able to throttle the speed of any site that want to. Companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime would be slowed down on streaming video delivery unless they pay a higher fee. Like every other additional charge, it would be passed on to us.
According to Wired, “AT&T and Verizon used data limits for anticompetitive purposes, effectively ruling that the two companies could exempt their own video services from customers’ data caps but still charge for data used by their competitors’ services.”
The internet is the golden goose that has not truly helped the feds as much as they wanted. This could increase taxes to the fed once service providers are called “common carriers”. The fed would tax the additional service through the FCC like our phones for additional fees. An example of this for my firm is Vimeo. Right now we pay around $400.00 per year to stream client content. This ruling would likely double the fee and add new levels to subscription fees. Not everyone likes the commercial aspect of YouTube and prefers the control Vimeo gives them. It will cost more to keep this standard. How much more will you have to pay for that Netflix movie?
These changes could happen as early as next year. So be ready to pay more.
COO, NetCetra LLC