The Current State of Web Sites

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.

Your Secured Web Site Will Be a Google Rule

Generally when you shop on line, you will notice that the web address uses a SSL certificate. You will see a lock before the address that shows something like https://www.shoponline.com. What does this actually do for you and the web site? It protects where you go and what you do on that web site. The main reason for it on eCommerce sites is to protect your credit card and billing information.

Recently, congress has decided to allow vendors to sell your surfing patterns and demographics. This is called “big data” and it is very important information for larger companies. Big data allows business to figure out what you do online and how to sell you products and services and other things by tracking you on the internet. Google has responded to this ruling by making a ruling of their own. As we all know, once Google determined that the majority of people viewing the internet were using smart phones, they then required web sites to be responsive to all size screens in order to be found in their search. Now they have announced that in the next several months that they are going to require web site owners to use a SSL to secure their site to protect their visitors. They said that when the policy goes into effect, if a web site is not secure, they will not show up in the Google search.

This means that when you have the SSL or https added to your web site, the person going to your web site cannot be tracked at all and all cookies are blocked in your site.

This is a major rule change by Google like the responsive web site to make your internet surfing a better and safer experience. The bottom line is, if you own a web site and need to be found in the Google search engine, which represents 75% of all searches, then you going to need a SSL certificate. They can be purchased yearly or up to three years from your hosting company. They vary in price BUT do not settle for a free one. These are not valid. If you have a C name domain, i.e.: shop.mydomain.com as well as a regular site with that domain name then purchase a wild card certificate. It will cover all web sites that use your main domain name.

JIm Mahlmann

COO

NetCetra LLC

Is your web site under attack?

Of course it is. Most web sites are under attack by many different forms of spiders and bots. You should maintain a good relationship with your provider. Check all your monitor specs either directly or question support to discover if there are any weaknesses. Forms are a favorite target to spam through. Make sure you have a Captura button or some kind of human interaction required.
If you are using a WordPress site, make sure you have one good security plug-in like WP All in One set up and running correctly. ALWAYS update your plugins to the latest versions. Some are for security and some are for better performance.
Always remove email addresses and their mailbox if you have not used them in a while. This is a favorite way for spammers to send tons of spam out and then your good email address will be black listed if it is the same domain name.
Some people will use FTP permissions to make changes. When dormant for too long be sure to remove or make the password very difficult.
These are all the basic things you need to monitor regularly to protect your site, business and reputation as well as your fellow internet users.

Sony Hack – How easy it was!

I just read the report about the Sony breach and that the compromise came from an email message to a Sony executive that looked like a genuine message from a familiar contact. It was not and it had an executable link that drop the malware on that person’s PC. Once in at that level, they searched for the IT director’s PC. This person would have access to everything on the network. We saw this same exact action occur in a large professional firm locally.

NEVER click on any link or attachment unless you are 100% certain that you should have received it. Call the party in the message if you are not sure. Some of the scams we are seeing right now are:

  • Best Buy message regarding the product you bought
  • UPS schedule link
  • Utility enquiry

Trust no one and review this information with everyone on your network. Size does not matter to these people. They are after information or money or both. Spam filters and antivirus software work just so well. You must always be vigilant and if in doubt TRASH IT!!!

Jim Mahlmann

Semalt Hijacks Computers to Launch a Referrer Spam Campaign

Chances are by now you’ve heard about “Semalt,” a dubious, self-proclaimed SEO tool, its unscrupulous behavior already having caused concern to many website owners. In what appears to be a large-scale, referrer spam campaign, Semalt is most commonly accused of ignoring ‘robots.txt’ directives and overbearing servers with a slew of suspicious-looking requests.

If you see a big spike in traffic in your analytics report ask you design firm to do the following: (If you are a NetCetra client just email jmahlmann@netcetra.com and I will

To block semalt.com from visiting your site and making havoc with your statistics add this to the end of your .htaccess file….

SetEnvIfNoCase Via evil-spam-proxy spammer=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer evil-spam-domain.com spammer=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer evil-spam-keyword spammer=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Via pinappleproxy spammer=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer semalt.com spammer=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer poker spammer=yes Order allow,deny Allow from all Deny from env=spammer
Jim Mahlmann

NetCetra LLC

U.S. government pulls out of ICANN ( Domain Name Registration and Rules)

It may not mean much to most people but that is the US organization that controls all the domains of the world. The US being the biggest and most open nation has maintained control of the this organization through a relationship with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. This is a government agency. This agreement is over in 2015 and the government does not want to continue it. They would like to see a world governing body. I think we all know that the white house is behind this.

This is a very dangerous move that could cause a lot of changes to the internet. It would allow countries like China and Russia to tighten control and slow down and stop some of the openness and freedom we now have.

The end of the contract means the NTIA will not be able to continue to push ICANN to improve its services, as it has in recent years, NetChoice executive director Steve DelBianco said. In addition, ICANN could now “escape its legal presence in the US, despite having many contracts that are adjudicated under U.S. law,” he said.

U.S. Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, called the announcement the “next phase” of a longtime commitment the U.S. government has made toward a global governance model.