Archive for the ‘Design and Development’ Category

10 Crazy IT Security Tricks That PT Recommends

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Computer SecurityNetwork security isn’t exactly the ideal place for experimentation, as it relies on tried-and-tested systems and methodologies in order to provide solid security. However, IT security threats these days evolve on a rapid pace and new ones are being discovered or created all the time, so there are times when a little bit of creativity provides new solutions that greatly enhance security without risking any vulnerabilities. Here are ten great examples of crazy IT security tricks that Prestige recommends:

1. Rename Administrator Accounts

Sometimes simple things that help a great deal get overlooked by virtue of their simplicity. This case, it’s something as simple as just changing the usernames of the administrator account. People already know that they should immediately change the password of the administrator account, but the username is usually kept as is for some reason (maybe it’s laziness, or maybe they treat it as a badge of pride.)

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How a DNS Can Help Your Business Grow (Part 2 of 2)

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

In the previous post, we’ve outlined a way on how DNS can aid in your business’ growth, with the chief method being efficient management of your traffic via weighted load balancing and automated failover, both of which ensure that visitors of your company website will never experience slow loading or dropped requests. This is very useful in helping your business grow because it prevents loss of sales due to an inaccessible website (which could be a point of sale or a marketing channel.)

For this post, we’re going to outline several more ways a DNS can help your business grow:

Localize DNS Responses via Origin-Dependent Routing

Origin-Dependent Routing is essentially another means of managing traffic, but this time it is based on the geographic origin of the request. But instead of assigning a weight to each stream or monitoring failure points, an origin-dependent routing system just monitors the geographic location of the request based on the DNS and sends it to a resource that is based within the same region or the nearest one. For example, if a user from Sweden tries to access your website, the network routes said traffic to a server based in Sweden or somewhere near, instead of letting it go through a server from China or Thailand.

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How Your Website May be Infected By a Malware and How Prestige Helps

Monday, August 4th, 2014

These days, majority of users have already learned how to avoid malware. They have antivirus and antispyware programs on their PCs, and they no longer open suspicious attachments (on the rare occasions that one gets through the spam filters.) Only a select few, mostly novice users, get tricked by conventional malware, which is why malware authors have decided to bypass user mistakes and devised Drive-By Downloads, wherein they infect server hosts, which then infect users who unknowingly browse the websites hosted on said servers.

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Why Getting Your Website Infected by Malware is Bad

It may seem like common sense – of course, getting your website infected by malware is bad, because you’re hurting your users and you’re helping proliferate harmful code all over the Internet. But even if you don’t care about your users (and we hope you do), it is worth noting that a compromised website will be useless for business because search engines – particularly Google – can detect if your site is infected, and will delist it from their database. With your website practically invisible to search, your traffic will disappear and you’ll have a useless website that nobody sees. It is therefore always in your best interest to maintain a malware-free website. (more…)

Snowden and How He Affected Web Host Reputation

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Edward SnowdenIt’s been a year since American computer professional Edward Joseph Snowden, who is a former systems administrator for the Central Intelligence Agency and counterintelligence trainer at the Defense Intelligence Agency, disclosed to several media outlets thousands of classified documents that he had access to while working as a contractor for the National Security Agency. The act turned the once obscure NSA contractor into the face of a nationwide movement that calls on the US government to be more transparent when it comes to their surveillance of its citizens.

As expected, Snowden’s leak and the wave of outrage that followed affected not just the government but also service providers that handle and host data on the World Wide Web. People were already skeptical of the privacy that are afforded to them on the Internet, but are at least relying on the assurance that companies that collect their private information will keep it to themselves.

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The straw that finally broke the proverbial camel’s back was the realization that their personal info is not safe even if these big name, multinational corporations had no intention of sharing their data, as they can be forced to hand over customer data to government agencies via orders issued by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders without any notice before or after the fact. What’s worse, Snowden’s leak revealed that the NSA has secretly intercepted unencrypted data from Google’s private data centers.

One of the biggest changes that has come out of the Snowden leaks is that US web hosts’ reputation has suffered a great deal, as users now know that no matter which host they use, they tend to be at risk of getting their privacy stepped on by the government. This in turn led to many businesses moving to hosts that don’t have servers located within U.S. jurisdiction.

The main problem that people have with the revelation brought by the Snowden leaks goes beyond the vulnerability of their data on servers hosted on US soil, as that is easily solved by not hosting something that would mean trouble for them from a legal standpoint. The bigger problem is that it gives the government raw, unchecked authority to access private files, which could then be used to build cases for targets of legal prosecution, regardless of the validity or relevance to the current charges.

In order to avoid further losses, many large tech companies such as Google, Yahoo, Dropbox, Microsoft, Apple, and others, have started a group called the Reform Government Surveillance, which calls on the government’s help to restore the confidence of people on the Internet and many IT services, with the first agenda being pushed essentially calling for US surveillance efforts to be reigned in by transparent and clearly defined laws.

As mentioned above, until the U.S. government manages to fix the can of worms that the Snowden leaks have opened, Cloud and Web Hosting Companies with servers in the U.S. will have to contend with losing customers to foreign service providers outside of U.S. jurisdiction.

How Prestige Can Help Your Website be Viewed in China

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

China administrativeWith over 550 million (and growing) Chinese residents regularly accessing the Internet, it is a fresh new market that any foreign company or business would love to tap into. However, actually getting your website viewed in China is way more difficult than simply getting a .CN TLD and translating your website contents into Mandarin.

The thing is that internet users based in China have to go through what most people refer to as The Great Firewall of China, which is basically the Chinese government’s national firewall, which is very restrictive and will block majority of outside traffic. Thankfully, there are processes that you can go through in order to make your website viewable in China, and Prestige can help you along the way.

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First Things First: Getting a .CN Domain

Prestige allows you to use any of your own domain for their hosting service, and also lets you buy one through their partnerships with various online registrars. Make sure you get a .CN domain. While China doesn’t block most domain names, you stand a better chance of being visible on the country if you are using a .cn domain.

Prestige’s Servers Are Fast

The thing about the great firewall of china is that they lead to all sorts of slowdown on the user’s end. Add the fact that many of the Chinese surfers that want to access foreign sites use VPNs, and you’ve got enough slowdown to turn off most impatient users. Benchmarks have pointed to anywhere from 6 to 10 seconds of additional loadtime for U.S.-based servers.

With Prestige, we don’t oversell our servers’ capacities so it will not be bogged down on our end, ensuring that lag from your end is minimized. It’s not going to make your site load instantly in China, but every little bit helps.

Our Company is based in a Country that is On Good Terms with China

It’s not a secret that the Chinese government has a less than sterling relationship with the U.S., and there is some hostility between the two when it comes to IT (all you need to do is do a research on the allegedly federally-subsidised hacking groups from both sides), so the great wall of china is naturally sensitive towards companies that are based on the U.S. While Prestige does have servers in the U.S., the company is a legitimate U.K. business, so most of our servers aren’t on China’s list of IPs to watch out for.

Last But Not the Least: Controversial Content

The Chinese government is extremely strict when it comes to two kinds of controversial content: adult and political. So if you’re planning to build an online presence in China, make sure your site doesn’t have either of the two. What passes for political content can be a little bit hard to pinpoint if you’re outside of China, so try to browse around Chinese news sites – if a news item is being reported in there, you can consider it as something that’s allowed by their firewall.

If your site is hosting controversial content, you can still get through by applying for an ICP license (Internet Content Provider), which is a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information technology (MIIT). However, that is something that you have to personally do as the owner of the website. More details on how to apply can be found at the MIIT website (miit.gov.cn)

How to Calculate the Cost of Your Downtime

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

One of the hurdles that any decent IT department has to hurdle is getting the higher ups to understand the importance of maintaining a stable technical environment, as the higher ups rarely have any idea as to what a system downtime means with regard to the company’s bottom line.

The bosses know downtime costs money, but they rarely understand exactly how much money. This means they rarely understand how devastating a downtime can be. It’s not just executives, sometimes the IT heads themselves choose to bring down a server for maintenance during business hours, not realizing exactly how much they are costing the company. So how do you calculate the exact cost of your downtime?

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First, we need to define system downtime; basically, it is when the system is unavailable to the user. So even if an application and the hardware it runs on are both up and running, if the application can’t be used for any reason, then the system is technically “down.” (more…)

Set Up Your Site’s Crash Plan

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Administrators – at least the ones who actually know how to do their job – already know that no network is completely safe from crashes and outages regardless of how good the administrators are and how robust their systems are, but the August 2003 widespread power outage in the U.S. Northeast hammered the point home, with many firms at that time suffering their first lengthy downtime in many years.

There are a few things that weren’t part of people’s crash plans in the past and were considered overkill, that are now shown to be needed after the August 2003 blackout took out many big name sites. If you want to set up your site’s crash plan and be ready for unexpected outages, you should add the following things to your list:

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Best Text Heavy Websites

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Designing a really good text-heavy website can be a bit of a balancing act. It’s common knowledge that text content is still the best vehicle for delivering information and helps make it easier to get indexed by search engines, but being too text heavy can turn away visitors – especially now that surfers have started developing a taste for images and multimedia content.

These days, it is much easier to throw together an image-heavy website with just the right amount of text for search engines to index and call it a day but some websites have proven that there is still room for heavy text content that delivers a great amount of information without detracting from the aesthetics. Some of the best include:

Polygon.com

Polygon is a video game review site, so heavy text content is expected along with heavy use of images, mainly because there is a need to present screen captures of the games, on account of video games being a visual medium.

In Polygon’s case, they make full use of long-scrolling unconventional layouts that help break the heavy text content into digestible chunks, which are then supported by visually appealing images. This gives the Polygon website a magazine-like look. Additionally, their site search is both functional and readily available instead of being obscured by other website elements.

Condenast.com

Conde Nast if the parent company of various heavily-circulated print magazines, so it’s not surprising that their website takes on a magazine-like feel and makes effective use of both heavy text content and images. The site makes good use of a big, visually appealing content slider on the header in order to make it easier for readers to see the most important things on the site when it first loads. Additionally, it also has customizable filters so there’s no risk of information overload – users can freely filter the presentation down to just the content that are relevant to their interests.

USAtoday.com

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Security Threat: Offsite Backup in Bitly Security Breach

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

For a long time now, offsite backups are considered as very secure and safe from infiltrators, as they only ever target the main servers and on-site backups because that’s where the payoffs are. However, URL shortening service Bitly has recently revealed that an unauthorized individual may have compromised an offsite database backup service that hosts their user details.

Bitly was made aware of the breach on May 8, when the security team of another technology company informed them of the breach. Bitly CTO Rob Platzer reveals in a blog post that they are confident that no external connections were made to their own production user database, and that their network has not been breached by any unauthorized individuals.

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However, the third party security team saw that they have an unusually large amount of traffic from their offsite database backup storage, with the access not being initiated by anyone from Bitly. (more…)

Manage Your Company’s Digital Move

Monday, June 16th, 2014

One of the odd things about enterprises these days is that they recognize the need to digitize, but they go about it in such a roughshod and disorganized way that it creates a lot of wasteful spending, wreaking havoc on their IT budget. With different departments usually implementing digitization on their own, resulting in islands of digitized departments for engineering, production and operations, R & D, knowledge work, and even customer interaction. In order to avoid these largely inefficient moves to being digital, companies usually take one of these approaches:

Convergence

This approach is used by enterprises in order to make the move centralized upon one focal point, consolidating key assets such as people, data, infrastructure, skills and management processes. This is done by bringing all digitization investments together under one key executive.

Coordination

This approach is done when the organization doesn’t want to disrupt the structure too much, instead adding mechanisms that will help increase coordination of the big digital investments, usually through engineering, operations, product owners and other enterprise groups. Aside from minimizing disruption, it also helps units work together in the delivery of enterprise goals.

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