Archive for November, 2014

What Website Owners Need to Know: Countries Where Your Sites Will Most Likely Be Banned

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

If you are the proud owner of a website with the intent to reach as many people as possible, you need to know that there are countries that are just not worth catering to because your site will most likely get banned and never reach its intended audience. Some of the more infamous examples include:

Saudi Arabia

Blocked website saudiSaudi Arabia is a rich country and its people have access to computers and the Internet, so it seems like a prime target if your site is monetized. However, you might find the battle to be somewhat akin to skating uphill as the country is still governed by laws that are rooted in religion and tradition. Communication is closely monitored, including Internet access. So if your site is hosted elsewhere and could promote values that run counter to their laws or religion, your site will get blocked.


Home to Cuban cigars and usually portrayed as a top holiday destination (particularly by wealthy celebrities,) Cube seems like it’s full of people who would be willing to look at commercial websites and maybe spend a little bit here and there. Even if there are people like that in Cuba, your site still won’t reach them because Cuba is a strict country under communist rule, where people are not allowed to write things that run counter to their principles. That includes the Internet, which is screened regularly in the country.


Iran’s government is based on religion and prohibits not just information against their government, but also those that could inspire alternative philosophies and lifestyles among its citizens. They have a national firewall the screens online content and its citizens aren’t even allowed to access Facebook, Google+, and Youtube, which means social media campaigns won’t work.

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Create an Ad Banner That Will Be Clicked

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Everybody knows that Ad Banners these days are not as effective as they were a decade ago. Clickthrough rates have fallen and marketers are responding in a knee-jerk reaction, by creating spammy banners and shoving it in people’s faces as frequently as possible.

The main problem with said response is that it doesn’t address the issue: that people aren’t really interested in the ad banners – because they think it’s misleading, or an outright scam, or simply outside the scope of their interests. The proper approach to this problem is not to force or manipulate people into clicking, but just creating ad banners that will be clicked on. Here are a few guidelines on how you can do this:

Rely More on Text Instead of Visuals

Many banners these days don’t stand out because they’re filled with nothing but graphics and colors. Every other banner is like that. If you want a banner that stands out, add some text into it. This also has the benefit of giving you more space to say something about the product or service you’re advertising, making your ad more informative and attractive to people who want to know what they are clicking on.

Don’t Add a Price to Your Banners

People tend to have a preconceived notion about prices. There are people who are turned off by low prices, thinking that it means subpar quality while there are people who shun high prices because they want to save on costs. You can’t put a price on your ad banner without the risk of alienating one side or the other. So if you want your banner to be attractive to hold off on including the numbers.

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How China Censors the Internet and How You can Go Around It

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Great wall of china-mutianyu 4A 2012 report by Freedom House, which is a U.S. organization that tracks global trends in political freedom, has ranked China as the 3rd most restrictive country in the world in terms of internet access, citing that only a small portion of the country’s 560 million internet users are able to browse websites that have been blocked by the Chinese government (which can be anything from adult sites to popular western services like Facebook and Google.)

The main motivation behind the extremely restrictive internet in China is because the government wants strict controls over its people’s browsing, effectively limiting the control of information and censoring content that they deem inappropriate. But how does China do it?

The Great Firewall of China

The Chinese government has two methods of exercising control over what its citizens can access on the web. First is a national firewall that has been dubbed as “The Great Firewall” by foreigners, as a pun on the country’s famous wonder. The national firewall was started in the late 90s and is active to this day, blocking specific websites (or rather only allowing specific websites and blocking the rest.)

The Golden Shield

The other way that the Internet is censored in China is through the Golden Shield, which is a system for domestic surveillance that goes as far back as 1998, having been set up by the Ministry of Public Security. Under the Golden Shield are local and provincial monitoring systems exclusive to specific government departments.

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Measuring Storage Health

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

A large number of individuals tend to use server benchmarks in order to measure storage performance, and it seems to have caught on to the point where it has become a de facto standard. Not to say that server benchmarks aren’t without its uses, but it’s definitely not meant for measuring storage health, because it only measures the maximum performance of the server.

Additionally, in many of the cases where a server benchmark is used to measure storage performance, the server and OS used are not tuned or optimized, which meant that the storage itself isn’t being given the proper full load that it can handle. Ultimately, this makes the test worthless for measuring storage health because the true capabilities of the storage being tested are left on the table.

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In order to truly measure storage performance, the backend storage must be the sole target resource being measured, avoiding processor bottleneck. Being cpu-bottlenecked is a common case because storage arrays have the capacity to handle several heavy workloads from multiple servers at the same time. There is a need to use storage benchmarks designed by storage engineers themselves.

Harddisk-headTrue storage benchmarking tools measure storage health by giving a storage array a simulation of multiple workloads with blended patterns designed to reflect extremely heavy real world use. More complex storage benchmarks even use simulation of moving hot spots, skew, caching effects, and non-uniform access in order to truly provide the most accurate metrics related to storage health.

At the end of the day, it is important to use the right tool for the job. Server benchmarks – even the best ones – won’t do the job if what you need is measure the storage health. You need to use a storage benchmark that was specifically designed for measuring the performance of storage.

The Benefit of Google HTTPS Algorithm for Web Hosting Companies

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Google has recently made a statement pointing to a new company outlook that safe websites provide a more secure and better internet on the whole, which means that they will provide search preference to sites that provide secure connection through HTTPS to their website visitors; the statement lead to speculations that Google may add a new ranking indicator that gives weight to sites that use HTTPS.

Logo Google 2013 Official

The search engine’s official blog made a statement that all but confirms all the speculations. According to their blog post:

“Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.”

Google’s move is certainly one that is much-needed. And it shows because their announcement is met with favorable responses from many website owners and web hosts, a contrast to the furor that their algorithm changes and patches usually inspire on the web. However, while Google has not said anything that points to sites without HTTPS prefix suffering from any ranking drops, it is where things will naturally go if the rankings of HTTPS sites are elevated. (basically, they’re not dropping in rank, but everyone else will be elevated. It boils down to the same thing.)

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Things to Consider When Integrating Cloud in an IT Infrastructure

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

cloud web hostingWhile there are still cloud naysayers among the crowd, there is no denying that cloud technology has matured enough to the point where it’s become foolish for organizations to avoid implementing at least one type of cloud solution for their IT infrastructure. If your organization falls into this category and you don’t want to be left behind, here are some of things you might want to consider:


These days, implementing cloud based email solutions don’t really cost that much yet provides companies and its employees with several benefits, including the ability to access their mails (and therefore continue working) regardless of device or location. Additionally, a cloud-based email infrastructure will bring savings as it doesn’t require much in the way of maintenance and support compared to a traditional on-site email server.


It may seem ironic because security is one of the key issues that slowed adoption of the cloud at the outset, but the technology has matured and now we have various security solutions that are based on the cloud. Leading security companies like McAfee and Norton now offer cloud-based security suites that make it easier for organizations to maintain security for their network without devoting too much local resources on security suites.


While it’s still important for companies to have on-site backups in order to facilitate fast recovery, off-site backups are a necessity in order to cover against various unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances that would take an on-site backup out of the equation. Cloud-based backups are exceptionally suited for these purposes as they will be hosted far away from the site and can be made redundant on several different locations all over the globe.

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What Wireless Hackers Don’t Want You To Know

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

WiFi made Internet access convenient, but as with any kind of technology, convenience usually has tradeoffs particularly in terms of security. If you think having a secure password and encryption on your wireless access point keeps you safe, then you’d be wrong and thinking the way hackers want you to think so that you can continue being vulnerable to their attacks.

Before you take the first steps towards protecting your wireless access point from intruders, you first need to know several things that hackers don’t want you to find out, such as:

WEP Encryption is Useless and Doesn’t Offer Any Protection

If you’re using WEP encryption in your wifi access point, then you’re basically operating under a placebo and you might as well just keep the router open to the public, because it literally takes mere minutes for hackers to gain access to access points using WEP encryption. Use a stronger type of encryption like WPA2. If your router doesn’t support any other encryption besides WEP, then chances are it’s too old that you have to replace it anyway.

MAC Filtering is Easily Defeated

Many savvy home administrators use MAC filtering so that only specific machines can connect to their wifi access point. However, a hacker can easily use a wireless packet capture program to eavesdrop on the traffic, find a MAC Address that’s being allowed on the network, and then spoof their own address to gain access.

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Lessons From the Scariest Security Threats

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

One of the scariest security threats, particularly for companies who have a lot to lose in terms of finance and data, is what’s called Advanced Persistent Threats or APT. What makes it so much more scary than the average intrusion is that unlike the random hacking attempt, which is usually a hit-and-run because the perpetrators are scared of being traced and caught, APTs are highly sophisticated forms of cyber attacks that take a lot of time and careful planning on the side of the hackers, as they “settle in” on a network and mine sensitive corporate data for the long term.

By the time admins find out about APTs, it’s usually too late as too much data has already been compromised. In a lot of cases, the APTs are only found out when the hackers have already achieved their goal. Recent examples are the Target and Home Depot breaches, where the attacks were only found out after the perpetrators have already stolen billions of sensitive customer data and caused a big enough PR nightmare to get CEOs and CIOs fired.

Do not listen to upstart security professionals who thumb their nose and label APTs as just a marketing buzzword. It’s a dangerous (and financially ruinous) threat as outlined by the example above. However, the silver lining is that there are lessons to be learned from all the attention APTs have been getting as of late. Here are a few:

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You’re Always a Target

Many companies get hit by APTs easily because they think they’re not a target. They think they’re small, that there’s no money to be had in hacking them, that they’re not popular enough to be noticed, and that it’s simply not worth it for the hackers. But perpetrators of APTs don’t care. They know that all businesses strive for growth, and even small ones will “ripen” over time, so they watch out for new targets and get in early while the company still feels safe because they are “not worth the effort.” When the company grows and becomes large enough to warrant increased security, it’s already too late as the APTs have already got in.

Security Threats Aren’t Always Technologically Advanced

When it comes to security, meticulousness is imperative and no detail however small should be ignored. The tendency for some security experts, particularly in massively important cases like APTs, is to assume that the perpetrators are highly organized and have access to the best tools and skills needed for an attack, sometimes missing things right under their noses – like a disgruntled former employee who got elevated access after buddying up to a network administrator.

Prioritize Security Over Maintaining Operations

It’s not just APTs. All hackers love it when companies are so determined to maintain their operations that they won’t even entertain the idea of a few hours of business disruption for the sake of increased security. They would rather leave a few things untouched as long as it’s a low risk. One key example of this is password resets. It is important that all accounts in the network get their passwords reset regularly, but sometimes businesses choose to leave a few accounts untouched because changing them would disrupt operations (either because the account is used by an executive who doesn’t want to go through the trouble of remembering a new password, or because some automated workstations would need to be taken down in order to update their code for the new credentials.) These unchanged passwords could make all the work on security worthless, as hackers will have the proverbial keys to the kingdom when they get their hands on them.