New Year — New Web Site!

  • Is it time to update your web site with a fresh, new look for 2015?
  • How about making it mobile-friendly so it can be viewed on phones and tablets?
  • Are you using the latest software to deter hacking?

The goal of any web site is to inform and attract new customers.  An outdated look and/or incorrect information detracts from these goals. It just might be time to take a good look at your current site and start taking steps toward making improvements.  Reach out to your web designer and discuss design updates. Make sure your employee list is current and you include a comprehensive list of services and products.  Are all of your hyperlinks still working?  Would you like to add powerful features like a shopping cart, blog or photo gallery? If you use a site builder tool like TOAST.net’s Web Presence Builder some of the content changes are easy to make on your own.  If you are really savvy you may even be able to update design elements within your site.  If you don’t feel you are ready to tackle the design … contact your web designer for advice. Remember that your goal is not only to have customers find your site but for them to gain valuable information about your company when they get there.

That brings me to my next point… how are they getting to your site?  Are your customers sitting at a desktop computer?  Are they in their car (in the passenger seat) searching for your store? Your web site needs to be mobile-friendly, easy to traverse while on a mobile device or tablet. Check to see if your web design tool automatically creates a mobile version of your site, or has a responsive theme.  Site design tools can help you quickly build and maintain a beautiful website that is fully functional on all devices.

Once you have published your newly redesigned website it is now time to take a break, right?  Wrong.  Revisit your site at least once a month. Make sure all content is up to date and that your web site design software has been updated to the latest version. Hackers are often able to enter a site through security vulnerabilities that reside in outdated software versions. Although time-consuming, making sure you are using the latest and greatest software is critical for the security of your site. With sites hosted at TOAST.net you can set WordPress, its plugins and themes to automatically update to the latest version.  Our Web Presence Builder automatically updates so that you are always developing in the latest version.

New Year – maybe it’s also time to say – New Website!

The Heartbleed Aftermath

by: Doug Zbikowski

heartbleed[1]It’s been over a month since the Heartbleed bug brought Internet security to the forefront of the news, and according to Errata Security’s Robert Graham, more than 300,000 servers across the globe are still vulnerable. This is a big drop from the 600,000 initially detected when the vulnerability first became public, but it’s still a large number.

After its discovery earlier this year, Heartbleed is still a serious threat because it can potentially release usernames, credit card information, passwords, and other personal data to attackers. It was determined a flaw in OpenSSL, a common tool used to encrypt and secure communication between a user to a server, is the source of this security breach.

Graham’s numbers are concerning, and they might just be the tip of the iceberg.

His testing was done by scanning port 443 (a port is a “channel” used in Internet communication that is reserved for a specific function. Port 443 is typically used for SSL traffic). There may be thousands…even millions…more servers out there using undetected alternate ports that are still unpatched. Read more of this post

New vulnerability endangers Internet Explorer users

By: Doug Zbikowski

iewarn

UPDATE (May 1, 2014, 1:30pm ET): Microsoft has released an emergency patch for the Internet Explorer vulnerability. In a surprise move, they also released an update for Windows XP! Head over to Windows Update to get it.

A new bug has been discovered that could put Internet Explorer users at serious risk. Until the problem is fixed security experts are calling on users to switch to an alternative browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. In a rare move, the US Government is advising to users to switch to another browser until Internet Explorer is fixed.

On April 26th, 2014, Microsoft announced that all versions of Internet Explorer are at risk for “drive-by” attacks from malicious websites. This new vulnerability, dubbed CVE-2014-1776, has the potential to give hackers direct access to your computer, allowing infected web sites to install malicious applications, create new Windows accounts, and change or delete data stored on the computer. Disturbingly, these attacks have actually been observed in the wild by Internet security firm FireEye, who started observing this type of attack as early as February. Microsoft says attacks seem to be coming from websites that feature advertisement feeds or user-provided content where an attacker could insert malicious code. At this time it is unknown whether Microsoft will release an emergency patch or wait until patch Tuesday on May 13th to fix the vulnerability. Read more of this post

Microsoft kills Windows XP – so now what?

by: Doug Zbikowski

April 9th, 2014 – a day that will live in computer infamy.

Windows XP was unleashed on the market on August 21st, 2001, and it’s an example of an operating system that may have been made a bit too well. Normally, versions of Windows become so outdated and frustrating that people mob stores when a new version is released. This never really happened with XP. People just kept using it, Microsoft kept updating it, and it seemed to work well enough for everyone. If it works, why change? Read more of this post

Passwords: Your First Line of Defense in Internet Safety

Loginby: Doug Zbikowski

It’s amazing how many Internet services an average person uses. For example I’ll pick on my parents as they’re the least tech-
savvy people I can think of at the moment: they fall in the “light user” category, yet in an average week they may log into :

  • email
  • Facebook
  • a couple of banks
  • investment accounts
  • health insurance website
  • several retail store accounts
  • Amazon
  • credit card services
  • utility services
  • Netflix

…and probably more. That’s 10+ services for a novice user on a weekly basis. Each one of these services requires a way to identify yourself, and that’s usually in the form of a username and password. Read more of this post

Google Sync and Outlook 2013

outlookvsgmailUPDATE 11/22/13: Google has heard our pleas! Google Sync now works with Click to Run versions of Outlook 2013.  Read more on Google’s support site.

Download Google Apps Sync v. 3.5.365.980 with support for Outlook 2013 Click-to-Run edition.

Google Sync is a powerful product for business: it provides complete email, contact, and calendar synchronization between a Google Apps for Business account, mobile devices, and Outlook…or at least it used to.

Recently, Microsoft began distributing its popular Office software via a new method called “Click to Run.” CTR versions of Office software install from the web and seem to operate partially on the user’s desktop and partially in the cloud. This change makes CTR version of Outlook 2013 incompatible with Google Sync, and Google is hinting that a work-around from them is not likely. Read more of this post

The Right Tool for the Right Job: Using Apps on Mobile Devices

It’s predicted that this year tablets will outsell PCs for the first time, a clear sign that Internet usage is moving towards a more portable and accessible format. Smartphones are showing a similar upswing, with a recent Pew Research Center study showing that 56% of Americans are currently using a smartphone. Both tablets and smartphones are small devices with a big job: display all of the information on the Internet in a usable manner on a small screen: you could be viewing content on a screen anywhere from 3.5″ to 10″. Compared to a laptop’s 15″ screen or a PC’s 23″ monitor, that’s not a lot of room. All of that information needs to be converted into a format that works well with a small display, and there are specialized tools to do that. Read more of this post

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