DNSstuff.com
Mar
8th

Avoid FileZilla Like The Plague

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If you are using the free FileZilla FTP program you should remove it immediately and remove any files it leaves behind. There are a number of viruses that read some FileZilla files that expose your FTP details in plain text and then these viruses will alter EVERY index file (i.e. index.php,index.html etc) on your website.

The author has publicly stated that it isn’t his problem and he has no plans to encrypt the plain text data that FileZilla stores. You can find out about these files (which you also need to remove) at:

http://unsharptech.com/2008/05/20/filezilla-ftp-passwords-stored-in-plaintext/

The author’s attitude is totally irresponsible. Granted, all computer users should keep their anti-virus up to date but I also think it is the responsibility of software developers to ensure that any private and/or confidential data is encrypted. I’ve been a developer myself for 30 years and there is no way I would ever store passwords in plain text.

Most open source / free software is high quality. The unfortunate fact is that if it’s free then the author has no level of responsibility as there is no customer relationship. It’s worth considering this when deciding which FTP client you are going to use.

Jun
4th

Do Your Customers Trust You?

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I’m sure you’ve seen web sites that carry various ‘trust’ logos. Trust is important when you expect the public to enter their personal information on your website. It may well be that you are entirely trustworthy and dedicated to the protection of your customers information, but is that the first perception they get when they land on your website?

Website and business certification services have been around since the 1990’s. The main difficulty with most services has been the high cost. Most small businesses can’t afford several thousand dollars per year. There have been (and probably still are) a handful of cheaper services around but you generally get what you pay for and some of the cheaper services are a bit dubious. They only provide very basic verification checks and for that reason they aren’t particularly trustworthy.

Trust-Guard provide business verification, PCI compliance/security scanning and other verification services at a fraction of the cost of most similar services. Their verification methods are second to none and include verification of your businesses website URL, business address, support phone number, support email address, managing member address (kept private), managing member phone number (kept private) and managing member email address (kept private). All of these aspects of your business are checked and verified, not by simply looking up online records but by actual contact being made to each of these contact points. Trust-Guard are just as diligent with PCI compliance, security scanning and privacy policy compliance.

The best part is that the cost for these very professional services ranges from $47-$87 per month. Business and website certification can significantly increase your website sales and with such a low cost there is no excuse to be missing out on sales due to a poor perception of the trustworthiness of your web site.

Full details and pricing are available at  The Trust-Guard Website.

Nov
21st

Disaster 1: All My Files Are Gone!

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This is probably one of the scariest scenarios that any website owner can face. You open your browser to your website URL and you get ‘Page Not Found’. Your heart starts pounding and you hit the ‘refresh’ button a few times but there’s no change. It’s right about then that you start to feel ill … all those files … squeeze pages, sales pages, your membership site .. custom graphics…all gone!

After a few minutes you start to think straight again. Surely your hosting provider does regular backups. I mean, it doesn’t say anything about backups in the list of hosting features .. but SURELY they keep a backup! So, you put a support ticket in, mark it URGENT and wait for the reply. The minutes go by as you refresh the ticket status page … then the minutes turn to hours. Finally you get a response from the Host.

“Unfortunately we had a hard drive failure earlier today. Your domain was offline for approximately one hour. We backup all hosting account information and have restored your hosting server. It is the responsibility of the customer to keep a back up of their website and database files.”

Oh s%^t! The database! All my customer information … membership information … gone.

Golden Rule Number 1

Most people will tell you that all ‘good’ hosts back up all of their servers. What I will tell you is never, NEVER assume that your host has your files and databases backed up. Always make a regular backup of all of your website files AND databases. If you use CPanel, you will note that it has a backup feature. I tend not to use it though, because it will either backup to the server hard drive (and possibly get lost in a hard drive crash) or you can ftp it to another server. Unless you download and check those files though, how are you going to know that your backup is working?

See the Tools section for recommended backup software.

Nov
21st

10 Webmaster Disasters (And How To Avoid Them)

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Whilst the focus at Dedicated Server Doc is mainly about the technical and admin side of operating a server. as a sysadmin you need to be an accomplished web master as well. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting about some of the most common problems that webmasters face and how to avoid having a really bad day! This information is for anyone who operates a web site – not just the tech heads.

The fact is that most disasters can be avoided if we take a little time (and I do mean little) to make sure we have everything covered. I’m sure that, like me, you feel a lot better knowing that everything works and you’re not going to wake up one morning to find that half your life’s work has just been lost … or you’ve been losing money for the past 6 months. You know the saying – ‘better safe than sorry!’.