Hacking & Web Security – What You Need to Know

Given all the news of late about hacking and its potentially harmful effects, we thought outing together a useful guide to hacking would be helpful to our clients.

In computer networking, hacking is any technical effort to manipulate the normal behavior of network connections and connected systems. A hacker is any person engaged in hacking. The term “hacking” historically referred to constructive, clever technical work that was not necessarily related to computer systems. Today, however, hacking and hackers are most commonly associated with malicious programming attacks on the websites, email accounts and other computer networks.

Common Network Hacking Techniques
Hacking on computer networks is often done through scripts and other network software. These specially-designed software programs generally manipulate data passing through a network connection in ways designed to obtain more information about how the target system works. Many such pre-packaged scripts are posted on the Internet for anyone – typically entry-level hackers – to use. More advanced hackers may study and modify these scripts to develop new methods. Hacking techniques on networks include creating worms, initiating denial of service (DoS) attacks, or in establishing unauthorized remote access connections to a device.

What do they want with my website?
You might now be wondering what this has to do with your company website that does not store users’ credit card information or nude pictures of Scarlett Johansson. Well, hackers can turn your website into an advertisements for questionable products like designer-imposter handbags or porn sites. By injecting your site with their content, they are hoping to use your good search engine positioning to improve theirs, by leveraging Google’s in bound links algorithm. They can also hijack the hosting server to be used in botnet DDoS attacks on other servers, meaning that they use your server’s address to cover their trail. And even worse, they can hack into your website databases and destroy or manipulate important information, or even send sensitive user data to other hackers.

Protecting Against Hacking
Luckily there are things that you can do to secure your website from hackers and becoming a target for online vandals. Here’s a roundup of the easiest steps you can take:

1) Keep All Software Updated
Whether your website was built from scratch by your development team or you chose to create a DIY site on a third party turnkey platform, as a site owner it’s your job to ensure that every piece of software you run is up to date. At Desktop Solutions, we run round the clock diagnostics on all of our servers, and install regular security patches and updates to all content management systems to make our sites less vulnerable to these attacks.

2) Use Strong Passwords, Change Regularly
Using strong passwords is an effective way to limit if not completely eliminate brute force and dictionary attacks. Strong passwords are not just a requirement for your email or financial transactions online, they are also imperative for your website server, admin and database passwords. Make sure your password is a combination of alphanumeric characters, symbols, upper and lower case characters and is at least 12 characters long to prevent brute force attacks.
Do not use the same password for all your different website logins. Change your passwords regularly to keep them doubly secure. Store users’ passwords in encrypted form. This ensures that even if there is a security breach, attackers do not get their hands on actual user passwords.

3) Switch to HTTPS
HTTPS or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, is a secure communications protocol that is used to transfer sensitive information between a website and a web server. Moving your website to the HTTPS protocol essentially means adding an encryption layer of TLS (Transport Layer Security) or SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to your HTTP making your users’ and your own data extra secure from hacking attempts. While HTTPS is a necessity for all online transactions, the rest of the website is usually on HTTP in most cases. However, all that is about to change with Google’s recent announcement that HTTPS will be a search ranking factor. Besides the security aspect of things, it now makes even more sense to shift your entire website to HTTPS to improve your search rankings simultaneously.

4) Web Application Firewalls
Just as you lock your doors before leaving your house and install antivirus software on your desktop computer before browsing the web, you should also have a security system to serve as your website’s first line of defense against hacking attacks. A Web Application Firewall is that first line of defense. These solutions are designed to inspect incoming traffic, provide and weed out malicious requests –- offering protection from SPAM, brute force attacks, SQL Injections, Cross Site Scripting and other OWASP Top 10 threats.

Until just a few years ago, Web Application Firewalls were only available as hardware appliances, but today providers are revolutionizing the industry by using cloud technology to cut down prices of security solutions previously found only in enterprise level setups.
Consequently, all website owners can now “rent” a cloud-based Web Application Firewall, without committing to pricey security appliances or even owning a dedicated hosting server. Better yet, these plug-and-play services don’t require you to hire security experts or attempt to learn every aspect of web security. (Most of us just don’t have the time to become cybersecurity experts too.)

With hundreds of thousands of websites hacked every year, it’s becoming clear that even well-managed sites and vigilant hosting firms are still vulnerable to these attacks. Cloud-based Web Application Firewalls are filling that void.

Conclusion
Most of us go through life with the philosophy ‘It won’t happen to me’. However, that philosophy has been proven not to be true in the world of online security. A successful attack on your site not only leads to compromising of users’ data and your own information, it can also lead to a blacklisting of your site by Google and other search providers as your infected site risks spreading malicious content throughout the web.
Erring on the side of caution works best in this area. Implement at least these basic steps right away, to avoid being a soft target for malicious hackers.

New Logo and Website for Long Island Metro Business Action

Desktop Solutions is proud to announce the launching of a new online brand for LIMBA, the Long Island Metro Business Action. LIMBA’s new look includes an redesigned logo and clean, mobile-friendly website. The new site is designed to highlight LIMBA’s great line-up of government, education, business, scientific, and environmental leaders that present their ideas to improve the quality of life for Long Islanders.

A new look is not the only update to this important organization. LIMBA announced recently that it will partner with premier law firm Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP, Suffolk County’s premier law firm, LIMBA has expanded its reach in the community. Future meetings will feature an updated format in which CMM Managing Partner Joe Campolo will interview representatives from various levels of government, municipal agencies, and the local economy on issues of importance to Long Islanders. The first joint meeting will feature U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin on Friday, March 3, 2017 at the Courtyard Marriott in Ronkonkoma at 8:00 a.m.

LIMBA officers and hosts Ernie Fazio and Bill Miller also announced the expansion of LIMBA’s Board of Directors to include representatives from various segments of the community including Desktop Solutions own Lynellen Nielsen.

Desktop Solutions Partners with Bronto

When Wacoal America’s e-commerce division was searching for a more effective email marketing platform, they called on Desktop Solutions to help them source, select and implement a new solution. After an exhaustive discovery and research process, Desktop Solutions was happy to recommend Bronto Software, the leading worldwide supplier of commerce marketing automation software.

What exactly does Bronto offer?

Deep customer insights – Bronto helps capture a complete picture of the customer, including demographic data, shopping and purchasing behavior, and order data. Use the data to create more targeted, behavior-based marketing.

Effective targeted messages – Bronto allows you to use customer’s profile to design and deliver the most relevant, automated omnichannel marketing campaigns.

Effectively engaged customers – Bronto uses simple drag-and-drop tools to create sophisticated, omnichannel campaigns based on customer behavior, order history, and product availability and price, and always deliver the right message at the right time.

Measure success at every step – Auto-calculate the performance of campaigns to get the insights you need to continually improve your messages – and increase revenue.

If you are interested in getting more out of your e-commerce marketing, please feel free to call us for a complimentary consultation at 631.428.4654.

Desktop Solutions launches fine art website for Alazraki.com

Daphne Alazraki selects Desktop Solutions for new logo and site design

Alazraki.com

When internationally acclaimed art dealer, Daphne Alazraki, needed a responsive website, she turned to one of the fine art world’s leading designers of data-driven art sites, Desktop Solutions. Desktop’s creative team designed a modern brand identity combined with a classic web 3.0 interface design. And, our programming team created an easy-to-use inventory management system that allows the client and her staff to highlight newly added pieces for sale.

Daphne Alazraki Fine Art is an internationally known, private art gallery that has specialized in European Master paintings for over thirty years. At the gallery’s premiere New York City location, collectors have viewed exceptional quality original works from major schools of the 17th through 21st centuries including Dutch Old Masters, Barbizon, Academic, Dutch Romantic, Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Modern. Subject matter ranges from still life, portrait, landscape, genre and marine themes.

The Gallery’s approach emphasizes high quality, excellent condition, and aesthetics. Over the years, the Gallery has sold paintings from all periods to international museum collections. Daphne Alazraki Fine Art offers valuation services and seeks to purchase works by both major and minor masters directly from private collections. The gallery is open with hours by appointment.

Remarketing – What is it?

For most websites, only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit. Retargeting is a tool designed to help companies reach the 98% of users who don’t convert right away.

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a form of online advertising that continues to display ads for your products and services to users that have previously visited your site. Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses simple a Javascript code to anonymously ‘follow’ your audience all over the Web.

To do retargeting, your developer places a small, unobtrusive piece of code on your website that is unnoticeable to your site visitors. Every time a new visitor comes to your site, the code drops an anonymous browser cookie on the user. Later, when your visitors browse the Web, the cookie lets your Google know when to serve ads, ensuring that your ads are served to only to people who have previously visited your website. In some cases, it actually serves up and ad for the exact product or service that they were looking at on your website before they left.

Retargeting is so effective because it focuses your advertising spend on people who are already familiar with your brand and have recently demonstrated interest. It’s also extremely valuable to incentivize users to who abandoned a previous cart without purchase.  That’s why most marketers who use it see a higher ROI than from most other digital channels.

Retargeting works best in conjunction with inbound and outbound marketing campaigns like Adwords, targeted display ads and triggered email strategies. Retargeting is so effective because it focuses your advertising spend on people who are already familiar with your brand and have recently demonstrated interest. It’s also extremely valuable to incentivize users to who abandoned a previous cart without purchase.  That’s why most marketers who use it see a higher ROI than from most other digital channels.

Google lists several ways to use Adwords campaigns to remarket:

  • Standard remarketing: Show ads to your past visitors as they browse Display Network websites and use Display Network apps.
  • Dynamic remarketing: Show dynamic ads to past visitors with products and services they viewed on your website as they browse Display Network websites and use Display Network apps.
  • Remarketing for mobile apps: Show ads to people who have used your mobile app or mobile website as they use other mobile apps or browse other mobile websites.
  • Remarketing lists for search ads: Show ads to your past visitors as they do follow-up searches for what they need on Google, after leaving your website.
  • Video remarketing: Show ads to people who have interacted with your videos or YouTube channel as they use YouTube and browse Display Network videos, websites, and apps.

For more information about how to implement a solid remarketing plan, feel free to contact Lyn Nielsen at 631.428.4653 or [email protected].

Website helps kids with cancer

Desktop Solutions is proud to announce the completion of our latest project, a website for  Happiness Is Camping, a camp dedicated to helping kids with cancer. Located in beautiful Hardwick New Jersey, the camp sits on 150 pristine acres of woodland, fields, streams, and ponds. Supported by donations and volunteer staff members, the camp is free to all who attend. Campers, ages 6-15 attend our overnight camp staying from one week or all summer depending on their medical condition and the level of care required. The camp is also available for the siblings of the campers as well. Sibling’s ages 6-15 are allowed to attend camp for the same sessions as their brother/sister with cancer.

Camp activities include canoeing and fishing on our pond, swimming in our pool, arts and
crafts, theater, nature, volleyball, basketball, high and low ropes courses, a climbing tower, archery, a giant swing, and a zip line that crosses over the pond. Happiness Is Camping has a fully-staffed health center, with volunteer doctors and nurses from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Montefiore Medical Center.

As a non-profit camp, Happiness Is Camping depends on individual contributions from people who care about the kids they serve. To make a tax- deductible donation to this worthwhile organization, please click here.

 

Tips to Build Your Email List

  1. Ask everyone that comes to your place of business for their email address. Put a sign-up sheet at your register or reception desk. Ask callers on the phone. If you’re a webbased operation, send a follow-up after an order asking if they’d like to continue to hear from you. Have your employees and staff ask too. Don’t be shy! Studies have shown that over half of people will provide their email addresses if asked.
  2. Ask people you meet in professional settings. There’s a lot of networking going on at trade shows, conferences, seminars, and industry events—tell your new contacts about your email newsletter and ask them to subscribe, too!
  3. Many email marketing programs, like Constant Contact, have special features to make it easy for users to sign people up. There are also easy-to-use buttons and widgets to help you capture people’s interest in you. Put them on your website, Facebook page, blog, LinkedIn profile and in your outgoing emails. They’re easy to use. People just click on the link or button to access your sign-up page. Their email goes automatically into your contact database. Couldn’t be easier!
  4. Don’t forget about social media. People love to share information. Use a Social Share bar so your subscribers can forward your newsletter, put it on Facebook, or Tweet it—and make it easy for their friends to join your list!
  5. Cross-promote yourself with a related business or organization. Got a good relationship with a business that’s complementary to yours (such as florists and chocolate stores; theaters and neighborhood bistros). Promote each other in your respective newsletters by being “guest contributors” and writing a newsletter article for their audience, either one time or on an ongoing basis. You’ll also benefit by the perceived endorsement from the other business, making their subscribers more willing to join your list.
  6. Use incentives to get new signups. Offer a monthly prize drawing or freebie like a guide, discount, or giveaway to entice people to leave their email address. If you have employees, run a contest (with a great motivating prize, of course!) to see who gets the most new names in a certain period of time.
  7. Promote your email newsletter in all your printed collateral. Put a simple message on your business cards, brochures, advertisements, sales kits, and direct mail letters.
  8. Some ideas include:
  • “Sign up for our email newsletter for insider information and discounts at [your URL].”
  • “Get our monthly newsletters with tips on how to get more business.”
  • “Receive our weekly email newsletter for exclusive coupons.”
  • “Let’s stay in touch often. Sign up for our email newsletter.”
  • “Ask us about our email newsletter.”