Category Archives: Online Security

The Cookie You Don’t Want a Bite Of

ZISFEBA3 Image

We accept ‘cookies’ on the internet every day. If you’re not tech-savvy, you may be wondering why you haven’t yet received a packet of Oreos from every single website you’ve visited – I know I am.

And that’s because the concept of cookies aren’t explained to us. Okay, so we know they’re something to do with websites, and data and the internet, but what do they actually do? Why do websites have to check if we’re okay with accepting them first?

Today, a member of our technical team here at Zebra Internet Services gave us a cookie masterclass, and I think it’s worth sharing…

He’s One Smart Cookie…

It all started in 1994, when some bloke named Lou Montulli at Netscape Communications decided that there needed to be a way to track items placed in online shopping carts, something we very much take for granted just 22 years later.

Credited with inventing the concept, Montulli placed a small text file within a web browser, effectively ‘saving’ that information when the page is navigated away from. This was initially known as a ‘Magic Cookie’.

You Actually Need Them…

We need cookies to improve our browsing experience, allowing websites to save things like preferred language, login information, colour scheme and font size – in other words ‘teaching’ the website to understand and remember your requirements.

This information is usually remembered for the duration of your browsing session, and by default, the cookies are set to ‘expire’ once that session is closed or over. Pretty handy when you think about it.

Tough Cookies…

There are some cookies that don’t ‘crumble’ (this is almost too easy) when you close down your browsing session. Some are set with a specific expiry date, and thus will last for multiple sessions, sometimes years.

You can check which cookies remain active in your browser history settings – worth a look just in case there’s any information in there you wish to delete.

Third Party Cookie Monsters…

The website you’re visiting may not be the only one storing your cookies. Most websites nowadays call on third party resources like Google Analytics, who also track and store your browsing information by installing their own cookies on the sites.

Well that’s A Bit Crummy…

Cookies are vulnerable to security risks, but less so than they used to be. When you sign into a website, you’ll be assigned what’s known as a ‘session cookie’. This is proving that it’s you that entered the information, and if you select ‘remember me’ then that cookie is valid for an extended period.

If an attacker manages to capture and hijack that cookie, they could sign in to that website as you. For this reason, most cookies are set on an encrypted connection, so that they can’t be deciphered. This is why we’re often asked to re-enter our password when we want to change account information – cookies shouldn’t actually contain it.

Cookies Are A Legal Requirement…

In May 2011, EU Cookie Law (yes, really) was introduced in a bid to ensure that all websites made you aware that they were collecting cookies. That’s why we get those cookie requests to either ‘accept’ or ‘deny’.

Make sense? If you’re concerned about cookies, or any other security measures on the web, then contact or technical team for advice on 0191 261 2252, or visit our security solutions page over at www.domaincheck.co.uk.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Camille Taylor

Camille Taylor is Head of SEO and Online Reputation management at Zebra.

@CamilleTaylor34

Protect Your Mailbox With SpamExperts, Available From Domaincheck

SpamExperts

Is your mailbox always manic? Filled with emails from users and companies who you don’t recognise? Although some of the emails may be of relevance to you, many of them are not can be nasty threats such as viruses. Here at Domaincheck we offer an exceptional anti-spam and anti-virus mail filtering service to protect yourself and your computer from such threats.

The service is called SpamExperts, and as the name implies, has a single mission – to provide security to email worldwide and diminish any spam mail you may receive.

SpamExperts are a technology focused company, who put a lot of time and investment into research and development, to stay one step ahead in the industry. All of the technologies are developed in-house and are constantly updated with weekly new features and real-time engine updates.

SpamExperts unmatched spam intelligence is a direct result of processing millions of emails every second of every day. The company applies continuous improvements in secure data collection and analysis, detecting new patterns and identifying attempted trick emails instantly. That accumulated intelligence is shared real-time with all SpamExperts users’ worldwide, assuring timely protection against new threats.

At Domaincheck we have been protecting mailboxes with SpamExperts for some time now. Their commitment to providing the best service to you, our valued client, is key. Since we implemented the service in January this year almost 10 million emails have been scanned, and over 80% of these emails were identified as spam and eliminated before even reaching the mailboxes and target client! As well as filtering out spam, the service offers other benefits too such as increased email continuity, improved resource efficiency and improved employees productivity.

It’s simple to add SpamExperts to your service, and you can add it to all of your mailboxes on your domain name for only £2 + VAT per month! If you want to find out more about how the system works or to sign up, you can read our guide or call the Domaincheck team on 0191 261 2252 today!

 

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

New TLDs - Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter is our resident Domain  Name Expert, and Head of Domain and Hosting Services for domaincheck.co.uk.

Cleaning up your Inbox with SpamExperts

In early January this year, we upgraded our email anti-spam solution offering in order to improve the experience for our customers. Fittingly called SpamExperts, the solution enables us to offer our clients a healthy add on to their existing hosting packages to manage unwanted SPAM. The clue is in the title, and thankfully SpamExperts more than lives up to its name. Let’s take a look at the benefits SpamExperts can offer you:

Spam: An Unnecessary Head-Ache

We all know that spam is a nightmare, especially when you do most of your business online. It takes up far too much email storage and can cause major problems down the line if your inbox isn’t properly maintained, especially if your current hosting provider has package limits. If you don’t take care of spam effectively and ensure that it’s regularly being removed from your inbox, then you run the risk of being suspended. That’s an inconvenience that we could all do without.

Not only that, when you receive an email from an unrecognised or unfamiliar address, there will be a dispute over whether it’s a legitimate email and whether it should be opened (you never know when you might be failing to open a very important email, after all). We can all agree that we spend far too much time pondering this question, to the point that we end up wasting valuable time that could be spent on more important things. Most of the spam that we receive contains viruses that are harmful to your computer.

The bottom line is this: spam is a head-ache that we shouldn’t have to deal with, but at least we have a way to make the process of dealing with spam easier than it has been.

Why Turn to SpamExperts?

With SpamExperts there’s a little work involved, but that little amount of work goes a long way. Through the amazingly user-friendly control panel, you can keep mass amounts of spam out of your mailbox, thereby freeing up valuable space for the emails that actually matter.

Since we started using the solution at the turn of the year, it’s successfully scanned approximately 2.5 million emails. We’re not even exaggerating – that’s just how intrusive spam emails can be and we think that the SpamExperts stats back up the service provided.

You don’t even have to worry about emails being blocked by filters; you can easily view any blocked emails in the ‘Quarantine’ section of the control panel and enable emails to come through at a later date.

SpamExperts also allows you to set the sensitivity on the spam filter to ‘restrictive’ or ‘relaxed’ depending on your personal preference or business requirements. There’s a Black and White List service in place as well, so that you have complete control over what does and doesn’t arrive in your mailbox. To use this service, all you have to is make a list of senders that you will allow emails from and a list of senders that you don’t want to receive emails from again. Basically, it’s a tool that allows you to block unwanted messages and a great way to get those spammers off your back.

All of the team at Zebra Internet Services have been thoroughly impressed with the quality of the SpamExperts service and think that you will be too. The service allows you to see the amount of emails being filtered through and tweak it to suit your needs better; all of the data is presented clearly and with transparency, better enabling you to decide if it’s a beneficial add on for you to use.

SpamExperts is also cost effective, especially when you take into account the sheer amount of emails that they filter for your business. What’s more, the amount of emails they scan is virtually unlimited, both on the amount of mailboxes and the amount of email scanned, so you don’t have to worry about hitting a limit and having the spam flooding back in. It’s one of the best anti-spam solutions available to date.

 

So, are you sick to death of spam and don’t know what to do about it? Have you had it up to here with spam taking up all the space in your inbox and want to get it cleared out once and for all? SpamExperts might be the service for you. Give it a try today and see how it can help you keep your inbox clean, organised and, most importantly, filtered to only receive the emails that matter to you.

Call us on 0191 261 2252 to speak to our team, or visit www.domaincheck.co.uk/email-spam-scanning.htm for more information and to order online.

 

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Sean Cardus

Sean Cardus is Head of Systems at Zebra Internet Services.

Taylor takes Swift action to protect her Online Reputation

The internet has been ablaze with fevered speculation over the news that Taylor Swift has been purchasing racy top level domains.

There are currently lots of new top level domains (nTLDs) for sale that differ from the most common TLDs in use, such as ‘.org’ and ‘.com’. These new TLDs includes hundreds of suffixes that will be continually added too, including ‘.healthcare’ and ‘.deals.’ Expanding the TLD structure in this way has the benefit of helping internet users to find what they’re looking for faster and more efficiently, and with so many domain names already taken it’s become clear that businesses need more options to successfully build up an online presence. These new, more specific nTLDs can help to play a part in online branding.

The introduction of specific domains also has the benefit of ensuring better parental control as the websites purposes are more clearly signposted, making it less likely for children to stumble across sites not suitable for them.

It was revealed this week that Taylor Swift’s team had purchased TaylorSwift.porn and TaylorSwift.adult ahead of the game after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers allowed public figures and corporations to purchase any domains of interest before they’re opened to the public. While Taylor Swift’s legal team have done well to target some of the more unsavoury TLDs, they haven’t been entirely successful, failing to reserve ‘iHateTaylorSwift.com,’ which was registered back in February by another party.

Why exactly did the Swift legal team do this? Essentially, the purchasing of these specific domains is a pre-emptive strike against people that would seek to use Taylor Swift’s image for pornographic purposes or anything else unsavoury or potentially harmful to her reputation and career. For example, someone might use ‘TaylorSwift.porn’ in order to direct traffic to the site under false pretences, or simply to attack Swift herself. Haters gunna hate!

Microsoft has clearly anticipated the same issues as Swift’s team and have also registered ‘Office.porn’ and ‘Office.adult.’ Many companies will probably follow suit in order to protect their brand identity and minimise any negative online reputation that might arise from misuse of TLDs related to their business. A similar approach was taken at the launch of .xxx in 2011.

The action is known as defensive domain registration, the primary purpose of which is to protect intellectual property or a trademark from abuse.

While the expansion of TLDs will prove to be useful for many companies, it has also raised the issue of brand identity, brand protection and how corporations and public figures can weather the coming storm that such an expansion may bring. It has also raised some concerns from organisation like The Association of National Advertisers, who wrote an open letter to ICAAN suggesting that a ‘do not sell’ list related to famous brands in order to protect brand holder’s investment in TLDs for their business. The argument is that such a mechanism would help brands to avoid the expense of defensive registration at the top level as well as reducing the need for defensive registration in the first place.

Your domain name is one of the most important parts of your brand, especially if you’re a smaller business that’s trying to gain traffic and widen your customer base. If you would like to buy a TLD to help users find your site quicker and better establish your online brand, Domaincheck offers a wide variety of suffixes available for registration, from ‘.beer’ to ‘.science.’

Here at Zebra Internet Services, we’re a group of internet experts there to provide you with the solutions you need, from domain names & web hosting to Search Engine Optimisation and Online Reputation Management. No matter your business, we have the top level domain you need to get people noticing your site and the services to help you make the most of it.

If you already have a TLD in mind, you can visit www.domaincheck.co.uk to check its availability. If it’s available and you want to go ahead with it, then all you have to do is get in touch and register with us! You can register for anywhere between 1 and 10 years for most domains and if you decide that a longer term registration is what you need we might even be able to do you a discount!

If you’d like to get in touch to discuss the nTLDs or to ask about any of our other services, you can contact us on 0191 261 2252 or email Andrew Carter, Head of Domain & Hosting Services at [email protected]

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

New TLDs - Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter is our resident Domain  Name Expert, and Head of Domain and Hosting Services for domaincheck.co.uk.

Zebra partners with CloudFlare!

How CloudFlare increases speed and security of your site…

This is a guest post written and contributed by CloudFlare.  CloudFlare makes it easy for any site to be as fast and secure as the Internet giants.

CloudFlare, a web performance and security company, is excited to announce our partnership with Zebra Internet Services! If you haven’t heard about CloudFlare before, our value proposition is simple: we’ll make any website twice as fast and protect it from a broad range of web threats.

Today, hundreds of thousands of websites—ranging from individual blogs to e-commerce sites to the websites of Fortune 500 companies to national governments—use CloudFlare to make their sites faster and more secure. We power more than 65 billion monthly page views—more than Amazon, Wikipedia, Twitter, Zynga, AOL, Apple, Bing, eBay, PayPal and Instagram combined—and over 25% of the Internet’s population regularly passes through our network.

 Faster web performance

CloudFlare is designed to take a great hosting platform like Zebra Internet Services and make it even better.

We run 23 data centers strategically located around the world. When you sign up for CloudFlare, we begin routing your traffic to the nearest data center.

As your traffic passes through the data centers, we intelligently determine what parts of your website are static versus dynamic. The static portions are cached on our servers for a short period of time, typically less than 2 hours before we check to see if they’ve been updated. By automatically moving the static parts of your site closer to your visitors, the overall performance of your site improves significantly.

CloudFlare’s intelligent caching system also means you save bandwidth, which means saving money, and decreases the load on your servers, which means your web application will run faster and more efficiently than ever. On average, CloudFlare customers see a 60% decrease in bandwidth usage, and a 65% in total requests to their servers. The overall effect is that CloudFlare will typically cut the load time for pages on your site by 50% which means higher engagement and happier visitors.

 Broad web security

Over the course of 2011, CloudFlare identified a 700% increase in the number of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) we track on the Internet . As attacks like these increase, CloudFlare is stepping up to protect sites.

CloudFlare’s security protections offer a broad range of protections against attacks such as DDoS, hacking or spam submitted to a blog or comment form. What is powerful about our approach is that the system gets smarter the more sites that are part of the CloudFlare community.

We analyze the traffic patterns of hundreds of millions of visitors in real time and adapt the security systems to ensure good traffic gets through and bad traffic is stopped.

In time, our goal is nothing short of making attacks against websites a relic of history. And, given our scale and the billions of different attacks we see and adapt to every year, we’re well on our way to achieving that for sites on the CloudFlare network.

 Signing up

Any website can deploy CloudFlare, regardless of your underlying platform. By integrating closely with Zebra Internet Services and , we make the process of setting up CloudFlare “1 click easy” through your existing Domaincheck Control Panel. Just look for the CloudFlare icon in the “Applications” section and click the Install button.  That’s it!

We’ve kept the price as low as possible and Cloudflare offered through Zebra Internet Services is free.

Moreover, we never charge you for bandwidth or storage, therefore saving you tons via reduced bandwidth costs.

For site owners who would like to take advantage of CloudFlare’s advanced offerings, we also offer a ‘Pro’ tier of service for $20/month. The ‘Pro’ tier includes all of the ‘Free’ tier’s offerings, as well as lots of extra features such as SSL, full web application firewall and faster analytics.

We’re proud that every day more than a thousand new sites, including some of the largest on the web, join the CloudFlare community. If you’re looking for a faster, safer website, you’ve got a good start with Zebra Internet Services, but the next step is to join the CloudFlare community…

 

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Sean Cardus

Sean Cardus is Head of Systems at Zebra Internet Services.

Cyber Security: Why your online gossip consumption could be affecting your [computer’s] health…

Cyber security is certainly not a subject to be taken lightly by anyone; whether you use the internet to drive traffic and leads to your site, or if you frequently use the web as an information or news source.

A shocking annual survey by global American software security firm McAfee revealed that those searching the web for news and gossip from their favourite celebrities are being frequently targeted by malicious sites hoping to draw on the naivety of many web users.

As reported by a number of major news outlets including the BBC and the Independent last week, 15% of search results related to X-Factor judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini contained download options or online threats that were hazardous to users. As a result, McAfee have quite amusingly named Cheryl as ‘the most dangerous celebrity on the web’ (prompting even more searches we imagine).

But how can you avoid such dangers when indulging in your daily binge of celeb gossip, or searching for valuable information about companies or news stories online? Zebra Internet Services and Domaincheck have compiled a list of the top 5 warning signs for internet users concerned about vulnerability:

  1. Domain Names: Does the destination of the link look safe? Is the domain name (web address) something you recognise or that is the same as the expected website? (e.g. bbc.co.uk or mailonline.com) Or is the target of the link actually something that looks dodgy?
  2. Appearance: If you get to a website with a poor layout, top heavy and suspicious looking advertising, and has generally low-quality appearance and content, avoid downloading anything.
  3. Advertising: Pop ups. We’re seeing less and less of them of higher quality sites, and most browsers are defaulted to block them due to high risk. Are the pop ups related to gambling sites, loans or something that looks a tad dodgy? Avoid!
  4. Security: If the website has a security certificate, is it in date? Be wary if you’re then required to submit any personal information.
  5. Personal Information: Remember the cautionary tale of Rumpelstiltskin, the more information you freely give out the greater your risk of someone using that information against you.

 

Our technical team recommend that you don’t download anything from a website unless you are specifically there to download that software, and in your web browser enable ‘phishing and malware protection’ or ‘safe browsing’ options if available.

If you’re worried about keeping your computer safe generally, you could always browse our range of security solutions at http://www.domaincheck.co.uk/antivirus.htm.

 

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Sean Cardus

Sean Cardus is Head of Systems at Zebra Internet Services.