All posts by Margie

Canadian Student Arrested in Heartbleed Hack

He’s 19 years old, a student of computer-science who reportedly
took advantage of the Heartbleed Internet breach to hack into the Canadian IRS and steal 900 social insurance numbers from the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). While it has not been clear yet when the theft took place, Canadian authorities promise to notify all those affected.

For sure, there is much more to come as a result and a consequence of…

The Heartbleed bug

A few days back, a massive security bug left much of the Internet
exposed. As we learned, the Heartbleed bug has affected OpenSSL Protocol for about 2 years now.

"The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs)." (Source: http://heartbleed.com/)

According to the Huffington Post, as much as 66 percent of the web may have been compromised by Heartbleed.

How to protect yourself from the Heartbleed hack

Let me tell you upfront, the Heartbleed hack IS a very serious issue with wide ranging consequences. And there is almost nothing that “normal” users can do against it. Being also a global issue, the Heartbleed-bug-cleanup is extremely difficult.

It’s not just your email address you need to worry about. One of the worst parts is the untraceable aspect of the possible “hack”. So stop thinking “that won’t happen to me”.  Start protecting your Internet
assets and more importantly, start protecting your identity now.

Here are some steps you should consider:
Watch for

  1. emails from people or companies saying “click here” to change your password or update your account information
  2. phone calls promising to fix your problem but only if you give them your password(s), account access or a credit card information
    right away
  3. phone calls or text messages from unknown people or from weird numbers, especially if your cellphone isn’t widely known.
  4. Use a reliable Internet security software that helps you clean up your computer.
  5. Delete all cookies from unknown websites or sites you’ve never visited.
  6. Run security scans on a regular basis.
  7. Change your passwords.

All that requires some additional work but if you want to avoid a “Heartbleed hack” you should take action now. Stay safe!

 

Related Stories:
OpenSSL has a critical security vulnerability that needs to be patched right away
Android devices await Heartbleed fix
Half a million widely trusted websites vulnerable to Heartbleed Bug

Related Videos:
Hackers and cyber security
What is Heartbleed

 

Advertisements

How to get rid of third party spam ads on your website

Chances are, that you’ll never see third party spam ads on your site:
those misleading ads that are misusing your content while trying to syphon traffic from your site. Chances are that you’ll never get into
a similar situation. But chances also are that you will.

And therefore, I decided to make this story public to warn you and
show you ways out of it. So, what happened?

Fair warning from third party ad spam

Just like many others, I usually use Firefox. Ready to launch a new website, I wanted to see what it looked like on another browser and switched over to Chrome. The site looked great, the links worked, everything was perfect.

A few days later, after some more content and some changes  on the layout, I switched again to Chrome to check the site.

I couldn’t believe my eyes… on the first page, about 10 words underlined and linked to ads I’ve never seen before, ads that I’ve never had set up or linked to myself. I switched back to my Firefox browser… no ads, no links. Back on Chrome, the ads and links were there…

I checked my site on another computer and got the same results.
On Firefox: nothing, on Chrome: links and rotating spam ads from
an unknown third party.

I took some screenshots to prove myself I was not dreaming,
to prove the trouble was real. Here is one of them:

How to get rid of third party scam ads on your websiteCan you imagine
how I felt?!
I felt helpless, frustrated, and slowly,
I got really, really
angry. I was not willing to accept that kind of “advertising” linking to my site.

After weeks of research and emailing back and forth with the customer service on WordPress.com (by the way, thanks again guys!)
I was able to finally, specify where all the trouble came from.

I remembered that

1. I downloaded FileZilla from the Internet – you know that
open source software that allows you upload files to your hosting account, don’t you.

2. I got a message on my main computer to update my iTunes – and was confused why they ask me to do that because the updates are set to auto-updates. But, in the usual hurry, I clicked on the update link – but nothing happened. And I forgot about that…

You see where we’re heading to? Pay attention to system messages and how and where you search for download links from the Internet. And here is why: those first pages that show up on the first places in Google search “containing” the download links you’re looking for, could  be some scam pages that outrank the original pages with the original content and links (see also my previous article about
The Scraping problem).

Now, what to do?

How to get rid of all those 3rd party spam ads and links on the website?

I have to mention that yes, I have a very reliable anti-virus and internet safety protection software running in the background
day in day out that usually works like a clockwork catching viruses, trojans and all kind of scammy stuff.

However, I installed a second one from another company to see what results they come up with. And the really surprising thing
was to see how many scammy sites I’ve never visited myself were identified as cookied…

As the problem must have been caused by some extensions and nested on my main computer, here is what I did on Firefox AND
on Chrome:

1. I’ve gone through all the unknown sites manually and
deleted all of them;
2. I deleted all the cookies and
3. I deleted all their “saved content” from my computer
4. Scannned the entire computer system to make sure
there’s nothing left out
5. Checked the website on Firefox AND Chrome:
no more ads, no more links.

As you see, sometimes anger can be your best friend when it comes to put yourself to work…

Third party spam ads on your website can damage your reputation as a serious entrepreneur and with that, ruin your online business.
They can contain scripts to spy on you, misuse your data and can cause you many sleepless nights and a lot of work trying to figure out where they come from and what their true intention is.

Hope you get the value in this article and use the information to
pay more attention to how you use the Internet and to check your system on a regular basis even if you’ve not seen yet those third party scam ads on your site.

Did you like this article?
Like our new page on Facebook –  thank you!

PS. By the way… Heard about StealZilla? Experts say StealZilla is
doing what FileZilla does but “actually contains a hardcoded FTP stealer which send user FTP connection information to the hackers behind the attack“. Learn more here.

4 Simple steps to make your website secure

Did you know that 80% of websites have serious security issues? And do you know how to make your website secure starting with some really simple steps? Let’s dive in…

Your new website a hacker’s playground?

In a few moments you’ll see how easy it is to get the skills and the tools hackers need to damage or misuse your website. But they also can syphon traffic from your site,  steal your data, redirect your links to their own sites or accounts, etc. etc.

Unfortunately, they are difficult to trace because of the anonymity of the net. These days, hacking sites is a simple but very profitable “business model”.

A few days ago, I found a more “aged” video with the catchy title
“How to Hack a Web Site” and I think I’ll share that here with you
because of the valuable information inside. So if you want to learn about website security and, of course, some steps to avoid your website becomes hackers’ playground, watch this video carefully.

OK, I have to admit it’s not easy to follow along but I think it will help you get a first impression how these guys tick…

But then, yes, then you should take action and make your website secure not allowing hackers play on your ground.

4 Simple steps to make your website secure

1. Avoid the username “admin”
Whenever you set up a new website you should get rid of the usual
“admin” username. How to do that? Go to your dashboard, click on “Users” and simply add a new user with a new password, assign your posts (if you already have some) to the new user, then log in with the new username and password and delete the old username “admin”.

2. Set up a protected login
Protected WP-Login is a simple plugin that protects your login form
if you’re running your site on WordPress.org. Check it out here .

3. Block content and image thieves
With just a few clicks, you can block content thieves from stealing your content or your images. WP Content Copy Protection can help you. Check out this one here.

4. Use professional software to secure your website
Making your website secure and keeping it out of reach for hackers by using a professional software can be the most important step to protect not only your website but your entire online business. BulletProof Security is one of them. Check it out here.

 

All the plugins mentioned above are WordPress plugins and there are free and paid versions. And if you ask me what I would recommend… Try the free versions and find out if they do what you need them to do. But if you’re serious about securing your website go for the paid versions. They give you many more features, a higher flexibility and a better protection for your website.

 

Was this article helpful? Leave a comment!

The Scraping Problem

Nobody likes to see his original content published on other sites without permission, wouldn’t you agree? And nobody likes to see those sites ranking higher than his own site with the original content. Well, Google doesn’t really like that either. And it looks like they may have started another campaign to solve the scraping problem.

Why do people “steal” content?

First, for most people doing that it’s an easy way to “create own
content”.  Second, it’s way too easy to put hands on other people’s work. With a few clicks you can copy text and images, make some small changes so that it fits your needs and insert everything in your own blogpost or article. Done.

But is it ethical? And is it legal? You decide.

Some experts say, Yes it is. They even sell the software to do just that. According to them, it’s a fast and cool way to save time and post good content.

Hmmm… Perhaps that’s why there are so many sites with content scraped together…

However. Watch Google’s Matt Cutts talking about scraper sites:

Why scraping can be a serious issue

Google  is looking to get more first hand information about sites
using this “strategy”. They provide a form called Scraper Report asking people to report scraper sites.

To make one thing clear: the scraping problem has nothing to do
with curating content where you take a post or an article and re-
publish parts of it by adding your own unique content, mentioning and linking back to the original source.

As per now it’s not clear yet what Google plans to do with the data they get from the Scraper Report. Whether they plan to ban scraper sites or another algorithm change, no one knows. So please read carefully the Google Webmaster Guidelines and make sure that
your site follows them before taking any action. Don’t let the scraping problem become a serious problem for you.

Read more here

Was this article helpful? Thanks for liking it!

3 Little Words to Get the Right Attitude

Get the right attitude

Those of you who’ve been following me a bit longer know that
I’m a big fan of Brian Tracy’s work.  While doing some researches,
I’ve found one of his videos about the right attitude to face our
challenges, in difficult situations that can become new opportunities.

So today I’d like to share with you some more thoughts about
the entrepreneurial mindset, about finding the right perspective
and getting the right attitude to leave problems behind and
get out of difficulties.

Why we all need the right attitude

Get the right attitudeIn business and in life, many things can go wrong. There are and there will always be
ups and downs, things that make us struggle,
things that hold us back from doing what we would love to do.

We find friends, we build up relationships, have a family, a job,
a business – we have a life. And hardly anyone likes to  think
about “what-if-questions” like what if I lose any of them, or
where can I get the power from to start again from scratch,
how can I still go on living after a personal or professional loss,
after a failure?

Be it in business, be it in life, many people perceive all kind of  “losses” as a personal failure. But getting the right attitude to deal with them and making a difference is key in our personal and professional life.
Because…

There is no success without failure. Truth is, before we can experience success, we have to experience what failure is like. Failure and success – the two sides of the same medal? In my humble opinion, yes.

So if you take a look at your difficulties from another perspective
and change your attitude, you’ll face your entrepreneurial and personal challenges much more easily. And you will understand that whatever challenge comes your way, there is always an opportunity hidden and there is always a way out of that situation.

Is there anything in your life that you would like to change?
Start by taking a look at it from another perspective.
Get the right attitude and take a new approach.

Social Media For Your Online Business

When you think about social media, what comes to your mind first? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? LinkedIn? Perhaps even Google+?
Ok, they are the most frequently used ones but there are many more.
But…

Why to use social media
for your online business?

People like doing business with someone they know, like  and trust.
Your presence on social media platforms can help easily build up
authority and/or branding. You and/or your company will get
noticed on the Internet much faster than  by using a simple
website only. That gives you the opportunity to reach out to
a bigger audience – and marketing to them can be very profitable.

Also, for many people testimonials are aka “social proof” for
seriousness and expertise, they can help gain trust. By joining
social networks and putting some serious work in your social
presence, you can easily get great testimonials and climb up
in the range of experts. Notice that I’m not talking about how
reliable these testimonials are nor about how easily you can
modify them…

Oh yes, and that reminds me of the amount of likes and shares.
There are many reasons not to rely too much on them, other
criteria are much more important (hint: engagement).
We’ve all learned already that a huge list of friends or followers
does not necessarily mean a good business…

Not sure about what other social media networks will be doing,
but Facebook is moving more and more to paid advertising.
That means you can get lots of likes by setting up well-targeted ads.
If you follow the latest updates you’ll see that you can reach way less of your followers than you could a few months before…

According to Facebook, text updates on fanpages and business
pages will be devaluated. They massively support now enhanced
calls to action in the newsfeed ads.  Also, sponsored stories will
go away by April this year.

What does all that mean for you and for all of us using social media?  Simply put, more work. We’ll have to post more often at different times of the day to reach our entire audience. And we’ll need to
invest even more work and time in our updates to engage our audience.

You may say now that’s all okay, but… Does it make sense to use social media for my small business online? And how to get everything done when the day has 24 hours only?!

Absolutely, it does make sense to use social media for your online business.

To me, time is the biggest issue when it comes to using social media for small online businesses. Unless they outsource the work, they cannot keep up with all the changes in the “social arena”. But even outsourcing can become a serious issue: it can be difficult to find the right people to do the job (hint: Fiverr may or may not be the right choice), and in plus, outsourcing costs money. And usually, small online businesses are built on a shoestring budget…

To wrap it up, let me ask you –
and I’d be really happy to hear from you:

  1. do you use social media for your online business, and if so,
  2. how much time per day do you spend on your primary
    social network?

Guest Blogging For SEO

A few days ago, I stumbled upon Chris Crum’s article talking about a blogpost from Google’s Matt Cutts.

Strange story… about a marketer who sent Cutts an offer for “content marketing”… meaning guest blogging for SEO and – for money.

As you may notice, content marketing has more than one meaning. But that’s just how some marketers use content marketing and guest blogging for SEO purposes.

Do you do guest blogging for SEO?

Then please stop doing it.

Over the time, Matt Cutts created more than one video warning bloggers about overusing that strategy to get more links to improve rankings. Watch the latest video messages here:

Well, that’s not what Google wants marketers do. More than that, this kind of content marketing violates Google’s Terms. No wonder that Matt Cutts said about guest blogging:

“Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done;
it’s just gotten too spammy.”

At the moment, Google still loves guest blogging for branding and building authority. But not spammy, paid guest posts on other sites.
If you do guest blogging be careful how you do it.

Also, be careful when you’re offered software to automate guest blogging. The newest one is 3 days old and from a well-known software developer and marketer. I’ve bought some of his products for my own business and for sure, the newest tool is a great one as well.

However, no one knows what Google’s plans are and when they start changing algorithms again or releasing some more “animals”. Therefore, I prefer to stay away from guest blogging for SEO as well as from the software handling all that. Although, I have to admit it’s hard to keep away my fingers from the BUY-button…

P. S. Just in case you want to read the original blogpost on Matt’s blog, click here.

3 Good Reasons To Use Content Marketing

Do you remember all the Panda and Penguin updates, Hummingbird and Google’s other attempts to force marketers come up with quality content and real value on their sites to get ranked? Now, if you’ve asked yourself how does content marketing fit in there and why some experts say that marketing content of value is still awesome… here are 3 good reasons to use content marketing:

Quality content marketing

3 Good Reasons to Use Content Marketing1. Builds up trust and authority

2. Helps you get ranked faster

3. Keeps you safe from Google’s “animal farm” and other search engine updates

Building up authority and trust with quality content marketing

The Wild West on the internet has gone for good, technology has improved. Also, users have become more educated and their expectations have increased. They want to find the best and most reliable information in the shortest amount of time. It got harder to build up trust and engage a site’s visitors, even when using  quality content marketing. A beautiful site with a video and some content on it, directing people to a fancy “buy button” it’s not enough to build up trust. If you’re a “no-name” on the Internet you’ll face hard times because people trust and buy from those they know and accept as an authority in a certain niche. Marketing with quality content that provides a real solution to a specific problem is something people are looking for – no matter what niche you are in – and helps you become an authority whom people know, like and trust.

Gain online visibility easier and get ranked faster – with fresh, unique content

Not too long ago, finding some loopholes and creating small pieces of software to benefit from them was really “en vogue” and helped to get ranked faster. You may have seen some of these videos: These days, trying to cheat Google and the other search engines does not help anymore to get better rankings. Fresh, unique content which leads to a positive user experience, really does. Eventually, this is great news for all those who have valuable content to share, helping them to gain online visibility easier than ever.

Marketing with content of value will help you stay safe and independent from search engine updates

Quality content marketing that provides value to your site’s visitors will always be engaging and helpful to get better rankings. More than that, marketing with content of value will keep you safe from Google’s, Bing’s, Yahoo’s and all the other search engines’ updates. So if you put some work in your articles and videos you’ll get rankings that last, making your site safe and independent from  algorithm changes and other search engine updates. Was this article helpful? Please like it and follow my blog – thank you!

What Is The Biggest Issue When You Start A Business Online?

So what do YOU think, what IS the biggest issue when you start a business online?

No, I’m not talking about those make money fast schemes you still find everywhere on the internet. Or about all those loopholes and strategies that show you real people making money from day  one.

What I’m talking about is a real online business. And that’s much more than setting up a new website with some curated content, be it a video or a re-used article, monetized with more or less related ads.
A real online business can feed you for years if you put in some effort and stop messing around with all those “shiny objects” promising fast cash.

What is the biggest issue when you start a business online

© Frg | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Oooops… here they are… those bad words. Shiny objects.
You probably get tons of emails with great offers, interesting offers, about things you think you’ll need for your online business. I used to get many of them. And you know what my biggest mistake was?

I thought I would need all those things upfront (software, courses, trainings, webinars, etc.) to get started with my business on the net.

But you know what? Reality has proven me wrong. I’ve rarely found the time to learn, understand and implement them in my own business. When I was ready to start using them they either were already outdated or Google changed his algorithm again, Facebook changed the rules, LinkedIn, Pinterest… you know what I mean, right?

So today I would say shiny objects are the biggest issue when you start a business online and also the number one reason why so many people fail with and give up their online businesses. And here is why:

What ever software, course or training you buy, you need time

  • to learn how they work,
  • to understand the strategy behind
    and more importantly,
  • you need time to implement and apply them
    (if you ever get there to understand how to
    make them work for your own small business…)

You spend a lot of money on these things trying to keep up with the development and stay up to date. But you have them only sitting on your hard drive, doing nothing.

Shiny objects distract and make you feel overwhelmed and the more of them you own the harder it gets to focus on your plan and follow your own path.

So what is the way out? It is really, really simple.
Change the way you think about your business. Make a plan first.

You don’t need every new plugin, every new software and there is
no need to jump on every new course. What you really need to get started with your online business is a plan that you can put to action.

  • Define and map out what exactly your business is about.
  •  Define your goals and the steps how to achieve them.
  • Find a strategy to follow, make a plan.
  • Check what you already know (your skills) and what you already have on your hard drive (plugins, software, graphics, courses, trainings) and find out what else you need to get started with your business.
  •  Say goodbye to all those wonderful shiny objects.

Remember that many, many of them are not even new on the market, they may have already been around for quite some time and by the time you get the chance to put your hands on them, the seller(s) may have already made serious money with them on the internet…

Would you agree that the “shiny object syndrome” is the biggest issue when you start a business online? Leave a comment!

Entrepreneurial Mindset To Start A Business Online

Entrepreneurial Mindset To Start A Business Online Do you plan to start a business on the net?
Then read on… because this is about those
things you really need to start a business online.
In a hurry? Watch the summary here.

So this post won’t be about some fancy software, trainings and webinars, tricks, loopholes or strategies – that comes later.

This post is about the right mindset, about your skills, abilities and capabilities to get started the right way and to keep your business up and running, sometimes against all odds.

Entrepreneurial mindset to jumpstart a business online

First of all, you need an entrepreneurial mindset to start a business online. You’ll need to learn to think and act as an entrepreneur.

However, there is no need to challenge yourself or others. There is
no need to seek risks. You’ll meet plenty of them on your journey.

As one of the most important skills, you will have to learn to decide. After all, it’s your company, right? You decide. But don’t forget that you have to live with the result of each one of your decisions.
So never act impulsively, always think twice before you decide.

Heard about lifelong learning? Well, that’s what you can expect if you start a business online. Here is my tip: Get help and guidance, get a coach. Or look for a mentor, for someone who has done what you want to do, who has already been there. Both can help you save much time and a lot of money on the long run. But do not follow any advice blindly…

Never forget about your loved ones. They need you as much as you need them. So make sure that there will be enough time left to spend with them. Your goals for your business are important but they’re not everything.  Family and friends, people who love, trust and believe in you are, those who you love and trust, are.

Last but not least, prepare yourself to face the unknown. Get used to new things that will cross your way. And get used to make decisions without knowing exactly whether things will work out for you or not.

That’s what entrepreneurial mindset is all about…

Or, as Aaron O’Hearn, Co-founder and CEO of Startup Institute said:

“You will never know enough. You will always be forced to make a decision without fully understanding what is coming. As a founder, that is just something you have to get comfortable with.” (Source: Mashable)

Ready to learn more?