How to Merge Animation With UX Workflow

motion design

The goal of any business is to make the customer experience as seamless as possible. Understanding the customer’s wants and needs is necessary to create this seamless experience.

Did you know that incorporating animation can help the user experience? When do you know the right time to use animation in your UX workflow?

We’re here to help. Read on to learn how to integrate animation to improve your workflow.

What are some of the benefits of animation?

You may be wondering how the use of animation can help users have a better experience. The first key is to understand what the user needs help with understanding. Any type of animation that you incorporate should be valuable to your customer.

Here are some ways that animation functions:

  • Clarify information for the user
  • Direct the customer to the appropriate place
  • Easily help the user navigate through a system
  • Communicate the brand’s message

In order to better incorporate animation, you’ll need to know exactly what issues the users are facing. You’ll need to do some research to clarify the most important user needs. For this, you have to speak directly with users through interviews and tests.

Ask questions such as:

  • Are you having trouble focusing on the platform?
  • Do you understand what the data is telling you?
  • Do you know what to do next?
  • Are you aware of the most important pieces?
  • Do you like to use this tool?

You may also need to use a CRM system that will provide you a better understanding of the customer.

Integrate Motion Design into UX Workflow

Now that you’ve done a bit of research and understand how animation can help, you need to learn how to place animation into your UX workflow.

Align

You already know what your users need in your design. So now you need to make sure that you’re incorporating them in a way that will be useful for the user.

Think of how it will help the customer as you go through your design workflow.

Design

Whether you’re using a storyboard or a sketch pad, you’ll need to start designing your animation. You can then share this information with your team to get feedback.

Prototype

Before your final product, you and your team members will want to see how the animation will play out in real time. Creating a prototype allows you to showcase your ideas before you spend the time and money on the final product.

There are a few approaches to your prototype. The one you decide on depends on the type of animation and your time schedule. Either you can use a fully coded prototype or a simple prototype that won’t take much time or effort.

Test

While your prototype is important, you’ll also need to make sure that your users, the ones who will actually be using the design, will be satisfied.

Choose a group of testers who will be aligned with your target audience. You’ll then conduct a test run through and have the users provide feedback. This feedback will be used to adjust in areas that users don’t find valuable.

Conclusion

Understanding a customer’s needs is imperative when you’re adding animation to UX design workflow. It requires a lot of research and testing in order to get everything right.

While it may be a process, providing your customers with the best possible experience is the most important result.

How have you incorporated animation into UX design? Let us know in the comments.

5 Web Design Tactics to Help Your Business Thrive

web design tactics

Did you know that there are around 8.4 billion connected devices in use today?

Known as the Internet of Things, this phenomenon means that at any given moment, it’s not difficult to find someone on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop — or even all three at once.

As such, the online, e-commerce marketplace is thriving. Businesses around the world are clamoring for as many clicks and conversions as they can get.

Standing out in this competitive landscape can be difficult without a dynamic and engaging web presence. Today, we’re taking a look at five web design tactics that can help companies stand out and get noticed.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

1. Responsive Design for Any Screen

Nothing turns a customer away like a website that looks great on a widescreen laptop but is clunky and difficult to maneuver on a mobile device.

One of the most important steps a company can take to optimize its web design is to use a responsive layout. This is one that adjusts to the device it’s on, so users have a consistent browsing experience every time.

Achieving this design requires utilizing CSS and HTML to adjust the page so it’s viewable on any screen. Navigation should be simple, scrolling and resizing should be minimal, and all content should be easily viewable.

2. A Focus on Search Engine Optimization

Showing up in search engine queries is a valuable way that companies can build their online presence. It can also help draw more relevant visitors to their website.

The practice of strategically designing a website and other online deliverables to boost a company’s search ranking is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.

To boost SEO, web designers should focus on ensuring all website content caters to and enhances the user experience.

Images should be dynamic and engaging and should load quickly. In addition, images can be affixed with meta tags to make them more searchable.

3. Intuitive Site Navigation

Studies show that consumers now have an eight-second attention span, shorter than that of a goldfish.

One of the reasons why? Thanks to the digital age, they have access to virtually any data they want, when they want it, and they don’t have to wait. This desire for this instant access is the reason

This desire for this instant access is the reason tech stocks are booming, automation is on the rise, and smart devices are smarter than ever before. Customers demand fast-paced access and industries around the world are responding.

So, if they hop onto your website and find it difficult to locate the information they need, they know that a similar offering is only one click away.

Thus, it’s vital to ensure that any user can quickly and easily figure out where to go on your site to find the information they need.

Pages should be clearly marked and categorized. In addition, search capabilities should be highlighted, and sidebar menus should be strategically located.

4. Social Media Linkage

A website is only one element in a company’s overall online marketing strategy.

Many are also opting to incorporate social media platforms as well. This allows them to engage with consumers and prospects in different, interactive ways.

As such, it’s important to include social media links or plugins in your web design and to make them prominent on the page. This is especially important if you have an active presence on these sites.

After all, three out of four consumers consult social media before making a purchase decision. Also, 60% interact via social media with the companies they patronize. Making sure your accounts are visible is the first step toward building that essential relationship.

5. Adding Navigational Capabilities

More than 65% of consumers now use their smartphone for step-by-step navigational directions, relying on it as a GPS system.

If your company has a brick-and-mortar presence, consider adding navigational tools such as Google Maps to your web design. This can help prospective customers find and reach you more easily.

It can also help your company rank higher on search results within location-based searches such as Google+Local.

Design that Converts: A Customer Focus

There are many ways to optimize your website to attract customers, convert prospects, and encourage loyalty.

Successful brands will be those that strategically leverage technology to make their company shine brightly — and their customers brighter.

Data Leakage vs Data Loss: What’s the Difference?

data leakage

Whether you are hosting a site for your blog content or responsible for maintaining multiple website for clients, dealing with data leakage or data loss can be a hassle. It could also cost you a lot of time and money.

Add to this list, you may be unable to recover your data.

One important fact to know about websites before building one is knowing that you could experience a data breach.

How will you detect the problem before it becomes widespread? How can you stop the loss of data from becoming widespread?  What will be your course of action?

Before you can answer these questions you first need to know what data leakage and data loss mean.

Data Leakage vs. Data Loss

Data leakage, also known as information leakage takes place when there is an unauthorized transmission of data from an organization. This data is then transmitted to someone outside of the company.

Data leakage is not always intentional. A data leak can begin when an employee takes a report home and accidentally leaves it on the train or bus. The leak occurs when someone comes along and takes the file.

An intentional leak is when data is purposely transmitted to someone outside the company who does not have a legal right to possess the information.

Leaks of information can be physical transfers or an electronic transmittal. A leak can also be as simplistic as someone memorizing data and using it outside the scope of their authority.

Data Loss differs from data leakage.

So What Is Data Loss?

Simply put, data loss is any loss of data whether intentional or accidental. If you no longer have access to your data it has been lost.

Data loss can occur on any device that stores data. Almost half of all data loss occurs as the result of hardware failure.

These type failures can be a result of memory loss, power outages and even Mother Nature. Failure to secure data on offsite servers can prove to be disastrous if there is a power outage, flooding, fire or other unforeseen disaster.

Other losses occur when data is purposely are accidentally deleted. There are also the pesky malware viruses and worst of all computer hackers.

Like with data leakage, losses also can occur with employees taking work home. In this case, data is lost when an employee loses control of a laptop and there is no backup version of the data it contained.

Is There a Way to Prevent Data Leakage or Loss?

There are no 100 percent fail-proof ways to prevent leakages or losses. Let’s face it, sometimes things are totally out of our control.

What you can do is implement measures to significantly reduce the opportunity for these mishaps to take place. Whether you are a one-man show or have employees you should have a plan of action.

The most important thing you can do to protect your data and keep a secure network is train your employees on how to protect your data.

Steps can be as simple as prohibiting employees from having beverages and food at their desk. You can also require employees increase password strength and to lock or log-out their computers whenever they leave their desks.

Backing up data is a must and should be done nightly. As mentioned above, having a secure offsite server can go a long way in recovering lost or damaged data.

Do you have a secure website?

Just as visitors to your site want to know if it is secure, so do cyber thieves. The reasons may be different but the answer should always be yes.

If your web URL does not begin with https it is not secure. This is likened to leaving your key in the door. It is an invitation to allow your data to walk out the door.

If you are operating an unsecured website you need to get SSL Certification.

Other Security Measures That Can Limit Data Loss

Stay alert and always know what is taking place on your network. This will ensure that things stay safe and secure.

As a website owner, you should know what it going on at all times. If there is a security breach, you should know. Was there an outage, is the system running slow, have there been failed logins?

It may seem inconsequential and over-reaching, but it is best to be safe than sorry. Cyber-security is an important part of conducting a business online.

Your first line of defense to prevent data leakage and date loss is to secure your data at all times.

Don’t be an easy target. Require everyone who has access to your website’s database user authentication. It’s a process that takes seconds, but trying to recover data can take days, months, years, or may be lost forever.

Are You on the Cloud?

The cloud has changed how we store data in today’s world. It has also created a new window of opportunity for theft.

Having 24-Hour access to your database is a great thing. It unhinges you from your office and gives employees more flexibility.  It can also eliminate the need for costly office space.

With these pros, there are a few cons. Whenever and wherever thieves see an opening they will try to take advantage of it.

The same security measures you would take in your physical office, you should take in the cloud. Secure your data and cut off opportunities for data leakage and data loss.

How Can SiteUptime Help?

SiteUptime offers website monitoring and reporting services. We are here to help you implement the tools needed to ensure your website is safe and secure.

Data leakage and data loss can leave a stain on your business reputation. Don’t fall prey to thinking it will never happen to you.

Reach out to us today and set-up a demo account to test our services. If you like the experience, we would love to be your security shield against cyber-mishaps, small and large.

13 Cybersecurity Terms Everyone Should Know

cybersecurity terms

We know. It’s a scary world out there.

It seems like every step you take can be uncertain and so can every move you make on the internet.

Every day you hear about how important it is to protect your personal information from identity theft or your business’ sensitive information.

We’ve already told you about the 8 Essential Cybersecurity Tools Your Business Needs. But do you know exactly what your business is defending itself from?

It’s okay, we’ll get through this together!

Come along as we go through the 13 cyber security terms that everyone should know.

Black Hat Hackers

When you think of hacking, in the classic terms, you are probably thinking of black hat hackers.

Wirey eyed tech pirates in dark rooms scrolling through information on their multiple computer screens looking for ways to crack your security codes in order to hold your personal information hostage.

Hollywood has been churning out movies about them for years. Even by name!

These hackers are the easiest to put a face on since they are proactively looking for ways to break through your cybersecurity to cause serious damage.

White Hat Hackers

On the other side of the spectrum, there are White Hat Hackers.

Think of them as the white blood cells of Cybersecurity. They hack into company’s systems to find out if there are ways they could be vulnerable to a cyber attack.

The importance of these noble hackers has increased more and more as businesses try to protect their information.

And some of them are rewarded handsomely as Kim Zetter reported to Wired “white hats can earn good money—anywhere from $500 to more than $100,000—by selling information about a vulnerability to companies that have bug bounty programs.”

It takes a hacker to know one and knowing the difference between these cybersecurity terms will help you to hire the right one if you ever need someone on your side.

Authentication

Out of all of the cybersecurity terms, this one relates most directly to you.

This is the step your security system goes through to correctly identify that the person accessing your information is actually allowed to see it.

This process is normally done through you choosing your own specific password or even by thumbprint or retina scan.

Encryption

Encryption relates to the protection of anything that you send to someone.

Whether it’s a video you have taken, photos of your newborn or just a silly cat meme, your computer codes this information so the person you are sharing it with is the only person who can access it.

This is what hackers are trying to break into in order to find sensitive information bank account numbers or social security numbers. This information is personal, and that’s why there has been a

This information is personal, and that’s why there has been a debate lately as to what constitutes as being private on your computer.

Botnet

This cybersecurity term refers to a network of computers that have been uploaded with malicious programs in order work around the clock to try and crack security codes.

These “bots” are also referred to as “zombies” since, you know, they are lifeless things that are trying to break through your security (eat your brains).

Brute Force Attack

This attack refers to either black hat hackers or botnets random attempts at guessing a business’s or an individual’s passwords.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

This type of cyber attack is the most common tactic that black hat hackers use to shut down a company’s web presence.

They incorporate multiple users and hosts to bombard a website with requests that freeze it and shut it down for a period of time.

These attacks have been happening on a large scale lately and have some of the world’s cybersecurity specialists worried.

Malware

Malware is “malicious software” that infects your computer or device in order to extract information and cripple its functions in order to hold you and your device ransom.

It can be installed on your device through bogus spam promotions found on the web or sent to you through email so be wary of anything that seems too good to be true or not legit!

Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)

Advanced Persistent Threats, or APTs, are attacks performed on a large scale usually by malware that has been installed in secret to topple a network or system over time.

These are possibly the scariest of all cyber attacks. As Forbes described them  “oftentimes, the hacking groups behind high-profile mega breaches are more organized, better funded, better staffed and more experienced than the security teams of their targets”

Phishing

Phishing is when a hacker poses as a service provider and tries to get you to provide your username and password to your company’s login or to access your personal information.

Spoofing

We wish we could tell you that spoofing is a whimsical and funny as it’s normal definition. But alas, it is not.

Spoofing is when a hacker changes the IP address of an email to seem like it is coming from a different place than it actually is.

This is done in order to gain your trust so that you can offer up information you normally would not.

Man in the Middle Attack (MitM Attack)

Man in the Middle Attack’s is usually performed when a hacker is able to get ahold of your information by breaking through your WiFi’s encryption and snagging your personal messages.

So make sure you change your password to something other than “abc123”.

Darknet

Darknet is the scary outer region of the internet where most the illegal and evil things take place.

It’s an unpoliced section that is basically the internet’s black market for drugs, guns, and a resource for black hat hackers to find hacking software and leads from other hackers on sensitive information.

It’s a scary corner of the net and is crucial to understand when it comes to your cybersecurity.

There You Have it – the 13 cybersecurity terms that everyone should know – Now You will Never Feel Like you are Out of the Loop Again!

With knowing the terminology and the tools to implement to secure your business you will never have to worry about the threats lurking in the deep dark corners of the web.

If you have any questions regarding other cybersecurity terms you may come across, feel free to get in touch with us through out contact page and we will break it all down for you.

Stay safe out there!

The Top 7 Security Measures to Take in 2017

website security measures

Web security has never been more important.

It seems like we can’t go a week without hearing about some major corporation suffering a cyber attack. Every day, we receive Facebook friend requests from people on our friends’ lists who have been hacked.

You can’t even turn on the news these days without hearing about federal investigations into whether or not foreign agents are hacking elections.

The threat of cyber attack is real, whether you’re a major corporation, an independent contractor, or a small business with a Facebook Page.

But, there are security measures you can take to keep your online information safe.

1. Stay vigilant against Phishing

Have you ever gotten an email from a relative or a Facebook message from a friend with a suspicious link? It probably had some sort of luring comment attached, like “where did they get this picture of you?”

Or maybe you’ve received an email from your internet service provider asking you to provide your password for some maintenance on your account.

You may have even received a phone call from someone claiming to be the IRS.

Chances are good that this is a phishing scheme. Hackers pose as a trusted company or individual in order to gain access to private information, and sometimes even financial assets.

If you know what to look for, phishing attacks are a mere nuisance, but thanks to more vulnerable users, phishing is going to stick around for a while.

As a general rule of thumb, always avoid suspicious links, no matter who it’s coming from.

2. Keep better track of your passwords

Let’s be honest: despite all the warnings to use a different password for every account, we’re all using the same password all across the internet.

After all, these days we have dozens of accounts: social media, email, Netflix…sometimes even our TV has a password. How are we supposed to keep track of all these unique passwords?

There’s an easy solution for that. Instead of a notebook in your desk drawer, download a password manager.

A password manager automatically creates unique passwords across all of your accounts and stores them so you don’t have to. No more fumbling through variations of that one password you use for everything.

On the off chance, one of your passwords is cracked, the rest of your accounts are safe. A password manager is the easiest way to keeping all of your proverbial eggs in different proverbial baskets.

3. Be smart with your Cloud Storage

The Cloud is everywhere. More and more people are preferring public cloud storage to other storage means.

And why not? It’s convenient, fast, and cheaper than buying another external hard drive.

But as helpful as the cloud can be, there are also glaring vulnerabilities. For all of their security, iCloud and Google Drive still expect users to take responsibility for their own security measures.

Make sure you keep a local backup of all of your cloud data. Nothing is completely foolproof.

Several companies also offer encrypted cloud services. Encryption can make all the difference in your cloud security.

If you’d prefer a service without encryption, you can encrypt your own data before uploading it to the cloud, and even add further password protection to access your data.

4. Don’t skimp on security measures.

A good anti-virus program is one of the most important security measures, but too often people take it for granted.

While you’re browsing the internet for memes, your anti-virus is picking off malware like it’s playing Asteroids.

But with anti-virus software, like most things, you get what you pay for.

It can be tempting to skimp out in preference of a free service but think about what would happen if you lost your data to a malware attack.

Can you afford not to protect your data?

Premium anti-virus software is powered by skilled professionals who work tirelessly to ensure that their customers receive the most effective protection possible.

5. Be aware of your Network Attack Surfaces

The term “network attack surfaces” refers to the sum of weak points a cyber attacker can use to steal our data. As our networks increase in size and complexity, our potential network attack surfaces increase.

Every device, connection point, or data storage increases network attack surfaces.

Minimize your vulnerability by closing unnecessary ports and keeping your access restricted to trusted users.

6. The new threat: Ransomware

As we’ve said before, Ransomware has been on the rise, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.

Ransomware is a newer method of hacking, and it’s proved very lucrative for hackers.

Ransomware bypass weak security measures and secretly steals data from a user’s device, deletes the data, and forces the user to pay a fee to get their data back. Many hospitals, schools, police departments, and businesses have already fallen victim to ransomware.

But, there are several security measures you can use to protect against ransomware.

Backup all of your data all of the time. Hackers can’t steal your data if you have the data safe in another device.

Despite the sophistication of ransomware attacks, a lot of them start with a simple phishing scheme. Remember: never click on suspicious links, even if you think the sender can be trusted.

7. Backup, backup, backup

It should go without saying, but you need to backup your data. No server is fool proof.

If you rely on a cloud service to save all your data, or if you keep all of your files on a single laptop, you’re only a few malfunctions away from losing everything.

To make a secure backup, load copies of all your files onto a device without internet access. External hard drives have never been cheaper, and many of them can be password protected for extra security.

Conclusion

The internet has its fair share of predators lurking in the shadows, but with a little caution and some extra diligence, you can create a strategy for website security measures that will keep your website and your data safe from cyber attacks and server crashes.

SiteUptime provides monitoring locations across the globe for testing the functionality of your website from different points on the map.

With multiple locations and a team of skilled professionals, SiteUptime can ensure that your website doesn’t fall prey to the most common security risks.

Visit our FAQ page for more details.

Uptime Monitoring: Introducing the New SiteUptime API

uptime monitoring

Downtime is a downer. Downtime can cost a business up to $1000 a minute.

And while downtime is unavoidable due to maintenance or cyber attacks, having the right information can keep your site running smoothly 99.999% of the time.

Enter uptime monitoring.

Uptime monitoring can be a lifesaver. And in the next few paragraphs, we’re going to show you how the new SiteUptime API can help keep your website secure from unnecessary downtime.

Why You Need Uptime Monitoring

Ignoring the available data from your website is like not watching your bank account.

You might move along with your plans and find yourself in a sticky situation.

You could be off resting on your laurels while all your customers and leads go to your competitor.

This means no conversions and certainly no money in your pocket.

Even at 99.9% uptime, your business could lose $109,500 in a year. And if you own a larger business, this could mean more than one million in lost dollars over a year.

But how else can downtime affect your website? Let’s take a look.

1. Downtime Can Affect Your SERPs

Although Matt Cuts once claimed a little bit of downtime won’t hurt, anything more than a day of downtime will.

Since Matt Cutts made that famous claim, Google bots became more efficient. While it used to take bots hours to days to find your site, Google now crawls websites on a regular basis.

While Google now refuses to make statements about how downtime affects SERPs, webmasters can work backward from what they observe.

And what they observe tells a story of woe. Web sites that experience downtime sees their rankings drop by 12 places in a few hours.

And sometimes this causes Google to check other signals and a website might drop even further in the SERPs.

Enough evidence exists. It all points to downtime really affecting your SERPs.

How Does Uptime Monitoring Mitigate This?

Uptime monitoring will give you live updates on your site downtime.

Knowing immediately when your site goes down means you can get it back up and running within the hour. You can quickly contact your server or troubleshoot the problem.

2. Downtime Will Change Your Reputation

Once you break someone’s trust it’s extremely difficult to regain it.

Sony found this out the hard way back in 2014 when their user data was hacked and they completely lost face with their customer base.

They’re now known as the company that let’s people hack them. And it took them several years to recover from the damage.

While downtime doesn’t affect your reputation as drastically as a major cyber attack and customer data leak, you won’t walk away without a tarnished reputation.

And once your reputation is tarnished, you may not get a chance to make-up with certain customers. You will possibly have to find new leads and new customers and rebuild from there.

How Does Uptime Monitoring Mitigate This?

You can know about downtime before your customers and potential leads do.

Instant knowledge of downtime gives you the opportunity to fix a problem before it’s evident to the world.

And if it’s something you can’t fix immediately, you can use social media to communicate with customers about a problem.

This allows you to positively manage your reputation as a company. Being honest about what’s going on with your site will increase the trust your customers have in you and your business.

You can also explain a problem before anyone has a chance to complain.

One of the biggest reputation killers on the internet today is the bad review. And with the openness and coldness of social media, people are more willing to public complain about a company now than ever before.

You can avoid this pitfall by knowing about downtime immediately.

3. Downtime Isn’t The Only Culprit

Uptime monitoring doesn’t just monitor downtime.

A slow website is another factor that could affect your conversion rate and your bounce rate and your reputation all at once.

Count four seconds. One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand.

No, we aren’t playing hide and seek, we’re counting how long it takes a user to give up on your slow website.

25% of users abandon a website after four seconds of waiting and 50% jump ship after ten seconds.

And not only will website speed affect your bounce rate, it will affect your SERPs as well.

Google expects websites to be lightning fast. And slow load times mean a drop in rankings.

And a drop in ranking means a loss of visibility. And a loss of visibility means little to no traffic and very few leads.

How Does Uptime Monitoring Mitigate This?

Uptime monitoring gives you real-time data on website speed. You can also access data on what might be causing slow speeds.

In essence, uptime monitoring keeps the service you utilize accountable for their server speeds.

And if you find your server is the problem, migrate to a new one.

You should not tolerate a slow server. There is no excuse for slow speeds outside of software or website design.

Uptime monitoring can also help identify software and web design problems. These are easily fixed issues. And fixing them will increase your website speed.

Why Is The New SiteUptime API Your Best Bet?

Some of the best deals are all-in-one packages. For physical packaging, it’s cheaper to clump products together and use one package.

For digital products, it’s just utterly convenient for the client.

With the new SiteUptime API, you add multiple monitors. This allows you to monitor multiple uptime statistics at once in real-time.

It uses Modern REST+JSON and that’s free with all standard and pro accounts.

with SiteUptime API, you can remotely manage your monitors. No longer will you have to be local to change your settings and add or remove or edit monitors.

This API also allows you to build on top of your existing control panels. If you don’t want to give up your other control panels, adding SiteUptime is extremely simple.

If you’re looking for a great uptime monitoring system to add to your website, check out our SiteUptime demo right now.

 

How HTTPS Site Security Is Making The Internet Safer

site security

Cybercrime is on the rise, putting us and our customers at risk of serious harm.

Last year, in the healthcare industry alone, nearly 250 million critical records were stolen through cyber attacks.

Banking information, Customer data, Personal health information and much more are all at risk.

Let’s look at how HTTPS site security is making the Internet safer.

What is HTTPS?

The familiar “HTTP” that heads our web addresses stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol.

This is simply the universally agreed upon coding on which the Internet is built.

When an “S” follows the “HTTP” this means that site is secure.

But the S itself isn’t what’s making the site secure, so let’s look a little closer.

HTTPS websites have been issued an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate that will be used to help verify the authenticity of the website.

SSL is now part of a more comprehensive security protocol called Transport Layer Security or TLS, but it’s still commonly referred to as an SSL certificate by many web design and web hosting companies.

This TSL works to maximize site security.

The Risks HTTPS Seeks to Address

Symantec a respected internet security research and security organization recently released a report outlining many of the risks.

Despite increased talk in the news about hacking from foreign governments, the US appears to originate more cyber attacks than any other country.

China comes in a distant second.

The healthcare sector faces an uphill battle as it works to make medical records accessible to medical providers, insurance companies, and patients while still complying with regulations.

HIPAA, the law that protects the privacy of medical information imposes stiff penalties for mishandled medical information, and yet 1/2 billion personal information records were reported stolen or lost last year.

39% of that number have been determined to be the result of malicious data site security breaches.

Ransomware usage in on the rise. In these cases, a user inadvertently triggers the download of a virus that hijacks the computer or a network making it completely inaccessible by the business until a ransom is paid.

Hackers use various techniques to compromise your computer and access your data. HTTPS works to reduce these risks.

How HTTPS Is Improving Site Security

We buy online. We bank online. We meet people online. We share our lives online, expecting information to be safe or at least restricted to that site. If you’re running a business site, your customers trust you to keep their information safe.

Fortunately, we’ve gone from around 23% of websites are using SSL Certificates (HTTPS) to secure their sites to over half of sites incorporating site security technology.

That’s good for business and good for people. Let’s look at some specific ways that it accomplishes this task.

Site Verification

The TSL (described above) verifies that the site you loaded is actually the site you were trying to load rather than an imposter.

For example, when you’re banking online, you may need to enter your bank account, credit card number, ID number or other personal information.

You must trust that you’re on the right site.

If you were trying to pull up Twitter, Amazon or eBay, someone with nefarious intentions could pretend to be the site in order to acquire your username and password to hijack your account. HTTPS prevents this.

Intercept Prevention

Each time you enter information onto a website, that data is transferred through the server to reach its destination.

Data in transit is always at risk of being intercepted by someone who wished you harm.

The TSL encrypts all data being transferred between you and the site. Encryption is the act of changing any data that you entered onto a website into a ‘secret code” called ciphertext.

If anyone were to intercept it, it would appear as complete gibberish.

What if you were logging into your Google Adwords account and someone intercepted your username and password?

This person could use your account without your permission and if your credit card were linked to it, charge it all to you. How much damage could they do before you figured it out?

Fortunately, HTTPS prevents that through TSL.

Modification Prevention

Because they can’t read it, they also can’t change it.

Imagine if when you were sending a tweet, someone could simply change what you said or attach a different video or image.

What if someone could completely rewrite your email as it traveled through cyberspace to its destination.

As much as we might like to be able to say that’s what happened when we say something stupid, fortunately, it’s not possible because of TSL encryption.

Privacy Protections

HTTPS also prevents your ISP (internet service provider) or the government from tracking what you’re doing.

If they so choose, they can see your browsing history, but they can’t see beyond the site level.

If for example, you’re on Amazon, they can see that you visited Amazon. But they cannot see what you searched for, what’s in your cart, purchase history or any other information that would be far over-reaching without a warrant.

How to Know if You’re Safe

When you’re on an HTTPS site, the web address will appear in green with a padlock beside it.

This tells you that you’re safe while on this site.

HTTPS can’t, however, keep you safe if you use the same username and password on a regular HTTP site and your HTTPS site.

Those with malicious intent can simply get your password from the unprotected site and log into your HTTPS site. Never use your high-security HTTPS password on a low-security HTTP site.

Limitations of the HTTPS

Mobile Apps

We now share as much data through mobile apps as we do through our Internet browsers.

The good news is that most reputable apps that require you to enter data that could be compromised using similar secure, encrypted connections.

The limitation at this time comes in the fact, that you can’t always tell which ones do and which do not.

Bandwidth

HTTPS websites require additional bandwidth. They can take longer to load. Because of this some sites that are hesitant to jump on board.

It’s not Perfect

No security measure can prevent 100% of attacks. But HTTPS certainly makes it a lot harder for the “bad guys” to target an HTTPS site’s customers vs. an HTTP site.

Stopping Cybercriminals in Their Tracks

HTTPS helps you keep your customer data safe. It’s not perfect, but you certainly don’t want to be without it.

If you’re transferring critical customer data, make sure your site is HTTPS. Send cyber criminals looking elsewhere for victims of their cyber crimes.

To learn more about how to keep customer data safe and your site running as it should, reach out.

Bad News from Google: The Number of Hacked Sites Increased in 2016

hacked sites

Cyber attacks on websites jumped 32 percent in 2016 compared to 2015 according to Google’s latest website security report.

But the bad news gets worse.

Google predicts the growth in the number of hacked sites is going to become a trend. Their experts are willing to bet that percentage will grow every year.

Why?

Hackers spend their time aggressively searching for every possible vulnerability in a site. As websites are updated, hackers step up their own game.

They’re effectively playing a long game of cat and mouse with your business.

So in light of this news and in case you haven’t read up on hacking and internet threats in a while, here’s a quick primer to help you understand Google’s report:

The Most Common Hacks

“Hacking” is a general term so over-used it is effectively meaningless.

In this case, a hack is an attack, but it is not a single kind of attack.

According to Google, hacked sites might be a website afflicted with user-generated spam. Cloaked images, keyword stuff, redirects, or poisonous links also throw a website into the category of hacked sites.

Essentially, Google looks for anything spammy about a site and puts it on a watch list.

This stuff may sound benign to the average person, but it isn’t.

It’s akin to cancer for your code.

For example, you’ve spotted the gibberish hack when you come upon a page filled with nonsensical words and phrases – normally keywords to boost the site on Google’s search ranking.

Google also lists the cloaked keywords hack as a prominent method.

This hack is more difficult to spot because the pages sometimes look like the original template. But, if you look closely, you can see words, images, or links that don’t belong.

In both cases, the unwanted content is hiding something malicious.

When you try to visit the page, the link redirects somewhere else. Often a pornography site, but sometimes more nefarious pages.

 

Why Have They Come for YOU?

Hackers have various motives when they go after websites.

While we can’t pretend to be in the minds of the anonymous attackers hiding behind their keyboards, some motivations are easy to discern.

If your site is privy to sensitive customer information, it holds valuable data for attackers. Credit card numbers, PII, and passwords are a mighty bounty for hackers.

Hacktivism is often spurred by political motives. Depending on your site, you might be hacked to send a social or political message.

Example: the Ashley Madison hacks in 2015 were the work of vigilantes.

Your business or website may not provide a platform for people to cheat on their spouses. But generally speaking, most businesses have enemies, even if those enemies are simply anarchists or anti-capitalists looking to take down the whole system.

Deploying malware is another common goal of hacking. By breaking into your website, the hacker can spread malware, which can mutate and spread further to achieve whatever aim was programmed into it.

The most concerning hacker incentive is fun. Some hackers simply want to vandalize your site because they can. There is no other reason. These hackers are hard to predict, which means you must be vigilant.

Mounting a Defense

You can’t prevent attacks, but you can prevent their success.

Google and any security company worth their weight in salt advocates taking preventative measures in securing your site.

Identifying vulnerabilities on your website is essential for closing the gaps and eliminating the holes hackers use to take over your site.

Google also recommends paying attention to announcements and updates provided by software and hardware vendors and any Content Management Systems.

Those updates often provide fixes for any backdoors identified by their own security teams.

You can also run a vulnerability scan on your site for a more thorough screening.

A vulnerability scan is not an antivirus scan. While antivirus looks for viruses and malware only, vulnerability scans cast the net wider while simultaneously diving deeper.

These scans will tell you about:

  • Weak passwords
  • Permissive coding (which lets hackers in)
  • Out of date software
  • Viruses hiding in admin system

When you can identify your website’s weaknesses, you’re better able to build up your defenses precisely where they’re needed.

Checking for Domain Name System (DNS) threats is also important and DNS monitoring is essential. As we told you in a previous post, DNS attacks have increased by more than 200%.

A good website monitoring service is also helpful. Website monitoring checks up on your site more often than you ever could (every 2 minutes from different locations) to make sure your site is up and running.

Having a site monitoring system in place is an effective preventative tool because if your site goes down, you’ll know immediately. No need to wait until you’re flooded with emails concerned.

Register Your Site with Google’s Search Console

Google isn’t able to warn every customer about their hacked sites. Google’s report noted “61% of webmasters who were hacked never received a notification from Google.”

Google isn’t doing this to be the bad guy – they rely on webmasters to verify their sites through Search Console to better be able to get in touch with them.

Registering your site with the Google Search Console is a simple and effective security measure with tangible benefits.

As Google says, “84% [of] webmasters who do apply for reconsideration are successful in cleaning their sites.”

Hacked Sites: The Bottom Line

Hacked sites can not only be taken down by hackers, but they often need to be removed to be cleaned on their own as well.

This is a huge deal for your company.

Industry surveys suggest an average loss of $5,600 per minute when a hacked site goes down.

After 60 minutes, the average to a business is over $300k.

That figure doesn’t include the time and resources required to fix your site.

The bottom line is no one can fully protect your site from being attacked. But you can change what happens after your site is targeted and to keep your website up and running.

The number of hacked sites will continue to grow over the next few years. Your site may be one of them.

What does your company plan to do to protect your website? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

Keep Small Business Web Hosting Account Safe From Cyber Attackers

Many business owners ignore the dangers of cyber attacks.

There is a belief, especially among small business owners, that a business can be too small to be a target of cyber attacks.

The truth is that big companies already know the importance of cyber attacks, so their security walls are almost impenetrable. On the other hand, small businesses are the perfect target.

Hackers know that most business owners don’t put a lot of thought into their online security. They also know that these owners don’t want to invest many resources in it either.

This is why the selection process for small business web hosting is so important. You should not only focus on the price but also inquire about the security benefits that come with it.

We created a short list of tactics that will help you keep your business safe.

Create a stronger password

Perhaps you heard this tip before—but for a good reason.
Creating a strong password is the first step that you should take to strengthen the security of your businesses.

A stronger password might discourage the hacker, or even stop him altogether.
If you have issues with remembering strong passwords, don’t worry. There are many password management tools to choose from.

Also, no matter how strong your password is, never connect to the internet using a public wi-fi network.

Some hackers create a second wireless network that resembles the original in the name. When someone connects to it, all the data used can be easily stolen.

Change your password more often

There are small business web hosting services that recommend changing your password regularly.

This slows down cyber attacks even more.

If you feel tempted to keep all your passwords in an unsecured document, you’re at risk. As recommended above, use only password management tools for this purpose.

Online security tactics

There are a number of ways in which you can increase the security of your online business.

Most strategies are easy to implement and only require a little bit of research on your side.

These can involve choosing a reliable small business web hosting company and eCommerce platform, and using a strong firewall.

Choose your e-commerce platform wisely

If you’re the owner of an online store, you know the risks you’re exposing yourself and you clients to in case of a cyber attack.

A secure e-commerce platform not only saves your business, but it keeps you away from legal issues as well.

Your clients could sue you if a hacker steals their personal information from your website.
Most people use WordPress and Woocommerce to host their e-commerce stores. They do this because these platforms are easy to install and are among the most secure and reliable.

They do this because these platforms are easy to install and are among the most secure and reliable.

Scammy emails

Many business owners receive emails from hackers who use the logo from well-known institutions. These emails attempt to evoke fear and urgency while asking for personal information.

For example, you may receive an email that seems to look like a PayPal customer sent it. In this email, it may ask you to send over your passwords and other details.

Tactics like these also include malicious attachments.
Never click on random files, and report suspicious activity to the authorities.

No respectable company will ever ask for your password and other personal information.

Security layers

Using firewalls, applications, and login pop up can slow down or discourage cyber attacks.

The more steps you add, the harder it is for an application-level attack to be effective.

This also helps you figure out if an actual human is on your website completing forms, or if it’s an application trying to imitate human behavior.

Hire a third party to discover security breaches

If you want to be sure that your firewalls and other security applications are doing their job, hire a security company.

A security company will try to “attack” your company while trying to find out what your site’s weaknesses are.

After they discover the weak spots, they will recommend a solution for your issues.

How small business web hosting services can protect you

Small business web hosting services usually come with a layer of security.

High-quality web hosting services aren’t free, nor do they allow open access.

These web hosting services make money from advertising on your website and are free to use. However, most of them attract hackers who create websites with malicious content.

Usually, small business web hosting services that are secure check for viruses in published content.

Most web hosting companies offer firewalls

Remember how we discussed the importance of purchasing a firewall?

Most web hosting companies offer a firewall that can protect you from cyber attacks too.

The purpose of the firewall is to ban IP addresses that are, as well as block unsecured servers.

Block executable commands

You’re probably familiar with “check if you’re human” button, or “find the photos with trees”. These type of applications help businesses weed out the humans from malicious applications.

A high-quality hosting company does offer these option to ensure the security of your website.

Malicious code

You should monitor your website for malicious code.
Now, most small business web hosting companies have the option to alert the website owner if the website is down, or if there are some security issues.

This can prove to be really useful since the website owner can work on changing the passwords and call his web security team to analyze the situation.

Also, small business hosting companies usually backup all the data on your website. In the case of a cyber attack, you won’t lose everything on your website.

Wrapping up

A lot of small business owners aren’t aware of the dangers that they expose themselves to by not investing in the security of their websites.

Small businesses are the favorite targets of hackers because they’re the most vulnerable.

If you want to find out more about how you can increase your website security, don’t hesitate to take a look at our blog.

If you have any questions or concerns that aren’t already discussed on our blog, make sure you contact us.

5 Reasons Logo Design Is Important For Your Brand

You aren’t sure if your business needs a logo?

You might think that you do not have the budget to pay for a logo either.

However, one of the most recognizable logos did not cost the company a fortune, and it should not cost you either.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that you always have to pay a lot for logo design. Fortunately, there are free resources that allow you to give logo design a try.

Why should anyone spend their valuable time making or buying a logo?

The answer is pretty simple: images tend to hit us harder than business statements or mottos.

Think about your favorite brands

Now think about their value proposition.You probably do not have a clue about it. Now try to remember their logo.

That was easy!

It is easy for your potential clients to think of you when you show them a strong image to associate you with.

A logo is what makes you stand out and be remembered. Many companies use logos as the central element of their marketing strategy.

Think about MacDonalds and Apple. How often have you seen their logos in their marketing campaigns?

The swoosh from Nike is iconic.

People think of the swoosh more than they think of the name Nike, simply because their logo encapsulated all their values in one picture.

It is almost hypnotizing how one swoosh can already make you picture success. The big “Just Do It” is empathetic with all of us who find so hard to leave the couch and trade it for jogging in the park.

Having a poorly designed logo can make you look unprofessional. However, not having one at all is worse.

Without a logo, you are practically invisible.

You make it harder for your prospects to think about you, and to associate a certain service or product with you. Additionally, since most people are looking for convenience, they will choose your competitor.

It is not convenient for the human brain to remember something that did not leave a particularly big impression.

What isn’t a logo

You probably think that learning a little bit about logo design can push your brand forward. And it can, in the right context.

However, your brand and your logo are not identical. Your logo is a visual representation of your brand.

For example, color, font, and overall design send a message about your intentions.

Like your wardrobe, the way you present your brand trough a logo sends a certain message to your audience.

Deciding how you should portray your company is a strategic move based on a number of factors, such as what feelings you want to convey when your prospects see you, what are their pain points, who is your audience, etc.

Your logo design strategy should be focused not on making the logo the most visually appealing, but on making it strike a chord with your audience.

For instance, let us take Nike’s logo as an example again.

The logo itself is fairly plain looking. There is nothing special about its design.

However, it can make people think of getting things done, by “just doing it”, as if they would swoosh trough all the obstacles that stop them from reaching their goal.

Make sure your logo is indeed the representation of your business’s core values.

If you want to find out more about how logo design can positively impact your business, read on.

1. Make them feel like they know you

If you are running a business, you know how hard it is to convince your prospects that you hold the solution to their problems.

You can use logo design to leverage your competitions by making your audience think of you first.

As I stated previously, companies without logos are invisible. A good logo design can make you stick in your audience’s mind if you strike the right chord.

A lot of businesses do not place a lot of a value on their logos to help get them clients. There are a lot of investments in the sales team, in copywriters, customer service, etc.

All of these are important. However, a logo is like a salesman that never stops talking.

Your logo will always be there, in people’s minds. This is the case if they are the right audience for your business.

It is hard to make people remember you, especially after an extended period of time with an ad or with an email in their inbox.

On the other hand, the mind enjoys shortcuts. A visual image is more easy to remember than a name or a value proposition.

2. Get your message across and build trust

You can trigger certain emotional responses by using the perfect combination of shapes and colors in your logo design process.

For example, if your services are quite pricey, you could use blue. This color evokes trust and serenity. It is like telling your customers to trust you because their hard-earned money will be used wisely.

Yellow, on the other hand, might make some people anxious, but it also recommended if you have a younger demographic as your buyer persona. When you include your logo in your marketing campaign, you also add some personality to your business.

Nobody likes unfriendly, cold looking people, and that applies to businesses too.

You can get your message across by using the right logo design. Whether you want to evoke trust or let people know you are fun to be around, a great logo can help you do both.

3. Show your audience why you are better than your competition

Not many people think about logo design in these terms.

How can a logo help me show the key benefit of people buying from me?

Just think about all the brands that use grandmas as their images, or hard working mothers, or friendly looking grandfather in their logo.

A baking company that has a logo with a grandmother translates into cakes that are made with love and care as your grandma would bake them.

By using that strategy, you are using a logo to associate yourself with something familiar to your audience: a loving grandmother that baked them cakes as a child.

These can be translated into virtually any industry. Some companies that sell toothpaste use a happy tooth as their logo or companies who sell skin care products show a dermatologist.

4. Create an emotional connection between your brand and your audience

One of the most important functions a logo has is to attract attention by using emotions.

A logo is like your clothes during an interview. It is not the deciding factor, but it says enough for the interviewer to either like or dislike you the moment you enter the room.

This could change after you exchange a few words, but the first impression can stick around. It has a lingering effect.

A playful looking logo for an institution that deals with legal issues, for example, can drive away many clients.

Your audience can even feel “amused” by seeing your brand being represented by something that has nothing to do with the solutions you are providing.

Make sure you know your audience before you start crafting a logo.

If you skip this step, you might end up creating a logo that appeals to baby boomers when your audience is actually millennials.

5. Show them what you are doing

The right logo design can quickly draw attention and send a complete message to your audience.

If you see a logo with a puppy, you are probably thinking of products and services linked to dogs.

It is easier to be remembered if you also show what you are doing and present yourself as someone who is an expert in your field.

Many make the mistake of using their name for a business, in an industry, where names do not mean much. Then they use their names in a logo design.

There are industries where names are predominant, such as the fashion industry, where everyone is familiar with Chanel and Versace.

Usually, the service provider focuses on showing you what they are doing instead of using their initials in a logo.

Logo design does not have to be expensive or complicated

Logos can be found anywhere. They help you stand out on social media, be remembered by your audience easily, establish an emotional connect, and get a message across.

You can probably remember the logos of all your favorite brands. This tells you everything you need to know.

Logo design is quite a powerful marketing tool that is used in every industry to attract more clients and represent the brand.

Creating your logo should not be a chore, especially if you are on a budget and you probably do not have the skills to use professional software.

If you read our 5 reasons why logo design is important for your brand, you probably know by now how many companies use logos in their marketing strategies.

If you are looking for a quick, easy way to create the perfect logo that will represent your company, give our online logo maker a try.