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So far Joyce Cimbalista has created 37 entries.

Use Strong Passwords

choose-strong-passwordIt is so important to have strong passwords for all of your online accounts. You should have a unique password for every service you use. Re-using the same password would allow a hacker to break into not only one account, but all of your accounts that use that password.

Here are some tips for choosing a strong password:

  • At least 8 characters long
  • Use both upper- and lower-case letters
  • Include at least one number
  • Include special characters such as ! # $ @ _ + , ? [ ] .
  • Don’t use your account ID;
  • Don’t include your first, middle or last name
  • Don’t use words that appear in any English dictionary
  • Don’t repeat the same character either upper- or lower-case
  • Don’t use a series of 3 or more ascending or descending characters, ex: ABC or xyz
  • Don’t use your child’s name or your pet’s name
  • Spell words incorrectly or phonetically, such as b4 for ‘before’
  • Use the first letter of each word in a song title or sentence
By |January 15th, 2015|password, security, WordPress|Comments Off on Use Strong Passwords

Reducing Email Spam

reducing email spamA client recently contacted me about the large amount of spam emails he’d been receiving through the contact form on his website. Sure enough, when I took a look at his email, he’d been receiving 30-40 every day. They were all ads for various designer purses or other products.

The site was using GoDaddy’s webformmailer script to handle emailing of the forms on the site. I found a php script that uses captcha and implemented it on both of the forms that the website uses. Next I renamed the webformmailer script. When I checked a few days later, spam was down to about one per day. I found that some spam was still being received from cached versions of the html pages that used the scripts. Next step was to submit a request through Google Webmaster Tools to remove the old version of the pages. The client is now reporting that little or no spam emails are being received.

I do recommend contact forms versus just putting your email address on your website since spambots will pick up your email address and bombard you with spam.

Another example of email scam

email scam and mail scamHere is another example of an email scam (I’ve also received very similar letters in the regular mail too). It looks very official and has a sense of urgency (failure to respond may result in the cancellation of this offer!). If you read carefully, you will discover that the letter is offering a new service, which is to let search engines know about your website. In all likelihood, you would send them the fees and never hear back again. It is not a renewal of your domain registration or hosting service. If you are ever unsure, you can always check with your hosting and domain companies or website maintainer. Know the dates of when your services expire.

By |January 7th, 2015|domain, email, hosting, scam, spam|Comments Off on Another example of email scam

Determining if an Email Message is Spam

spam emailsI encourage my clients to forward any suspicious-looking emails to me so I can check them out, especially when the email references hosting, domains, or email.

Yesterday a client forwarded one which read “We noticed your mail box which is running very slow and requires capacity increase for security reasons. For safety reasons we have temporary signed you out. Click here and Sign back in to increase storage limit and continue your usage.”

First thing to check is the ‘from’ email address. It should match the name of the company that it’s from. This particular email was from a very generic ‘noreply@mailstorage.com’. Next, hover your mouse over the links in the email – hover but Do Not Click. Clicking could result in a virus or malware being downloaded to your PC. The URL that is shown should match the company name. In this case, it was ‘motofan….’. Another clue is whether you regularly receive emails from that business or is this a one-time occurrence.

If the email fails any of the tests, delete it and continue on.

By |January 7th, 2015|domain, email, hosting, registration, spam|Comments Off on Determining if an Email Message is Spam

Another Reason to Keep Your WordPress Site Updated

wordpress-updatesIn a previous post, I talked about how important is it to keep your WordPress site updated to prevent it from being vulnerable to hackers. Another very good reason to keep your site updated is to keep it from becoming so out-of-date that you eventually have to scrap it and start over.

I’ve been asked to work on sites that have not been updated for years. Often, so much has changed in WordPress and the plugins that it can be an impossible task to bring all of the software up to date. Sometimes, a new release of WordPress can mean that a plugin has to be updated before it will work properly on the new WordPress release. Sometimes plugins affect other plugins and it can be quite a problem to track down the cause.

In order to avoid a situation where a site needs to be completely re-done, it is well worth the small investment of time to keep current with the latest version of WordPress, any plugins that are installed on the site, and themes.

By |January 4th, 2015|code, software, website maintenance, WordPress|Comments Off on Another Reason to Keep Your WordPress Site Updated

Keeping WordPress Sites Updated

wordpress-up-to-dateAn important part of website maintenance for WordPress sites is to keep the WordPress software and plugins updated. Hackers are constantly trying to find ways to break into WordPress sites, install malware, and take down a server.

It’s much less work to keep a site updated than to try to fix a site that’s been hacked.

Once security vulnerabilities are identified, WordPress and plugin developers fix the code and create a new software update that corrects the vulnerability.

Your WordPress dashboard will show that a new update is available. If the update is not applied, your website is then vulnerable to hackers, your site could go down and you could lose data. People who use your site could unknowingly transfer malware to their PCs.

This is true for all content management systems – not just WordPress. Ensure that you or your website maintainer keeps your site up-to-date.

An upcoming post will talk about another important reason to keep your site updated.

By |January 1st, 2015|software, website maintenance, WordPress|Comments Off on Keeping WordPress Sites Updated

Website Designers Should Document Code

Tip: Make sure the website designer’s contract/agreement for website design or maintenance services includes wording requiring the designer to document their work, especially for any customizations that are done. Designers should add comments to their code (Ex: PHP code, HTML code, CSS). This makes it easier for other designers and programmers who might also be looking at or working with the code. Website designers should document code because it will come in handy some time later when the designer works on the code again. Just a short phrase or reason describing why the edit was made can be very helpful and can save time.
I learned about documenting code in college while pursuing my Bachelor of Science degree and it is something I’ve always used.
By |December 28th, 2014|code, contract, CSS, HTML, PHP, website design|Comments Off on Website Designers Should Document Code