2012 the year of internet security growth

So many events in the past year have pivoted internet security as the number one most important focus for everyone here at global advanced media. I am sure people have seen news reports about major hacking and web sites being shut down, but there have been many more smaller businesses affected by attacks and that has changed the primary focus for our SEO team, web design team, and web site hosting team quite a bit the past year.

I remember the good old days when designers could focus on making new designs and adding original content. Our search engine optimization and search marketing teams focused exclusively on web sites performing well in the search engines. Our web hosting team focused solely on customer service for minor things like email setup. With all the attacks an exploits going around the web, we have learned that security needs to be the primary focus.

There have been several times in the year when we had to pause all projects and focus squarely on fixing hacks, updating security and repairing damage done to sites. Search engine marketing does not work if sites are hacked. Web site hosting is now more focused on recurring backups and checking for exploited files or un-patched scripts. Designers are not forced to think more about securing designs and choosing code that is less likely to fall prey to malicious systems.

All of our teams are now working to instruct people at the various businesses we work with on how to be more proactive about viruses, password security, and more. So far we have been able to recover completely from all the hacking attempts this year, and have made sure our checklist for clients includes strong passwords, and systems that double check backups as well as keep a closer eye on updates and intrusion attempts.

Billing clients for the extra work is a challenge, as it is difficult to explain to the average web site owner exactly how important all of these things are, and the amounts of time needed vary greatly depending on how many updates are needed watch month – but it’s something we are working on.

Anyone who is using wordpress on their web site should seriously consider adding the limit login attempts plugin, and the si captcha plugin (even if you only enable it on your login page) – we also suggest making sure that someone is keeping your wordpress up to date with the latest versions, and making backups in case the newer version break current themes or other plugins that are necessary for the functionally of your site.

Of course backups and updates are suggested for all systems, make sure your anti-virus is up to date or get a new one. Make sure you update and do not ignore updates for flash and java as well. If one  employee at your office ignores these updates, surfs facebook, and downloads emails – this is a recipe for disaster.

I  also suggest that everyone test their backups at least once a year, preferably every 3 months. Get a backup computer or server and start from scratch with your backups. Is all of your data safe? Is it all recoverable? How long does it take? You definitely need to know this before you find out the hard way.

New chat and community portals coming to the web

We have been consulting with a client about opening a new chat portals and community web site. There are many premium options for establishing an online presence in the chat and social software arenas, and we suggest several. For clients on a tight launch budget, we recommend free and open source software to get started.

Many of our clients are in the early launch and beta test phases of new web projects, and the early steps of new online business models require at least some web presence to get started. We know that everyone wants to have a super slick, tricked out, full featured web site, but when funding is tight, getting things started is more important that getting things full blown and polished.

It doesn’t take a lot to show concepts and get options from colleagues, teammates and investors. We have found by installing basic software and apps, giving people a demo of how things will flow, and showing some rough examples of color schemes is the best way to launch a new project. Many times we have seen clients spend time and money developing the web site’s look at feel with fancy graphics, only to have them completely reworked later in the public announcement phase. This is why we suggest getting the core functionality first, and then develop the look and feel later.

With all that in mind, we have a pre-launch of the new online chat forums up and running. It’s a start, and a great skeleton for future development.

New sites – welcome to the web

There are a few new web sites that we’d like to welcome to the web. We have been impressed with the new web sites being created with the open source blogging software from wordpress. With the various theme options and settings now available such as static front page and such, there are some great web sites being creating that look nothing like the standard default wordpress blog.

New sites like the TBS blog and Danny writes are coming together quickly, from people that just got their web sites started this year. With the themes and customization options available along with a plethora of plugins, people are making great fully functioning web sites with a simple server side script.

We have also been consulting with some web sites using the wordpress backend for multiple blog hosting and are really excited about the social network plugins that are being released for wordpress mu, upcoming social network sites massage groups and others will be pioneering a new generation of easy use, self hosted social networks. We are looking forward to the data portability possibilities and hope that these sites are hugely successful.

We will begin consulting with new clients who want to launch their own hosted social networks as soon as testing and upgrades are completely with our current projects. Look for custom profile and other buddypress themes to be made available from us in the near future as well. Looks like 2009 will be a great new year!