Author Archives: Joel

10 Best Practices for Ecommerce Security & Ease-of-Use

English: First 4 digits of a credit card

As we all know, making it in this day and age with a cash-only and/or bartering website is difficult. That’s why many online businesses are starting to accept credit cards (these hard plastic things with a bunch of numbers on them). Credit card payments, though, involve security concerns. This piece will explore some of the best practices to ensure your site keeps online payments secure for every possible transaction (including IOUs).

Additionally, we will look at other ways to enhance the usability of your site. Making the site secure enhances both your comfort and that of your customers. Ensuring it is as user-friendly as possible places emphasis directly on the customers, making them more likely to buy your $12,000 handmade, gilded and precious-stone-encrusted hookahs.

To conduct this exposition, we will look at the thoughts (and feelings, but no epiphanic spiritual transformations) of Lesley Paone of Designhaus42 and Vanessa Tran of Canvas of Innovation. I will also provide some of my own ideas, especially regarding where to get the best tacos in San Antonio.

  1. .htaccess – Using hypertext access on your site, says Lesley, is a standardized way to implement two-factor authentication, complicating entry into your administrative portal. This method simply doubles the checkpoints – requiring an additional username and password. Creating unique and randomized login credentials for each will further bolster your security. Try Perfect Passwords, or painstakingly translate the cryptic psychic energy of a moth.
  2. Breadcrumbs – Installing a breadcrumb plugin on your site will allow your customers to easily navigate so that they do not become confused and start sobbing. Also, as Vanessa reminds us, breadcrumb functionality assists with search engine rankings as well.
  3. Differing E-mail – Use a separate e-mail address as the login to your e-commerce application. As Lesley discusses, it is ideal to completely separate your primary, “real” e-mail address from the one you use to access your back end. If hackers get into your e-mail, you don’t want them to be able to start running your store (unless they promise not to take anything from the stockroom).
  4. Cross-selling –Though this may not seem like a UX (user experience) issue, cross-selling can make buying easier for customers. As Vanessa advises, make sure that your online store optimizes efforts to let potential buyers know about similar products. This functionality can be implemented both into product pages and once a visitor has put an item into her shopping cart. Also make your most popular products, such as antique Prussian Army military-grade horse shampoo, highly visible and marked as such.
  5. Cpanel – Per Lesley, the majority of e-commerce websites, when attacked, are infiltrated via Cpanel or ftp. The reason this route is chosen is that WHMCS is programmed, by default, to use the beginning eight letters of your domain when it generates a username. Hackers know this and regularly exploit the weakness. Change the username to something different and unique, such as dk395485#&*red9 or Amy.
  6. Order Page – Vanessa reminds us of the importance of the content on your pages where customers are placing the orders. This information can be anything from answers to common questions, standard shipping fees, and what they can expect following purchase. Don’t use that page to make angry comments about your ex-boyfriend.
  7. Database Defaults – Lesley makes the point that, generally, content management systems (CMSs) and online shopping applications create database prefixes by default. The WordPress one is wp, for example. Adjust the prefix so you’re less likely to experience sql injections or sudden bouts of default-prefix-related dysphoria.
  8. Confirmation Page – Make sure that your confirmation page contains full and thorough details on both the items being purchased and the costs, says Vanessa. Also, it’s crucial that your customers are able to make changes at that point and see what the adjusted costs will be. Making that page user-friendly is crucial because it is the last page in the ordering process, so no death metal soundtrack on that page either.
  9. Obscure Software – Per Lesley, sometimes hackers target sites using certain shopping carts en masse by finding weaknesses in the code. For this reason, don’t make it obvious what system you use. Often, e-commerce applications automatically place a meta-tag in your site’s header, which serves as a signature hackers can easily recognize. Remove it. Additionally, change the path used by your themes folder; the default path can allow identification as well. (So can a bright orange top hat.)
  10. Five-second Test – Finally, Vanessa offers a great idea on first impressions. Get together with a friend, open up your site, and have them look at it for 5 seconds. Then close the page. Get as clear a sense as possible of their immediate thoughts and whether they would feel comfortable buying. This quick test can help you understand the thoughts and concerns of a random visitor, such as, “Where’s the men’s room?”

Conclusion

That gives you some broad ideas on best practices for e-commerce, both to ensure security and to optimize usability. Lesley also mentions the importance of using a secure and trusted host. That, my friend (we are friends, right?), is where we come into play. Check out our hosting services and cloud hosting packages to learn more. And oh, I will get back to you about the tacos.

by Kent Roberts

https://www.grc.com/passwords.htm

Virtual Private Servers vs. the Cloud

Choosing any type of hosting solution for your website and applications will undoubtedly get you started, but in order to maximize your budget and achieve your business goals, it is critical to choose the correct solution for your individual demands. In this blog post, we will analyze the differences between a VPS and the cloud and see which option is best for you.

A virtual private server (VPS) configuration provides a web-based machine that emulates a private, dedicated server. This option allows for complete configuration, customization and administration of the software and hardware.

Cloud hosting differs from VPS hosting in that the servers are shared amongst other customers, providing high quality resources that are billed strictly based on usage, not on a fixed rate. Additionally, the resources can be easily scaled as necessary.

In terms of flexibility, a VPS solution allows customers to easily increase the resources required, including memory, processor speed and disk space. These resources must be installed on the server and can become expensive over time.

On a cloud server, resources available for upgrade include bandwidth, CPU usage and memory utilization. The cloud allows customers to scale necessary resources as appropriate—a significant advantage over VPS.

For those worried about security, a VPS provides premier security features. Security is greater with a VPS configuration than with a cloud solution because the server is installed in such a way that resembles that of a dedicated server solution. Data is stored within a defined partition of the server, so the location of secure data is centralized and protected.

The cloud is a great option because it provides resources that are available for distribution across a large number of machines, but this creates a great loss in terms of security. At this point in time, security and control within the cloud is highly unregulated and unstable, and it is not guaranteed that sensitive data will be partitioned to a specific portion of the machine as with a VPS. The lack of guaranteed security is a major disadvantage for the cloud.

Hosting providers usually bill virtual private servers on a fixed, monthly rate. The rate is based on a number of factors, including the amount of memory, CPU and disk space the machine consumes, along with extra features such as automatic backups. Even though this type of solution can be more expensive for those with higher resource needs, it does provide predictable billing. A VPS is ideal for websites that maintain regular traffic levels throughout the month.

Cloud customers pay a monthly fee that is based on the number of seats that require access to the particular applications and services provided by the hosting company and the resources utilized over the billing period. Conveniently, the charges are often billed down to the minute for easy breakdown. The billing system that the cloud provides is ideal for those who have unpredictable levels of traffic or for those who forecast unpredictable resource usage.

If you are highly versed in technical issues, it is important to note that a VPS will provide you with full control over your system. You will receive your own root and administrative access and will be able to remotely manage your machine through capabilities such as Secure Shell (SSH) and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). This capability allows you to install and configure applications or other services you would not have been able to on a shared cloud machine.

Additionally, a virtual private server typically allows for more CPU and memory resources than would be available on a cloud plan.

Of course, certain companies will benefit from a VPS solution, while others will benefit more from cloud hosting. Those that rely heavily on virtual private servers include reseller hosts, web design companies, domain investors and companies with low-resource consuming websites and applications. Websites with varying levels of traffic will benefit from a cloud solution, along with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers, intensive application hosts and development environments.

As an Atlantic.Net client, you can build, test and deploy Windows or Linux virtual private servers in the cloud in just seconds. Simplicity, security, scalability and reliability are just a few features our VPS configurations provide. Our virtual private servers guarantee you full access to necessary memory, CPU, network and other resources as required and since they’re in the cloud, you’ll be able to instantly increase and decrease these resources as you wish.

Our cloud hosting solutions provide you with the flexibility and control you desire, backed by two decades of experience in networking and computing technologies. Our cloud servers are the best in the industry, backed by our 100% satisfaction guarantee. Instead of hosting your website and applications on old, clunky servers, power your infrastructure with our resources!

If you are interested in virtual private servers or cloud solutions provided by Atlantic.Net, contact us today for a free consultation. 1-800-521-5881

How the Cloud Makes Analyzing Big Data More Efficient

Have you ever waited until the last minute to complete a critical project, only to find out that you have to process significantly more information than you can actually handle? You watch the clock count the hours and then minutes down to your deadline, but there is still so much material in front of you that you still have left to analyze that you want to just pull out your hair. If you answered yes, you have experienced the concept of big data first hand.

The term “big data” refers to data sets that are so incomprehensively large and complex that they are practically impossible to process, even when using database management tools or other traditional data processing applications.

Scientists in many fields—including genomics, physics and biological research, to name a few—continuously encounter obstacles in their research due to having to handle extremely large sets of data. These obstacles result in budget and time management setbacks and can be incredibly frustrating.

There is positive news, though: as of 2012, limits on the size of data sets that are feasible to process in a moderate amount of time were as high as a few exabytes of data. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of the exabyte, it is the equivalent to one quintillion bytes. That’s pretty massive!

Big data is growing exponentially larger every day. This is partly due to the fact that data is being collected on mobile devices, remote sensors, software logs, cameras, microphones and wireless networks, to name a few. And the number of devices collecting data continues to increase at an impressive pace. Consider how much information you collect on a daily basis; you call coworkers, text friends, take pictures of your dog and check Facebook before you go to bed.

Amazingly, the world’s technological ability to store information has practically doubled every forty months since the 1980s. In 2012, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created every day!

What is considered to be big data varies greatly depending upon the capabilities of the organization in question that is managing the set and on the capabilities of the applications that will be used to process and analyze the data set.

An example of the concept of big data in science is the Large Hadron Collider. This collider is famous for being the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator; 150 million sensors deliver data 40 million times per second, and there are approximately 600 million collisions per second. That’s a lot of data!

Researchers filter out 99.999% of unnecessary collected data, but this still creates 100 collisions of interest per second. If all data were to be collected for analysis, it would exceed 500 exabytes per day. To put this number into perspective, this is equivalent to 500 quintillion bytes per day—almost 300 times higher than all other sources in the world combined.

We are currently living in an age where having a title such as “Data Scientist” is not far from reality. The convergence of two groundbreaking technologies—big data and cloud computing—are creating far-reaching implications that will soon change the world.

Big data is extremely important in allowing organizations to better anticipate and react to consumer demands. But when unprocessed data accounts for at least 80% of the world’s information, many companies are making critical decisions with just 20% of the data they have analyzed. This certainly is not ideal.

The cloud computing model provides a perfect match for big data, since cloud computing provides absolutely unlimited resources on demand. Cloud-based solutions purchased from providers give companies the capability to access processing applications on remote networks that were not previously available and allow them to access these applications via web browsers or even mobile applications.

The Cloud helps corporations to save money by providing a means to store massive quantities of data without a massive cost. In the Cloud, hardware and software doesn’t need to be purchased or even stored in-house, improving both the company budget and available office space. Cloud solutions reduce the energy consumption of servers, thus lowering overhead and reducing carbon footprints.

Also, storing data within the cloud allows the information to be accessed across a wide spectrum of devices—desktops, tablets, mobile phones and more, all while being strongly protected against natural disasters and malicious attacks.

When cloud computing and big data are combined to create a convenient, versatile and automated solution, profit generation opportunities are sky-high.

Since 1994, Atlantic.Net has been providing premiere hosting services to corporations, small businesses and personal clients. We have always been one step ahead of the latest trends in technology, and we have taken advantage of this stronghold by offering scalable, secure and budget-friendly cloud servers. To learn more about how you can try a cloud server with absolutely no commitment, contact us today at 800-521-5881.

1TB Bandwidth—How Much is that REALLY?

Early last month, Atlantic.Net officially announced that all virtual private servers (VPS) and cloud servers received an upgrade that provides an increased outbound data transfer capacity of 1 terabyte (TB), absolutely free. This gives our customers the ability to send 1,000 times more outbound data from their VPS and cloud servers than previously available. This essentially eliminates bandwidth costs, ultimately saving you even more money. But, what does the phrase “1TB of outbound data transfer” actually mean?

First, let us explore the concept of the terabyte. A terabyte (TB) is a unit of measurement for digital information. For comparison purposes, one terabyte is equal to one trillion bytes, or 1,000 gigabytes (GB).

When the first hard disk drives were created in the 1950s, they were the astonishing size of a household refrigerator. Even though they were massive in size, they only had the capacity of a few megabytes (MB). In 1982, the first IBM PC was released, and this computer had a storage capacity of just 5 MB. Three decades later, a major improvement was released to the general public—a 1TB disk drive that is just 2.5 inches wide—perfect for a laptop computer. It was also in 2012 that a 1TB USB flash drive was created—a concept that would have baffled the inventor of the original hard drives in the 1950s.

In 2007, 1TB hard disks cost over $350. Just five years later, you can find the same capacity for under $100. For just a little more money, you can purchase a 4TB hard drive at $179.

To imagine how much information a terabyte of storage can hold, consider the following information. One terabyte of audio recorded at studio quality will contain around 2,000 hours of audio. The same amount of storage will hold around 620,000 photos. This is surely enough space, even for most professional photographers. With a 1TB hard drive, you can store 2,000 hours of digital videos and around 1,000 hours’ worth of DVD quality movies.

Near the end of May, tech company Yahoo! unveiled a new interface for its popular high-quality image and video hosting site Flickr. This update included a new key feature in the hopes of reeling in new visitors from across the world—a whole terabyte of free space per user! This is approximately 70 times bigger than the storage capacity offered by other image hosting websites.

Next, let us investigate the concept of data transfer. In a self-explanatory fashion, data transfer references the volume of information that is transferred to and from your website. For example, every time a customer looks at your inventory in your online store, data is transferred. Each time a visitor purchases an item, more data is being transferred. Additionally, any email sent to you at your domain name consumes data.

Essentially, the concept of data transfer and allocated amounts should be a key factor in choosing a hosting provider. With the increase of 1TB of outbound data transfer, you can rest assured knowing that your information will continue running steadily, and at a good price; Atlantic.Net’s award-winning VPS and cloud server hosting plans start at only $0.007 per hour. That’s just $5.11 per month!

A virtual private server (VPS) hosting solution is perfect for businesses that need more dedicated service. An Atlantic.Net VPS allows customers to build, test and deploy Windows or Linux servers powered by cloud technology in just seconds. Our VPS solutions offer simplicity, security, scalability and reliability backed by the most up to date platforms available. With a VPS in the cloud, you are guaranteed to receive the full amount of allocated memory, CPU, network and other features that you are paying for and you have the ability to scale your resources as necessary.

Additionally, with a VPS hosted by Atlantic.Net, you will see the benefits of free nightly backup, no contracts, continuously running power systems and live technical support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 365 days a year.

In addition to our award-winning VPS solutions, we offer cloud hosting capabilities that unseen elsewhere. With almost two decades of experience in connectivity, advanced computing, hosting and web technologies, our cloud servers are truly the best in the industry. We realize that a one-size-fits-all approach to cloud computing practically never works, so we offer private and hybrid cloud options that are completely customizable depending on your personal or business needs.

Our proven cloud hosting guarantee includes a 100% guaranteed network uptime, 100% guaranteed cloud server hardware and a 100% guaranteed infrastructure. Are you seeing a pattern yet.

With Atlantic.Net cloud servers, you only pay for what you use—nothing more. Our cloud hosting technologies also reduce costs associated with sites that receive high traffic and maintain large databases. Try Atlantic.Net cloud hosting today and receive a free $10 trial credit! There are no commitments or contracts, and setup is completely free.

Now that Atlantic.Net has increased the previous capacity of outgoing data transfers to 1TB, you can clearly see that this is a big deal. What are you waiting for? Contact Atlantic.Net today to see how we can get your business running in the cloud.

Understanding the True Differences between a VPS and a Cloud Server

If you are on the market for a new web hosting solution, you have undoubtedly heard the term “Virtual Private Server hosting.” You may also be intrigued by the concept of cloud hosting. What are the differences and similarities between these two solutions? Which option is most ideal for your personal computing needs?

A Virtual Private Server—known more commonly within the industry simply as a VPS—offers customers a configuration that is entirely customizable and manageable. VPS users pay a fixed subscription each month for this type of hosting. This type of architecture can be installed within a data center or on personal premises.

Cloud hosting is a newer technology that allows customers to be billed according to their personal monthly usage. Hardware and other resources, typically located inside a secure data center, are rented out to multiple users, further promoting the inherent cost-effective strategy.

In terms of flexibility, VPS hosting allows users to easily manipulate the architecture to suit their most current needs, but it is important to note that additional resources such as disk space, memory and processor space will need to be purchased and installed. Cloud solutions provide a little more flexibility, as customers can scale their resources instantaneously and receive a fully customized invoice to match this change.

Truthfully, making the decision between a Virtual Private Server hosting solution and a cloud hosting plan may not be easy. To learn more about the differences between these two options and to discover which hosting solution best fits your needs, contact Atlantic.Net today at 1-800-521-5881.

Cloud Computing Gives Retailers an Edge in Merchandising

Retail is a continually changing industry that relies on meeting the expectations of customer demands, while finding new ways to improve business operations. What retailers are trying to accomplish today is how they can do more with less, something cloud computing can offer businesses who are faced with the challenge of meeting demands, improving customer service, and connecting with consumers. Cloud servers give retailers the potential to house massive amounts of data in a cost-effective way that benefits their overall operations.

Cloud servers offer retailers a way to explore data and analytics to understand the needs of their customers. By analyzing information that could influence purchasing decisions, and even by understanding the way a customer stops at displays, cloud hosting offers businesses a way to upgrade technology that helps improve the effectiveness of merchandising. Any of these applications use huge amounts of information and data, which is where a cloud based solution would be economically feasible.

In the cloud, a server can hold massive amounts of data with the ability to expand data storage as needed. This is good for the retail industry because thousands of different applications/software are used for various business purposes, all of which can easily receive heavy use during peak times. For example, retail stores like Target utilize planogram software, which maps out item placement on shelves and is only used about once a month. Many companies order data storage capacity based on anticipated usage, but when applications, software, and data are all stored in the cloud, the company only pays for the space being used. The elasticity of cloud hosting is beneficial for retailers whose businesses are particularly seasonal, where paying for unused storage space is now unnecessary with the implementation of cloud servers.

To optimize the in-store experience, cloud hosting opens the door for businesses to use data to market to each customer, and to maximize the customer experience using information stored in the cloud. Retailers can create a new way to think about analytics and data storage while utilizing the innovation of cloud hosting.

Rather than storing data on a server that doesn’t have the ability to scale based on what you use, consider moving your data to the cloud today with a cloud server from Atlantic.Net. For a quote and a free consultation, contact us at 1-800-521-5881.

Cloud Services: Risk or Opportunity?

Cloud computing is certainly not a new concept. However, several factors, including high‐bandwidth levels, affordability and virtualization have inspired a recent surge in attention. With the current unsteady state of the economy, cloud hosting services offer more attractive features when compared to typical server solutions. Still, it is very important to analyze the risks and opportunities before incorporating such a solution.

When searching for vendors offering cloud services, it is important to stray away from small startups and search instead for larger companies, as the former may not be able to offer the long‐term stability offered by well‐reviewed corporations. Do not assume that a cloud service company has adequate staff, equipment and technical skills. Performing thorough research is critical.

As cloud capabilities improve, so do the data centers that provide such capabilities. These data centers are being built on much larger scales, with more power, security and networking resources.

The biggest risk that comes with incorporating a cloud solution is the contract. Pay close attention to the fine print! The Terms of Service, Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy and all other included documents may contain legal hearsay that could get your business in trouble. For example, you may sign a document that gives the provider the ability to offer your personal information and other possibly incriminating data to third parties without your knowledge.

When looking for a cloud service company, ask yourself some questions: Where will the data be stored, processed and replicated? Who is running the critical infrastructure? What will happen if the provider goes out of business? How easily can third parties access your data? If you need help answering these questions, contact Atlantic.Net today. With our 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee, you can rest assured knowing that your investment was a large opportunity, not a large risk. Call 1-800-521-5881 to learn more.

Some Benefits of Managed Server Hosting You May Not Have Considered

A large corporation often has the money, time and employees available to maintain an internal server’s infrastructure. However, if you are the average business owner, it is highly likely that you do not have access to such copious resources. The concept ofmanaged server hosting may initially appear intimidating and confusing, but utilizing such a plan is often much more sensible than running your own network.

One of the largest benefits of managed server hosting that is often overlooked is its inherent security. The company in charge of hosting your server will continuously maintain the equipment and debug the applications as necessary in order to keep your website protected against viruses and unauthorized attacks.

In addition to offering superior security measures, managed server hosts will routinely back up your hard drives. This keeps the information on your website accessible as necessary, should there be a corrupted file or loss of critical data.

Although initially it may appear that using a managed server is an expensive option, clients using this type of hosting will actually save money in the long run due to the fact that they do not have to worry about hiring another employee (or team of employees) to maintain the infrastructure. The money saved can then be invested in expanding the business even further.

If you find yourself hesitant to commit because you believe your business will grow over the next few months, no need to worry – most managed hosting plans come with an easily accessible interface that allows the user to upgrade or downgrade their bandwidth allowance with a few simple clicks.

Lastly, operating system and software updates are always taken care of by the administrators, so you can rest easy knowing your infrastructure is up-to-date.

Atlantic.Net offers a variety of award‐winning managed server hosting solutions customized to fit your personal needs. To learn more about how we can help you with a customized hosting solution, contact us today for a free consultation.

Spotlight on cPanel

cPanel is a Unix-based web hosting control panel that provides a graphical user interface (GUI) and automation tools to simplify the website hosting process. cPanel provides various mechanisms that allow administrators, resellers and website owners to control various back-end aspects of website and server administration through a standard web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

By combining Atlantic.Net cloud servers with the cPanel interface, the management of servers and web pages is streamlined, which allows users to focus more on their business and less on the architecture of their technology. Also, the cPanel & WHM software package is a very user-friendly control panel that gives web hosts, as well as website owners, the ability to easily manage their servers and websites.

cPanel is also a very secure environment due to its multiple administrative levels that allow administrators, resellers, and other users to communicate through email-like interfaces. This ability also provides ease of use and flexibility for all involved. From adding sub-domains and email accounts to installing scripts and checking bandwidth, the control and flexibility provided by cPanel is unsurpassed.

cPanel, in conjunction with Atlantic.Net’s world famous cloud hosting services, gives users the ability to turn on cPanel-ready cloud servers in just seconds. It really is that easy! cPanel is available on Atlantic.Net’s cloud hosting platform and provides efficiency and power, making web hosting and managing individual servers practically trouble-free. Call 1-800-521-5881 today to get started with cPanel hosting!

Do You Know All Your Cloud Hosting Terminology?

The term “cloud computing” encompasses a technology in which hardware and software resources are delivered as a service. Since cloud hosting is such a technical industry, understanding its basic concepts can be slightly confusing. Here are some fundamental terms you need to know when considering cloud hosting for your business.

Cloud platform: This term represents the most basic architecture of the cloud. With a cloud platform, the service provider gives the user the foundation to a successful hosting environment: an operating system, server applications, and a development center.

Software as a Service (SaaS): This term refers to the method of purchasing the cloud service. Instead of paying the fixed fee for traditional server plans, the SaaS model allows the customer to pay a fee for the actual consumption of data for as long as the service is active.

Network as a Service (NaaS): The NaaS is a category of cloud services in which the customer’s main objective is to use network connectivity services.

Internal cloud: For large businesses, an internal cloud can be implemented in order to provide a more secure and stable cloud hosting environment.

Virtualization: This is the process of incorporating all data into a single digital setting. This technology allows cloud servers and storage devices to be easily shared.

Private cloud: A private cloud is a dedicated, internal server that is exclusively used by one customer. The actual platform and applications, however, continue to be maintained by the cloud provider, so there is no need for an internal IT department.

Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud performs as a “happy medium” between private and public cloud hosting environments. The hybrid cloud solution works well for customers who need both a local server and a cloud service.

Of course, there is much more to cloud computing than understanding a few definitions. If you are interested in seeing what a cloud solution can do for your hosting environment, contact Atlantic.Net today. Call 1-800-521-5881 or try our live chat on our website!