A key part of Internet security revolves around your passwords – choosing good ones and keeping them safe. HostAway is constantly monitoring for the latest Internet vulnerabilities and threats (we patched Heartbleed and Shellshock within a few hours of the news breaking) however this won’t protect your information becoming accessible if you have a weak password, or a virus on your computer makes the password available to a hacker.
Choosing your password
- Choose a long password (at the very least, 7 characters) containing letters, numbers and symbols.
- Don’t use publicly available information such as your name, phone number, etc.
- Use unique passwords for your important accounts, e.g. don’t use your email password to sign up to newsletters.
- Don’t use common words or sequences, e.g. password1, p@ss0wrd, fred2011, asdfghjkl, etc.
- Try to create a mnemonic password based on a phrase, e.g. “The folks at Hostaway are a mighty helpful bunch” becomes “Tf@HaaMHb:)”
Keeping your password secure
- Although best practice dictates not storing your password anywhere, if the choice is between using the same password everywhere or storing your 50+ passwords somewhere then write them down. Just keep them safe and locked away, or use one of the many password management programs available on your computer or smartphone to encrypt and store your passwords safely.
- Keep your computers software up to date. This includes but is certainly not limited to your anti-virus software.
- Make sure your password recovery options are set up correctly and update them if you change contact details.
- Use two-factor authentication where possible (coming soon to the HostAway Members Panel).
Time marches on and we will soon be saying farewell to another version of the Joomla CMS – the 2.5 long term support (LTS) release. Joomla 2.5, which replaced the 1.5 version a few years ago, will no longer be supported as of 31 December 2014.
If you haven’t already begun, now is the time to plan to upgrade your site to Joomla 3.3 – at the time of writing this article the latest version is 3.3.6. The number format is Major Release.Minor Release.Patch, i.e. the current version is Major Release 3, Minor Release 3 and Patch 6. Joomla 3.3 will be supported until at least September 2016, and you can find instructions for updating your software here.
The most likely difficulties you’ll run in to by updating your version of Joomla are incompatible plugins and possible theme/template inconsistencies. We recommend taking a backup of your site prior to upgrading however if you encounter issues please contact us and we can restore your site from our rolling 7 day backup.
If you remain on Joomla 2.5 your website will continue to function as before however it will no longer be considered secure. In 2015, if a weakness is discovered in Joomla 2.5 then a hacker will be able to exploit it since the developers won’t be providing any more security updates. This might not happen and your website could remain stable for years, however we prefer you to be aware of the risks so you can decide whether to upgrade now or stick with 2.5 and hope for the best.
If you plan to remain with Joomla 2.5 then we suggest improving your website security as recommended by Joomla here.
If you’ve used email services you will be familiar with the scourge of spam, aka junk email, which is estimated to compose between 80-85% of all email in the world. HostAway utilises a number of practices to limit the amount of spam you receive:
Greylisting is an anti-spam measure that works on the basis that spammers will not retry on receiving a failure message from the mail server. Greylisting exploits this by giving a ‘temporary failure’ message to the server that it is receiving mail from. This temporary failure message is designed to make the sending server try again later (similar to a telemarketer finding your phone engaged, spammers often simply move on to the next address in their list). Once a mail server tries again, the mail is accepted and the Greylisting system records the originating email address as well as the originating server. Future mail directed to the target email address is accepted instantly. Additionally, the delay imposed by Greylisting can sometimes result in a compromised mail server being discovered before it has a chance to retry sending mail to the intended recipient.
SpamAssassin is a widely used spam filtering program which gives each email you receive a spam ‘score’ based on various factors. This score is increased when the filter comes across characteristics associated with spam such as ‘Lose Weight Today’ in the subject line or malformed sender addresses. SpamAssassin automatically updates the rules that are used to filter spam emails every day and is constantly updated by the community and developers, this increases the chances of spam being flagged and offers greater protection as the filter improves. Once an email is given a high enough spam score (you can set this threshold in the members panel) the email is either tagged as spam or removed completely, depending on what score it receives. We have recently upgraded to the newest version of SpamAssassin to ensure the protection is up to date so you may notice you now receive less spam.
RBL (Real-time Blackhole List) filtering works by monitoring a list of blocked IP addresses which is supplied by a number of anti-spam organisations. When our mail server receives an email for you it looks at the network that the message came from, and then looks it up in these lists. If the network this email address came from was found in this list then the email will be rejected. This helps protect you against compromised web servers and is regularly updated by the anti-spam organisations to ensure the protection is up to date.
For more information about spam, or to report spam from an Australian source please visit https://www.acma.gov.au/stop-getting-spam
HostAway also provides Premium spam filtering as an optional service, please contact us for more details.
HostAway have doubled the mailbox space included in all it’s hosting plans. Following our recent storage upgrade we are pleased to announce that all hosting plans will now include twice as much storage space for their emails, at no extra cost.
The Professional hosting plans now include 2GB, Advanced has 4GB and Complete has a whopping 10GB of mailbox space!
ICANN, the Internet’s naming authority, has recently approved over 700 new domain name extensions with up to 1300 becoming available over the next few years. You are probably familiar with the common domain extensions which are called gTLDs (generic Top-Level Domains) and include .com, .net and .org. You would also know some of the country specific domain extensions (called ccTLDs) such as .com.au, .net.au, .co.uk, .co.nz, etc. Now there are a multitude of new gTLDs to choose from such as .menu, .expert, .money, .realestate, .hotel and so many more.
What does this mean for you?
In the past you may not have been able to register the domain you want because someone else had already registered it. Now you have the opportunity to register your brand or business name using a different domain extension, perhaps one relevant to your industry. Or you might come up with a creative way to use a new domain extension, e.g. peeka.boo, out.bid, big.baby.
Before you rush to register a bunch of new domain names first consider the implications. Public awareness of these new domains is still low and you don’t want domain confusion sending your potential customers to a competitor’s website.
A respected Google engineer posted that the new extensions won’t provide any SEO benefits over standard gTLDs, however search engines may change their algorithms depending on how the market reacts to the new gTLDs.
The current registration costs are higher than the old gTLDs and unfortunately ICANN has allowed pluralisation meaning that you may need to register multiple gTLDs to protect your identity from domain squatters. For example if you are in the automotive industry you can choose from .car, .cars, .auto, .autos, .motor, .motors, .vehicle and .vehicles.
If you are interested in registering these new extensions please don’t hesitate to call us so that we can search the available domains and provide advice on the best option for your business. Below is a list of some of the new gTLDs, with more to follow soon (some in different languages!).
Note: Some of these domain extensions may still be in their pre-registration stages meaning you may need to have a trademark registered or be prepared to wait a few months until the domain extension becomes generally available.
We have removed the mailbox limits for all hosting plans so now you can create as many mailboxes as you like. For example, if you have a Professional hosting plan (which includes 1GB of mail space) you can now have 50 mailboxes of 20MB each, or 100 mailboxes of 10MB each or any other combination that suits your requirements.
To view the quotas included in each hosting plan please click here.
Note: If you have previously paid for additional mailboxes this has been changed to additional mail space.
HostAway have recently installed new lightning fast web servers specifically optimised for Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
There is no charge to move your website onto the new cluster of servers – simply contact us and we can make the change which will take effect in a matter of hours!
For more details on the new server configurations please read here.
Here are some of our core attributes which we believe make HostAway the number one choice for all your hosting needs:
We value our customers and their time, which is why we provide useful tools and quick access to knowledgeable staff. We are always willing to go the extra mile, whether it is assisting with coding issues or migrating customer data to our servers. We are happy to take your call and you will not talk to a machine or wait for ages in a queue.
We manage our own hardware within our own data centre which is why we’ve been able to remain so reliable over time. With over 15 years of experience in hosting (and even longer in the IT industry), we are certainly no fly-by-night organisation. We follow best practice in data management, with a series of backups onsite, offsite and offline to ensure your data is safe. We don’t overload our servers or our network to ensure stability in the event of traffic spikes. We also have advanced internal and external monitoring linked to an sms pager system, for absolute peace of mind.
We offer a large range of hosting options so you can find one that is right for your business. We also offer a number of add-ons so that you can customise a plan to suit your exact requirements without paying for more than you need. If you outgrow the shared hosting platform you can move onto a Virtual Private Server or consider colocating a server within our data centre for complete control of your hosting environment. Our plans are available on a monthly, quarterly, six-monthly, yearly, biennial or longer basis and are discounted commensurate with your commitment.
We tell it like it is, we don’t have hidden fees and we list all prices on our website. You can view our status history on our Twitter page, which discusses outages or problems that we have encountered in the past. You can also give us a call and have a frank discussion about our network or hardware configuration – we’re happy to talk to like-minded individuals who appreciate a well configured network!
HostAway is 100% Australian owned & operated. We don’t outsource any support overseas and we use local suppliers and wholesalers wherever possible. We are proud to sponsor numerous local not-for-profit organisations, have occupied the same Malaga office since 1991 and are a member of the Malaga Business & Districts Business Association.
We don’t just say we care, we act. In May 2010 we were the first data centre in Australia to install solar panels, with a 54 panel 10kW system. With improvements in panel efficiency the solar array was upgraded in August 2013 to now include 172 photovoltaic panels producing 30kW of electricity. We also operate an almost paperless office and all staff are encouraged to recycle.
It is a cliché, however the IT landscape is constantly changing. Therefore HostAway is constantly striving to improve our service and expand our product offerings, yet we extend this outside of the technical aspects of the business to include improvement in our customer service, accounting practices and management. We invest in our staff members and business practices, in addition to new hardware and technologies.
If you have any feedback about why you choose HostAway or have any ideas or feedback to share we’d love to hear from you.
The solar array has been performing very well since it was upgraded in August last year. The clear sunny days we have been experiencing have allowed the system to work to its maximum potential and in the last 6 months it has generated 29.2 MWh of electricity, which is the equivalent of:
- 516 trees planted
- 2,253 litres of petrol saved
- 44,345 tonnes of carbon saved
Naturally we are very proud of this investment and thought we’d share a photo from a recent climb of the mast (note that not all panels are shown, we’ll need to get a wider lens…or perhaps an octocopter).
Below is a graph taken from our solar monitoring software which displays just how well the system has been operating for the past month. We are forecasting more blue skies ahead 🙂
You may recall we have warned you about domain scams in the past (see domain phishing and Chinese domain scams) however it appears some of these scammers are still operating or operating under new business names. We’ve received reports of customers who have paid these dodgy domain companies because they were sent documents that appear to be invoices.
As you can see, we frequently receive these scam letters which are sent out by searching the publicly available WHOIS databases. Below are examples of these letters with the disclaimer circled in red, where it warns that the letter is not a bill but an “invitation to register a new domain”.
The above invoice from Domain Renewal Group (formerly known as Domain Registry of America) wants you to transfer your domain to them for more than you are currently paying at HostAway. The invoices below are even more expensive, wanting exorbitant prices for domains you either already own or may wish to register.
For more information please visit the Scamwatch website.