2 Weeks To HTTPS Becoming a Necessity for Websites

It’s July 9th and two weeks from today the web is officially going with full HTTPS as requisite, and that’s a development that’s been a long time in the making. Securing traffic on the internet is an obvious priority, but of course there are people who are strongly opposed to having a secure web.

Two weeks today Google will be uniformly labeling any site loaded in Chrome without HTTPS to be not secure. Most webmasters will be on top of this and accordingly usage of HTTPS is exploding right now. In the 6 months up to a recent report, 32% growth in the use of HTTPS was seen in the top 1 million sites. Mozilla tracks anonymous telemetry via Firefox browser and recorded big growth (75% page loads) in the rate of pages being loaded over HTTPS. Chrome too, at around the same 75 percent.

We’re a Canadian web hosting provider who’s always got our thumb on the pulse of the industry, so it’s important to relate that quite a few popular sites on the web still don’t support HTTPS (or fail to redirect insecure requests) and will soon be flagged by Google. Plus, let’s clear up a few emerging myths about HTTPS:

  • It’s a Hassle
  • I Don’t Need It
  • It’s Gonna be Slow
  1. It’s A Hassle

No, it’s pretty darn simple. You can protect your site with HTTPS in a matter of seconds for FREE. Sign up for Cloudflare or using a CA such as Let’s Encrypt. We can assist you with any other web security and accessibility concerns you may have beyond https encryption of your website.

  1. I Don’t Need It

Well it turns out, you do – particularly as it relates to the safety and privacy of those visiting your site. Without HTTPS, anyone in the path between your visitor’s browser and your site or API can peer in on (or make modifications to) your content without you needing to be made aware of it. Governments, employers, and even especially internet service providers can and have been overseeing content without user consent.

If having your users receiving content unmodified and safe from maliciously injected advertisements or malware is a priority for you, you are advised to move your website to HTTPS.

Add the fact that the major browsers like Apple, Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft, are restricting functionality to only work over HTTPS. Google will soon block unencrypted mobile app connections automatically in their upcoming Android version. Apple has announced that apps must use HTTPS, but there has been no official announcement of this yet.

  1. It’s Gonna be Slow

The last common myth about HTTPS is that it’s not speedy enough. This belief is a holdover from an era when SSL/TLS might have had a negative performance impact on a site, but that’s not the way it is today at all or ever. HTTPS is also now required to enable and enjoy the performance benefits of HTTP/2.

Here’s two untruths to consider:

1) It takes incrementally more CPU power to encrypt and decrypt data; and

2) establishing a TLS session involves nothing more than 2 network round trips between the browser and the server.

HTTPS content from the edge – 10-20 milliseconds away from your users in the case of Cloudflare – SSL/TLS enabled sites are superior. And even when they are not served from an edge provider they still function at a high level. Advanced users should also consider using HSTS to instruct the browser to always load your content over HTTPS, saving it a round trip (plus page load time) on following requests.

Containerisation, or Not: How to Choose for Your Hosting

There’s an expression that goes ‘nothing stays simple for long’ and gosh darn if that isn’t just so true for so much of nearly everything in the world of economics and commerce. As is nearly always the case, it’s the way things develop interconnectedness and interdependencies very naturally means that what was once kind of basic eventually becomes at least somewhat complicated.

So it is with server hosting too, and what used to be just fine for a particular company or organization with regards to hosting their website. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re obviously like any other Canadian web hosting provider at the forefront of the industry in that this is one of the more front and centre issues for us as it pertains to providing our customers with the type of web hosting service that actually suits them best.

All of this leads to what we’ll discuss here today, and the term is ‘containerisation.’ The term on itself means to break up a mass of any objects or material and separate them into a number of containers. What exactly those containers are could be any of thousands of different potential ones, but all of them will have the quality of having some type of exterior on at least 3 of 4 sides to create a barrier than ‘contains’ the ‘contents’ exactly as desired.

Decisions, Decisions

As far as servers, it was in fact a simple choice once upon a time – dedicated, or shared. That’s often still the basic decisions, but for ever greater numbers of customers there are additional considerations about what’s going to accommodate your website most ideally.

So what is containerisation, and would it be a good fit for you? And is there a specific type of server hosting required to run containers? How about the term ‘serverless’, what needs to be known there?

Lets have a look at all of this today.

Functionalities and Options

If there are no other external considerations, an application would be run via a web hosting package or dedicated server with an operating system and a complete software stack. But now, there are other options.

Operating-system level virtualisation is the far-too-long and awkward term that containerisation replaced. Containerisation uses a platform like Docker to run isolated instances, which make up the containers. But what exactly is the container then?

It’s a package of software that includes everything needed for a specific application, and the collection of it allows it to operate like a separate server environment. Because they share a single OS kernel, multiple containers can run on one server or virtual machine (VM) and have no effect on each other in any way. Most users identify with the container as being much like its own unique environment, and irrespective of the host infrastructure.

 

Containers are able to perform tasks that would require a whole server or VM if they weren’t around, and they also have the benefit of consuming far less resources. Being lightweight and agile allows them to be deployed, shut down and restarted at a moment’s notice, and they can also be transferred easily across hardware and environments.

Containers are also standalone packages, and that means they behave reliably and consistently regardless of the local configuration.

Orchestrator Needs

Safe to say Kubernetes is the most popular choice as a container orchestrator. There are several out there, but Kubernetes gets the highest marks for anyone running a large numbers of containers in a production environment because it automates the deployment, scheduling and management of containerised applications. Automatically scaling containers across multiple nodes (servers or VMs) to meet current demand and perform rollouts seamlessly is a huge plus, and it also promotes a sort of self-healing with containerised applications – if a node fails, Kubernetes restarts, replaces or reschedules containers as needed.

Working Considerations

Traditional web hosting solutions make it so that you can choose whether to run your containers in a shared environment, and where the best value for the money is if you have relatively small workloads not utilizing resources of a whole cluster of nodes (VMs or servers). Those with larger workloads or regulatory obligations to meet may find that a dedicated server environment – perhaps with your own cluster – may be required.

Serverless computing involves the orchestrator automatically stopping, starting and scaling the container on the infrastructure best situated to handle demand at that time. The benefit of this is that the developer has even less to be concerned about; code runs automatically, and there’s no need to manually configure the infrastructure. Costs are kept down because all instances of a container automatically shut down when demand for it trickles off or ends entirely.

Another term often used when discussing containers is microservices. A traditional application is built and consist as one big block with a single file system, shared databases and one common language across its various functions. Where a microservices application reveals itself is behind the scenes where functions are broken down into individual components.

Examples could be a product service, payment service, or a customer review service. Containerisation technologies like Kubernetes provide platforms and management tools for implementation, and then allowing microservices to be lightweight and run anywhere they’re needed. Microservices can technically be built on traditional server hosting, but creating and maintaining a full microservices architecture creates a working reality where a container platform like Docker and an orchestration tool like Kubernetes are integral parts of making the whole operation work as intended.

 

Domain Names, and What Makes Them SEO-Friendly – 9 Factors

It’s not as easy as saying that it’s only those looking to make money who will put a major premium on having good search engine rankings. Being high up on SERPs – or search engine results pages if you’re not familiar with that acronym – will be important for anyone who needs to have reliable visibility for their interests in being online, whatever those interests may be. If you’re one of them then you’re likely putting the bulk of your focus into keyword optimization. That’s the way it should be, and that should continue to be one of your priorities.

Many people aren’t aware of the fact that their domain name also plays a role in how well their website ranks in SERPs. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re like every quality Canadian web hosting provider in that we know that the success of people with their online ventures is directly beneficial to us as well. It’s for this reason that sharing information on SEO-bosting domains is something we know might well be good for the both of us.

So that’s what we’ll look at here today, and hopefully the information is ideal for anyone who’s about to register a domain name or for others who might want to reconsider their current one based on what they learn here.

Factors Determining a Domain Name’s SEO Value

Everyone’s familiar with Google’s authority when it comes to anything related to the World Wide Web. They’ve stated that there are some 200 different factors that come into play for SEO, and it turns out that domain name is one of the important of them. Choosing the right SEO-Friendly domain name should be one of the crucial decision for your business.

So, without anything more in the way of fluff talk, let’s get right to them.

  1. Make it a Brandable Domain Name if Possible

This one will apply more to companies operating an ecommerce website or one that promotes your business more generally. If you can incorporate your company brand into your domain name, it’s definitely beneficial.

That needs to be mentioned, because some businesses avoid using their company name in the domain name of their website. Considering Google values branding more than keywords, they’re missing the mark if so.

  1. Make it a Unique Domain Name

The best product or brand names are generally going to be unique, and this correlates directly to a more likely availability of the domain name. Not only that, but it will be better received by the users as well, and in a very short period of time this will start boosting your SEO rankings too

  1. Target Keyword

Choose a domain name that contains keywords about your business, products/services, etc. However, if your domain name has natural keywords then it is also beneficial and advisable. And if this is overly challenging, here’s a suggestion that may catch you by surprise, but is actually really effective! Ask your kids to tell you what word they’d most naturally associate with your chosen industry.

  1. Exact Match Domains (EMDs)

Exact Match Domains all target keywords you’d like your website to rank for. If this something you can do, then it’s very helpful and really fast tracks you towards better SEO. Do keep in mind, however, that branding is not included in this method.

  1. Aim for Domain Name ‘Fluency’

Having the domain name of your website communicate the right message is important. People will have a better perception of what your business is all about, and what you’re offering, when you making your domain name have some relevance to the product, service, or overarching industry. Domain name fluency is the name given to this.

  1. Be Conscious of the Length of Your Domain Name

Industry insiders have never really come to a definitive answer to how short or too long a domain name has to be in order to have the length be detrimental to SEO. That said, we’ve spoken to a good many very knowledgeable people about this and the consensus is that you should never have more than 2 separate words in your domain name.

Which leads us to our next point very nicely..

  1. Avoid Hyphens in a Domain Name

Using hyphens in a domain isn’t uncommon, but the plain fact is that you shouldn’t do it. Why? Hyphens are associated with spammy websites. There are plenty of filters out there to banish spam URLs from SERPs, and if your domain name has a hyphen then your website may suffer a similar fate.

  1. No Numbers Either

Numbers are also inadvisable. This is primarily because if someone hears about your domain name and then remembers it later with their phone in hand or in front of the desktop or notebook they may well find themselves thinking if they are enter the digit or spell it out when entering the URL. Try it once and be unsuccessful and they may just decide to give up on it.

  1. Domain Extension

A domain name with an extensions that qualifies as a Top Level Domain (TLD) is very advantageous when it comes to SEO. A .com domain is still the industry standard for TLDs, so if your domain name of choice has that extension available it’s worthy whatever cost there is to acquire it.

It absolutely boost the credibility of your domain as well.

Apple’s iPhone as a Crypto Wallet? Maybe So

Even the most tuned-out of us will be aware of how Bitcoin seemingly went out with a whimper after arriving on the digital cryptocurrency scene with a bang a few years back. The same could be said for the hype about cryptocurrency as a whole, but of course now it’s made something of resurgence. Now it seems the acceptance of a global currency that’s not bound by the constraints of the world bank and international currency norms is an actual large-scale possibility, and no doubt we’re going to see a rush on bitcoin mining flare up again too.

Whether or not you believe in the validity of cryptocurrencies and if they’ll ever gain a foothold in the world of e-commerce and beyond is one thing, but it would seem that Apple is forecasting it’s going to do that to at least some extent. To cut right to it, it seems that they’re preparing to let iPhone users turn their devices into hardware wallets that will allow them to store and use bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for mobile purchases of pretty much everything.

The bulk of us here at 4GoodHosting are like the staff you’d find at any leading Canadian web hosting provider in that we take a keen interest in any major shift in the web world landscape, and if cryptocurrency is now to gain traction like it was predicted to then that definitely qualifies. That and the fact that iPhone users likely make a good half of the majority of those of you, and so let’s look at what can we read into the possibility of iPhones becoming crypto wallets.

iOS 13 – WITH CryptoKit

At the recent Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) a few weeks back, Apple’s new CryptoKit for iOS 13 was on display. What it will do is allow developers to easily create hashes for digital signatures and public and private keys that can be stored and managed by Apple’s Secure Enclave. The keys will represent cryptocurrencies, which iPhone owners can then exchange as a form of payment through an app.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple is going down the cryptocurrency path, but if it is it would be following HTC and Samsung. Both these competitors have already announced their intention to create native cold storage wallets available with their smartphones. HTC’s Exodus 1 smartphone is supposedly going to be able to natively store bitcoin or Ether cryptocurrencies, and Samsung’s Galaxy 10 – expected in February – is likely going to do the same.

Demand Will be There

Seems the number of people using digital wallets for all types of currencies is expected to jump from 2.3 billion this year to nearly 4 billion next year, and it’s estimated that half of the world’s population will be paying with cryptocurrencies at least some of the time by the year 2024. Along with this wallet transaction values should go up by more than 80% to more than $9 trillion a year.

Needless to say, that’s a significant chunk of change.

The real issue here is the challenge that already-existing NFC-based contactless wallets, like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, will face when wallets based on QR codes become more of the norm. QR codes are already being used by merchants to access cryptocurrency wallets for payment.

Further, as of now, Apple’s CryptoKit doesn’t include all of the cryptography algorithms needed to complete Bitcoin transactions. That’s likely to change, and sooner rather than later.

Unique Hardware Opportunity

Apple’s CryptoKit means users are just a few steps away from turning their iPhones into a hardware wallet, and what it also does is put Apple’s developers in the driver’s seat when it comes to blockchain or crypto-based apps and the hardware required for them. The belief is that they’ll be able to provide a more secure crypto wallet than anything else out there right now from a mobile phone standpoint, and that’s because they’re able to build on the existing biometrics capabilities of iPhones and iPads.

Which is good, as big-time outlets like Starbucks and Whole Foods have all already announced programs to accept bitcoin other cryptocurrency for payments. You’ll be able to wave a QR code on your smartphone in front of a register scanner to pay. That QR code, enabled by an app, will represent how much currency you have at your disposal in your crypto wallet.

Further, because CryptoKit enables a second layer of security through encryption for iOS applications with private and public keys, it can repel other issues related to hardware hacking like SIM jacking , which is a malicious attack where the hackers assume control of a person’s digital finances.

It’s certainly an interesting time to be following these developments in the world of cryptocurrencies, but one has to wonder if it’s for real this time and not a whole lot of flash and little substance as was the case a few years ago when Bitcoin was ‘the next big thing.’ In fairness though, this is bigger than one type of cryptocurrency in particular, and it’s more about having the systems and hardware in place to enable its proliferation should it become a viable payment method.

Domain Registrations So Far for 2019 Indicating Explosion of Online Businesses

When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web nearly 20 years, it’s very likely that he had at least some envisioning of exactly how pivotal it would be in revolutionizing the world of information dissemination. Whether or not he foresaw just how integral it would be become to the worlds of business and commerce might not be so easy to assume, but of course here we are today in the middle of 2019 and it’s as clear as ever that businesses – any business – that doesn’t have a strong online presence is going to be at a MAJOR disadvantage.

While we’re obviously in the business of being a reputable Canadian web hosting provider, here at 4GoodHosting just because we’re in ‘the biz’ doesn’t mean that we’re any less sensitive to the demands of what it takes to have good, strong Internet marketing. After all, nowadays well over half of all business is generated – either directly (online purchasing) or indirectly (direct referral) – via the web.

That of course won’t come as a surprise to anyone, or it shouldn’t. It’s summertime now, so let’s say you’re in the market to buy an air conditioner for your often-too-hot condo. Do you start comparing products and prices with visits to retailers in person? Of course not, you may end up buying that product in person, but you’re going to do your researching and comparison online. We could go on further about all of this, but likely enough said.

However, as if we didn’t need any more convincing of this – it appears that the first half of 2019 has seen more domain registrations overall worldwide than during the entire year 2018. Talk about an explosion!

351M+ & Counting

That’s right, the number of domain name registrations for the first quarter of 2019 reached 351.8 million across all top-level domains (TLDs). All in comparison to the 4th quarter of 2018 which closed with a total of 348.7 million domain registrations for the entire year. For those not as swift with numbers in their head as others (myself included), that’s an increase of 3.1 million, and just so far this year. With the trend being that domain name registrations have grown by 5.4 per cent year over year, they’re on pace to pretty much obliterate that standard pace.

Popular Choices

Not surprisingly, it’s been the .com and .net domain extensions that are being snapped up most enthusiastically. Between the two there was 154.8 million domain name registrations over the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 1.8 million domain name registrations (1.2%) for the same period of 2018. This also works out to a combined increase of 6.5 million domain name registrations (4.4%) year over year.

As March 31, 2019 came to an end, no less than 141 million something .com domain names were registered, while .net domain names totalled 13.8 million domain name. Between both of them there were only 153 million new domain registrations through the end of 2018.

Country-Specifics Domain

Now China may identify itself as a Communist country (and indeed the way it represses digital communications via the Internet is regime-ish, but that’s a topic for another day), but there’s not debate that the inner workings of it are decidedly capitalist / commerce-oriented. 5 billion people makes for one heck of an expensive labour force AND consumer base. As such it’s no surprise that the largest number of country-code TLDs registered for 2019 so far have been for .cn domains.

The exact number of them? A whopping 156.8 million!

The ccTLD that comes in second, however, is almost certainly going to come as a surprise. The Tokelau Islands are found in the South Pacific, and have a population of about 1,500 people. It has to come as a shock that 22.5 million .tk domains have been registered so far in 2019! I’ll be inclined to look into why this is, and perhaps I’ll share what I’ve dug up in a future blog post here.

Back on topic though, the rest of the ccTLDs came in as follows:

  • .de (Germany) 16.2 million
  • .uk (Great Britain) 12.0 million
  • .tw (Taiwan) 5.9 million
  • .nl (Netherlands) 5.9 million
  • .ru (Russia) 5.8 million
  • .br (Brazil) 4.0 million
  • .eu (European union) 3.7 million
  • .fr (France) 3.3 million

Seriously though, what’s the deal with Tokelau? I’ve spend the last 5 minutes scouring the web and nothing to explain why 22.5 million domains have been registered for an island nation of 1,500 people.

Decline in gTLD Domain Registrations

A gTLD is a generic top-level domain and, in contrast to the explosion of the types of domain registrations pointed out above, registrations of these types of domains have actually decreased their pace so far this years as compared to the same period of 2018.

Total domain registrations for new gTLDs were 23 million in the first quarter of 2019. Registrations for these types of domains have decreased by 3.4%, compared to last quarter of 2018, where they numbered approximately 23.8 million.

Anyways, the long and short of this is that more and more businesses, ventures, and individuals are getting onboard given the proven-effective nature of making you, your business, you art – whatever it may be – explicitly visible to the entire world.

As the expression goes – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Google is Blocking Ad Blockers in Chrome: Paid Web Browsers the Future

Many people lament the fact that the Internet can’t be an unimpeded digital information source and not have commercial interests to the extent it does. It would be nice if it was a fountain of knowledge that exists for everyone’s own information gathering exclusively, but living in the world we do when there’s a buck to be made somewhere the opportunity will be taken. It’s especially frustrating for people who aren’t big consumers and have never clicked on a link or purchased very little online.

Google has recently moved to limit Chrome’s ad-blocking capabilities, and no doubt many of you using an ad-blocker will have already noticed this. Google also announced that this feature will not apply for Google’s paid G Suite Enterprise subscribers. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re a Canadian web hosting provider who keeps our thumbs on the pulse of the digital world and the prospect of ad-free internet browsing only via paid web browsers would be a pretty big deal for nearly all of us who source information online.

According to a recent study, as many as 40% of people browsing the web from laptops use an ad blocker. That’s a big group of people that aren’t viewing Google’s ads. So why’s this happening, and what’s the underlying current here?

Beyond Blocked Blockers

It’s been reported in the news how Chrome users – and developers of Chrome-friendly, ad-blocker extensions – are none too pleased with Google’s proposed changes to the Chrome Extensions platform. We have to go back to when Google announced Manifest V3, which constituted a set of proposed changes to Google Chrome’s Extensions platform.

In it, specific changes to Chrome’s webRequest API were proposed with an eye to limiting the blocking version of it and this potentially would remove blocking options from most events and creating them as observational only. Content blockers would now use a different API instead, known as a ‘declarativeNetRequest.’ The Manifest concluded that this new API is “more performant and offers better privacy guarantees to users.”

The reality is though that Google’s Manifest V3 changes will prevent Chrome’s ad-blocker extensions from using the webRequest API as it normally, but it will also force them to use a new API (declarativeNetRequest). One that isn’t compatible with how existing popular adblocker extensions function and making them ineffective.

It’s fairly clear to see that Google is being receptive to the concerns of paying advertisers in ensuring the delivery of their ads to site visitors, and they’re not going to be supportive of ad blockers from now own.

A recent industry publishing had a statement from a spokesperson at Google regarding these changes in Chrome – “Chrome supports the use and development of ad blockers. We’re actively working with the developer community to get feedback and iterate on the design of a privacy-preserving content filtering system that limits the amount of sensitive browser data shared with third parties.”

They then added further, “for managed environments like businesses, we offer administration features at no charge.”

For now, Google is still intending to block ad blockers in Chrome, while people who are subscribed to their G Suite Enterprise-level of services will enjoy ad-free viewing.

Pay to Play Soon?

In the past it was that Chrome could be an ad-free browsing experience at no additional cost. Now it seems you’ll have to subscribe to premium G Suite services, and the highest, most expensive version of it. How much? It’s $25 per user, per month, and that’s no small change for any type of online monthly service.

It’s not difficult to figure out what’s Google’s interest in doing this. They can increase the amount of revenue generated from users viewing ads if non-Enterprise subscribing users, based in large part because most people won’t pay for G Suite and more of them will see ads they’ll click through.

Keep in mind that Google’s competitors like Microsoft Edge and Firefox are still fine with supporting ad blockers, so it’s fair to assume they’ll be people who’ll abandon Chrome for another browser. Even if they think Chrome is superior, as there are many people who simply can’t stand ads and particularly if they’re researching for work or academic purposes and time is of the issue.

Google’s G Suite’s low and mid-tier subscribers will still be seeing ads too, it’s only the 25-a-month subscribers who’ll be enjoying ad-free browsing. G Suite Basic is $6 dollars per user per month and G Suite Business is $12 per user month.

Any of you planning to jump ship if your ad blocker is rendered useless?

3 Million Malwares Across Android Last Year in N. America

Just a few weeks back we were sharing with you how WhatsApp was recommending users reinstall their app because of it being hacked. Hopefully those of you that use it have already done so, and if you have then you’re probably good to go with instant messaging for the foreseeable future. It turns out however that the problem of hacks, infection, malware and more is a lot more extensive than just one app and one operating system.

A quality Canadian web hosting provider is going to be one that appreciates the full extent of just how much digital connectiveness is important to people, and here at 4GoodHosting we have a front row seat to see the way mobile web browsing has pulled away from desktop in as far as being the means of choice for people. It all points to one well-understood reality; we’re turning to our mobile devices for more and more of everything that we do during the day.

A good many of us (myself included) have Android phones, and that’s why recent news from Quick Heal Security Labs is really undeniable when it comes to highlighting the extent of the cyber-attack problem for Android users in nor. And that is that apparently over 3 million malware were detected on Android OS in 2018.

Big Number, Big Problem

We can paint a picture of the severity of this best by sharing some numbers:

  • 3,059 malware infections per day, working out to 2 every minute across the country for Android devices
  • 1,786 adware infections per day, equally 1 per minute
  • 4,670 PUAs per day, and that’s 3 per minute

Yes, there’s an awful lot of smartphones out there, and a good many of them are going to have an Android OS. Those numbers are still fairly staggering though, and it really does put the problem in some perspective. And what’s interesting is that despite the rapid rise in cyberattacks on mobile devices, cyber security experts say device owners aren’t taking this as seriously as they should be.

Serious Business

Experts state that there will be a significant rise in mobile-focused malware and banking trojans, and another major mobile-based threat expected to be coming more to the forefront involves malicious code being introduced into clean-owned applications post update. Further, it would seem that this is more likely to take place once the download count reaches a certain landmark with the Google Play Store, according to the same report from Quick Heal.

Earlier this year a test was performed to check the efficiency of Android antivirus apps from Google Play. 250 apps were tested, and the results weren’t agreeable – more than two thirds failed to come back with a malware-block rate of 30% or better. Also turned out to be true that less than 1 in 10 of the apps tested were not able to defend against all the 2,000 malicious apps.

Not All Antiviruses the Same

There is no shortage of cheap and free antivirus apps accessible for consumers these days, but the reality is that only a few of those provide sufficiently powerful shielding against cyber threats. It’s important to validate the effectiveness of any you might be considering. There’s plenty of information on the web about them and quality reviews from knowledgeable people, so we’ll stay away from that topic here today and look at the most prevalent of these Android malwares being seen.

Top Android Malware for 2018

It seems the most common infection was with one called Android.Agent.GEN14722, which made its way into some 100,000 smartphones around the world last year. That’s just for the year though, overall and looking at it long-term, another two called Android.Agent.A1a92 and Android.Gmobi.A are the most prevalent malware found on mobile devices worldwide.

Other notables:

  • Umpay.GEN14924 at 25% of the total amount
  • MobileTrack.Gen7151 at 10%
  • Smreg.DA at 8%
  • Agent.DC6fb8 at 8%
  • Airpush.J at 7%

There were also function predispositions and focuses seen with these malware. Many aim to attack social media accounts for malicious purposes (like the Spyware bug that WhatsApp had recently), while others are geared to be invisible after installation and then display full-screen ads to users and earn revenue.

There’s also the FakeApp trick, which increases the number of sponsored app download counts and reviews. That’s clearly not as evil, but still something that people won’t be welcoming of in the slightest. Lastly, some activate by means of PDF attachments sent via phishing emails to launch malware on the device.

Be Proactive in Protecting Yourself

As mentioned, the right anti-malware for Android mobile devices is becoming more and more of a necessity, and especially so as it’s unlikely we’re going to see a decrease in the number of these malware threats that are emerging. This is especially true as each Android phone has a camera, speaker and a location tracker that quickly collects data from every place the consumer goes. When users are not aware about having this malware, the way they go about their day-to-day just the same as always puts their online privacy and sensitive data at risk.

AV apps that come from genuine security vendors are your best choice, as they regularly release updated versions to protect the users from the latest threats. These may come at a cost, but if you’ve got an understanding of just how pervasive this problem is then you should be okay with paying a little something for the security of your phone.

And yes, iOS is not immune to these problems either, although it may be true that the numbers attached to it might not be so massive as they seem to be for Android.

Choosing the Right IoT Platform

No doubt the Internet of Things needs no introduction here given how the latest big wrinkle in the application of World Wide Web-based technology has become so integrally involved in both our private and working lives. As it stands currently, working with IoT applies to some businesses more than others, but it’s fair to say that any of them that put a premium on customer accessibility and control will need to be adhering to IoT realities.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re a good Canadian web hosting provider like any other in that we prefer to keep our thumbs on the pulse of certain trends in the greater industry more so than others. IoT is definitely one of them, and it continues to be interesting to watch how it reaches further into our digital world every day. Consumers are going to expect more and more ‘smartness’ from their ‘things’ going forward, and businesses of course need to be receptive to that.

This makes choosing the right IoT platform a complex endeavor. The landscape can be confusing for IoT hobbyists, experienced developers, and senior executives alike. Today we’ll give you a quick overview of the IoT platform landscape and how you should evaluate IoT platforms based on your needs.

Defining an IoT Platform

Quite simply, an IoT platform is an integrated service offering what’s needed to bring physical objects online. Supporting millions of simultaneous device connections is the challenge, and your platform needs to allow you to configure your devices for optimized communication between machines. The consensus among developers is that it’s really quite difficult to build a well-functioning IoT product.

IoT Platform Types

End-to-end IoT Platforms

End-to-end IoT platforms provide hardware, software, connectivity, security, and device management tools to handle the massive numbers of concurrent device connections. They also provide all managed integrations needed, which can include OTA firmware updates, device management, cloud connection, cellular modem and more, all of which connect and monitor a fleet of devices online.

Connectivity Management Platforms

These platforms offer low-power and low-cost connectivity management solutions via Wi-Fi and cellular technologies. Connectivity hardware, cellular networks, and data routing features are all part of connectivity management platforms in IoT.

IoT Cloud Platforms

Cloud platforms are very beneficial, serving to get rid of the complexity of building your own complex network stack and offering backend and other services to monitor and track millions of device connections that are occurring simultaneously.

Data Platform

As you’d imagine, every type of IoT platform deals with data in some way. IoT data platforms serve the function of combining many of the tools you need to manage / visualize data analytics and them route them as needed.

IoT Platform Verticals

Placing these IoT platforms into categories is really being too simple with them. The breadth of functionality for each makes it so that they don’t fit into a single category. The most logical way of looking at them is what they offer for different interests and related users:

Hobbyists / Prototyping Solutions / Utilities / Live Search (A.I.) Applications / Development Kits / DIY solutions / Consumer Electronics / Home automation / Wearables / Industrial IoT (IIoT) Solutions / Smart factory warehousing applications / Predictive and remote maintenance / Industrial security systems / Asset tracking and smart logistics/ Transportation monitoring / Energy optimization / Connected logistics / Agriculture Industry / Healthcare Industry / Energy Industry / Smart Cities

What to Look for When Examining Platforms

It’s definitely helpful to know what you should be looking for, based on your intended solution:

  1. Connectivity

How effectively is the vendor’s network coverage fitting your business’ current and future initiatives?

  1. Method of Connectivity

What type of connectivity is needed? Will a Wi-Fi or cellular solution be best for your IoT product? Assess these needs and then determine how the vendor can address them.

  1. Market Longevity

Looking at how long the IoT platform been in business is helpful. The space itself is relatively new, but building has occurred quickly and a lot can and will change in a very short period of time. Aim to find an IoT platform that has been offering services for 4+ years at a minimum.

  1. Type of Service

How does the IoT platform describe and sell themselves? Some will be purely connectivity platforms, some will be end-to-end solutions that offer hardware and software to go along with connectivity. How one will suit you best comes about after assessing your business needs. How will they change over time?

  1. Geographic Coverage

Is an embedded sim with global support provided? Is this IoT platform one that covers the regions your business needs? Looking over all aspects of your global reach needs should be part of the consideration as well.

  1. Data Plan

Is a fair data plan included with the platform? The ability to pause or suspend your data services at any time and the ability to control how much data that is used should be on your checklist.

  1. Security / Privacy

Look into the platform and specifically how they’ve dealt with security and privacy issues and reviewed their security content as needed to date. Evaluate how their platform combats security issues frees you from having to do that yourself.

  1. Managed Integrations / API Access

How does the vendor integrate every complexity required for the IoT connectivity you’re after – cellular modems, carrier / sim cards, device diagnostics, firmware updates, cloud connections, security, application layer, RTOS. The best ones will consolidate all into a simple package that works out to very little of it ending up on your plate.

  1. Data Access

How easy does it look to be to take the data acquired through the IoT platform and then integrate it with your enterprise back ends and current cloud service? How will this data then be used? Does the service match those needs?

  1. IoT Ecosystem

The relationships between the services the IoT platform offers should be clearly understood. This will help you learn how their services can be of assistance in helping you build your product

  1. IoT Roadmap

The expansion of IoT platforms is going to continue ahead at full steam. Does this IoT platform’s roadmap match your organization’s needs, and will expansions into connectivity, data, and hardware be helpful for you?

  1. OTA Firmware Updates

How does the vendor allow you to send updates and fix bugs on your devices remotely? It is a simple process, or a complex one. Obviously, simpler is far preferable.

Good Ones

  • Particle — Particle is an enterprise IoT platform that’s ideal for building an IoT product, from Device to Cloud.
  • Salesforce IoT — Maximizes your business efforts with IoT cloud services.
  • Microsoft IoT Azure — Very popular, and enhances operational productivity and profitability by means of a preconfigured connected factory solution.
  • Artik Cloud — The ARTIK IoT platform is ideal for IoT open data exchange
  • Google Cloud’s IoT Platform — integrated services that get high marks from end users and allow you to easily and securely connect, manage, and internalize IoT data
  • IBM Watson IoT — IBM’s new Watson Internet of Things (IoT) is a cognitive system that picks up on AI and then practicalizes it for use within IoT functionality.
  • Xively Platform — an enterprise IoT platform to help accelerate your connected product or service.

These are just a few of many that seem well-received by developers.

Major Security Hack Means It’s Time to Update or Re-Install WhatsApp

WhatsApp is one of the most ubiquitous and popular instant messenger apps these days, and it’s fair to say that there’s likely hundreds of thousands of people who have it installed on their smartphone and make frequent use of it. Well, no one’s about to tell you should stop doing so if you’re one of them, but it turns out that you may want to update it manually now – or perhaps even better delete and re-install it – due to recent developments that have just now gotten out into the media.

Part of being a good Canadian web hosting provider is giving clients a heads up on such developments, and that describes 4GoodHosting to a tee if we may say so ourselves. Often times these sorts of things aren’t quite ‘newsworthy’ in that sense, but again considering how common WhatsApp is these days we decided to make it our topic for the week.

Right then. So, despite encrypting every conversation and following best security practices, WhatsApp (which is owned by Facebook for those of you who care about those things) it seems has been the victim of a cyber attack.

It recently announced that it found a vulnerability that was allowing shady types to infect WhatsApp users with spyware when they made – or even attempted to make – a call using the app.

No Answer – No Problem

Now most people aren’t ones to take notes of character and number chains, but it would seem this this WhatsApp vulnerability is going by CVE-2019-3568. What makes it especially noteworthy is that it allows attackers to infect the device, and have success doing so even if the user at the other end receiving the call didn’t answer it.

The means by which these nefarious individuals did this was by exploiting a buffer overflow weakness in the app, one that enables them to hack into WhatsApp before doing the same on the device running the app.

When asked about it, the security team at WhatsApp chose to refer to it as an ‘advanced cyber actor’ – a rare but very dangerous type of cyberattack. It is different from other malware attacks that are done with the more standard ‘phishing’ approaches. If it were of a more ordinary version of this type, the phishing nature of it would mean that the individual on the other end would need to answer the call in order for the infection to be complete.

As mentioned, however, attackers can use spyware to exploit the devices – even if the users don’t receive the call.

Right, onto the potential repercussions of any such attack. They can result in cybercriminals gaining access to personal data stored on the phone. Further, it could allow them to modify things or lock the mobile before demanding a ransom from the users.

If you’re reading this and you’ve yet to receive any ransom notes for a unexplainably locked device or any other similar red flag, you’re likely okay but you should go ahead and delete and reinstall WhatsApp. Interestingly enough, I just got a new Android phone the other day and so I was installing WhatsApp quite literally at the same time I was reading this news. So unless you’re in a similar scenario, you should definitely be looking for an available update at the very least (and make sure it’s a very recent one)

These WhatsApp versions were vulnerable to the spyware attack:

  • WhatsApp for Android prior to v2.19.134
  • WhatsApp Business for Android prior to v2.19.44
  • WhatsApp for Windows Phone prior to v2.18.348
  • WhatsApp for iOS prior to v2.19.51
  • WhatsApp Business for iOS prior to v2.19.51
  • WhatsApp for Tizen prior to v2.18.15

Go Get ‘Em

It’s been reported that WhatsApp responded to the attack without delay and said the only became aware of the vulnerability some time earlier this month. Within 10 days of realizing the breach, WhatsApp released a server-side fix to mitigate the attack. It’s understood, however, that many WhatsApp users were already potentially exposed to the attack before the fix was issued.

In addition, WhatsApp is also releasing an update to the mobile app as of today (Monday, May 20th) that should help squash similar cyber attacks for the foreseeable future. Along with the patch they have asked all users to update the app to the latest version while also ensuring their operating system is equally as updated.

Off you go and update your WhatsApp if it’s part of the indispensable array of apps you use on your device day in and out.

5 Ways to Speed Up Your PC Running Windows 10

One of the unfortunate realities for human beings is that as we get older, it’s not as easy for us to perform athletically like we once did. When we’re on the right side of 30 it’s not too challenging to run fast, jump high, and turn on a dime. The 30s are a bit of a transition, and once the 40s arrive it’s pretty clear we’re past our prime. Computers slow down as they age too, but that’s a situation that is remedied a lot more easily.

You can take your OS back to it’s virtual 20s quite straightforwardly if you know what to do. That’ll be the topic of discussion here today, and for the world’s most common OS specifically – Windows 10. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re a good Canadian web hosting provider like any other in that we can relate to how it’s frustrating to have to deal with a device – desktop, tablet, smartphone – that’s more putt-putt than vroom-vroom. What we’ve put together here today is 5 ways to speed up your PC running Windows 10, and they’re all fairly easy to implement.

  1. Change your power settings

Those of you using Windows 10’s Power saver plan should be aware that you’re actually slowing down your PC. It reduces your PC’s performance in order to save energy (most desktop PCs will usually have a Power saver plan of some sort). Switching your power plan from Power Saver to High Performance or Balanced will provide you with an instant performance boost.

Here’s how to do it in Windows 10;

  • Launch Control Panel, then select Hardware and Sound > Power Options

You’ll then see two options: Balanced (recommended) and Power Saver. (Certain makes and models will have other plans here as well, including manufacturer-branded ones with some.) Clicking the down arrow will show any additional plans that are options to the High Power setting.

To change your power setting, simply choose the one you want, then leave then the Control Panel. High performance will provide the most oomph, but as you’d expect it uses the most power; Balanced finds a nice medium between power use and better performance; Power saver scales everything back for as much battery life as possible. Desktop users will of course have no reason to choose Power saver. The balanced option is a good choice for Laptop users when unplugged, and then moving to high performance when enjoying a power source.

  1. Disable Programs Running on Startup

Another cause for your Windows 10 PC being slow and sluggish is that you’ve got too many programs running in the background. Often these are programs that most people never use, or only very rarely. Prevent them from launching and running on start-up can free up your PC’s engine quite effectively. Here’s how to get at them:

  • Launch Task Manager / Press Ctrl-Shift-Esc or right-click the lower right corner of your screen and select Task Manager

A different scenario may be that Task Manager launches as a compact app with no tabs, and if so you can then click “More details” at the bottom of the screen. The Task Manager should then be made accessible.

Now click the Startup tab. You’ll be provided with a list of the programs and services that launch when you Windows starts. Each program’s name as well as its publisher will be listed, and it will indicate whether the program or services is enabled to run on start-up. More importantly, you’ll also be shown its ‘start-up impact’ – how much it slows down your OS. Very valuable info here and really lets you be judicious about what stays and what goes.

So to stop a program or service from launching at start-up, you simply right-click it and select ‘Disable’. This doesn’t disable the program entirely, rather it only will prevent it from launching at start-up. You’re still able to manually run the application after launch anytime you like. Further, you can follow the same steps and reenable it any time you like.

  1. Shut Down Windows Tips and Tricks

While you’re using your Windows 10 PC normally, Windows tracks what you’re doing and offers tips about steps you might want to take with the operating system based on your usage patterns. Most people don’t find these tips helpful, and research has indicated that the vast majority of users ignore them. So it’s pretty safe to say they’re likely not going to be helpful for you either.

Fortunately, you can tell Windows to stop giving you advice. Here’s how:

  • Click Start button / Select the Settings icon / Go to System > Notifications & Actions / Scroll down to the Notifications section and turn off ‘Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows’

Simple as that, and more resources dedicated to where you want them to be.

  1. Stop OneDrive from Synching

Microsoft’s cloud-based OneDrive file storage is built into Windows 10, and it serves to keep files synched and up-to-date on all of your PCs. It’s also a useful backup tool that will keep files intact if your PC or its hard disk fails. You’ll still have to restore those files, but you can know they’ll be there. If that’s not something that’s a priority for you, then you likely can really speed up your OS by turning off this function. You’ll want to be certain of that before you disable it, and this is how you can do that:

  • Right-click the OneDrive icon in the notification area on the right side of the taskbar / Choose ‘pause syncing’ from the popup screen that appears and select either 2 hours, 8 hours or 24 hours

You’ll now have a chance to evaluate whether you’re seeing a noticeable boost in your computer’s operating speeds. If that’s the case, and you decide you do wish to turn off synching, this is the next step

  • Right-click the OneDrive icon / select Setting > Account / Click ‘Unlink this PC’ / From the screen that appears, click ‘Unlink account’

You’ll now still be able to save your files to your local OneDrive folder, but it won’t synch with the cloud.

  1. Turn Off Search Indexing

Windows 10 indexes your hard disk in the background, and this lets you search your PC more speedily than you’d be able to if no indexing were being done. Slower PCs that use indexing inevitably experience a decline in performance. It’s possible to give them a speed boost by turning off indexing. This is true even if you have an SSD disk, and turning off indexing can improve speeds in these instances as well. The constant writing to disk that indexing does will even slow down SSDs over time.

To gain maximum benefit in Windows 10, turning off indexing off entirely is highly recommended. Doing it is fairly simple:

  • Type index in the Start Menu search box / Click the Indexing Options result that appears / Once Indexing Options page of Control Panel appears, click the Modify button / From the list of locations being indexed, you can now uncheck the boxes next to any location to make it so that it will no longer be indexed.

Searches may be slightly slower after this, but for most users the difference will be negligible. You should get a nice overall performance boost once you put a stop to search indexing.

These are just a few of the many ways to increase the overall speed of your Windows 10 PC, and a quick Google search should be all that’s necessary for you to find much more information on this subject.