From VPS to VDS

We’ve been pretty emphatic with promoting virtual private servers here over the years, and nothing has changed with how they’re a much better choice for websites that need more bandwidth and performance resources at their disposal. That’s not going to be the scenario for the vast majority of people having their websites hosted, and every one of those guys and gals will be just fine paying as little as possible for web hosting by going with a shared hosting plan. It’s especially the best choice for anyone whose site is simply a blog.

One of the things that makes us a top Canadian web hosting provider is the way we are able to pivot and turn with industry trends, and that’s what we’ll be doing with one of the more promising ones these days. VPS continue to be a good option, but now VDS servers are the even better choice for a lot of people who made the move to VPS a while ago. VPS is virtual private server while VDS is virtual dedicated server.

So what’s the difference and what makes VDS better for some? That’s what we’ll look at with this week’s entry.

Bare Metal Alternative for Bigger Boys

Most people that have their website as a primary resource for e-commerce interests are going to operating it on behalf on some business. Not surprising that bigger businesses will have bigger websites and ones that have plenty of size and dynamic content components as compared to what the average website on shared hosting is going to have.

These people needed powerful servers with predictable performance and for many years that meant going with a bare metal server. But now it’s changed to be that a VDS server is a better option when dedicated resources are needed. Previously you would probably rent a bare metal server and have it collocated it in a data center. The problem here is that the server is not going to scalable, and the bare metal servers have always tended to be expensive to maintain.

So Why VDS?

Change became possible when hypervisor technologies started making it so that multiple virtual machines could be run on the same hardware. The completely individual virtual servers would have their own CPU, RAM, Disk storage and more and so before long VPS servers arrived on the scene.

How VPS and VDS are different starts with one or more resources being shared between the virtual machines. With VDS users receive a virtual server with guaranteed resources, including 100% of the CPU which that’s entirely at your disposal and can be spun up as much as you need. RAM and other resources are also attached for you.

It is also superior because these new generation servers deliver the flexibility to upgrade resources instantly at any time. You can also manually bring up or down the number of CPU cores, increase or decrease RAM capacity, or add to or take away from disk storage capacity. With a physical server any of that would be one heck of a chore. You’d be buying parts, installing them on your own, and probably creating a whole lot of downtime for the site.

Who Will VDS Fit Best?

Sites that are not accommodated by the capabilities of conventional hosting, high-load network services are going to be the best fit for VDS, and that will also be true for ones where web masters are actively involved in design, development, and testing of software. Closed corporate projects with increased requirements for security and data confidentiality will also find virtual dedicated servers to be ideal, and smaller big companies that would struggle to buy or lease a physical server will want to look into this alternative too.

Reliability is always a priority, and the dedicated resources of a VDS server makes these more reliable too. Many will offer multiple cores, and being able to tailor RAM is an advantage in this regard too. Last but not least, this type of separate server offers full control over the system. From managing user accounts and installing software to network interfaces configuration and firewall settings.

Supreme Versatility

As-a-Service software is increasingly becoming the norm in the digital work and commerce worlds, and VDS servers join the trends as an example of IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and immediately become the most versatile cloud service consumption model. You are able to build any information system you need, install any operating system and software, or add configurations to any network easily.

Last but not least, a VDS server also outdistances a bare metal server with the way they allow for a quick upgrade or downgrade of computing power. VDS servers also make it easier to host and manage applications flexibly.

Stay tuned for new and appealing web hosting options available to customers here at 4GoodHosting.

‘Chaos’ a Means to Foil Hackers with Digital Fingerprints

The past 3 years or so in the world of cybersecurity have really made clear that hackers have expanded their reach and capability in a big way over that time, and it’s fair to say that cyber security interests have struggled to keep pace in protecting digital interests from being hacked into. The single individual doesn’t have as much to worry about when it comes to being hacked as a business or large enterprise does, but that doesn’t mean that they should be unconcerned.

Here at 4GoodHosting we’re like any other good Canadian web hosting provider in that making sure our servers are as secure as possible, but when also know that we’ve got it pretty good in comparison to some others who have way, way more in the way of data that needs to be protected. Researchers have been stepping up their efforts to keep hackers more in check, and that’s a very good thing.

Specifically what’s happened recently is they’ve found a way to use chaos to help create digital fingerprints for electronic devices that may be so thoroughly unique that even the most sophisticated hackers can’t get past them. And that’s based on just the sheer volume of possible combinations that will be possible meaning it would take an incomprehensibly long time to go through and try every one of them.

How long? Well, we’ll get to that as we move further into discussing this very interesting development in web security.

That Long!

It’s believed that these Chaos fingerprints ahave so many layers of unique patterning to them that it would take longer than the lifetime of the universe to test for every possible combination available. Behind all of this is an emerging technology called physically unclonable functions – PUFs – which are built into computer chips.

We’re not quite there yet, but it’s possible that these new PUFs could possibly be used to create super-secure ID cards and reliably track goods in supply chains and as part of authentication applications. Ones where it is vital to know the individual you’re communicating or sharing information with is legit. The recent SolarWinds hack on the US Gov’t has really prompted interest groups to stop being complacent here and find much more reliable cyber security methods and approaches.

The key feature with PUFs here is that there are tiny manufacturing variations found in each computer chip, and they’re ones that are so small they aren’t something the end user is going to notice. Often the variations are only seen at the atomic level, and in industry logo they’re starting to become known as ‘secrets’.

More Secrets Required

The shortcoming with current PUFs is that they only contain a limited number of secrets. Ones with anywhere between 1,000 or up to a million aren’t enough to prevent a hacker from getting it right if they’re got the will to persevere and eventually find their way in. Ones that have the right technology and enough time can figure out all the secrets on the chip.

But now it’s believed that chaos makes it possible to have an uncountably large number of secrets layered on top of each other, with so many of them and such unique detail between them that it’s going to be way too much of a challenge for even the most capable hackers.

What’s Chaos Then?

Right, before we go any further we need to define briefly what ‘chaos’ is when it comes to superconductor chips. A basic definition is when the output of a semiconductor laser and its parameters are tweaked – often by modulating the electric current pumping the laser or by feeding back some of the laser’s light from an external mirror – to make the overall laser output chaotic and unpredictable.

Unpredictable is the key word there, there’s nothing in the way of patterns or logic to be determined, and so the hackers standard effective approaches aren’t effective anymore.

The recent noteworthy developments with all of this have been researchers creating a complex network in their PUFs using a web of randomly interconnected logic gates. By taking two electric signals and using them to create a new signal, a repeating variance pattern is established and the layers become increasingly unique and undecipherable.

This then amplifies the small manufacturing variations found on the chip. Every slight difference amplified by chaos generates an entirely new set of possible outcomes, and the layers then start to come in waves with each new one making it even more difficulty for a hacker to operate successfully.

Just Right

One thing that’s important with this new advance is to know just what’s the right amount of chaos to be implementing. It’s important to have chaos running for the right length of time, too little and you won’t get the security level you’re after, and too long and things then become way too chaotic.

It’s estimated that these new PUFs are capable of creating more than 1000 secrets EACH. That works out to even if a hacker could crack one secret every microsecond it would still take them about 20 billion years to crack every one of them factored into that single microchip.

The protection is far reaching too. Machine learning attacks, including deep learning-based methods and model-based attacks, all failed when put to the tests against these new digital fingerprints. The hope is that PUFs like this could massively enhance security against even the most sophisticated and well-armed hacker attacks that are backed up with a lot of computer resources.

It will be interesting to see how pervasive this cybersecurity technology becomes, but it’s easy to see how it would immediately appeal to Federal Governments in particular. And we can probably safely assume with widespread adoption it will be frustrating more than a few residents in the world’s geographically largest country.

Microsoft and Intel Team Up to Make it Hard for Crypto Miner Crooks

It’s been a while since we had an entry talking about the much-buzzed about topic of cryptocurrency, and it’s not like we’ll never have some new fold on the page with the stuff given how much uncertainty there still is about whether cryptocurrencies are ever going to assume the central role in globally unregulated currency that some people still adamantly insist they will. Given how much actual crypto mining is going on out there and the lengths people are going to in order to get in on the action suggests there’s still plenty of belief out there.

Whether or not cryptocurrencies will be a legit option for paying for SaaS on PaaS products is something that might be of interest to a Canadian web hosting provider, and that definitely applies to us here at 4GoodHosting. Some say the real questions if Bitcoin are any cryptocurrency can ever be generated to the type of volume that would be needed to make it a legitimately exchanged currency. But like was said, the effort is definitely there to ‘obtain’ whatever there is to get out there, and the fact that there’s a criminal element in crypto mining furthers that fact even more.

A tool is always needed, and for these crypto miner crooks their implement of-choice is crypto-jacking malware. It’s like hijacking but it’s not planes being intercepted, it’s cryptocurrency.

But the good news is that tech giants are fighting back and making it so that it’s much more difficult to hijack someone’s else cryptocurrency who’s been mining it legitimately.

Super Defender

To get right down to it, what Microsoft is doing is integrating Intel Threat Detection Technology into Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, and this revamped security product will help protect businesses from crypto-jacking malware. Up until now these crypto miners use only a small fraction of power depending on the device, so they often don’t end up on the radar of security teams.

It’s only more recently that larger sums have been lost to crypto jackers who’ve found ways to do what they do much more effectively and greater reach that it’s become more of a priority for everyone, even though crypto mining can be difficult to detect. Much of that has been due to slow or sluggish machines with bloated software and also because of inferior threat detection and automated upgrades being performed on them.

But again, this has changed and the rise of crypto jacking and the extent it’s taken a bite out of people or organizations has made it so that decision-makers aren’t ignoring it any more. Add the fact that not finding ways to threat crypto jackers means the cryptocurrency mined at these organizations is then used to fund criminal gangs or whoever else that wants ill-gained funds for whatever it is they’re aiming to do.

Better Performance

What these two have done extremely well is executing security tasks but keeping it all in-house within a hardware module. There are major performance advantages to this, and especially with having an identification process that is based on resource utilization that is made MUCH faster than it would be with software-based approaches.

There is also no need to deploy software that might be filled with bugs or potentially come with vulnerabilities. Intel has added a very valuable component with the CPU layer, making it more difficult for crypto jackers to hide their activities. Software solutions would be much more likely to lose the scent, if you know what we mean.

It can identify abnormal behavior that might otherwise be overlooked as normal activity by the malware.

Catching Coin Thieves at the CPU

Intel TDT applies machine learning to low-level hardware telemetry sourced directly from the CPU performance monitoring unit (PMU). What this does is put more of a brighter searchlight on the system to more likely identify the malware code execution and its ‘fingerprint’ at runtime. This is when it’s going to be most on display and ready to be caught by Defender.

Typical obfuscation techniques will make no difference here, and that will also be true even when malware hides within virtualized guests and or doesn’t intrusive techniques like code injection or performing complex hypervisor introspection.

In addition, some machine learning is offloaded to Intel’s integrated graphics processing unit (GPU). And in response to how coin miners make heavy use of repeated mathematical operations – when this activity is recorded by the PMU a signal is triggered when a certain usage threshold point is reached.

The entirety of these machine learning capabilities make it so that the footprint generated by the specific coin mining activity can be identified and recognized. Defender is unaffected by common antimalware evasion techniques such as binary obfuscation or memory-only payloads.

No-Agent Malware Detection

These TDT integrated solution can also expose coin miners using unprotected virtual machines or other containers as spots to hide in. By stopping the virtual machine itself or reporting virtual machine abuse, attacks are prevented AND resources are saved.

This no-agent malware detection means the asset from can be protected from the attacker without having to be in the same OS.

All of these advances are important, because criminal crypto miners are getting better all the time and so security measures that limit their effectiveness need to be improving in step too. One thing that is for sure is as cryptocurrency values continue to rise, crypto-jacking becomes much more attractive to a whole lot of people.

Pandemic Making Mobile Even More Prominent

It’s almost a certainty that in say five to 10 years from now there’s going to be all sorts of conclusions identified about how the COVID years of ’20 and ’21 let to widespread fundamental changes to the lives of humans. Some of that will be good, some of that will be not so good. Some of them are already very apparent, like the explosion in popularity for online shopping. Others can’t be seen as easily and it takes data analysts and the like to dig up those realities and share them with the rest of us.

Which is fine. And leads us to the question – have you noticed your mobile device in your hands and ‘at work’ a whole lot more often since around about a year ago? For some people that may have been the reality long before early 2020, but as a collective whole it would seem that COVID-19 has somewhat subtly made our smartphones a whole lot more integral to our day to day. Here at 4GoodHosting, we imagine we’re like any good Canadian web hosting provider in that we’ve seen more interest in people having mobile-friendly websites.

So what’s behind all of this, and how is that a global pandemic is making mobile even more prominent in the digital lives of earth’s inhabitants?

App usage, purchasing, and time spent on apps have all gone up considerably as the world relied even more on mobile web access to weather the storm. In response to this more and more venture capital has gone into mobile web technology development, and industries that really saw a lot of it were financial services, transportation, commerce, and shopping. And that’s lead to what’s being seen now – 26% of total global VC funding is going into mobile-related ventures and $73 billion was directed into mobile just last year.

Attention and Engagement

There are a lot of different factors that are leading people to be approaching more and more tasks with their handheld device rather than a notebook or desktop. Mobile is increasingly the hub, both at home and at work and it’s a new reality driving considerable changes in how we spend our time. Look no further than recent study results that found our US neighbours now spend 8% more time on mobile devices than they do watching TV.

All around the world many countries have people that spend an average of more than 4 hours a day on their mobile devices. There’s always been an attention economy and now mobile is very much in the centre of it. Again looking to the USA, it’s estimated that people spend anywhere from 16 to 30% of their time using apps on mobile devices, and that’s for everyone from millennials all the way to Gen X and even for Baby Boomers too.

Add further that consumers spent $143 billion on apps – or in them – in 2020. That’s up 20% from the year previous.

Changing Enterprise is Front & Centre

Not surprisingly, Apple and their iOS14 are right on the cutting edge of the new mobile economy. iOS 14 quickly jumped out to higher adoption rates than previous OS generations, and that lead to mobile ad placements growing 95% across the year. Next we add to that the new work-from-home reality that many people now have, and all B2C and B2B communications that come along with that. A similar survey found that business apps grew 275% year over year the 4th quarter of 2020.

What this has created is a need for more consistent data usage and speed, and of course the best of that is coming with 5G. Or so we’ve been told. Then there’s also more and more people using mobile devise for inter-office communication when they’re away from their home workstation, often on apps like Microsoft Teams or Slack.

Communication apps like Twitch and Discord, community-focused apps including Nextdoor, and payment apps are also expanding in leaps and bounds in the space for the same reasons. The interest in better privacy and security for these apps is also pushing investment into mobile.

Industry Transformation

The shift doesn’t end there. Finance, investment, education, and keep-fit apps saw a noticeable use uptick too, and eBook revenues climbed 30%. Digital wallets are increasingly popular for people increasingly comfortable with mobile-based finances, and more and more people are investing through their smartphone too. Stock market activity on mobile climbed 55% globally with Robinhood, Cash App, TD Ameritrade, Yahoo Finance, and Webull Stocks coming in as the top-5 investment apps.

Using iOS within enterprise is also up quite a bit too, and notable here is HSBC embracing Apple’s ecosystem as a means of delivering cutting-edge mobile services that are customer facing.

Last but not least – how many have found you’re ordering in a LOT more than you used to? Food delivery services also saw use increases of more than 100% year-on-year across most markets.

Skipping the dishes fairly regularly these days? Joint the club it seems, and it’s for all the reasons that mobile is increasingly taking the lead given new world realties and expanding user preferences.

8 Ways to Improve cPanel User Security on Your Own: 2 of 2

As promised, with this week’s blog entry we’re continuing with the discussion of what the average person can easily and reliably do to improve the security of their website when managing it through cPanel, which is of course what you’ll be doing if your site is hosted by us. Widespread adoption speaks volumes about the quality and practicality of software, and with that understood it’s not surprising to see that you’d have the same cPanel to work with if you were with pretty much every other good Canadian web hosting provider too.

It continues to be a wild and crazy time in the world as the global pandemic keeps reinventing itself, but fortunately the viruses that infect digitally aren’t nearly as readily transmissible as the physiological one that is turning the whole world upside down right now. So if you’re the Average Joe webmaster ensuring your website is serving whatever interest you have in mind for it then maybe that’s some good news mixed into a whole lot of not-so-good nowadays.

Anyways, let’s get to continuing our list shall we, and here’s to hoping you’re all keeping safe.

Set up Mod Security

Experts are always eager to share warnings about Web Application Security. The aim is usually to reach the web application server to control you. It’s for this reason that a Web Application Firewall (WAF) can enhance cPanel security.

Mod Security gets the nod here as the best choice – it’s reputable and open source. It defends reliably against most external attacks – SQL Injection, Webshell / Backdoor Detection, iFrame attacks, Botnet Attack Detection, or HTTP Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks.
Configuration is simple, and is found in the Security Centre of Easy Apache configuration.
It is simple to configure Mod Security. You will get it under the Security Center of Easy Apache configuration. With it you will also have the option to set additional measures to improve the security of your cPanel server.

Scan with RootKit Hunter

RootKit Hunter gets extremely high marks from cPanel experts. It’s among the best UNIX based tools for scanning possible local exploits including rootkits or backdoors. It offers the option of manual or automatic scans, and really why wouldn’t you choose the automatic scan option? It’s also really straightforward to install too.

Scan System with Maldet

Maldet functions to detect Malware on your server, and it’s already a Linux product so you can trust it’ll fit seamlessly here. It takes primary aim at malicious files that are from PHP backdoors and dark mailers.

Setup Cron Job for Running ClamAV

We gave props to ClamAV last week, and running it with Cron is the best choice. A Cron job is a utility program for repeating tasks at a later time. If you’re the type of person who prefers to ‘set it and forget it’ then installing ClamAV in conjunction with a Cron Job setup for regular scans against viruses or malware then this is a good choice.

Disable Apache Header Information

For whatever reason, Apache Header information tends to be more at risk of malicious attacks than other components in the make up of a site. Hiding information from public access is the quickest and most direct fix here, and here’s how to do it:
• Login to your WHM dashboard
• Go to Service Configuration
• Go to Apache Configuration
• Click on Global Configuration
• Choose ‘Keep Off of Server Signature’ and ‘Select Product Only on Server Tokens’
• Disable Apache Header Information
Hide PHP Version Information
Hiding PHP version information is a quick and easy move you can make, and it’s effective because it prevents would-be attackers from being able to make quick decisions about which entryway is going to be best for them.
Equally easy. Here’s how
• Login into WHM
• Go to PHP Configuration Editor under Service Configuration
• Disable ‘expose_php’ options
• Hide PHP Version Information
Disable FTP and go with SFTP Instead
FTP is the well-established standard, but these days using SFTP is increasingly recommended. The primary reason is because FTP does not use encryption. All data is uploaded as plain text and that aids attackers with identifying access to important information – even including login credentials. SFTP is a better choice as it uses encryption for all types of data.
SFTP is known as SSH File Transfer Protocol because it encrypts the data when using. This is what you’ll do:
• Log in to your WHM or cPanel as admin or root user.
• Go to FTP Server Configuration
• Change the option Required (Command) from Encryption Support
Securing cPanel and WHM access
Adding SSL when logging into cPanel or WHM provides a valuable additional safeguard. By forcing HTTPS to use the URL to access the cPanel or WHM, the connection becomes much more secure.

• Log in to your WHM admin panel
• Go to Home and then Server Configuration and then into Settings
• Next go to the Redirection tab to enable SSL to your server. Reference the images and the red marking point to accurately configure it as you like

Edge Computing & 5G: Perfect Pairing for Apps

5G isn’t commonplace yet, but it’s not too far off from becoming that and we’re already starting to get sample tastes of what it’s capable of. And you likely know someone who already has a 5G smartphone and they’ve probably been all too keen to tell you how it’s so much superior. No doubt they are, but what’s really the big story around 5G is what it’s poised to make specific technologies – and apps among them – capable of. Then when the superior processing capabilities of edge computing are added to the mix we really start ‘cooking with gas’, as the expression goes.

A lot of people are probably currently just as satisfied as can be with apps as it is. Unless you’re a really digitally discerning person you are probably quite fine with what your apps are able to do for you now. If we could fast forward 5 years, however, you’d probably be looking back at your current apps and their capabilities and describing them as totally underwhelming. Here at 4GoodHosting we’re like any good Canadian web hosting service provider in that we can relate to all of this a little more readily than most, and that’s only because the nature of our work puts all of this a lot more on the radar.

So if Edge Computing and 5G are poised to be the perfect dynamic duo that’s going to power web applications to new heights, it makes sense that we dig a lot deeper into this interesting topic.
The Basics

5G promises the ultra low latency and high capacity required to make data-intensive applications work more effectively. That equation starts with blazing fast speeds – 5G enables data travelling from a device to a cell tower and back in just 3 milliseconds. 4G needs 12-15 milliseconds to do that. This is huge for advanced applications. Autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars) are one of the best examples of how 5G’s speed and low latency is opening us up to a whole new world of very life- and society improving technologies. Medical professionals using 5G to get and provide instant diagnoses of patients is another potentially huge development people are excited for.

Current Network Shortcomings

All of the potential of 5G is only going to go as far as the networks that support it though. As has been the case with all cutting edge technologies that have arrived before it, 5G’s arrival into the mainstream has been staggered. Network coverage for it isn’t widespread or common yet, and businesses and developers adopting it are still going through necessary experimentations with it.

What’s holding that back is data. 5G supported applications and services produce a vast amount of data, and as 5G adoption becomes more widespread the data demands for that are growing. The issue is that all the cleaned pipes that transmit the data to and from the cloud and physical data centers don’t have the size or capacity to handle it and keep it moving at sufficiently fast speeds.

After all, part of what 5G is hanging its hat on is ultra-low latency and that has everything to do with what’s called the ‘last hop’. That’s a term given to the transfer from the cell tower to the endpoint device itself. Data being sent from the cell tower to a central cloud data center can still take up to 500 milliseconds, and that’s only to the halfway point before it has to come back.

Long and short here is that as of now the 5G experience can still be far too slow for many people’s liking. But of course that is going to change, and the only question is how soon will it get up to speed to a level that consumers will deem acceptable.
Adding the Edge
Definitions for edge computing will vary, but a safe one is that it’s an architecture characterized by a distributed cloud architecture made up of local micro data centers. Instead of structuring networks around a core with data being continually sent for processing and analysis, edge networks take datan and process it within micro data centers at the ‘edge’ of the network.

What this results in is much less of a need to send data back and forth to a centralized server or cloud, working out to less bandwidth usage and much less latency. In this way it’s key to enhancing the speed and response of the ‘last hop’ we talked about above. In this way edge computing is every integral to 5G’s processing power being experienced the way it’s intended to be.

In comparison to 5G too edge computing is already well established. Look no further than well know initiatives like SyncThink, Molo17 and Doddle. SyncThink in particular is getting a lot of hype these days, with its ability to allow medical professionals to carry out near-instant and entirely accurate injury assessments, even in challenging diagnoses environments.
Good One Way, Good the Other

Edge computing is already fully implemented in the mainstream, and that gives reason to believe that 5G’s widespread adoption is not far behind. And not just because the two enable each other so well. Edge computing enables more organizations to begin experimenting with 5G, and 5G then makes it possible for organizations to get more out of their existing edge deployments.

What this likely will mean for the laypeople like you and I is many new classes of applications with unparalleled resilience, speed, security, and efficiency. That has to sound mighty good to you, and no matter where the bulk of your interest is based in when it comes to taking advantage of digital connectivity to improve your life.

Edge Computing & 5G: Perfect Pairing for Apps

5G isn’t commonplace yet, but it’s not too far off from becoming that and we’re already starting to get sample tastes of what it’s capable of. And you likely know someone who already has a 5G smartphone and they’ve probably been all too keen to tell you how it’s so much superior. No doubt they are, but what’s really the big story around 5G is what it’s poised to make specific technologies – and apps among them – capable of. Then when the superior processing capabilities of edge computing are added to the mix we really start ‘cooking with gas’, as the expression goes.

A lot of people are probably currently just as satisfied as can be with apps as it is. Unless you’re a really digitally discerning person you are probably quite fine with what your apps are able to do for you now. If we could fast forward 5 years, however, you’d probably be looking back at your current apps and their capabilities and describing them as totally underwhelming. Here at 4GoodHosting we’re like any good Canadian web hosting service provider in that we can relate to all of this a little more readily than most, and that’s only because the nature of our work puts all of this a lot more on the radar.

So if Edge Computing and 5G are poised to be the perfect dynamic duo that’s going to power web applications to new heights, it makes sense that we dig a lot deeper into this interesting topic.

The Basics

5G promises the ultra low latency and high capacity required to make data-intensive applications work more effectively. That equation starts with blazing fast speeds – 5G enables data traveling from a device to a cell tower and back in just 3 milliseconds. 4G needs 12-15 milliseconds to do that. This is huge for advanced applications. Autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars) are one of the best examples of how 5G’s speed and low latency is opening us up to a whole new world of very life- and society improving technologies. Medical professionals using 5G to get and provide instant diagnoses of patients is another potentially huge development people are excited for.

Current Network Shortcomings

All of the potential of 5G is only going to go as far as the networks that support it though. As has been the case with all cutting edge technologies that have arrived before it, 5G’s arrival into the mainstream has been staggered. Network coverage for it isn’t widespread or common yet, and businesses and developers adopting it are still going through necessary experimentation with it.

What’s holding that back is data. 5G supported applications and services produce a vast amount of data, and as 5G adoption becomes more widespread the data demands for that are growing. The issue is that all the cleaned pipes that transmit the data to and from the cloud and physical data centers don’t have the size or capacity to handle it and keep it moving at sufficiently fast speeds.

After all, part of what 5G is hanging its hat on is ultra-low latency and that has everything to do with what’s called the ‘last hop’. That’s a term given to the transfer from the cell tower to the endpoint device itself. Data being sent from the cell tower to a central cloud data center can still take up to 500 milliseconds, and that’s only to the halfway point before it has to come back.

Long and short here is that as of now the 5G experience can still be far too slow for many people’s liking. But of course that is going to change, and the only question is how soon will it get up to speed to a level that consumers will deem acceptable.

Adding the Edge

Definitions for edge computing will vary, but a safe one is that it’s an architecture characterized by a distributed cloud architecture made up of local micro data centers. Instead of structuring networks around a core with data being continually sent for processing and analysis, edge networks take datan and process it within micro data centers at the ‘edge’ of the network.

What this results in is much less of a need to send data back and forth to a centralized server or cloud, working out to less bandwidth usage and much less latency. In this way it’s key to enhancing the speed and response of the ‘last hop’ we talked about above. In this way edge computing is every integral to 5G’s processing power being experienced the way it’s intended to be.

In comparison to 5G too edge computing is already well established. Look no further than well know initiatives like SyncThink, Molo17 and Doddle. SyncThink in particular is getting a lot of hype these days, with its ability to allow medical professionals to carry out near-instant and entirely accurate injury assessments, even in challenging diagnoses environments.

Good One Way, Good the Other

Edge computing is already fully implemented in the mainstream, and that gives reason to believe that 5G’s widespread adoption is not far behind. And not just because the two enable each other so well. Edge computing enables more organizations to begin experimenting with 5G, and 5G then makes it possible for organizations to get more out of their existing edge deployments.

What this likely will mean for the laypeople like you and I is many new classes of applications with unparalleled resilience, speed, security, and efficiency. That has to sound mighty good to you, and no matter where the bulk of your interest is based in when it comes to taking advantage of digital connectivity to improve your life.

‘Super Special’ – What Exactly are NFTs?

You’re forgiven if the numbers of new abbreviations people are supposed to be familiar with these days is a little much for you. Adding to all of this is the fact that emerging technologies are increasingly front and center in our lives, and many of these abbreviations apply to these technologies. Such is the case for something you may have heard a lot of buzz about lately – NFTs. One big-ticket news item these days is cryptocurrency, and while nearly everyone will have heard of Bitcoin there’s other that are also claiming similar fanfare and go by abbreviations themselves – XRP being a good example.

The reason we mention those two is there’s a connection between them and NFTs. That being that all three of them are ‘tokens’ that exist only in digital form. But that’s where the similarities end for the large part, and from there NFTs become a lot more unique and a lot more intriguing. At least for most people, and that’s likely a fair thing to say.

All of this stuff tends to interest people like those of us here at 4GoodHosting, as being a good Canadian web hosting service provider has us in the front row for observing all of the newest developments in the digital world. It tends to be interesting stuff, and NFTs in particular are really something that even the most digitally illiterate person may take an interest in just because of their newness and uniqueness.

We figure it’s worthy of a topic of discussion for the blog this week, so here goes.

A Mutual Exchange

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. Right, you’re also forgiven if you have absolutely no ide what the word fungible means, so let’s get to that without delay. ‘Fungible’ is the most uncommon of terms, but it is an adjective that means whatever it is describing can be mutually exchanged. To add to that somewhat, it means that two parties can exchanged whatever good it is we’re talking about, and neither of them gain value by doing so.

So non-fungible would then suggest that there IS value to be gained in the exchange of what it is – in this case, tokens. What’s making NFTs so newsworthy these days isn’t so much that they can have monetary value, but rather that they are a fully digital and thus non-tangible item that gains value in the same way collectibles can. To put this in everyday perspective, anyone who has a Wayne Gretzky rookie card, for example, is going to be pretty darned thrilled to have that in their possession simply because A) it’s incredibly rare, and B) it’s worth an incredible amount of money if they decide to sell it.

Yes, not necessarily in that order either.

NFTs add to this by being capable of being uniquely identified and authenticate yourself as the owner of that collectible. They are tied to blockchain, and blockchain is really just a big, encrypted ledger. As you’d expect, NFTs need to be purchased with a cryptocurrency and Ethereum is usually preferable to Bitcoin. When an NFT is purchased the buyer has the ‘key’ to it and can exchange it, sell it, or do pretty much anything they like.

It’s the scarcity of NFTs that makes them expensive and requires you to part with plenty of cryptocurrency if you want to obtain. Look no further than a few months back when one named CryptoPunk 2890 sold for 605 ETH (Ethereum tokens). That works out to more than $760,000 USD!

As of now, the biggest mainstream NFTs are in the art and sports spaces. Deep-pocketed individuals are both purchasing AND investing in them – with former NBA megastar Michael Jordan being one of them and related to NBA top shots.

One NBA Top Shot NFT of LeBron James dunking the basketball sold for just over $200K USD.

Never in Your Hands

Sticking with the sports theme as we continue discussing NFTs, if someone has an exclusive digital clip of Sidney Crosby scoring Canada’s golden goal in Vancouver, for example, it becomes a very unique and incredibly permanent collector’s item. Unlike cards or prints, it’s not going to become ratty or faded ever. It’ll still be as crisp and vivid 100 years from now as it is today.

Art NFTs are popular too, and one unique aspect of NFT art is that creators are able to make money from secondary sales. Anyone purchasing an up-and-coming artist’s NFT is both supporting them and getting in on the ground floor in case that art explodes in popularity later on.

Part of the reason why NFTs are so hot right now is because there’s plenty and plenty of inventory. Making NFTs isn’t difficult if you are the owner and have rights to the source material, and there’s a chance they can earn royalties in perpetuity too.

For artists they are particularly beneficial, as they take away many of the traditional hurdles that prevent the artist’s work from being made visible and promoted. This medium hasn’t existed before, and artists and other types are quite keen to take advantage of it.

Accessibility Equaling Popularity

NFTs are all the rage right now simply because they’re immediately accessible to anyone. Whether or not you can afford them – or have the (crypto) currency form required to do so – may be an entirely different story. People are also drawn to the way that they can be reflections of what a particular individual may have seen as a noteworthy moment or experience, as compared to what a table of people in an office may decide on.

This really applies to pro sports NFTs, but will expand into other categories for sure. It’s also serving to add to the ‘coolness’ factor for cryptocurrencies in general, and may serve to further the inroads these types of currencies are making.

Some Risk Though

There are risks to NFTs though, and specifically because they are heavily speculative. Most people who look into buying them know they need to be extremely familiar with the long-term prospects for that particular token. Doing your research is a must, and especially looking to see what sorts of NFTs are available in your particular area of interest. Find cool projects and get involved by joining their chatrooms and check discord servers and other resources connecting the community. Understand what you’re buying into.

It’s going to be very interesting to see where NFTs go and to what extent they become a mainstream commodity for collectors and the like. The appeal is certainly easy so see, and it’s almost certain that there will be people who make extremely fortuitous investments in NFTs early on and then see the resale price for their token be a serious windfall.

All the best to you if that’s something you’re considering after putting yourself very in the know about the best approaches to buying NFTs.

‘Everyday’ Optical Fiber Taking Up Pivotal Role in Quantum Computing

Much is being made of quantum computing these days, and for good reason. It stands poised to revolutionize our digital world, and along with that making so much more possible with regards to improving the ability of the world to work together and add so much more reach and efficiency to a great deal of what we’re doing. The development of the technology has been a long time in the making, and it’s a cake that’s not quite bake yet. But one of the most important ingredients to it is one material that’s been commonplace and unexceptional for a long time now.

Optical fiber has been around for 50 years now, permitting transmissions over long distances with higher bandwidth levels. Just that part of the explanation should be all that’s needed to allow you to grasp the significance of what optical fiber has offered to us. And if you don’t even know exactly what they are then that’s fine too. A quick description – straight from Wikipedia – is to say that they are flexible, transparent fibers made by drawing silica glass or plastic to a diameter slightly thicker than that of a human hair.

A whole lot of goodness in very skinny package. Putting people in the know about things that will interest them is a small part of what makes us here at 4GoodHosting a good Canadian web hosting provider, and we think that a shout out to the potentially unsung hero of quantum computing is worth it here this week.

So let’s have a look at the role of optical fibers in quantum computing here, and maybe you’ll have a greater appreciation for them.

Integral to Massive Processing Power

So just how is that an ordinary telecommunications technology is so key to building superconducting quantum computers with massive processing power?

It started with tests measuring and controlling a superconducting quantum bit (qubit) using light-conducting fiber instead of metal electrical wires. The results which indicated that the optical fibers was able to pack a million qubits into a quantum computer rather than just a few thousand.

That’s a BIG jump in capacity, and as a result we’re now seeing superconducting circuits being a lead technology for making quantum computers because of reliability how they are easily mass produced. One hang up of sorts is that these circuits must operate at cryogenic temperatures, and wiring them to room-temperature electronics isn’t simple and there’s a real risk of overheating.

So with that in mind now process yourself how a universal quantum computer, is expected to need about 1 million qubits. Conventional existing infrastructure would only support thousands at most.

Optical fiber, on the other hand, features a glass or plastic core that can carry a high volume of light signals without conducting heat. Superconducting quantum computers use microwave pulses to store and process information though, and that creates a need for the light to be converted precisely to microwaves.

Optical fiber has been reworked to meet this need, and by combining it with a few other standard components that convert, convey and measure light at the level of single particles, or photons, this was made possible. The light is then easily converted into microwaves that showed themselves to be ideal for maintaining the integrity of the qubit’s fragile quantum states.

Long story short here – Optical fiber can also carry far more data in a much smaller volume than conventional cable.

With the new setup using an optical fiber instead of metal to guide light signals to cryogenic photodetectors, microwaves could be routed to the qubit through either the photonic link or a regular coaxial line.

Superconducting Metals

The functional key to the workings of the optical fiber here is that there are two superconducting metals separated by an insulator. Add a certain microwave frequency and the qubit is able to move between low-frequency and excited states without lag.

The frequency at which microwaves naturally bounce back and forth in the cavity, called the resonance frequency, is dependent on and defined by the qubit state. Plus, the frequency at which the qubit switches states depends on the number of photons in the cavity.

The hope with this technology is that quantum processors will be enabled for having optical fibers transmitting signals to and from the qubits, with each fiber capable of carrying thousands of signals to and from the qubit.

Soon-to-Be Applications

Much is being made of quantum computing these days, and for good reason. It stands poised to revolutionize our digital world, and along with that making so much more possible with regards to improving the ability of the world to work together and add so much more reach and efficiency to a great deal of what we’re doing. The development of the technology has been a long time in the making, and it’s a cake that’s not quite bake yet. But one of the most important ingredients to it is one material that’s been commonplace and unexceptional for a long time now.

Optical fiber has been around for 50 years now, permitting transmissions over long distances with higher bandwidth levels. Just that part of the explanation should be all that’s needed to allow you to grasp the significance of what optical fiber has offered to us. And if you don’t even know exactly what they are then that’s fine too. A quick description – straight from Wikipedia – is to say that they are flexible, transparent fibers made by drawing silica glass or plastic to a diameter slightly thicker than that of a human hair.

A whole lot of goodness in very skinny package. Putting people in the know about things that will interest them is a small part of what makes us here at 4GoodHosting a good Canadian web hosting provider, and we think that a shout out to the potentially unsung hero of quantum computing is worth it here this week.

So let’s have a look at the role of optical fibers in quantum computing here, and maybe you’ll have a greater appreciation for them.

Integral to Massive Processing Power

So just how is that an ordinary telecommunications technology is so key to building superconducting quantum computers with massive processing power?

It started with tests measuring and controlling a superconducting quantum bit (qubit) using light-conducting fiber instead of metal electrical wires. The results which indicated that the optical fibers was able to pack a million qubits into a quantum computer rather than just a few thousand.

That’s a BIG jump in capacity, and as a result we’re now seeing superconducting circuits being a lead technology for making quantum computers because of reliability how they are easily mass produced. One hang up of sorts is that these circuits must operate at cryogenic temperatures, and wiring them to room-temperature electronics isn’t simple and there’s a real risk of overheating.

So with that in mind now process yourself how a universal quantum computer, is expected to need about 1 million qubits. Conventional existing infrastructure would only support thousands at most.

Optical fiber, on the other hand, features a glass or plastic core that can carry a high volume of light signals without conducting heat. Superconducting quantum computers use microwave pulses to store and process information though, and that creates a need for the light to be converted precisely to microwaves.

Optical fiber has been reworked to meet this need, and by combining it with a few other standard components that convert, convey and measure light at the level of single particles, or photons, this was made possible. The light is then easily converted into microwaves that showed themselves to be ideal for maintaining the integrity of the qubit’s fragile quantum states.

Long story short here – Optical fiber can also carry far more data in a much smaller volume than conventional cable.

With the new setup using an optical fiber instead of metal to guide light signals to cryogenic photodetectors, microwaves could be routed to the qubit through either the photonic link or a regular coaxial line.

Superconducting Metals

The functional key to the workings of the optical fiber here is that there are two superconducting metals separated by an insulator. Add a certain microwave frequency and the qubit is able to move between low-frequency and excited states without lag.

The frequency at which microwaves naturally bounce back and forth in the cavity, called the resonance frequency, is dependent on and defined by the qubit state. Plus, the frequency at which the qubit switches states depends on the number of photons in the cavity.

The hope with this technology is that quantum processors will be enabled for having optical fibers transmitting signals to and from the qubits, with each fiber capable of carrying thousands of signals to and from the qubit.

Soon-to-Be Applications

Quantum computing experts predict that this year the technology is going to make some very visible inroads. One of them is the predicted first public acknowledgment of the quantum crypto break, where quantum computers become capable of breaking traditional public key crypto. More to what the average person will relate to, there will also greater numbers of quantum devices like quantum random generators and quantum key distribution, made more cheaply and appearing as subcomponents in more devices like smartphones and personal computing devices. 

Regular Amazon Online Shopper? Facebook User? Beware of CooperStealer Malware

Don’t know about you but it hasn’t been even a week since I ordered something from Amazon.ca, and I was browsing through my Facebook feed over breakfast this AM. There are a few people who’ve sworn off social media these days, and in truth that’s often a good thing. But there’s all sorts of us who have Google as big parts of our digital lives and many of those same people take advantage of much of what Apple has to offer too.

That’s not going to change, but what may have to change is the way we all keep our guards up a little bit more when taking advantage of these conveniences or taking in social media in moderation. That’s for the following reason; there’s plenty of malware out there looking for any and all opportunities to get in where they shouldn’t, but none of them are drumming up as much caution quite like the CooperStealer.

Sounds fancy, and it has nothing to do with a digital thief stealing barrels or anything of the sort. What it DOES have the ability to do is steal credentials. And more specifically, login and account credentials for Facebook, Google, and Apple passwords. While it’s debatable whether you could go without Facebook in in the interest of keeping yourself safe from this, you likely won’t see it the same way when it comes to Google and Apple accounts.

Part of being a quality Canadian web hosting provider is keeping our customers in the know about developments that might affect them, and considering what we’ve laid out here this CooperStealer malware definitely meets the criteria for that. So let’s look at it in greater detail with our entry for this week and explain further about why this is something you’ll want to be aware of and then conclude with tips about how you can make yourself less at risk.

Hunger for Cookies Too

This malware we’re discussing here today was given the name CooperStealer by researchers because it is both a password and cookie stealer that is in active development. Plus, another big part of the potential problem is that it comes with a download feature that allows its operators to deliver additional malicious payloads to infected devices.

The infection seriousness doesn’t end there. Threat actors behind this malware strain have used compromised accounts in order to run malicious ads and conduct malware advertising campaigns that have been given the term ‘malvertising’ recently.

But this isn’t exactly new. Early versions of the CooperStealer were seen as early as the summer of 2019. It was seen to effectively target Facebook and Instagram account credentials while also being able to target Bing, PayPal, Tumblr and Twitter.

Building on SilentFade and More

It’s also been determined that CooperStealer utilizes many of the same targeting and delivery methods as SilentFade, the Chinese-sourced malware which ended up on Facebook’s security radar in 2019 too. It ended up being the cause of over $4m in damages, and so the alarms going off about CooperStealer are legit. Industry and malware experts believe that CooperStealer is a previously undocumented family within the same class of malware as SilentFade, StressPaint, FacebookRobot and Scranos.

CooperStealer may also be implemented into suspicious websites advertised as KeyGen and crack sites such as keygenninja[.]com, piratewares[.]com, startcrack[.]com, and crackheap[.]net. The reason people are at these sites at all is because they present themselves as being an alternative to circumventing the licensing restrictions of legitimate software.

The truth of the matter, however, is that these Potentially Unwanted Programs/Applications (PUP/PUA) are much more frequently in existence to simply deliver malicious executables capable of downloading and installing additional payloads. Take note of them, and avoid them unless you see these resources as being worth the risk.

Good Sinkholes

The good news is that the people who you’d think would need to be proactive about this threat are doing just that. Researchers at Facebook, Cloudflare and other service providers have worked to develop co-ordinated disruptive action. The best examples being a warning interstitial page that presents itself in front of the malicious domains, and the development of ‘sinkholes’ for select sites that are known to be favoured by these threat actors behind the CooperStealer.

Now it’s true that most people don’t envision anything good when thinking of a sinkhole, but in this case it’s a good thing and not a huge falling away of the earth that devours homes, vehicles and whatever else has the misfortune of being immediately above them when they’re about to do their thing.

No, the type of ‘sinkhole’ that we’re talking about here is a method used to limit an attacker’s ability to collect data on victims while also enabling researchers to gain visibility into victim demographics. During a sinkhole’s first 24 hours of operation they can log hundreds of thousands of HTTP requests from unique IPs originating from hundreds of different countries around the world.

Based on this industry experts were able to determine the top five countries based on unique infections were India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, and The Philippines.

Don’t know about you but it hasn’t been even a week since I ordered something from Amazon.ca, and I was browsing through my Facebook feed over breakfast this AM. There are a few people who’ve sworn off social media these days, and in truth that’s often a good thing. But there’s all sorts of us who have Google as big parts of our digital lives and many of those same people take advantage of much of what Apple has to offer too.

That’s not going to change, but what may have to change is the way we all keep our guards up a little bit more when taking advantage of these conveniences or taking in social media in moderation. That’s for the following reason; there’s plenty of malware out there looking for any and all opportunities to get in where they shouldn’t, but none of them are drumming up as much caution quite like the CooperStealer.

Sounds fancy, and it has nothing to do with a digital thief stealing barrels or anything of the sort. What it DOES have the ability to do is steal credentials. And more specifically, login and account credentials for Facebook, Google, and Apple passwords. While it’s debatable whether you could go without Facebook in in the interest of keeping yourself safe from this, you likely won’t see it the same way when it comes to Google and Apple accounts.

Part of being a quality Canadian web hosting provider is keeping our customers in the know about developments that might affect them, and considering what we’ve laid out here this CooperStealer malware definitely meets the criteria for that. So let’s look at it in greater detail with our entry for this week and explain further about why this is something you’ll want to be aware of and then conclude with tips about how you can make yourself less at risk.

Hunger for Cookies Too

This malware we’re discussing here today was given the name CooperStealer by researchers because it is both a password and cookie stealer that is in active development. Plus, another big part of the potential problem is that it comes with a download feature that allows its operators to deliver additional malicious payloads to infected devices.

The infection seriousness doesn’t end there. Threat actors behind this malware strain have used compromised accounts in order to run malicious ads and conduct malware advertising campaigns that have been given the term ‘malvertising’ recently.

But this isn’t exactly new. Early versions of the CooperStealer were seen as early as the summer of 2019. It was seen to effectively target Facebook and Instagram account credentials while also being able to target Bing, PayPal, Tumblr and Twitter.

Building on SilentFade and More

It’s also been determined that CooperStealer utilizes many of the same targeting and delivery methods as SilentFade, the Chinese-sourced malware which ended up on Facebook’s security radar in 2019 too. It ended up being the cause of over $4m in damages, and so the alarms going off about CooperStealer are legit. Industry and malware experts believe that CooperStealer is a previously undocumented family within the same class of malware as SilentFade, StressPaint, FacebookRobot and Scranos.

CooperStealer may also be implemented into suspicious websites advertised as KeyGen and crack sites such as keygenninja[.]com, piratewares[.]com, startcrack[.]com, and crackheap[.]net. The reason people are at these sites at all is because they present themselves as being an alternative to circumventing the licensing restrictions of legitimate software.

The truth of the matter, however, is that these Potentially Unwanted Programs/Applications (PUP/PUA) are much more frequently in existence to simply deliver malicious executables capable of downloading and installing additional payloads. Take note of them, and avoid them unless you see these resources as being worth the risk.

Good Sinkholes

The good news is that the people who you’d think would need to be proactive about this threat are doing just that. Researchers at Facebook, Cloudflare and other service providers have worked to develop co-ordinated disruptive action. The best examples being a warning interstitial page that presents itself in front of the malicious domains, and the development of ‘sinkholes’ for select sites that are known to be favoured by these threat actors behind the CooperStealer.

Now it’s true that most people don’t envision anything good when thinking of a sinkhole, but in this case it’s a good thing and not a huge falling away of the earth that devours homes, vehicles and whatever else has the misfortune of being immediately above them when they’re about to do their thing.

No, the type of ‘sinkhole’ that we’re talking about here is a method used to limit an attacker’s ability to collect data on victims while also enabling researchers to gain visibility into victim demographics. During a sinkhole’s first 24 hours of operation they can log hundreds of thousands of HTTP requests from unique IPs originating from hundreds of different countries around the world.

Based on this industry experts were able to determine the top five countries based on unique infections were India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, and The Philippines.

In the bigger picture, these days there are more different types of malware out there than ever before and there’s never been a higher level of risk from them. If you think that little old you isn’t going to be at risk yourself then there’s plenty of reasons to rethink that position.