Archive for the ‘Recommended Reading’ Category

Keep Your Password Secure!

Permalink   Posted by Tom Benway

net-privacyOne of the biggest issues in the online marketing business is hacking. Hacking can come in the form of a computer virus, “spam” or tricky junk mail, “phishing” or even trickier junk mail that tricks you into giving away personal information, and plain old data theft.

In our experience, the number one way people get hacked is by simply having a bad password. There are a number of tools available to hackers that can make it very easy to “guess” a password. Once someone obtains your password, they may have access to any of your online data including private personal information and financial records.

Your best defense against hacking starts at the front line: having a secure password.

Here are a few quick tips on making sure your password is difficult to hack:

  • Make sure it has at least 12 characters. We know, the longer your password is, the harder it is to remember. We’ll give you some tips later for creating secure passwords that are also memorable.
  • Include a mix of numbers, letters and symbols. The more characters your password involves, the more combinations hackers and hacking programs have to iterate through to make a guess.
  • Make it more complex than a dictionary word (or words). A simple password like “house” or even “red house” isn’t going to cut it these days. Even simple substitutions like “r3d hou$e” can be easy enough for modern programs to crack.
  • Use a password generator that will create a secure password for you. Try a website like www.strongpasswordgenerator.com and let them create a secure password for you. This site also gives you phonetic memorization ideas (ex: “remember: alpha charlie echo three”).

The hardest passwords to guess can also be the easier to memorize. Passwords with equations or phrases maximize the length of your password plus give you a way to remember it:

  • Try using 6 words or more to create a “pass phrase”.
    Example: “Indiana Jones flies midnight frost wheat”. Phrasing is often easier to remember than a random combination of characters.
  • Try a combination of symbols and a pass phrase.
    Example: “!indina j0ne$ f7ies m!dnight 7rost w#eat”. The more complex your substitution gets, the harder the phrase is to guess.
  • Use a combination of all three to create a secure, easy to remember equation.
    Example “Yay$Fun==#FamVAca”. This we’d remember as “yay fun money is for hashtag family vacation”. Its personal but contains no private information that could be guessed like a birth date or your child’s name.

Try to use different password phrases for every site you create an account for. The more different, unique passwords you can have the better. At the minimum, have different passwords/pass phrases for social and sharing sites than you use for your important information like banking and work documents.

Unfortunately, due to the increase of hacking software, and the pure raw computing power available a memorable password is still susceptible to hacking. To ensure total security, use complete random passwords created by the password generator site above and use a different one for every login you have. To keep track of them, you can use software called “password managers” that keep track of your passwords for you. PCMag.com recently posted a list of top free password managers in an article on their website along with some that have more secure subscription services.

To conclude, keep your passwords secure and update them often!

In the long run, it will save you a lot of headache, strife, and possibly lost data by coming up with something thats just a little bit more difficult to remember, or by becoming more secure using a password manager.

What is “Responsive” Design?

Permalink   Posted by Tom Benway
Responsive Designs

Responsive Designs

Responsive” is the latest and greatest buzzword in the web design world these days, and while many agencies are deciding to adopt it simply because of its demand, the theory of “responsive” design has actually been around for more than a decade. During the post-dot-com boom in the early 2000s when flat panel monitors rose to fame, many of the same concepts we use today were created. Overall, “responsive” design is the notion of creating websites that “respond” to different size screens, therefore presenting legible and visually pleasing experiences at any size.

Achieving a successful responsive design can often be difficult. Essentially, it requires the designer to create a single concept style that can be re-formed into up to a dozen different sizes. On top of that, it then becomes the developer’s responsibility to build the site to “snap” or change the physical size of its layout based on the user’s current screen size whether that is a 30″ flat panel, or a 3″ mobile screen. A great deal of understanding of good design, physical space, and straight web development knowledge are required to pull it off.

If you’re interested in learning more about creating a “responsive” website custom tailored to your brand and style, contact me today!

 

WordPress 3.8

Permalink   Posted by Tom Benway
WP38About

WordPress 3.8 “Parker”

This week on Thursday, WordPress.org announced their release of their latest version, 3.8 “Parker”. Named after another famous jazz artist (Charlie Parker), this version of WordPress has received a major facelift to its administrative site.

Along with fixing a couple minor errors that probably only annoyed me, the WordPress crew has updated their admin to be more user friendly, updatable and more responsive to different device sizes.

This means even easier, faster, more effective content editing.

Since all VectorDefector.com WordPress themes and custom plugins are built using official WordPress coding standards, I highly encourage my clients to download and check out the new version for themselves!

A Video Explanation of SOPA / ACTA

Permalink   Posted by Tom Benway

A topic of much discussion this week, the SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act, is an unfair solution to a problem we can all agree exists. The U.S. government is currently debating censoring the sharing of intellectual properties owned by the entertainment industry by blocking ANY websites that they believe use their products without their permission with penalties as high as jail time. A tandem act is also being discussed which essentially could allow the government to block access to international sites as they choose. Below is a video explanation of these acts, describing the ACTA initiative – a conceptual global document that outlines SOPA-like bills around the world:

I wholeheartedly agree that online piracy and copyright infringement is an issue that needs to be handled, but policing the entire web and treating us all as if we were criminals is a step too far. I recommend anyone who agrees to check out this list of companies who support SOPA and discontinue your business with them.

HTML5 Standard by 2014?

Permalink   Posted by Tom Benway

HTML5

A new article posted on CNET’s “Deep Tech” section outlines the W3C’s plans for officially making HTML5 the standard web language by 2014. Enforcing this standard may be tough since the W3C is more like the UN- lots of consensus but no real power.

HTML5 has some great new toolsets built specifically for new “web 2.0” applications- easy forms and social implementation and a lot of universal built-in coding for video; so much that a lot of plugin aps are going to be a thing of the past. Sorry, Flash and Quicktime.

While I’ve dabbled with HTML5, without that compliance component, I feel the benefits are currently lacking. The same issues I have making my code work with every possible piece of web tech out there could potentially still exist with HTML5 if not every browser accepts it (or if folks don’t update). Fortunately I think the future date will give people plenty of time to upgrade their systems.

Read more about the W3C and their HTML5 Press Release.

Future of Aps and Social Media?

Permalink   Posted by Tom Benway

After reading an amazing article at MediaBistro, I feel like I’ve had an insight into the future of mobile aps and social media. Detailed in the article, a Swedish tech company has developed software that integrates image mapping and facial recognition into a mobile application that allows users to link their face to their social media profiles. By using the camera on your smart-phone, you could then scan someones face and retrieve all of their Facebook,  Twitter, LinkedIn, etc data all at once.

I always feel like new technology like this is exciting and scary at the same time. At the rate information is indexed in our modern times, I often assume everything I’ve ever typed is open for public search- which can be somewhat jarring. On the flip side, our mobile devices now have 10 times the computing power ever imagined by Star Trek communicators taking place in the year 2250!

The future of mobile devices, mobile applications and social media will only continue to grow from here!

Hackers Exploit Open-X Vulnerabilities

Permalink   Posted by Tom Benway

An article posted today on Yahoo! Tech News details some recent hacks to popular websites running the popular open-source ad server system OpenX. Among the affected were King Features (a popular comics site), Ain’t it Cool News and Adobe.

The two prong hack features two common techniques in releasing viruses these days: a “SQL injection” attack to the OpenX ad server which essentially forces an entry into the ad database, followed by a “iFrame” attack which loads a new page within the same window in your browser, enabling the hacker to fire a number of different pieces of code from the new “framed” page.

An iFrame attack can be avoided by using any decent anti-virus software to block the source, however a “SQL injection” is another matter. I’ve recommended that any of my clients using the OpenX software upgrade to the latest version and attempt to hide any publicly available database config info.

Speaking as a person who’s used a SQL Injection technique in a non-malicious way (as part of a plugin), the best route is to always make sure you keep your password hidden and up-to-date.

Cool Ap – Zinio Digital Magazines & Books

Permalink   Posted by Tom Benway
mental_floss

mental_floss

A long time subscriber to the knowledge oriented magazine, mental_floss, my girlfriend Kelly showed me a wicked cool ap from Zinio that comes with her subscription. Using a combination of Flash and Contentguard (for rights management), Zinio has made itself a very neat ap for view magazines and books digitally on your computer.

With a very short download for both the magazine/book and the ap (maybe only necessary to download the desktop version if you have Flash and only want to read your periodical in a browser), you essentially get the entire printed version of whatever magazine/book you want. A very well defined user interface allows you to navigate and scale to any article.

More and more its going to be key for publication companies to continue to offer these user-friendly digital alternatives to their books. I find this one to be an excellent solution as it doesn’t detract from the original printed version- both can exist and look and feel nearly the same.

Web Terms Cheat Sheet

Permalink   Posted by Tom Benway

Since I both recognize that I have readers and clients that don’t innately understand all the techie jargon and acronyms I use on a near-daily basis, and sympathize with them in light of the amount I use these terms,  I decided to create a quick page detailing some of the more obscure crapola I blather on about.

Please check out the web terminology sheet page.

James. Tiberius. Kirk.

Permalink   Posted by Tom Benway
kirk_cologne

James. Tiberius. Kirk.

In an effort to share all the wealth the internet has to offer (and to spoil my productivity for the day), my friend Doug sent me this fine product at the Star Trek online store.

For the discriminating, tasteful, geeky man in your life- Tiberius: cologne for men. A scent reminiscent of the most famous and highly decorated starship captain in Starfleet history.

I have to say I enjoy the description far more than the idea of the product. That’s some fine copy-writing.

most famous and highly decorated starship captain in Starfleet historymost famous and highly decorated starship captain in Starfleet historymost famous and highly decorated starship captain in Starfleet history