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net neutrality

Net Neutrality: A Battle For Open Internet

The Federal Communications Commission has re-opened the net neutrality debate with its proposal to undo the 2015 Open Internet Order that classified the internet as a utility with Title II classification. The Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai is spearheading the campaign to reclassify internet providers as Title I information services and dismantle net neutrality rules that enforce a free and open internet like no blocking or throttling of apps and websites. After engaging in four months of debate, the FCC stopped accepting feedback and comments on Wednesday, August 30th, which it will now review and use as guidance to revise its proposal—a striking blow to the internet’s core values.

What Does Net Neutrality Mean?

Net neutrality, also commonly spoken of as ‘network neutrality,’ is the idea that internet service providers and governments must treat all data on the internet as equal so that it is a level playing field for newcomers and established giants alike. The Internet is a free and open platform, and internet service providers cannot leverage its control over the network to discriminate or provide priority service by user, content, site, platform, services, application or medium of communication. All this boils down to is consumers pay for access to the entire internet without any paid prioritization, throttling, and blocking. For example, AT&T cannot put any restrictions on users that stop them from streaming movies from Netflix, or slow down speeds, or force Netflix to pay up for preferential treatment.

Why Does The FCC Want A Rollback On Net Neutrality?

Under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, internet service providers, such as Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Charter, T-Mobile, and Sprint, are grouped as ‘common carriers’ and therefore regulated with tough, utility-style restrictions. Theoretically, it allows the government to regulate how much an ISP can charge you even though pricing regulations have never been applied. Internet providers have been subject to careful oversight.

The common argument put forward by Pai and other conservatives and ISPs in opposition of the 2015 Open Internet Order is that it discourages investment. Title Title II supposedly gives FCC power to put heavy burdens on ISPs and the additional regulations create unnecessary administrative costs as service providers navigate through red tape. The stringent regulations on ISPs have supposedly resulted in a decline in broadband investment throughout the country. It has been a little under two years since the Open Internet Order went into effect and it is way too soon to define an exact trend. Moreover this claim remains disputed as most broadband providers, with the exception of Sprint, haven’t stopped spending because of the existing Open Internet Order. But according to Pai, repealing the 2015 Open Internet Order will supposedly restore broadband investment back to its previous upward path and bridge the digital divide between areas with abundant broadband and those without it.

The Case Against Dismantling Current Net Neutrality Laws

Net-neutrality advocates stress that FCC needs to be the cop on the beat to enforce any meaningful regulation, especially considering there are only a handful of major ISPs in the US and the prohibitive costs required for anyone to join them. According to the FCC’s latest Internet Access Services report, only 24% of developed housing areas had options between two broadband providers with sufficiently high-speed wired internet to choose from. Where there is more competition, you may need less regulation as the market bears it out. But in an environment where that competition is missing there is a need for careful oversight to protect the consumer from abuse.

The Internet Association, representing more than 40 top internet companies, including Google, Facebook, and Netflix, oppose any changes to the current FCC net neutrality rules because they are working fine and offering consumer much needed protections.

As a user your gateway to the internet should not be limited by your budget or what your ISPs have been paid to prioritize. When internet providers have the ability to control the websites you visit and make choices about content for you, it will tip the scales in favor of their own services and the services of the strongest players who can pay for access. You should be free to make your choice between Google or Bing, YouTube or Vimeo, Netflix or Amazon Prime. Changing regulations so that a small subset of uncompetitive broadband providers get full control over your internet access or the power to block some sites, throttle the speed for others, and charge you exorbitant rates goes against the very founding principle that internet is based on- dissemination of unfiltered information..

Since 2005, FCC has made three attempts to implement net neutrality rules, two reversals, and a lot of conflict between interest groups and think tanks on all sides of the issue. The internet is absolutely vital for our society and economy so it is absolutely detrimental to allow this type of conflict and regulatory game of ping-pong to continue. It may be time for Congress to enact a permanent law to guide internet regulations and ensure a level playing field.

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website for sale

Brief Guide On How To Sell Your Website

Think of websites as digital real estate that you have built painstakingly, with endless time and effort. Just like traditional real estate, quality websites and domains with steady traffic and revenue can increase in value over time. The art of creating websites, renovating them and developing them into financially lucrative online assets so that they can be easily liquidated for a profit, is commonly known as website flipping.

There are people who do not want to build a website from scratch as they may not have the knowledge or setup required to do so. They want to find and buy a turn-key, move-in ready website to get them going, without the initial investment needed to build, expand and grow a site. So if you own an established website with a history of rapid exponential growth then it may be a real cash cow and there may be a significant upside to selling your web asset online. Whatever your reason for wanting to sell a website, you can divest yourself of a web property by listing it on a marketplace and selling it.

Websites For Sale: The Website Sales Process

Once you decide to sell your website, you may have questions about the unknown variables involved and the actual process to make the sale. The deal flow is actually quite straightforward, whether you decide to sell it on your own or hire a professional website broker to handle the entire process.

  1. Prepare your site for selling
  2. Provide real facts and figures about your site
  3. Determine a proper website valuation
  4. List your site on a marketplace
  5. Manage the auction
  6. Post-sale

Prepare Your Site For Selling

Preparing an optimized, ready-to-sell website involves publishing stellar content, including videos, for a built-in reliable, repeat customer or audience base. To boost the value of your website before selling it you need to ensure it is optimized using responsive and user-friendly design and clutter-free layout that is easy to navigate. Most importantly, you need to monetize your website before you put it up for sale with proper ad placement (Google Adsense) and links to affiliate networks (Amazon, RewardStyle). Then you need to put together substantial information that can show the value and earnings of your site to potential buyers.

Provide Real Facts And Figures About Your Site

Buyers want to see proven results, specifically about traffic analytics, revenue stream proof, affiliate network reports, expenses and net profit. They want to see detailed records of traffic and revenue metrics to ensure that your site is actually bringing in the big bucks. You should aim to have at least 12 months of Google Analytics traffic data, and other provable, accurate financial records from merchant accounts and CMS platforms

Determine A Proper Website Valuation

It can be tricky figuring out your website’s actual value.  The amount of money that someone is willing to shell out for your website will depend on the website traffic, potential and actual ROI (return on investment), site ranking and the risk associated with your business model. Lower risk and high ROI will obviously fetch a higher price.

To get a general idea of what your website can potentially sell for at auction, use the following formula-

[Your site’s average earnings over a 3–12 month range] x (10) = Your base listing price

But there are wild fluctuations within this range too. Alternatively you can use a value calculator to get a good estimate about the potential sell price of your site.

List Your Site On A Marketplace

There are quite a few options to sell your site online from-

If you decide to sell through a website marketplace, you need to set up an auction for your website by providing historical information about your site, detailed traffic and financial information. Be transparent and open when discussing different factors related to your site such as business model, marketing efforts, growth opportunities and your reason for selling.

Manage the Auction

Auctions require patience as most bids typically come in the final 24 hours of an auction ending. Most importantly stay active through the auction process and take the time to monitor comments, and answer any questions whenever possible. Potential buyers do not just evaluate the business; they also look at how comfortable it will be doing business with you. So sellers should always respond in a timely manner and not be evasive. Drum up all the interest you can by promoting your listing. You can list a banner on your site advertising the sale or pay for some Facebook or Twitter ads to targeted potential buyers or leave messages on niche forums and communities. If you don’t get any bids at the auction that beat your reserve, or if you don’t get any interest for a classified listing, don’t sell for a lower price just to get rid of the site.

Post Sale

Once your site is sold to the highest bidder, you need to know how the buyer will pay for the asset. It is advisable to always accept payment via escrow, as it is a safe option for both parties. When the money gets placed securely into escrow, you will get a notification via email and can then begin transferring the assets of your site over to the buyer. With the sale closed, you’ll need to transfer the domain to the new owner. Once this is complete, escrow should release the funds to your account.

Final Thoughts On Websites For Sale

The process for selling your website can be challenging but hopefully this information above will help you become adept at building websites, injecting them with value and then getting the highest dollar amount for your website in the event of a sale.  Don’t take shortcuts when setting up your website for sale and you can win a jackpot.

Importance Of SEO In Your Website Strategy

In today’s highly digitalized world, search engines function like work horses for billions of users looking to find information quickly and efficiently. With the extensive use of the Web today, search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, are the first tools that potential customers depend upon to find the products and services they need. Most businesses decide to invest in building a website so that their target audience can search and find them when looking for related products or services.

A well designed and resourceful website is only useful if people can find it online, otherwise there is little possibility of making any sales by way of natural organic traffic. For visitors to successfully reach your website, you have to direct them to it with specific and effective signs understood by search engines. Out of sight, out of mind has never been truer than in the case of search engine positioning. Where your site ranks on search engines defines your company and sets it apart from other competitors. Sites that rank at the top for a popular keyword or key phrase have better chances of attracting a higher click through rate from search engine queries. This is precisely why your search engine optimization (SEO) and website strategy must go hand-in-hand otherwise you would be flying solo.

What Is SEO?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a framework of website optimization guidelines with a number of stages, rules and controls that can be implemented to get you more traffic, which will inevitably lead to higher conversion rates.  Setting up a SEO friendly structure should be a part of your website’s foundation and the success or failure of your site in search engines depends greatly on how well you have defined your website goals.

How Can Search Engines Find Your Website

Today search engine spiders are as smart as they can get when it comes to gathering and processing all the data from your site or page to improve your search results. It is important to learn how pages are indexed and the process used by search engines to determine which websites are most relevant for targeted keywords. But search engines continue to look beyond keywords to better understand the people, places and things visitors care about so that it can throw up better matches. Search engines crawl your website looking for relevant content and links, besides checking on your website speed, number of visitors and usability to determine how you rank in search engine results. The search engines store all this information in a really big database.

Using this information, you can take measures as part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process to make your site search engine friendly and enhance its visibility and effectiveness.

Smart SEO Strategies

A web strategy that includes SEO techniques can help create and develop your online presence. Here are some of the most important SEO strategies to keep you at the top of the search engines.

  • Develop clear content marketing strategy for your website. Update your site regularly with blogs, whitepapers and other forms of content.
  • Research and prioritize high-value keywords in order to ideate new content.
  • Generate powerful backlinks to your site and pages
  • Make your website mobile-friendly with responsive design, dynamic serving or by setting it up on a mobile subdomain
  • Organize and structure your website for easy on-site navigation. Make your site and its content crawlable
  • Fix all the broken links and codes that cause errors in your site
  • Implement JS and CSS minification to speed up your site
  • Use Rich Snippet Optimization to improve your online listing
  • Strengthen your website’s security with SSL encryption, keeping your CMS and plugins updated.

4 Key Takeaways On The Importance Of SEO

If you are interested in growing your business, keep reading to learn about the most compelling reasons why SEO is essential for any website.

  1. Improve Site Visibility

This is a no-brainer. The better your SEO efforts, the more frequently your website name will show up first in searches for relevant keywords. The easier your site is for users to find, the more likely you are to sell your stuff!

  1. SEO Increases Traffic

SEO can boost targeted traffic on your website. You are likely to get more free clicks to your site from customers who are looking for your product or service. A steady stream of incoming visitors adds up to more conversions.

  1. Earn Credibility

SEO can help you gain a more credible name in your industry and establish you as a thought-leader in your field by making your online presence stand out through your site, blog, social media pages, podcasts, YouTube videos and more.

  1. Beat Your Competition

By properly managing your SEO strategy and constantly working towards maintaining your rankings, you are more likely to outshine your competition in online searches. If your website is positioned well, it can guarantee conversion too.

Good SEO practices will keep your business or website moving in the right direction and help attract the right kinds of customers. But it would be wise to remember that Search Engine Optimization is not a one time or part time effort. Rather white hat SEO needs to be done consistently to deliver sustained long-term results.  DirectiveGroup is a full-service digital marketing agency ready to help you improve your ranking and tackle the ever-changing world of online advertising.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at DirectiveGroup, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact them today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

cascading style sheets

Web Design with CSS3: The Next Generation

Cascading Style Sheets, commonly referred to as CSS, is a design language intended to simplify the process of designing web pages. Simply put, its a mechanism for adding style (e.g., fonts, colors, spacing) to Web documents. CSS3 is the latest version creating a buzz with web developers and designers and its important for business owners to understand the basics of Web Design with CSS3 and how it impacts their website.

The term cascading in Cascading Style Sheets refers to how browsers determine which styles to apply to a specific part of a web page. As web applications and technologies used to enhance websites advanced, users of the first two CSS generations found that the mark-up language couldn’t handle the complex requirements of more intricate websites.

To fix this problem CSS3 works in a module system, allowing separate components to be updated and edited gradually and individually, instead of all at once. Some of the most important CSS3 modules are:

  • Selectors
  • Box Model
  • Backgrounds and Borders
  • Text Effects
  • 2D/3D Transformations
  • Animations
  • Multiple Column Layout
  • User Interface

Web designers can build content-rich pages while using relatively lightweight coding requirements for things such as making 3D objects, rotating objects, maximize minimize with the help of hover, active links, and much more. Such an update can save a lot of time and energy, particularly for overworked designers and developers using Web Design with CSS3.

Using Web Design with CSS3, developers can now use impressive visual effects while building interfaces that are user-friendlier. As important, using CSS3 allows for cleaner, more professional looking sites that load faster, even with multiple effects and plugins. Not only is that important to keeping visitors on your website, but site speed is a ranking factor that major search engines take into account when indexing a page.

If you are considering building a new website make sure your web development team is using all the latest and greatest optimization techniques and technologies, including CSS3. By using modern standards like Web Design with CSS3 and HTML5, you can dramatically reduce the cost of building and maintaining a website when compared to legacy HTML-only pages. You can also greatly reduce the amount of physical bandwidth and hard disk space required, resulting in immediate long-term benefits for business.

Web Design with CSS3 is the way to go get started today pick your domain name and get online today with a real responsive design!

spam calls

Strike Back Against Spam Calls and Robocalls

Mobile phones are now the singular port of call for communication, entertainment and safety. But most of us are being hounded by spam calls at home, or work, in the car, while we are having dinner or even when we are trying to get some sleep.  Unfortunately with so many cellphone numbers being collected in databases and made available to companies, it has become so much easier for our numbers to be compromised. Unwanted phone calls or random text messages pitching a product or service at all hours on mobile phones and other mobile devices is now a common occurrence. Spam calls have become far more intrusive than ever before and it may seem like an unavoidable part of telecommunication changes.  But there are steps you can take to reduce the volume of spam you receive.

Reasons For The Spike In Robocalls

Lately a lot of American consumers have been receiving robocalls  or automatically dialed calls, with the automated voice on the other end trying to collect information or trying to sell goods or services. The unscrupulous businesses behind robocalls use autodialers to make thousands of calls a minute and don’t bother to check if the numbers are on the Do Not Call Registry. Most businesses are not allowed to hit you with prerecorded telemarketing messages, without prior expressed written consent for that call. Only political robocalls and informational robocalls from health care providers, banks and schools, are still allowed, though. Despite increasing efforts to stop them, in May 2017 alone, there were 2.6 billion robocalls in the U.S. In 2016, the FTC received nearly 3.5 million robocall complaints, which rose up 60% from the previous year.

Spamming numbers with prerecorded messages has become cheap and easy. The voice over internet protocol technology made international calls inexpensive and millions of calls can be made from anywhere in the world for literally less than a cent a call so phone scammers began relocating outside the U.S. to stay out of the reach of regulatory authorities.

Fraudulent companies are also using another popular trick known as “call spoofing”—thanks to inexpensive automatic dialing machines and spoofing tools that hide the source of the call from your phone company and input fake caller IDs to make it seem like they’re calling from within the country.

Signs Of Phone Scam

An unwanted sales call or even a robocall can often also be a scam.  You may be surprised to learn that thousands of people are cheated out of their money—from a few dollars to even their life savings—through telephone scams.  Learn to see through these scammers in disguise even though they may call you by your first name, engage you in small talk, or claim to work for a company or government organization you trust. You can even be approached through mail, texts, or ads to get you to call them for more details. Scammers frequently use fake prizes, products or services as bait. You must have heard one of these lines-

  • Congratulations ‘your name,’ you’ve been specially selected for this offer.
  • Call in to claim the valuable prize you have won.
  • You have won big money in a foreign lottery.
  • You trust me, right?
  • We need your credit card details just for the shipping and handling charges.

If you hear anything similar, just say “no, thank you,” hang up, and file a complaint with the FTC.

Some common phone scams you should be aware of are tech support scams, romance scams, and loan and refinancing scams. The two most notorious scams to look out for today is the IRS phone scam, where the caller claims to work for the IRS and demand immediate payment, and the “Rachel from card services” call, wherein an automated voice informs that you qualify for a new credit card in order to get financial information out of you. Be wary of any such calls claiming to come from card services, tech support or even your phone company that need you to handover your personal information or credit card details. Even if you think that the call is legitimate, it is better to hang up and call back using a number you trust.

What Should You Do To Report Spam Calls

If your number is on the National Do Not Call Registry and you still get calls, they’re probably from scammers ignoring the law. Don’t press buttons to request to speak to a live operator or to get your number taken off the call list. You’ll just end up getting more unwanted calls. Hang up and, as we discussed in our last blog article, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at or report it on 1-888-382-1222.

All IRS scam calls can be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). And report any consumer related phone scams to the Federal Trade Commision’s Complaint Assistant.

If you get a random text message from a number you don’t recognize that you suspect to be scams, don’t text back or click on links. Report it to your provider at 7726 (SPAM) and to the FTC at or 1-888-382-1222.

Finally, block the number of any confirmed scammer. Although telemarketers will use many numbers, you can reduce a number of unwanted calls by blocking the number that initially called you.  Consider contacting your phone provider to ask them if they have a service to block unwanted calls. Alternatively you can also buy a mobile app (Nomorobo, Hiya, Truecaller) to protect you from tele-predators.

Hopefully this article will help arm you with enough resources to stop spam calls or at least to significantly reduce how often you get them.

The Best Blogging Sites On The Internet

Internet-powered blogs first made its appearance in the late 1990s as a platform to share knowledge, ideas, thoughts, opinions or experiences. What used to be an online journal or diary, with a few followers is now the biggest innovation in the digital publishing industry. Blogging today is a social phenomenon successfully used by millions of individuals and businesses the world over. There are established companies, entrepreneurs, marketers and millionaires all in the blogging business, primarily to boost business growth and make money. Everyone knows that a company blog can improve your sites search engine optimization and herd swarms of traffic to your site through inbound links. But blogging really shines when it is used to promote your brand and also when garnering feedback and opinions through comments within the blog. Besides being a great customer service tool, blogging sites also create advertising revenue, promotes services and helps generate sales.

But first you must identify a blogging platform that is easy to use and has the required customization tools for your needs. Ultimately the goal is for your audience to be able to read and interact with your blog effortlessly.

Popular Blogging Sites

The choice of your blogging platform will ultimately depend on the focus of your blog and whether you want to make money from the blog itself. Here are four of the best blogging sites that you can turn to for creating winning blogs of your own.

Googles is one of the most trustworthy and reliable free blogging platforms in the blogosphere, with tons of features. Blogger supports drag-and-drop template editing, dynamic updating and geo-tagging too. This blogging site has an easy to use control interface and it takes you step-by-step through creating your site within minutes, which is why it is highly recommended for all beginners. You can create multi user blogs (supports up to 100 users), private blogs and blog posts with images and videos easily and can even monetize your blog with Google Adsense, Amazon and other monetization programs. Since Google runs this service, Blogger supported blogs are by default search engine friendly too and very secure. The only downside is limited support. And

WordPress is a massively popular open source blogging site for hosting and running your blog. Blogs that are part of the WordPress network publish an astounding 2.13 million posts per day. With it is possible to either setup up a WordPress blog on your own server (you will need to sign up with a WordPress hosting provider) or create a WordPress-hosted blog at for free. WordPress is widely supported by most hosting companies. Though it isnt as simple to set up and configure, there are a variety of customizations and options available on this blogging site. has added extra features such as forums, online store, and membership options that can help grow your blog. Besides being highly flexible, there are limitless tools, over 45,000 free plug-ins and thousands of themes to help create a standout website. It boasts of unique features, such as the ability to customize your permalinks. You can use WordPress to manage a single person personal blog, online portfolios to multiple user blogs managed by an administrator or even large eCommerce sites. Thanks to its army of developers, WordPress is constantly improving and being updated. The limitation with is that users are not allowed to add java Script or PHP code into their blog so they cannot use Google Adsense, Amazon or other programs to monetize their blogs. If you wish to place ads and sell affiliate products, then look beyond


Out of all the blogging sites, Tumblr is the most popular with younger audiences and visual bloggers, hosting over 339.5 million blogs currently. The platform is rather simple to use and focuses on creating a clutter free site based on photos, GIFs and videos, instead of text content. Tumblr supports its community of bloggers through a variety of options for sharing, reposting and reblogging content. You can gain more Tumblr followers and exposure, without spending as much time on original content creation. Bloggers prefer Tumblr because it has hundreds of ready to use themes and lots of ready to use third-party apps. You can even create your own theme and use your own custom domain. It is possible to schedule your blog posts or even post on your blog directly from your email box. You can also publish automatic updates on Twitter and Facebook about your latest blog posts. There is no limit to the number of people who can contribute to your blog on this micro blogging site. Find out more about why you should choose Tumblr over other blogging platforms. Tumblr is not a good choice for those who want complete control over copyright.


Squarespace has a built-in mobile website, easy to use style editor, free Typekit fonts and appealing templates. It is possible to change everything from colors, to font, to spacing and sidebar width, without knowing how to code. You can add custom CSS on this platform for everything except theme and plugins. It lets you expand your services easily, which is awesome if you are using your blog for your business. Among all the other blogging sites, it is the preferred choice for photographers, online retail store owners, and musicians because their templates can make a site look professional and exclusive.

Your Blog Is Your Home On The Net

Not all blogging platforms are built equal and all of them have their unique advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you post a lot of images then Tumblr should be your pick, whereas for a small business owner, WordPress may be the ideal choice, as you will get full control over your site and also be able to increase your website visibility in search engines. Now that you know more about the best blogging sites available online, you can choose any one according to your blogging needs and embark on your blogging journey.

do not call

Important Things You Must Know About The Do Not Call Registry

Almost a quarter of a million people in the U.S. are currently employed as telemarketers and with each one responsible for making hundreds of calls a day, it is not surprising that you keep getting calls hawking everything from alarm systems to cheap travel packages. The Federal Trade Commission set up the National Do Not Call Registry in 2004, to protect home voice or personal wireless phone numbers registered on it from telemarketers. If your number is registered on the Do Not Call list then callers are prohibited from making telephone solicitations to that number as long as it remains on the list, requiring companies and telemarketers to have your permission to call with any telemarketing pitch.

How To Register Your Number On The National Do Not Call List?

You can register your numbers on the national Do Not Call list by phone or on the Internet for free.

Sign Up For ‘Do Not Call’

To register online, visit the site to enter the landline or cell phone number you wish to add to the registry. It will run a quick email verification and you’re done with the process.

To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY). Just make sure that you call from the phone number you wish to register. Your number will be on the registry till you request it to be removed or you give up the number.

What Does ‘Do Not Call’ Cover?

According to the FTC, once you join The Do Not Call list, it will take up to 31 days to come into full effect and it will take your number off of for-profit business call lists. Political organizations, charities and survey takers are still permitted to call you. And even businesses that you have transacted with, in the last 18 months, have a right to call. But if you request them to take you off their list, they have to honor your request. Be careful when signing up for sweepstakes and free product offers, as you may be giving permission to receive telemarketing calls from affiliated companies. If you do get unsolicited calls, just state you want to be taken off their list.

File A Complaint

When you get an unsolicited marketing call on your cell phone, firmly ask the caller how they got your number and then tell them you don’t want to be contacted again. If you keep getting calls from them, file a complaint with the FTC at or 1-888-382-1222. You will need to hand over information about the date and time of the call, the caller’s number and so forth so that the FTC can track them down.

According to Federal Communications Commission, unsolicited telemarketing calls or robocalls to cell phones are illegal but there is no deadline to register your cell phone and most definitely no danger of your mobile number being made public. You can also visit the Consumer Complaint Center at to file a complaint online if you receive any telephone solicitations that you think violates any FCC rules.

Getting your phone number on the Do Not Call registry list does cut down the number of calls substantially as legitimate telemarketers within the U.S. refrain from calling you due to legal ramifications. Based on the Do Not Call Implementation Act, telemarketers (excluding surveyors, politicians, and charities) can be fined up to $40,000 if found to be flouting the list. Theoretically speaking, adding your number to the Do Not Call registry should stop all sales calls. However, that isn’t always true. For criminal telephone spammers the Do Not Call list is not a useful barrier as they still manage to evade U.S. law enforcement and get through the cracks.

Additional Measures To Block Unwanted Telemarketing Calls

Here are some additional measures you can take to block unwanted telesales-

There are many statewide Do Not Call lists for residents too that you can join. Contact your state’s consumer protection office to find out if there is any such list for your state, and register your number or numbers on it too. Check the government listings or blue pages of your local phone directory to find out the contact details of your local consumer protection office.

There are many services and apps that can block annoying robocalls, such as Quilici’s app, YouMail. You can also use Nomorobo, which helps screen incoming numbers against a database of known spam callers.

The Internet Engineering Task Force, meanwhile are working on developing open-source technical standards for the Internet that can better verify the source of voice-over-Internet calls using a cryptographic signature to indicate legitimacy. Till then, taking these precautions will help keep pesky callers at bay.

automated ssl

The Importance Of Automated SSL Encryption

When you put your credit card number into a website for an online transaction, surely you know to look for signs of a secure website such as the padlock icon in the web browser or the green address bar.  This is one way to protect yourself from others breaking in to your data. Google, Mozilla, and other major browsers are on a mission to make insecure HTTP a thing of the past. Google has made HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) and website loading speeds major ranking factors.  HTTPS uses a connection encrypted by transport-layer security to protect transmitted data from eavesdropping. Most browsers like Firefox and Chrome now prominently show ‘Not Secure’ warnings in the address bar and warnings also appear directly below form fields on pages using HTTP. These changes show that HTTPS is now a necessity for all sites, because of its privacy and security benefits.

Businesses depend upon SSL certificates to encrypt data and authenticate both internal and external systems and applications to ensure appropriate access. By having websites and endpoints on the Web configured with a SSL certificate, users are assured that the endpoint has been authenticated and any communication with these sites over the HTTPS protocol is encrypted. Complete encryption of data transfer with Secure Socket Layer certificates (SSL certificates) is quickly becoming the norm throughout the Internet.

The Need For Automated SSL Encryption

SSL certificates are used not just for browser-based security but also for secure server-to-server communication for applications and data exchange. The implementation of SSL certificates is rarely automated which means trying to recall special commands, going over steps to renew and deploy a certificate and then tackling complicated installation processes, which can be tricky even for experienced website administrators. The consequences of improperly configured or expired certificate can be disastrous for an organization amounting to financial losses, fines for non-compliance, and lower productivity.

All SSL digital certificates have a lifecycle anywhere between one and three years and upon expiration are not considered valid. SSL certificates need to be renewed at the end of their life to avoid outages, service disruption and security concerns. Sometimes certificates may also need to be replaced earlier (e.g., bugs, end-of-life of SHA-1 hashing, change in company policy). Keeping certificates up to date, especially when maintaining a multitude of servers can be really annoying. Moving to an automated SSL certificate lifecycle processes takes out the need to rely on manual processes; it takes the guesswork out to improve efficiency and reduce security risks for your business. cPanel addresses the pain point of SSL installation and renewal through the AutoSSL feature.

Fully Automated SSL Encryption With AutoSSL

cPanel, Inc., has recently added a feature called AutoSSL (automated SSL) to automatically provision, issue, configure and install validated SSL certificates to its web hosting partners’ websites. Automated SSL also enables SSL on admin-based logins, email and internally running services in cPanel. AutoSSL is now available to all cPanel web hosting accounts and those running WHM version 60 or later. It is possible to view the logs for AutoSSL right from the WHM interface. AutoSSL automatically includes corresponding www. domains for each domain and subdomain in the certificate. But AutoSSL only includes domains and subdomains that pass a Domain Control Validation (DCV) test as proof of ownership of the domain.

Take The Hard Work Out With Automated SSL Encryption

With AutoSSL enabled, there is no need to fill out lengthy forms and no more having to manually copy certificates into place.  Your websites are automatically secured and encrypted with free Domain Validated SSL certificate and your coverage never lapses. A cronjob handles the request, download and installation of new SSL certificates around expiration time for all of your hosted domains.

Secure Your Website With Automated SSL Encryption

Users will enjoy a more streamlined experience, with fully automatic issuance, renewal, validation and setup of SSL certificates for all websites, logins and endpoints on the server. An automated SSL encryption system eliminates common human errors in the process, which may be caused by the system admin or anyone installing the certificate. Automated SSL encryption improves the privacy, security and trust of websites for the end users because there will be no lapse in a valid certificate.

end of flash

The Beginning Of The End For Flash

Adobe made an announcement that it will stop updating and distributing the once -ubiquitous multimedia plugin- Flash Player– by the end of 2020. The two-decade long reign of Flash will finally come to an end three years from now. Until that time, Adobe will continue to partner with Apple, Mozilla, Microsoft and Google to offer security updates for Flash in their browsers, including security patches. But beyond that, Adobe will not offer any new Flash features. According to Govind Balakrishnan, the VP of Product Development, Adobe will also be more aggressive in ending support for Flash in places “where unlicensed and outdated versions of Flash Player are being distributed.”  This move is hardly surprising given that Flash and its outdated versions quickly became a prime target for hackers because of its wide distribution, and security vulnerabilities, which allowed easy access into their target’s machines. Flash today is considered a security risk and major source of browser crashes.

The Legacy Of Flash

Flash emerged in the late 1990s, and its popularity rose shortly after Microsoft’s Internet Explorer became the default browser in the world’s most widely used operating system. Flash creator Macromedia, was acquired by Adobe in 2006. At a time when all you could find on a webpage was low resolution GIFs or blinking text, Flash allowed designers and developers to make web-based video, animated, and interactive content that would work on any computer or browser. Quirky Flash-based cartoons (Homestar Runner) and video games (QWOP) were a far cry from the traditional media seen so far. In fact the gaming site Kongregate still has more than 100,000 Flash games  Flash has been a website workhorse, making it easy to play online games, stream radio station music and watch YouTube videos. It also allowed people to build features like photo galleries, use webcams for video chat and a whole array of multimedia features. The legacy of Flash is its profound and positive impact on advancing creative content on the web in the internet era.

The Long Road To The End For Flash

The Flash Player loads Flash content in a web browser and ensures that the content looks and behaves the same way for anyone who loads it, regardless of the type of browser or computer being used. But advancing technologies are now capable of running natively in web browsers which has made that same plugin requirement a liability.

The earliest signal of the big fall for Flash came in 2004, when three browser makers — Mozilla, Apple and Opera Software, launched a group to advance core technologies for HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) to build websites. Instead of proprietary softwares they wanted industry standards. But the World Wide Web Consortium, wasn’t interested in their proposal and thus Flash continued its successful run.

But the first nail in the coffin was struck in 2007, when Apple decided not to support it in the newly introduced iPhone. Keeping mobile web in mind and the emergence of the fifth version of HTML that promised to replace some of the functionality Flash provided, developers began moving away from Flash and toward HTML5 and JavaScript. Steve Jobs published his thoughts on Flash in 2010 to further cement HTML5 as the new standard. Rather than use Flash, Apple adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript—all open standards that web browsers could build on. But Flash still remained integral to the web and was used to create native apps for iOS.  But now even video streaming sites such as YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo have made HTML5 the default video player.

Countdown to 2020- What To Expect?

Chrome: began asking permission to run Flash on some websites since 2015, and it’ll do so more often now.  Since end of 2016, Flash is allowed by default only on 10 websites including its own YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.  It will disable Flash by default by 2019.

Firefox: will ask you the sites you want to enable Flash on and it’ll disable Flash altogether by default in 2019. There will be lingering support in Firefox’s Extended Support Release through the end of 2020.

Edge: This Microsoft’s browser uses a click-to-play option for when you want to run Flash on a website, which will continue through mid-2018. After that Edge will be more aggressive about requiring you to authorize Flash. And in 2019, Microsoft will disable Flash by default, and by the end of 2020, Flash will be disabled completely.

Safari:  Apple’s Safari has blocked Flash from running since 2016 but you can re-enable it on websites that offer to download Flash.

Facebook: Facebook hosts a lot of Flash based games, including FarmVille and Words with Friends, which will run on Facebook until the end of 2020. But in a blog post it has urged developers to follow the timelines set by browsers.

Adobe meanwhile has renamed the software for making Flash, Flash Professional CC to Animate CC, which will be its “premier web animation tool for developing HTML5 content. Adobe is also pushing developers to migrate their content to open formats like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly. HTML5 has slowly and surely replaced Flash Player as a viable alternative for delivering content on the web.  Most browser vendors have integrated functionalities once provided by plugins directly into browsers and since HTML5 is built into most of the big name browsers already, there is no need to install anything to use it.

There is no need to spill tears over the demise of the pioneering software. Rather it is more appropriate to rejoice that Adobe is finally ready to help usher in the next era of digital content creation.

secure server

7 Measures To Achieve A Secure Server

The news has been abuzz with reports of latest hacks and data breaches that have caused major mayhem to businesses and users alike.  Web servers that serve as website hosts for your business are vulnerable to a number of security threats and need to be protected from intrusions, hacking attempts, viruses and other malicious attacks (such as phishing and hacking).  Having a secure server is absolutely crucial for any business that operates online and engages in network transactions. Web servers are an easy target for hackers because of the sensitive data they usually host. Therefore, taking proper measures to ensure you have a secure server is as vital as securing the website, web application and also the network around it.

Your selection of the server, OS and web server is one of the first decisions that will impact what best practices you have to put in place for a secure server and the kind of services that run on it. Irrespective of what web server software and operating system (Microsoft Windows, Linux) you are running, there are certain measures you must take to increase your server security. It is necessary to review and configure every aspect of your server in order to secure it. Maintaining a multi-faceted approach offers in-depth security because each security measure that is implemented adds an additional layer of defense. Here is a list of tasks that individually and collectively will help strengthen your web server security and prevent cyberattacks against your applications and infrastructure.

  1. Automated Security Updates

Most vulnerabilities have a zero-day status. It takes very little time before a public vulnerability is utilized to create a malicious automated exploit. So it helps to keep your eye on the ball when it comes to getting your security updates. You may want to consider applying automatic security updates and security patches as soon as they are available through the system’s package manager.

  1. Review Server Status and Server Security

Being able to quickly review the status of your server and check whether there are any problems with its CPU, RAM, disk usage, running processes and other metrics will often help detect server security issues with the server faster. It is also possible to review the server status server with ubiquitous command line tools. All your network services logs, site access logs, database logs (Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle) present in a web server, should ideally be stored in a segregated area and checked frequently. Keep an eye out for strange log entries. When your server is compromised, having a reliable alerting and server monitoring system in place will prevent the problem from snowballing.

  1. Perimeter Security With Firewalls

Having a secure server means having security applications like border routers and firewalls set up to help filter known threats, automated attacks, malicious traffic, DDoS filters, bogon IPs, and untrusted networks. A local firewall can actively monitor for attacks such as port scans and SSH password guessing to block any security threat from attacking the firewall. And a web application firewall helps to filter incoming web page requests in order to block requests that have been deliberately created to break or compromise a website.

  1. Use Scanners and Security Tools

There are many security tools (URL scan, mod security) provided with web server software to help administrators secure their web server installations. Though configuring these tools can be hard work and time consuming, particularly with custom web applications, they add extra layer of security and give you peace of mind.

Scanners can help automate the process of running advanced security checks against the open ports and network services to ensure you have a secure server and web applications. It usually checks for SQL Injection, Cross site scripting, web server configuration problems and other security vulnerabilities. There are even scanners that can automatically audit shopping carts, forms, dynamic web content and other web applications and provide detailed reports to detect existing vulnerabilities.

  1. Remove Unnecessary Services

Typical default operating system installations and network configurations (Remote Registry Services, Print Server Service, RAS) are not secure. Ports are left vulnerable to abuse with more services running on an operating system. So it is advisable to switch off all unnecessary services and disable them. This also helps boost your server performances, by freeing hardware resources.

  1. Manage Web Application Content

All web application or website files and scripts should be kept on a separate drive, away from the operating system, logs and any other system files. This way even if hackers gain access to the web root directory, they will not be able to use any operating system command to take control of the web server.

  1. Permissions and privileges

File and network services permissions are crucial to having a secure server as it helps limit any potential damage from a compromised account. Malicious users can compromise the web server engine and use the account in order to carry out tasks, such as execute specific files. File system permissions should preferably be granular. Review your file system permissions on a regular basis to prevent users and services from engaging in unintended actions. Consider removing the “root” account to enable login using SSH and disabling any default account shells not normally accessed. Make sure to use the least privilege principle for a specific network service to run and also restrict what each user or service can do.

Sum Up

Securing web servers can help keep corporate data and resources safe from intrusion, or misuse. And as we have established it is as much about people and processes as it is about security products. By taking these hardening measures mentioned in this post, you can begin to create a secure server infrastructure to support web applications and other web services.