Imagine waking up one morning, opening your laptop and realising you can’t access your online accounts anymore. Your email has been breached, your website, your most precious work and personal data, all gone! and your credit/debit cards have been used to empty your bank account...

Could it have been prevented?

If you were using Two Factor Authentication (2FA) the above scenario would be far less likely...

What is Two Factor Authentication?

Its purpose is to make an attackers’ life harder and reduce fraud risks. If you already follow basic strong password security measures, two-factor authentication will make it much more difficult for cyber criminals to breach your account.

I am noticing an alarming increase in the number of queries I am getting from people who have used WordPress to create their websites, and then things have gone horribly wrong, usually because they have been hacked and their site is now irrepairable.

Sometimes however it is because they have vanished from search engines since uploading their new free website, whereas they had been doing well in the search engines with their previous custom site.

I understand why people are tempted by a system such as WordPress that will allow anyone, with no design skills or coding experience whatsoever, to create a free website in just a few minutes with no effort required on their part.

Who doesn't like free? Who doesn't like something for nothing? Perfectly understandable...

But offering visitors to your business website a cheap website that looks exactly like thousands of other websites, just tells your visitors you do not care about their needs and will probably also be cutting corners wherever possible in all other aspects of your business, and therefore are best avoided.

So for anyone even considering setting up a WordPress website for their business let me explain why you should stop right there...

Since moving our hosting operations from Holland to the UK in mid-March we have embarked on a constant drive to upgrade and improve our systems and our services.

The last round of upgrades, which announced 10 major improvements for clients, was announced in our "New Cloud Hosting Platform" blog post on the 5th April.

We have today just finished another round of improvements for clients which involved a major revamp of our Client Area and our customer invoices.

The new Client Area is now far more user friendly, fully responsive and makes paying invoices easier than ever.

The changes to the Client Area include:

A few weeks ago we moved our hosting operations from Holland to a completely new web hosting platform based here in the UK.

The brand new UK based CMS Wales hosting platform is a Cloud* based system utlising multiple Data Centres located here in the UK. This technological leap forward has allowed CMS Wales to introduce some amazing improvements to the services that all CMS Wales clients can now expect as standard.

*Cloud hosting is based on the most innovative Cloud computing technologies that allow unlimited number of machines to act as one system. Other hosting solutions (shared or dedicated) - depend on one machine only, while cloud hosting security is guaranteed by many servers so allowing 100% Uptime for your website.

There are 10 major improvements including:

As you will all know by now, people all over the UK are experiencing either complete loss of broadband, or intermittent faults such as emails failing to send, web sites not being found, calls from friends or colleagues saying they are unable to email you (often suggesting this is your fault - don't be angry with them, this just means they are unaware the UK is under attack by the "Mirai Worm Botnet" and it is highly likely their router is infected).

Instead, share the following information with them and encourage them to check their own ISP's outages map at http://downdetector.co.uk  - I guarantee their ISP will be showing faults nationwide... (because they ALL are)

So, everyone needs to relax a bit - there is nothing you, or anyone else, can do about these issues at this time - although I will share some information later in this article that may help you mitigate the issues you are experiencing for a while at least...

Many businesses, both small and large, have a website designed and built, get it online and then just forget about it, assuming that was all that was required and it is now "someone else's problem"

With some larger companies, once the site is built and online they often assign it to their I.T. budget and think no more about it. Whereas they should really assign it to the Marketing budget (The IT Department should be looking after the computers and network on your premises, their job is to keep your office systems running. While the Marketing Department should be in charge of all things to do with marketing - and a website is definitely marketing!).

Those websites can never succeed, they can never bring a Return On Investment...

Unfortunately, just like owning a car, your website will continue to require you to allocate resources and money on an ongoing basis.

Here are 6 costing and resource factors to keep in mind if you wish your website to be a productive asset to your company:

There are basically two types of website available...

  1. 1. "Template" sites that can be bought very cheaply, but will look like many other sites that use the same template.
  2. 2. "Custom" websites, designed from scratch specifically for your business, to give your business a unique web presence.

The first is very cheap, and for many small businesses that is a very tempting way to put their business online.

The second costs more, but will be unique and make your business stand out from the crowd.

Which should you choose for your business?

At some point, any business owner is going to need to think about getting a website for their business - or about having their old website updated...

At this point a business owner might be tempted to go the "DIY" route after seeing so many adverts for Website Builders that can "build your website in minutes" and tell you "no experience necessary"...

Is this a good idea for you or your company?

Answer 1:
Possibly - if your budget is so tight you can only spare a few pounds to create a website that will represent your company and/or brand all over the globe - then yes, go for it. Just don't expect the site to be unique, as many other businesses will also be using the identical template that you chose when creating your DIY website at one of the online website builders, where you choose a template then add your own text etc.

Twitter is a great marketing tool, but to use it effectively you first need followers. Not just ANY old followers either, but followers who have expressed an interest in your industry sector...

Either by using keywords or phrases relevant to your industry in their Twitter Bio or their tweets, or are following companies in the same industry sector as yourself and so are more likely to be interested in your products and/or services..

Our Twitter Promotion Service searches Twitter to find you targeted twitter followers that are relevant to your business.

We run our Twitter Promotion service 7 days a week to grow your Twitter audience so you can increase the reach of your website, elevating your company's authority and generating more interest worldwide.

If you use a CMS (Content Management System) such as Joomla or Wordpress you have the option to manage your own website via an Admin interface without needing the technical expertise normally associated with HTML only websites, where you would need to learn how to code in HTML, JAVA and PHP.

Instead, with a CMS such as Joomla or Wordpress, you use a WYSIWYG editor from inside the Admin Area to make changes to your pages, much in the same way you might edit a Word document.

While this makes things much easier for you, or your staff, to keep your website content up to date, many site owners neglect the "other side of the coin", which is the monitoring and updating of the CMS itself, and its components, plugins and modules (i.e. the "system" required to run your website).

This leaves out of date websites facing security risks.

You have a great website, it looks good, has good copy and some visitors have even told you they like it...

But, you’re still not getting the volume of business you were hoping for...

This could be because you are not using, or are under-using, the most valuable marketing tool on your website; your blog!!!

Why is your blog so important?

It's all about Content Marketing...

Content Marketing is all about sharing content with your target audience. It helps build relationships with your visitors, who are also your potential customers, and used wisely it can increase sales without the need to resort to old-fashioned "hard selling".

When was the last time you added new content to your website? If the answer is "ages ago" then your website is "stale" and visitor statistics are most likely dropping.

All too often we see a business have a lovely new website designed and built, only to then see them leave it to stagnate, with no updates after the day it goes live.

Visitors will not return to your website if the content is never updated. In addition, Google now penalises websites that are no longer "active", making those sites a lot more difficult to find in the search results.

This is really bad for business!

There are many ways to keep your website from becoming stale, and keep it up to date and relevant, and gain better results in Google and Bing. Most importantly your website must be updated regularly.

Many people are simply far too lax about online security, with many having no security at all, or at best using free security software that is, in most cases, nothing but "eye candy". Some of the worst offenders are MAC users, living with the mistaken belief that "MACs don't get viruses" - read on and I will explain why that is SO not true...

Many years ago MACs were very expensive and very rare - usually only used in the DTP industry, and then rarely connected to the internet. Due to that rarity, virus and malware writers had no real MAC user-base to target. So they wrote their nasty viruses and trojans exclusively for PCs. This led to the belief (still held by many) that MACs do not need security software because MACs don't get viruses...

While this may have been true 10 years or more ago this is really not true now - because MACs now sell in VAST numbers, and, rather than just sitting in DTP offices, they are now all wi-fi ready, constantly connected to the internet and for many are now "the" trendy item to have.

This has resulted in ratio of PCs/MACs now being very similar - so the virus writers and hackers now target BOTH markets equally...

Basically there are two types of email; POP and IMAP, and the method you choose to access your email can make a big difference to the way you work, and to the ease with which you can manage your email.

What are POP and IMAP?

POP stands for "Post Office Protocol" - POP simply downloads email directly to your computer, and then deletes the email from the remote server (although you can set it to leave a copy of the server for "x" days). This then allows you to read your emails at any time, even when offline.

If you only ever use one computer/device to access your email, and you backup your computer hard drive regularly, you can manage just fine using POP.

If you do use multiple devices to access your email, POP has a major disadvantage - once your computer has already downloaded and emptied your email contents to its hard drive, you cannot then access those downloaded emails from your other devices.

With scammers and hackers operating at an all time high we all need to do everything we can to keep our computers and devices safe. Many scammers will send attachments via email which, once opened, will infect the host machine and allow the scammers to take control of your computer. Here is a list of attachments you should never open...

If you receive an email with any of the following e-mail attachments, you should never open it, regardless of where the email came from or who sent it to you. Malicious e-mail attachment are the most common method of infecting a computer. Always check the file extension of an e-mail attachment, because it can be disguised as a "Word", PDF or other legitimate document, so double checking is vital.

Here is a list of possible e-mail attachments and their extensions that you should be very wary of:

We've all seen them, and probably received many of them, and in many cases we have used them ourselves when on holiday - but are email auto-responders bad for business?

When you use an auto-responder an automated message is sent in response to any inbound email to your account informing the sender that you are on holiday or away from your office etc.

The Problem:

However, all too often this response is sent to the wrong person! Because if the message your auto-responder is replying to was a spam email, you can be confirming to the spammer that your address is valid. Or even worse, the spammer had forged their FROM address and your auto-response goes to an innocent party that had never contacted you in the first place. This person may then report your mail as spam - and this can get your email address blacklisted by their ISP - effectively cutting you off from all that ISP's customers...

Many companies run systems that require the use of passwords by their staff or members - examples being offices running a computer network, websites that allow members to sign up for extras like Newsletters or online shopping, or Hosting companies with customers that need access to cPanel, mailboxes or FTP etc.

While the company involved may the the precaution of initially setting a strong password for each new user - many of these systems will then allow the user to change their password to something easier to remember - and this is where the danger lies...

Once a user resets their password for something simple, like their pet's name, or place of birth, their new password is now the weak link in your security chain.

Users that do not take the time to manage their own strong passwords are also highly likely to use the same password across multiple networks and websites - making it even more likely that their password will, sooner rather than later, be compromised. And once that happens, even the least talented hackers will have a field day with every system that user has access to - including your business.

It has recently come to my attention that several of my clients have been approached by rogue "SEO Companies" offering to "fix" their sites for a fee (often an extremely hefty fee too).

Here is some information that will help you be prepared against such rogues...

I cannot stress enough just how important it is NOT to let anyone claiming to be from an "SEO" company insert "landing pages" into your website...

Introduction:

Basically "landing pages" are pages, which are written by the SEO company rather than by yourself (and Google WILL notice the difference) in order to try and fool a search engine into thinking that the page is more important in your site for certain key phrases, than any other part of your website.

Design

Mid Wales Trees

Today we published a new CMS website for Richard and Helen Offor of Mid Wales Trees in Nantglas, Powys, Wales.

Their old static html website, written in 2007, was not mobile friendly, so we tackled it and they now have a brand new CMS (Content Management System) website.

Our brief for this conversion from the old static, html only website, to a modern responsive CMS website, was to make the new site "mobile and tablet friendly".

Richard also travelled to West Wales yesterday in order to spend several hours with me here at the CMS Wales office learning about the Administration System of the new website so he would be able to tackle future edits, updates and additions to the site himself.

You can see the new website here: http://midwales-trees.co.uk

You have probably seen lots of adverts on TV lately, telling you that creating your own website is quick, easy and cheap. The adverts tell you that you can create a "professional" website in easy steps - choose a template, add your content and publish your site...

So why, if it is so "easy", is this new trend for DIY websites not putting professional web designers, with their years of experience, out of business?

Any professional web designer worth their salt has years of experience in creating easy to navigate websites with attractive layouts and colour schemes. He or she will also spend a lot of their free time time keeping up with new technologies and learning new skills because the internet is constantly developing. They will have intimate knowledge of the web servers they work on, and the software those servers use.

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