Hostgator Experiences Email Blacklisting Issues

Email Blacklisting Issues ?

Cheap hosting giant Hostgator reported a couple of weeks ago that a high number of IP addresses used for email gateways were blacklisted across multiple networks for just about every web host worldwide.

When IPs are blacklisted in this manner, it leads to any email being sent from the IP undeliverable to the email black listing networks.

If you look at that August 23rd blog post on the cheap hosting provider's website, you'll see that numerous customers were up in arms over their Email Blacklisting was the issue , but was it entirely Hostgator's fault? Is there anything these clients could have done to protect themselves?

Hostgator Experiences Email Blacklisting Issues

The company says they were the first to successfully alleviate the situation, and they continued to offer other companies experiencing the same issue a helping hand.

Hostgator recently stated in a press release that the company is working to “…get our IPs removed from the blacklists…” further, the company is attempting to completely restore email network issues.

So what caused the problems in the first place? Many things, it seems, all stretching back to this past May, when exploits affecting Joomla vulnerabilities were discovered.

The vulnerabilities related to a component called JCE. But a workaround existed that allowed the installation and activation of malware, which in turn allowed mailing scripts to be uploaded and executed.

Once the mailing scripts were activated, a large-scale spamming campaign was initiated. This resulted in the worldwide email blacklisting of email gateway IPs. The network reporting the highest number of problems was AOL.

Who Is To Blame for Email Blacklisting ?

So is it totally Hostgator's fault? Not necessarily. The company continuously stresses the importance of user updates. Not updating scripts leave the door wide open for those seeking a bit of mischief. Basically, if users had simply updated the scripts when these updates were released, maybe it wouldn't have been as big an issue. They pointed out the ease with which customers can update scripts: one-click updates are available as soon as the version is released.

Looking To The Future

The cheap hosting company stated they have added more advanced monitoring capabilities, boasting they will be alerted of trouble like this in the future. Hostgator is asking all users to check back-ends in order to update any scripts. If users comply, the problem should be averted now and in the future. However, Hostgator customers aren’t all convinced that the problem lies with script updates.

Interestingly, Hostgator is the only company that was part of the problem to offer information about the issue. This, in turn, leads many to believe that it is, in fact, a Hostgator-specific issue.

Are you a Hostgator client? Are you having difficulty sending emails to clients?

The True Cost Of Quality Web Hosting

Quality Web Hosting

Quality Web Hosting dollar signWonder what a quality web hosting will actually cost you? You might be surprised to learn that it can be quite inexpensive. But no matter what you pay, if you're a business, you need a cheap hosting website.

No one turns to the Yellow Pages anymore to find a product or service in their area. Instead, they turn to the Internet. A Google search for Chinese food restaurants in your area turns up a neat little map complete with pushpins. Hover over those pushpins and you'll see the address and telephone number, allowing you to call ahead and make reservations or place an order for pickup. If your Chinese food restaurant doesn't have a web presence, you're truly missing out.

Quality Web Hosting: The Problem With Free And Dirt Cheap

Sure, you could go with a free web hosting provider, but it's probably not the best idea you've ever had. These types of web hosting providers do come with a price in the form of ads for their service placed on your website. You have no say in where they're placed or how they appear, and nine times out of ten, visitors to your site will be turned off by them.

It is possible to find a quality web hosting! Sure, there are some that offer little value for you, the webmaster, especially if you haven't the slightest clue about HTML. Though that $3 per month price tag sounds appealing, it comes with the added cost of your time and your sanity.

Quality Web Hosting and Cheap Web Hosting In One

If you spend just a little bit more, even $10 per month, you can find a great cheap hosting company. It's worth the extra money, and here's why:

  1. More bandwidth and disk space. You don't need to worry about your site being extremely slow from an increase in traffic, and you don't need to limit what you post to your site.
  2. Useful control panels and templates to help you design your site, even if you don't have the slightest clue how to write HTML. Often times, these cheap hosting providers offer a free shopping cart and checkout, blog, and more.
  3. Customer service that is available at any time, on any day, when you need them, not just Monday through Friday 9-5.
  4. Available and responsive tech support. Again, available at all hours at any time you need them. You'll need to do some research into response time, but it's worth it when you know that problems are dealt with as soon as possible rather than a day or two down the road.
  5. Uptime guarantees. Now, don't get carried away. You can't guarantee someone 100% uptime. Just not possible. 99.9% is good! Just research their practices in the event of something like power outage or hurricane. Are there generators? How long does downtime historically last for that company?
  6. Security is key. Is data encrypted? Are the servers located in locked, highly secure areas? Are they monitored 24-7? What about firewalls and anti-malware and anti-virus software?

A free hosting company just won't offer all of this and quality web hosting, and neither will a low-quality cheap hosting provider. At the end of the day, your website will bring added profits to your business. Isn't it worth it to spend a bit extra to ensure it's successful as quality web hosting?

Cyberbullying: Who Should Be Held Accountable?

Cyberbullying

cyberbullyingWhether you run a simple Internet forum for like-minded individuals or a social media site like Myspace, bullying is an issue. Online, a bully can feel invincible, protected by the vast enormity of the worldwide Web. Confronting someone on the Internet is so much easier than doing it in person.

Social networking site Ask.fm has recently announced they'll be fighting online bullying after a group of separate suicides in the UK led child safety groups to rally against the site, which was linked to their deaths. But should the cheap hosting site owner be held responsible? Should they be expected to be ‘cyberpolice' of sorts, weeding out the instances of bullying and acting accordingly?

Cyberbullying: The Facts

In a recent study by The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), who believes that social media sites should most definitely be held responsible for keeping bullying off their cheap hosting sites, 81% of respondents feel cyberbullying is a detrimental to the overall mental health of children and teens. 12% of them feel cyberbullying is more harmful than traditional bullying.

The NAPD believe that parents should most definitely have an active role in policing the activity of their teens online (66% of those surveyed said the same), but they also believe that social media sites should be employing people charged with the specific task of seeking out cyberbullies and deleting offensive posts.

Cyberbullying: What About The Government?

Following the deaths of the UK teens, Labour MP Barry Sheerman said, “The government is simply not showing enough leadership in this area, the fact is the response has been inadequate. Childhood is being squeezed all the time, particularly by this horrific manipulative bullying children are now exposed to online.

“We need the government and leadership across the political parties to come together and tackle this. There is no simple solution, we need to find a balance between legislation and conversation with the people who run these sites, but if the law needs changing, then let's do it.”

There's no question PM David Cameron is on board with this, with his efforts to filter out questionable content nationwide. Regarding this issue, Cameron wants a full boycott of Ask.fm if it neglects to “step up to the plate, clean up their act and show some responsibility.”

Cyberbullying: The Blame Game

Whether or not the government should be in charge of wiping out cyberbullying is up for debate. In regards to the Ask.fm example, the social media site already has policies in place. The site “actively encourages our users and their parents to report any incidences of bullying, either by using the in-site reporting button, or via our contact page.” Additionally, Ask.fm has extended its condolences to the family affected and has pledged full cooperation with authorities.

UK parenting site Netmums feels that parents and teachers can only do so much to monitor the activity of their children. They call on experts, activist groups, and ultimately the websites themselves to take action. In the end, though, they feel this isn't going to do enough. “Ultimately there needs to be action taken by the government,” said the site in a statement.

Cyberbullying: The Big Question

Will even government intervention stop cyberbullies? While most can agree that social media sites do bear responsibility in acting against cyberbullies, many more are against the government dictating what is or is not an instance of bullying. And then, how much further would they go in the censorship of the Internet? Would this new task of seeking out cyberbullies be used in other ways, such as Internet surveillance?

How do you feel about this issue? Should the cheap hosting company be held responsible for the content contained on the sites they host? Should the website owner be doing more to prevent this activity? Or, should the government get involved?

How to Use Pinterest to Grow Your Web Hosting Business

Use Pinterest to Grow Web Hosting Business

pinterestYou're looking to grow your dedicated hosting business, but can't think of the best way to do this. You've run advertisements on the Internet and in the local paper, added a blog to your website to attract more customers, and even started up social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. But did you know there's another form of social media that has exploded in terms of transforming businesses?

That's right, it's Pinterest! This highly popular site allows small businesses yet another avenue to engage with their customers and introduce your products and services to more people than ever before. Let's look at the benefits of adding Pinterest to your social media arsenal in order to make your dedicated hosting or cheap hosting company more profitable.

Pinterest: Followers

Utilize the search function in order to gather new followers. These searches should be targeted to bring in those interested in the web hosting industry. Those with a genuine interest will actually read your pins instead of just scrolling past them, increasing the chances of interaction.

Pinterest: Interactions

Besides increasing the eyes that see your products and services, Pinterest can help you better understand your industry. Additionally, you'll see the direction the industry is heading, and might even come up with a new idea or two. Targeted repins and likes of other users' content is another way to increase your customer base. Targeted is the key phrase here: you don't want to waste your time repinning and liking posts from others that wouldn't even have the slightest interest in your business.

A great way to interact with others: collaborative boards. The more active in the Pinterest community you are, the more you will likely be offered the chance to join these boards. If you aren't able to secure an invite, or are repeatedly asked to join boards that have nothing to do with your hosting company, it's quite alright to find boards that interest you and asking the moderators if you can be granted pinning rights as a contributor.

Determine Your Goals

Because Pinterest can do so many different things for different types of businesses, it's important to determine what exactly you are looking for to make the most of your Pinterest experience. Your goals should be similar to your overall business goals, and the clearer you make them, the easier it is to evaluate your progress and reassess if necessary.

Some goals that Pinterest can help your business with:

  • Bringing more site traffic
  • Introducing your brand to new eyes
  • Making more sales
  • Growing your staff

Pinterest Integration And Cross-Promotion

To increase the numbers of followers on your boards, you can put to work your company email newsletter. Go ahead and include a link to your Pinterest account, and feature an article that talks about Pinterest to generate customer interest. Don't forget the power of a good, old-fashioned contest involving your Pinterest boards! For example, have your customers go through your boards and post on your Facebook page their very favorite pin. Those who do this can be entered to win a few months of free web hosting, or something similar. Always be sure to include links to your Pinterest boards on your website and other social media sites as well.

Do you use Pinterest? How has it helped your business?

Cheap Hosting Company Freedom Hosting

Freedom Hosting

freedom HostingIn case you missed our earlier story regarding the shutdown of hidden sites hosted by the anonymous and cheap hosting company Freedom Hosting, here's the background: malicious Javascript code was found to be embedded in many of the sites hosted by Freedom Hosting, relying on the Tor network that keeps users' identities completely anonymous. The malware exploited vulnerabilities that existed in the Firefox 17 web browser, which is part of the Tor Browser Bundle used to access the Tor network.

The Tor Anonymity project announced the attack, saying, “Windows users using the Tor Browser Bundle (which includes Firefox plus privacy patches) appear to have been targeted.” Their recommendation: update the Tor Browser Bundle as soon as possible to the latest version, released August 9.

Freedom Hosting: Who's Responsible?

The whole situation just happens to coincide with the arrest by the FBI of Eric Eoin Marques, founder of Freedom Hosting. He was arrested due to allegations his company hosted sites containing child pornography, and every website the cheap hosting company hosted went dark, as did Tor Mail, anonymous email service.

The nature of Tor Browser Bundle is to keep the identity of users a secret, and more users are turning to it than ever. It's easy to see why, in a world where the NSA and its allies have been conducting Internet surveillance. Tor Browser Bundle accesses hidden services typical search engines can't, and Tor Mail allowed users to expose secrets like human rights violations and government oppression without fear of getting caught. At one time, Tor Mail was known as the most anonymous email service on the Internet. But who could break through the anonymity to discover an identity?

Freedom Hosting: The End Of Tor?

Many wonders if this is the end of the anonymous safety net Tor provides. Although there are nefarious uses such as child pornography, it is used more by journalists covering government corruption, human rights activists, protesters, whistle-blowers, and anyone trying to stay under the radar.

If a method has been discovered to locate people who are trying to remain anonymous, will anyone trust the network with their information again? Some say the only ones that should be concerned are those participating in illegal activities. However, who's to say a journalist exposing some form of political wrongdoing in another country won't be punished? One must assume that there is a reason that person wishes to remain anonymous.

One thing is certain: if the security at Freedom Hosting was breached, then no site hosted on Tor is safe. The Javascript, as reported by Wired, “exploited memory management vulnerability, forcing Firefox to send a unique identifier to a third-party server using a public IP address that can be linked back to the person's ISP.”

Freedom Hosting: The Attack

According to Vlad Tsrklevich, a reverse-engineer who broke down the code said the attack “contained several hallmarks of professional malware development, including ‘heap spraying' techniques to bypass Windows security protections and the loading of executable code that prompted compromised machines to send the identifying information to a server located in Virginia.” Doesn't that location just scream ‘government involvement?'

This code is the first discovered FBI Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier (CIPAV), and files released from the FBI itself describe CIPAV “as software the FBI can deliver through a browser exploit to gather information from the target's machine and send it to an FBI server in Virginia.”

So should you be worried? Definitely. It seems that despite refusals by hosting companies and website owners to hand over user information, the FBI and NSA will find another way to get the information they need.

Weigh in on this issue in the comments, we'd love to hear what you think!