UK Mandatory Web Filter And What It Means For Web Hosting Companies

UK Mandatory Web Filter

uk flag UK Mandatory Web FilterWe've discussed the UK government's plan to make the Internet a safer place for children by making adult hosting content filters mandatory. In case you didn't catch those articles, here's a recap: PM David Cameron is requiring porn filters be activated in every household in the UK unless the user opts out of it when signing up for service.

The ISP will simply change the default of the filters to “on” for new subscribers unless the user opts out. Those who already subscribe will have the chance to opt out, and if they don't, the filters will be automatically applied by the ISP.

It isn't just adult hosting content that will be blocked. Other objectionable material filtered out: violent material; web forums; tools that exist to bypass web filters; and content regarding anorexia, eating disorders, suicide, terrorism, and extremism. The organization Open Rights Group is concerned, however, that some sites will be mistaken for “adult” and blocked due to the fact what is considered adult content varies from person to person.

UK Mandatory Web Filter: Should All Hosting Companies Be Concerned?

Probably not. The majority of hosting companies won't find that their sites are affected, as long as it doesn't feature adult content. University of Cambridge security researcher Richard Clayton says it all depends on how the individual ISPs implement the filters. “In general the block will be applied at the domain name level rather than the IP level,” he said.

Basically, if one finds both racy, nude pictures and innocent family shots on the same IP and server, the family shots will be safe as long as they exist on separate domains. Added to that, said Clayton, is the fact most pornographic sites are hosted on dedicated servers rather than existing in a shared hosting environment due to the excessive bandwidth and storage requirements.

UK Mandatory Web Filter: What About The Search Engines?

Google Image Search could find themselves in trouble for the content that is displayed, along with other sites that pull content from around the Web. Also in trouble: sites like Tumblr. Because filtering is done on the domain side, they may be filtered because of the few adult content subdomains they host.

However, filters already exist within both Google Image Search and Tumblr, where content is classified as adult or NSFW, like ‘safe search.' This filters the content based on age-appropriateness, but can be prone to over- or under-filtering. Although it's no guarantee sites will be given the green light, giving users the option to filter adult hosting content casts that site in a more favorable light when the decision needs to be made whether or not to filter that site entirely.

UK Mandatory Web Filter: Do Filters Even Matter?

There are some that say these filters don't matter at all, since it is so very easy to opt out of the program. Some say that the issue isn't properly addressed. “A lot of people have argued that this basically provides a false sense of security for parents in that they're going to believe that nothing can be seen by their precious little Johnny,” said Clayton. “And once you start taking technical measures in order to evade these blocks, they can see anything they want.”

Another issue: it won't filter out those sites that exist on the deep web. Tor is becoming more popular for both accessing questionable content and getting around surveillance.

In the end, the majority of web hosting companies won't need to worry. Although they aren't 100% responsible for the content they host, they can have some say in what they will and won't host.

What do you think about this issue?

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!

Personal Websites: Do You Need One?

Personal Websites:

In some industries, it doesn't make sense not to have a personal website. In others, websites that list personal attributes are somewhat unnecessary – or, they were, at least. Now, everyone seems to have a website no matter what industry that person works in.  personal websites

Most networking conversations go like this now:

“Do you have a business card?”
“No; but I have a Facebook/LinkedIn/Website!”

Clearly, websites are the way to go. But, what can you do with a personal site and do you really need one?

Things to Do With a Personal Websites

  1. Post your resume.
  2. Include information about your work experience.
  3. Add photographs that display your interests.
  4. Provide a way for people to find you/find out about you.
  5. Start a blog.
  6. Show examples of your work.

Reasons Not to Build a Personal Websites

  1. You work in an industry that isn't really “connected.”
  2. Business cards and lunch meetings rule your world.
  3. You don't want to create an online presence (rebel!).
  4. You don't wan to sign up for a cheap hosting site monthly deal package.
  5. You have no idea why anyone would want a website.
  6. You intend to fill your site with lots and lots of words that mean nothing.

Creating a Site

Ready to roll with that site? Remember that you need to update your site regularly in order to keep the content fresh (and keep people interested). If you just let your site fade away, you can't expect people to look at it. Also, it pays to keep site designs simple.

And, lastly, when you are writing content for your site, make sure to spend a lot of time on the ‘About' section of your website. It doesn't have to be long, but it should convey everything you want people to know about you.

Got site questions? Need content help? Ask away!

First Steps When Seeking Cheap Hosting With Domain

Seeking Cheap Hosting With Domain

question_icon Seeking Cheap Hosting With DomainIf you are searching for Cheap Hosting with Domain, where do you start? There are so many choices to make, especially when choosing your Hosting Provider. Even when a hosting provider attempts to make it simple, how do you know one of the more complex services isn't better for you and your business?

Oftentimes, the hardest Cheap Hosting with domain provider to understand is the one marketed to the masses, a low-end option that pops first into everyone's heads. Why is this? Usually, it's because they resemble so many other services with only a slight variation in price. How can you tell them apart?

Seeking Cheap Hosting With Domain: Gets Complex

When your business changes and you require a bit more complex of a solution, you want Cheap Hosting with Domain that's unique to your business' needs, not just the most popular option, the one-size-fits-all offering. If you require complex hosting needs, it's safe to say you have a clear picture of what your specific needs are.

Rest assured that even with the low-end service, you can find the differences, as long as you know what you are looking for. It is important to choose your cheap hosting with domain provider carefully in order to assure your website's success, whether a blog or an e-commerce site.

Personal/Mass-Market/Simple Shared Cheap Hosting With Domain

If you're just starting your website or run a personal blog, you're probably starting out here, from the beginning. A lot of the mass-marketed Companies Provide Cheap Hosting with domain to these sites, the biggest names in the hosting industry. They grow even bigger as these big-name hosting companies buy out the little, independently owned hosting companies.

If you move any lower than the big name, cheap hosting with domain offerings, you find the free hosting services: WordPress, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, etc. This is great if you're just hosting photo content to share with friends and family, but probably not the best idea for a growing business.

They are more useful as an add-on service to business' websites. For example, your business sells art supplies, so you link up your YouTube page to the homepage of your website, where your customers can watch tutorials on how to use the latest and greatest products sold on your site.

Small Business

Paid hosting is definitely the way to go if you are a small business. They are more customizable, able to store more data, perform better, and typically provide better access to support services. Isn't it better to know that you don't have to troubleshoot site issues by yourself?

You'll probably want to think about whether you want just a website host, or an all-inclusive package. Some hosting companies provide email and website setup as part of the package price, which is nice if you don't have the time to invest in getting it set up on your own. It's like having an IT department in your small 10 person small business, without having to hire the IT department!

Complex

Sometimes, you'll need services beyond even what the bundled package offers. If this is the case, you probably don't even need to read this article as you've sorted out exactly what your business needs in terms of a hosting solution.

With time and a little due diligence, you'll be able to locate the perfect cheap hosting with domain company for you and your small business.

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