HostGator New CodeGuard Cloud Backup Feature: Worth A Look!

new hostgator codeguardYesterday, HostGator sent out a newsletter announcing the implementation of a service called ‘Code Guard.' Essentially, Code Guard is HostGator new cloud backup service, and it's a really great idea.

Here's a closer look at ‘Code Guard.'

HostGator: Inside Code Guard

HostGator's graphic and great video describes ‘Code Guard' as a “time machine for your site.” This program takes “snapshots” of your code at various times. These images are then saved in HostGator's cloud, so that you can go back and look at any changes made to your site. In the instance that something happens to your site, you can access the snapshots stored in ‘Code Guard,' and use those images to piece your site back together.

Further, ‘Code Guard' will send you a notification whenever a change has been made. The program will also ask if those changes were intentional or not. If you didn't authorize a change (for whatever reason), ‘Code Guard' will let you undo those changes. Brilliant, right?

HostGator: Pricing and Other Details

HostGator offers a few different Code Guard pricing options starting at $19.95 per year for basic backup. You can also get ‘Professional ($49.95),' ‘Premium ($99.95),' or ‘Enterprise ($239.95)' package options. Each option comes with additional features (take a look at the HostGator site to see additional features and plans.

The basic idea here is to provide HostGator clients with great backup options just in case something happens to a site. If you've been reading this blog, you know that all kinds of things can happen to your site – and damage control becomes even more important when you're running a hosting site that many people depend on.

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A Prime Example

If there's one company that you'll want to model your own hosting site after, it's HostGator. I don't work for HostGator in any way, but I do host my own site with this company. Why? Because of things like ‘Code Guard.' HostGator just gets it. This company gets social media, they get hosting, the get IT, and they get what it is that customers want.

Is backing up your HostGator site with ‘Code Guard' a good idea? Absolutely. If you currently have a HostGator site, check out the various packages that this company is offering in the way of cloud backup. When, and if, something goes wrong with your site, having an ‘undo' button (and that's how simple HostGator makes the process!) will be a godsend.

Price Breakdown

In case you're wondering, the basic ‘Code Guard' package breaks down to around $1.67 per month. Spending just under $2 per month for total peace of website mind is worth the price, trust me. Otherwise, you won't have any way to go back to a clean version of your site if something happens.

Got questions about HostGator's new ‘Code Guard' option? Just ask!

Dalai Lama’s Chinese Website Hacked, Visitors At Risk

Dalai Lama's Chinese Website Hacked

dalai lamaHacking of your cheap hosting website is a real threat, no matter who you are. That's right, even the Dalai Lama has fallen victim. An expert is betting the viruses that are infecting all visitors were put there to keep watch on those human rights activists that frequent the website.

It seems Kurt Baumgartner, Kaspersky Lab researcher, spoke to Reuters, and has issued a warning for Internet users: keep your distance from the Chinese-language version of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) until they can rid the site of its viruses.

Dalai Lama's Chinese Website Hacked: The Attack

From technical data gathered and analyzed, Baumgartner thinks the hackers were responsible for prior security breaches on CTA's website, as well as attacks on other cheap hosting websites that deal with human rights in Asia.

The prior attacks involved a technique referred to as “water holing,” a two-stage breach that involves hackers infecting the site frequently visited by certain people whose computers they want access to. The site infects the computers of all site visitors by downloading malicious software to their machines, which the hackers then use to control their computers. In this case, the hackers appear to be targeting activists.

Dalai Lama's Chinese Website Hacked: The Victim

The Dalai Lama is considered by the Beijing government to be a violent separatist after fleeing China in 1959 to escape Chinese rule during an uprising. He is portrayed as evil in Chinese media, while the Dalai Lama says he seeks only more freedom for his people. The US-based Office of Tibet in NY has not offered comment on the subject.

The infected site is the official site of the Dali Lama's government, and has been repeatedly attacked since 2011 by the same hackers. If you haven't heard about these attacks, that's because they've been dealt with silently before becoming a big deal in the media.

Dalai Lama's Chinese Website Hacked: Who Are The Hackers?

So who has it out for the Dalai Lama and his supporters? It isn't known, but according to Baumgartner, “They have been trying repeatedly to find vulnerabilities in the site.” Although the Chinese-language version is infected, he said it is completely safe to click to the English and Tibetan sites.

Baumgartner has a feeling this group of hackers has infected the site time and time again, spreading the virus to both Microsoft and Apple operating systems. They do it by exploiting security bugs that exist in Java software, providing them with the perfect backdoor to gain control of a user's machine. “This is the initial foothold. From there they can download arbitrary files and execute them on the system,” he said.

Researcher with EMC Corp Will Gragido, an expert on water holing, said that this attack appears to be what is called an APT, or advanced persistent threat. APTs are typically launched in a tainted email, but are also performed through water holes. Why the term “water hole?” It is because lions head to water holes to find their next meal more easily rather than hunt them down.

Dalai Lama's Chinese Website Hacked: Other Attacks

Last year, AlienVault Labs discovered cyber attacks on not only the CTA, but also the International Campaign for Tibet. They were discovered to be crafted by a Chinese APT group who happened to be responsible for numerous other attacks referred to as the “Nitro” attacks and caught by Symantec Corp back in 2011.

Various human rights groups specifically involving China were affected by denial of service attacks, controlling their emails and websites during a period from 2010 and 2011, all attributed to China.

Did China have anything to do with this recent attack? It's too early to say, but history would indicate they did. What do you think?

Tor User? Here’s What you Need to Know

Tor Insight

tor cloud & email hostingWe brought you the story of the hidden websites hosting abusive child pornography disappearing from Tor earlier this week, and the problems with Tor's email hosting. It's odd, as Tor was designed to allow users to fly under the radar, keeping their identities a secret and allowing them to post questionable content without fear.

But when I say ‘questionable content,' I am only referring to the main purpose: keeping the identity of journalists exposing government plots under wraps, and a place for a revolution against a tyrannical government to begin. This is its best use, but we all know that there are those out there that have to ruin a good thing. Of course people are going to post questionable and often illegal content due to the nature of Tor, making them feel safe from capture.

Tor User: The Darknet

Tor is referred to as a sort of parallel internet, often called the darknet or the deep Web. With the Tor Browser Bundle, one can put to work the Firefox 17 modified browser to access this underground Internet, a place where Silk Road (website that allows users to conduct transactions for drugs to come in the mail) and child pornography are alive and well.

These sites are only accessed through the Tor Browser Bundle, content contained on “.onion” sites. And that is how Tor's security is best described: layered like an onion.

Tor User: What Happened?

In the middle of the night on Sunday, reports were coming in to the volunteers with the Tor project stating “a number of hidden service addresses have completely disappeared from the Tor Network,” according to a Tor blog post. The reason: Eric Eoin Marques, who the FBI called “the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet” and founder of Freedom Hosting, a hidden services hosting provider, was arrested, his cheap hosting company shut down.

When the FBI shut the sites hosted by Freedom Hosting, not only did they shut down the child porn sites, but they also caused half of the hidden sites out there to go dark. Now, while it's great they killed the porn pages, was it right to shut down the other sites that might have hosted legal content?

Tor User: Not So Secure After All

Naturally, those working on the Tor project are scrambling to figure out how their security was breached. So although they are happy the child porn sites were shut down, they are concerned about the possibility of a security flaw in the Tor Browser Bundle. Mozilla is also working on it, saying it was “notified of a potential security vulnerability in Firefox 17.”

The malware used presents itself in an interesting fashion, mainly because all it does is identify a user's IP address. This is the reason it is suspected to originate from a law enforcement source rather than a malicious one. However, it is just that: suspected. It should be noted that the most recent version of both Firefox (version 22) and the Tor Browser Bundle do not feature this vulnerability.

Tor User: Additional Concerns

Another thing to consider, as pointed out by security expert Alan Woodward, the volunteers hard at work for Tor are anonymous, and could possibly be law enforcement operating stings. However, this is tough — the routes between nodes are random and reduces the likelihood anyone could gather information in this way. That is, unless they are responsible for a large number of nodes.

So basically, there's no way to know exactly what happened, nor is there a way to know who was responsible for the shut down. What you should know, if you are a Tor user: watch your back. Know that your content could be compromised, no matter how anonymous it is purported to be.

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Hackers Sending Illegal Images to Harmless Sites

Hackers Sending Illegal Images to Harmless Sites

IWF Internet Watch Foundation hackersFilters or not, hackers will find a way. Nothing demonstrates that better than a recent story out of the UK, on the heels of the mandatory ISP filters for pornography their government is talking about imposing. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), supportive of the filters, recently pointed out the rise of the practice of hacking seemingly harmless websites to display what they called “the worst images of sexual abuse.”

The IWF works hard to remove illegal content found online. They brought to light 227 separate reports of these hacking incidents by hackers in the past six weeks alone. Oddly enough, it coincides with the pornography filter discussion and ultimately the moment PM David Cameron announced all ISPs must begin implementation of the pornography filters from the first moment service is activated to safeguard from hackers.

Hackers Sending Illegal Images: Government Control?

Some say the filters will lead to a higher level of government surveillance, probably because of the recent stories regarding the NSA's Prism surveillance program. To add fuel to the fire, at the end of July, some said the filters might even make anorexia websites, what was referred to as “extremist related content,” and even websites related to smoking censored out. It certainly does seem that this would be more of a censorship problem than a surveillance problem.

However, are these attacks a way of fighting back against the government? That just doesn't seem to be the case here, and that's due to the graphic and disturbing content of the images by hackers. The IWF calls the content the worst and most severe it's seen, as according to the Sentencing Guidelines Council. Why? Images included on the site portray numerous sexual assaults on children, some under the age of two.

Hackers Sending Illegal Images: The Hack

Accessing a legitimate cheap hosting website, a visitor attempts to view adult content. They click on an image or video, and are then redirected to a folder containing child pornography and sex abuse images, the hackers website. One of the website victims, a furniture website that is very popular in the UK, demonstrates that they belong to very legitimate businesses.

“We hadn't seen significant numbers of hacked websites by hackers for around two years, and then suddenly in June we started seeing this happening more and more,” according to Sarah Smith, IWF Technical Researcher. “It shows how someone not looking for child sexual abuse images, can stumble across it…Since identifying this trend we've been tracking it and feeding into police forces and our sister Hotlines abroad.”

Hackers Sending Illegal Images: IWF On The Job

Thanks to the extensive IWF worldwide network that includes tech giant Google, these links to illegal cheap hosting content by hackers are removed most of the time as soon as they are discovered. Google complies with these requests to remove links.

So what is the purpose of the hacker? Digital forensics expert and Visiting Professor at de Montfort University (Cyber Security Center) Peter Sommer to said, “One of the oldest methods for covert web publishing is to set up a website on a suitably boring anodyne topic, for example a tribute to a minor soap actor or ‘beermats of north east England' — but have the main covert material only accessible via an unindexed absolute URL…The disadvantage is that you will still be traceable via your contract with the ISP supplying you with webspace and your whois data. But if you can find someone else's poorly secured webserver, you can pull off the same trick.”

It can't be said at this time what the goal of the hacker is, but so many people have come forward, IWF is on the job to put a stop to it. The question remains: filter or not, can child pornography be stopped?

Mozilla Working Toward Tighter Web Security

Mozilla Working Toward Tighter Web Security

Firefox MozillaMozilla wants to make the Internet a place where users can feel a lot safer. Browser security has been a bit of an issue, and there have been accusations of NSA backdoors.

Mozilla wants to remind users that they are against this government practice, and figure the best way to do this is to introduce new services (two, to be precise) created to bring about a more secure web experience whether a cheap hosting environment or a cloud hosting environment.

Mozilla: One Service

Mozilla and BlackBerry, a company also very against government surveillance programs of any kind, teamed up to create a service involving what is called bug fuzzing. The Mozilla blog explains it in this way:

“Mozilla and BlackBerry's work on security research techniques are in the area of fault injection. Fault injection (also known as “fuzzing”) is a method of automated security testing that is used to identify potential security concerns that can be fixed before users are at risk. Fault injection is a testing technique where specially designed software is created to inject a variety of unexpected or malformed data into a specific application, program, or area of code. The goal is to uncover areas where the software does not properly handle the malformed data. Through fault injection, it is possible to identify potential security weaknesses that can be proactively addressed before there is ever a threat to users.”

In layman's terms: fuzzing involves testing a site to determine if the site will cause harm to a user. If the potential for harm is detected, the service corrects the problem in order to protect the browser. It remains to be seen what sort of fix is performed beyond an onscreen warning or the blocking of the harmful content. Honestly, what can you expect the program to do to actually take away the harm from the site?

Mozilla: BlackBerry Hopeful

No matter what the service does, the goal of bringing added security measures to users is always a good idea. And if it keeps users' computers from becoming infected after visiting a malicious cheap hosting website, even better. BlackBerry is happy to be a partner in the program. According to Adrian Stone, Director of BlackBerry Security Response and Threat Analysis:

“Security is an industry-wide challenge that cannot be solved in a vacuum, and that is why BlackBerry and Mozilla security researchers are working together to develop new and innovative tools for detecting browser threats before they can affect both mobile and desktop customers. Through this collaboration, BlackBerry and Mozilla are working together towards the common goal of advancing security protections for customers as well as improving the threat landscape overall.”

Mozilla : The Other New Service

To bring even more security to users' browsing experience, Mozilla also announced Minion, a security testing platform made just for security professionals and developers. It is different from other automated security testing services in that it provides results that don't need to be decoded by a security expert.

You know all about the long list of results that pop up when you scan for issues, leaving you scratching your head, wondering which items are safe to perform without screwing something up. As Mozilla puts it, “Minion favors accuracy and simplicity and is designed so every developer, regardless of security expertise, can use this platform to increase the security of their applications.”

Do you feel you should be treated to a more secure experience when browsing the Web? Do you rely on Mozilla products?

Latest News

  • (July 30, 2018) Mozilla Firefox's Nightly build updates that it would Block annoying auto-play videos playing in the background automatically as a source of unnecessary distraction. These videos pop out suddenly with their noise fanfare. The users can block pop-up videos for each website they visit or mute all by visiting the preferences option in Nightly's settings. Furthermore, it would protect the users against the sites that track user behavior online.