How to design an environmentally friendly website

May 28th, 2015 | Edited by | software


Your website could be doing a lot more harm to the planet than you think. It might seem like a flash on a screen couldn’t cause much damage, but every small feature of your site has a discernible impact on the environment, with more complex features requiring greater resources to maintain. Over time and in great quantities, it adds up. Many factors – from the color palette you choose to where you host your site – can influence your site’s carbon footprint.

Designing more environmentally friendly site for your business lets your customers know you have an ethical stance that reaches beyond the balance sheet. Plus, going green can also make your website more efficient, allowing users to access your content more quickly.


Here are a few ways you can get started:

Choose a Green Web Hosting Provider

Web hosting providers devour a vast amount of energy to power servers and related equipment 24 hours a day year-round. A study by McKinsey & Co. even projects that by 2020, data centers will produce more pollution than the airline industry. One of the most effective ways to curtail this is to use a web hosting provider with green dedicated servers. These companies power their servers using a renewable power source like geothermal energy.

Speed Up Your Site

According to one recent study, 40 percent of consumers will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. But slow sites don’t just test customers’ patience; they also eat up more energy. Taking steps like minimizing HTTP requests, optimizing images, enabling browser caching, and “minifying” your code can help cut down on page load times and the associated energy drain. Google, WordPress, and other services offer tools that can help you assess and optimize your website’s efficiency.

Use a Low-power Palette

Different colors use different amounts of energy on different types of monitors. In the age of CRT monitors, black was trumpeted as the most energy-efficient hue, but today’s popular LCD monitors use more power to display dark colors. Incorporating more white in your website design will save small amounts of energy with each page load that will add up over the long haul.

Purge Unused Files

As your website evolves over time, old images, unused JavaScript files, and other debris collect on the server. This junk doesn’t just cause usability and SEO problems; all those orphaned files still require energy to store and cool. While the potential harm of maintaining outdated files for one website may seem inconsequential, when you multiply it by the total number of websites currently running, you get a much larger impact. Practicing good file maintenance is the easiest way to reduce this wasted energy, and there are several software tools, such as Inspyder’s OrFind and FindOrphan, that can analyze and identify orphaned files on your site to simplify the purging process. Having a green web hosting provider that gives you total control of your site’s construction and maintenance makes it much easier to keep your data use streamlined and efficient.
Reducing the environmental impact of your site doesn’t require a teardown of your infrastructure or business goals. Just these few considerations can have a dramatic impact on both the environment and your bottom line.


Facebook brings context to messaging with ‘caller ID’ for Messenger

May 26th, 2015 | Edited by | software


If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, it’s filled with acquaintances, close friends, old friends, and a few people who got in due to an errant click. To help you keep everyone straight, Facebook recently announced a new addition it’s dubbing “caller ID for messaging.”
When you get a new message from someone it will include context information such as how you’re connected to them or where they’re from. Facebook says it will also include a larger photo. The new context can help jog your memory if an old high school friend is coming into town or an acquaintance from your community wants to say hello.


Facebook’s messaging update is rolling out to both Android and iOS users in the U.S. It’s not clear if the new feature will also show up in Facebook’s messaging window on desktop PCs.
This is the second context-based feature Facebook has rolled out recently. In April, the company introduced Hello for Android that provides caller ID information based on public Facebook data.
Why this matters: While it’s handy to see reminders about people on your friends list, Facebook may be more interested in showing you context about people you don’t know. With more than one billion active users every month, Facebook is certainly in a good position to help connect you to strangers. To make context truly useful in messaging, however, Facebook would have to loosen the restrictions on how unconnected people can contact you without getting shunted to the ”Other” inbox.


Protecting yourself on social networks

January 15th, 2015 | Edited by | software


We all love to spend time (some would say waste time) fooling around on Facebook, Twitter, and other services. We also use these sites for serious, professional reasons. But like almost everything else on the Internet, they’re inherently dangerous. Hackers can use social media to discover your private information and to deliver spam or malware. You can be stalked and bullied through social media. It can ruin your reputation, your career, and your life.
So you need to protect yourself. Follow these rules and your online social life won’t become anti-social.


Protect your account

Of course, you should never give anyone else your password to a social network. And you shouldn’t let them steal it, either. Use a long, strong password containing upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation. And use a unique password for every site.
If you can’t remember all of those long and complex passwords, install a password manager onto your computer, tablet, and phone. Many of them are cross-platform.
But don’t depend on just the password. Most sites offer some form of two-step authentication, which requires you to prove your identity using both a password and an external factor, such as a text sent to your smartphone.

Be careful about what you post

Sharing too much personal information can cause considerable harm. If you let your social media network know that you’re on vacation, someone may take that as an invitation to burgle your house. Your physical address, your phone number, and even your birthday can be used against you by an identity thief.
The wrong post can also hurt an important relationship or a prospective job. Photos of you drinking or with your arms around the wrong person can create conflicts and make you appear immature or irresponsible.
Control who can see what on a social network; some posts may be for everybody, others for friends, and still others for only very good friends.
If you use a social network, learn its privacy settings. The links below will take you to the various services’ privacy pages.

Don’t fall victim to cyberbullies

You don’t have to be a teenager, or the parent of one, to worry about cyberbullying. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, “Fully 73% of adult internet users have seen someone be harassed in some way online and 40% have personally experienced it.”
Cyberbullying can range from childish insults to rape and death threats. A great many attacks have been aimed at feminist activists, as the recent GamerGate campaignillustrated.
If you’re caught in some troll’s crosshairs, do not retaliate. Keep a record of every attack. Depending on the nature of the attacks, you may need to notify your employer, the social network involved, and possibly the police.
Visit the Cyberbullying Research Center for more detailed advice.

Keep your eyes out for scams

You’ve probably already heard about social engineering in email, where a cybercriminal or organization manipulates you into providing personal information. Not surprisingly, you can find it in social networks, too.
Here’s a relatively harmless example: If you’ve spent any time on Facebook, you’ve probably seen items on your newsfeed like “I got Mick Jagger! Which rock star are you?” Fill in the questionnaire, and some company now knows something about your tastes. In the wrong hands, that information can be used against you.
More serious scams can trick you into giving away your credit card number or password. Some will download malware (see below). Keep an eye out for offers of free stuff, celebrity secrets, promises to add thousands of Twitter followers, or services that can tell you if old flames have viewed your profile.
If something smells fishy, assume someone is phishing.

Make sure your computer or device is protected

Social networks constitute one more path for malware to make its way to your computer or device. If you’re using social media, keep a good, up-to-date antivirus program running at all times.
The best programs offer tools specific to social networks. For instance, Bitdefender Total Security uses special filters to look for and stop social network-specific attacks and warn of potential fraud.

Social networks help you keep up with your friends and promote your career. But without the right precautions, they can lead to disaster.


Antivirus is dead, says maker of Norton Antivirus

December 20th, 2014 | Edited by | software


Antivirus is dead.

So sayeth Brian Dye, Symantec’s senior vice president for information security, in a weekend interview with The Wall Street Journal. The words sound shocking—Symantec and its Norton antivirus suite have been at the forefront of PC security for years and years. But don’t let the stark claim fool you: Norton isn’t being retired, and Dye’s words merely reflect the new reality in computing protection.
While detecting and protecting against malicious software installed on your computer still plays a very vital role, many of the sophisticated attacks of today still manage to penetrate PCs with antivirus programs installed. In fact, Dye told WSJ that he estimates traditional antivirus detects a mere 45 percent of all attacks. That’s not good.


Making matters more difficult—and driving the point home even further—security provider FireEye says that 82 percent of all malware it detects stays active for a mere hour, and 70 percent of all threats only surface once, as malware authors rapidly change their software to skirt detection from traditional antivirus solutions. “The function signature-based AV serves has become more akin to ghost hunting than threat detection and prevention,” the firm says, though it should be noted that FireEye sells active defense IT security services.

Read: Security Showdown 2014: 10 suites compared

To combat new threats, Norton and other security software companies are rolling out new offerings designed to shut down specific attack avenues, such as tools that protect against spam and phishing attempts, malicious websites, and social media shenanigans. Security companies have also begun dabbling in supplemental software like password managers, mobile VPN apps, and secure cloud storage services—none of which fall under the classic “antivirus” banner.
In other words, antivirus isn’t quite dead, despite the bold words of Symantec’s VP—it’s still important to have AV protecting your PC. Only now, antivirus is just one of many tools needed to keep your computer safe against increasingly savvy attackers. If you want more information about how to stay safe in today’s AV-dodging age, check out PCWorld’s guides to building the ultimate free security suite and how to protect yourself against the web’s most dangerous security traps.


Syrian Electronic Army posts hacking message on several news sites

December 2nd, 2014 | Edited by | software


A hacker group called the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) scared visitors to several news websites by posting rogue pop-up messages saying they’d been hacked.
According to reports from users on Twitter the affected sites included those of CNBC, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, OK magazine, the Evening Standard, PCWorld, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent.
Not all visitors to those sites have seen the pop-up messages, which read “You’ve been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)” and in many cases the incident was reported by mobile users.
SEA does not appear to have actually hacked the affected websites directly, but instead pulled off the attack through Gigya, a customer identity management platform used by a large number of brands. The group posted a screen shot on Twitter from inside the control panel for the domain at GoDaddy, suggesting that they had control over the account.


The hackers managed to change the DNS (Domain Name System) entries for the Gigya domain, pointing it to messages and images hosted on other servers, reported The Independent, one of the organizations whose website was affected. The issue has now been resolved, the publication said.
“A part of our website run by a third-party was compromised earlier today,” The Telegraphsaid via its Twitter account. “We’ve removed the component. No Telegraph user data was affected.
Gigya did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The screen shot posted by SEA on Twitter was accompanied by a message that read: “Happy thanks giving, hope you didn’t miss us! The press: Please don’t pretend #ISIS are civilians.”
The SEA has used similar DNS hijacking techniques to target news and other organizations in the past, the attacks typically carrying a political message. The group has publicly declared their loyalty to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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