Tuesday Tip – Managed Website Hosting

screenshot of website code

You know the saying, “You get what you pay for.”

That is VERY true with website hosting.  

The managed hosting we offer our website clients can save your website from malware, complete take-over and worse! We see weekly articles about plug-ins that are installed and being used on websites and the plugin has been compromised. Here is one from this week about a useful and popular legitimate plugin:

If you do not go in and manually update your plug-ins (and deal with any problems or issues the update causes), your website could very well be at risk.

We had one client who was a tax professional. They hosted their website themselves on a low-cost host not feeling it was important to pay for our somewhat more expensive managed hosting service. 

When their website was hacked through an insecure plug-in and was all of a sudden showing pornographic content to anyone visiting the site, they called us in a panic! We were able to clean up the site and update the plug-ins but who knows how many of their clients and prospective clients saw the content before it was fixed. In the end, it cost them far more to have us clean up the mess than managed hosting would have cost for multiple years!

Managed hosting service means your host (us!) takes care of the technical “under the hood” of the website. They install security and update patches, they maintain backups, they monitor and keep the servers running and more. Many managed hosts like SiteGorund and WP Engine, will restrict which plugins you are allowed to use to only the ones they are comfortable with. Wild Iris is willing to work with any supported and maintained plugins we regard as safe and reliable.

Your time is valuable and your skills are probably better spent on tasks other than managing your website’s backend. And managed hosting is not a big expense at all when you work with Wild Iris Makering. So give us a call and let us help you out!


Wild Iris Marketing can help deliver your email successfully…

And here’s how.

modern mailboxes in neighborhoodPhysical mailboxes come in all types. Some hang just outside your front door. Some are the standalone box at the end of your driveway. Some are in a cluster at the end of the block. And some are even located remotely at the post office, or aren’t even a box at all, but rather just a slot in the front door. Much like physical mailboxes, internet mail protocols come in various formats and configurations. And exactly like physical mailboxes, they were designed a LONG time ago, they are old, and they do their best to maintain compatibility with your mail needs and ever-evolving email software. 

Unlike physical mailboxes that are just receivers, however, email boxes are also the senders of your mail, the envelope, and even the paper, which means email software has to do a lot more work than that box at the end of the driveway. Even if you drop a letter in that mailbox and put the red flag up so the postal worker will pick it up, you have still done the work to write the letter, address the envelope, and most importantly you add a return address to the the envelope so the recipient knows it came from you.

One of the jobs of your email software is to “add your return address” your email, authenticating to the recipient that you are who you claim you are. The problem is that there are very few ways to authenticate that fact. Because most email protocols are so old, in order to verify the email is coming from you, your machine, and/or your company, there are a number of hoops to jump through. In recent years, additional protocols have been created to help solve some of these problems, and even though these new protocols have been somewhat standardized, there’s been a lot of resistance by email software vendors to implement them.

Without these additional protocols, it’s possible for someone else to fake (spoof) emails, and make them appear to be coming from you, and or your company.  Think about how many times you’ve seen emails in your mailbox purporting to be from a friend or a company you know, only to realize it’s a fake. This is how a lot of email forgers (spammers) get you to open their emails.

no junk mail mailboxWe’ve all heard of spam. It’s more than a processed lunch meat product that comes in a little tin at the supermarket; it’s an email that you receive in your mailbox that you never requested, from people that you don’t know, generally trying to sell you their product.

There are also spammers out there who pretend to be you in order to get sensitive information such as account numbers or credit card details from your clients. This is called “phishing,” and is becoming a more prevalent way to try to obtain personally identifiable information (PII) through electronic impersonation. This usually happens through email crafted to appear to be from a real company (yours) or person (you), but is absolutely not. Everyone probably knows someone who has fallen for one of these phishing attacks.

Because spam currently accounts for nearly 85% of all email sent, larger email providers have finally taken to implementing some of these newer protocols to improve email security. But that means if those protocols aren’t set up on your end correctly (or at all), your legitimate emails could get flagged and end up in a junk or spam folder. While the intentions are good, and spam “scoring” systems are simply attempting to rid mailboxes of spam, they could be harming communications with your customers by marking your email as fake because you didn’t follow the protocols properly.

globe with lockAlphaPixel can help you configure your email servers so they are using the additional protocols needed to identify that emails coming from you and your company are authentic.  These are technical configurations that the average (or even above average) user wouldn’t necessarily know how to do on their own such as:

  • Configuring a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) on your mail server and domain name.  This allows other mail servers receiving your emails to identify and -verify- that your messages are genuine.
  • Configuring DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) to cryptographically sign each email that you are sending through your email server.
  • Configuring Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) to help protect you and your customers from spoofing, spamming, and phishing.  This tells other mail servers what to do with emails that are not actually from your company’s domain, potentially quarantining it or even tossing it into the trash.

Setting up and properly configuring these protocols help prevent your mail from being spoofed, which lets your customers using services like Outlook and Gmail know that your email is legitimate. And best of all, unless you have a major change in the way you’re doing things (changing email hosts, or newsletter providers), you only need to do this once.

AlphaPixel Reach’s pricing is reasonable, starting at $125, for a one-time “set it and forget it” fix by one of our knowledgeable staff.

Tuesday Tip – Managed Website Hosting
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