The Importance of SSL (https) on your website

The Importance of SSL (https) on your website and running a security certificate

The Importance of SSL (https) on your website and security certificateThe importance and advantages of SSL Certificates have to do with both security and website optimisation. SSL stands for secure socket layer.

Your customers names and all their personal information from enquiry forms and transactions via your website are targets for bad actors on the web, and an SSL certificate provides the indispensable and often mandatory privacy and security you need for your business online. Ask yourself, do you have forms on your website that sends data if it’s submitted? Most ‘contact us’ pages have a form and therefore SSL is required.

An SSL certificate encrypts sensitive data

An SSL certificate encodes data i.e. encrypts it to render it unreadable by those who don’t have the key. When a customer fills out your website enquiry form for example, the data often relays from one computer to another in its journey to a destination. When the information makes a split-second pause before heading towards you, it becomes vulnerable to unauthorised third-party access. The SSL certificate adds random characters into the customer’s original information. Without the encryption key, the information is useless.

SSL ensures the information goes where it is intended

The SSL certificate acts as a “handshake” between communicating browsers. It shows your customers that your website is current and not a fake. Look for the “S” after the “http” in the web address line of a site. Also, there is a small “lock” image on the same line.

An SSL certificate meets PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance standards

If you want to securely process credit card payments with proper encryption, an SSL certificate will open the door to instant payments and higher profitability, because it inserts an industry standard 180-bits of encryption. The bottom line here is: no SSL certificate means you will not be able to process credit cards.

An SSL certificate promotes customer confidence and trust

Your customers take a leap of faith when they fill out a form with their personal information/email address or shop on line. Adding an SSL certificate adds another layer of trust and operability to your business online.

An SSL certificate improves SEO

Search engine optimisation is what gets your site to the top of Google’s search results. To stay on Google’s good side and even get a minor search engine ranking boost, add an SSL to your site. In Google’s view, SSL promotes a site to be “trusted and certified” because of the extra authentication and security.

In addition to the increased SEO ranking and the security advantages on the web browser search page, an SSL certificate designates the owner as a trusted third party. Anyone with an SSL certificate is instantly recognised as being who they say they are.

Final thought

I am sure at some point in the future it will come compulsory to have an SSL certificate running on a business website. If you don’t have a certificate and look at your website contact form on a mobile device, it now says (on most devices) that the website is unsecure.

I hope this information was useful and if you need an SSL setting up, get in touch >>

Need a NED? (non-executive director)

Is a NED the best kept secret of a successful business?

Need a NED? (non-executive director) the secret of a successful businessMany people will have heard of the term non-executive director (NED) but few fully understand what they are, much less what they can potentially do for a small or growing business.

It’s assumed by many small business owners that NEDs are the things of big businesses or major corporations, but recruiting the right NED can help a small business gain experience, knowledge, contacts and ideas as well as constructive criticism – all of which cannot fail to be of value to a company regardless of its size.

So what are the benefits of NEDs?

Got the T-shirt

A NED can fill a gap in a small business owner’s experience or can add industry knowledge of a specific sector the business is targeting. Whatever the reason a NED will be an experienced business person with a respected background who has probably helped a number of businesses find their feet, grow or survive tough times. And, if a NED is faced with a situation they’ve never dealt with before, they’ll know someone who has.
Think outside the box

A NED doesn’t work with a business full-time and won’t be concerned with day-to-day issues but will instead look at the bigger picture. What is the direction of the business? Are targets being met? What environmental changes might affect the business? Which competitors to watch out for and what are the plans to keep ahead?

A NED doesn’t work with the business day to day, does not engage in office politics and retains their independence. In addition, a NED will have witnessed changes sweep over the business sector in the past. All of these factors mean they will have the ability to advise with confidence and make unbiased decisions in the interests of the business.
Connections that count

A successful business is a connected one and a great way of making connections is through networking. However, for a small business it can be time consuming and can often prove difficult to build a trusted network of contacts. A NED, in many cases, can offer an address book of relevant contacts to go along with their own experience. This could be suppliers, distributors or potential customers to help boost business or a marketing guru or potential partner to add a new dimension to your business.
Keeps the management team in check

Many boards become the victims of bad habits; missed agenda items, conversations being side tracked, and opinions being discounted. The introduction of a NED will not only help to keep things on track but can help alleviate tensions and “put out fires”. Time is important for small businesses and meetings need to be specific and to the point.

In fact NEDs can round off a board by not only providing experience and knowledge that other directors may not have, but by being able to take a more objective view of issues affecting the business and offering a wider sense of the possibilities for growth.

Understanding Phishing

Understanding Phishing and the need for Cyber Essentials

Phishing

Understanding Phishing and the need for Cyber EssentialsUnderstanding Phishing and the need for Cyber Essentials Russian high-tech crime investigating company Group-IB have recently reported that cyber criminals have stolen £18.7 million from banks in Russia between August 2017 and February 2018 using spear phishing emails.
Phishing has been defined by security software giant Symantec (Norton Antivirus) as an email that appears to be from an individual or business that you know. But it isn’t. It’s from the same criminal hackers who want your credit card and bank account numbers, passwords, and the financial information on your PC.

Staff training

But it is not just banks and other financial institutions that need to guard against this threat. With these phishing attacks aggressively being aimed at your staff, as an employer you need to look at how to identify possible phishing attacks, and how to effectively pass this information on to your employees.

How do you tell?

Well, you can’t always, scam artists will do their utmost to perfectly re create logos and familiar headers and footers in emails but there are a few things that you can do to guard against this threat.  It is not a bad idea to train your staff to get into these habits for all email traffic.

What to look for

For starters, before opening any emails check the senders address/domain and not just the familiar looking senders name. For example an email pretending to be from a familiar energy company should have a recognisable email address john@energycompany.com rather than john@465msl.co.uk. This is a simplistic example, but you get the general idea. If you are unsure, then go directly to the company website or call them and check if the email is genuine.

The really important bit…

Phishing emails contain a document link that needs to be opened in order for the malware to infect your system NEVER OPEN A LINK unless you are expecting it! Always check with the original company if you have any doubts whatsoever. It may take a few minutes but it could be well worth it.

Artificial Intelligence. Worried?

Artificial Intelligence

Should we be worried?

Artificial Intelligence Should We Be Worried AIIt was only a couple of years ago when the majority of industry professionals believed that we were still decades away from seeing a computer win at a high level playing the ancient Chinese game GO, but for two straight days now AlphaGO has beaten ten time GO world champion Lee Sedol. Demis Hassabis, CEO of Googles DeepMind Technologies and developer of AlphaGO stated in his twitter feed that AlphaGO used some “creative moves”. Also on Twitter the Go master says he was stunned by some of AlphaGO’s moves. “It placed the stones in such unconventional places.”

So why GO and not Chess?

Simply, computers have been playing chess and beating masters for many years, but the game of Go long remained unbeaten at anything other than a basic level. Go is widely held as a far more complex game than chess with the possible moves reportedly numbering more than the number of atoms in the universe. Chess is an almost entirely left brain analytical game whereas GO uses both left brain analytic as well as right brain artistic and pattern recognition.

Stepping toward Singularity?

Well Billionaire Elon Musk Founder of SpacEx and co Founder of Tesla seems to think we may be. Alongside some of Silicon Valleys big hitters he has formed Open AI not to see a return on his $10 million investment but “to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.” He believes that by opening up the field of AI to everyone they will “counteract large corporations who may gain too much power by owning super-intelligence systems devoted to profits, as well as governments which may use AI to gain power and even oppress their citizenry” There have been movies about this, you know, like Terminator; there are some scary outcomes. And we should try to make sure the outcomes are good, not bad.

We Shouldn’t be Worried. Yet.

Dr Simon Stringer, director of the Oxford Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence, believes that the sort of intelligence shown by the AlphaGO model is quite narrow and that if you want to solve consciousness you’re not going to solve it using the sorts of algorithms they’re using, he is however aiming to produce the first prototypical conscious systems, something very simple, somewhere between a mouse and a rat, within the next 20 – 30 years.

Choosing a Business Name

Choosing a Business Name for your company or corporate identityWhen doing the research for your new business name you will need to think carefully for both legal and marketing purposes.

A great name could prove to be your most powerful branding tool, so naming your business requires a lot of consideration.

What’s in a name? The modern business world has changed so much and a name is no longer the thing that just goes on a business card or name plaque. Your business name has the potential to be seen all around on the internet and of course social media. Here are a few steps to help you when thinking about the business name.
What type of name you want?

There are only a few categories of a company name:

First is the “first name and surname” or place name
Second are the made up names
Third you have evocative names from everyday objects (Orange or Apple).

The type of name you will choose should reflect your type of business. Think about the names of businesses you will be competing with and think about how your customers would feel about using your potential name to decide which type of brand you want. From here you should be able to build a shortlist.
The Companies House check

Next step for the naming process should be the Companies House website where you can check whether the names you have chosen for your company are already taken. They also have a great App for this that I have used on an iPad.
Is the Domain Name is available?

You will also need to check that you can get a website which is more or less in line with the company name. For UK companies trading largely in the UK it is still the case that a www.companyname.co.uk URL is what your customers will expect to see. You will also want to defensively register variants of the name. For a UK business it is always a good idea to get both .co.uk and .com – Search online for your shortlist of names

The last check is to make sure that when you type search terms for your business like “Morgan Butter products” that none of your competitors appear and no dodgy brands or links come up. You will also need to make sure that no products or services belonging to other people have the name you have chosen.
Ask about

Its always a good idea to check the name for feedback with potential customers, friends and family to get a feeling as to whether the name is going to work.
After theses simple steps, you’re pretty much ready to go ahead and finalise your name.

As soon as you have decided, remember the domain name is as important as the company name so get these registered as quickly as possible. This is a service we offer, so if you need help please get in touch by clicking here.

Our Sci-Fi Future?

Our Sci-Fi Future, Silly or Terrifying?

Our Sci-Fi Future, Silly or Terrifying? Sci-Fi Future and Science FictionThe future is upon us and modern technological developments are now strikingly similar to the science fiction of the past. While we aren’t living in domed cities with flying cars, we’ve got buildings that reach for the heavens, drones delivering our packages, and self-driving cars are just over the horizon. The media often likes to compare new advancements in technology to the works of like The Jetsons, Star Trek, and some 1980’s and 1990’s Cyberpunk, because in many cases the new technology is a fairly easy comparison.

Flying cars, flat panel TVs, and video phones often are compared to The Jetsons, yet all of these innovations were envisioned decades before the TV show hit the airwaves.

In 1933, H.G. Wells speculated we might have small personal aircraft in his work “The Shape of Things to Come” – and we’re not much closer to having them now than we were then. Flat panel TVs were already in development in the early 1960s (around the same time the show was on the air) but were envisioned much earlier. The concept of video telephony initially became popular in the late 1870’s and Nazi Germany developed a working system in the 1930’s.

Star Trek is another show that’s dragged out for constant comparisons, this time whenever anything vaguely resembles its holographic or replicator technology.

Where a modern 3D printer is “replicating” the shape of an item, A Star Trek replicator was recreating an item on a molecular level. Try eating a 3D printed apple! While German scientists have created a system of scanning an object and recreating it elsewhere, they’re not really “beaming it” anywhere, but are basically combing a fax machine with a 3D printer.

Cyberpunk tales are typically set in worlds where corporations control innovation, launch satellites to connect the world to spread information, and maintain private armies. That vision is much closer to our reality. There are now giant corporations that literally control how we access the Internet. We already have private citizens like Elon Musk who is a billionaire with a private space program, who also is developing new ways to harness solar power.

The point is, that perhaps it is too easy to see today’s world as our old entertainment and ignore the fact that much of what The Jetsons “predicted” was completely wrong. We (sadly) don’t ever expect to see a flying car that can fold up into a briefcase. Likewise, teleportation and warp speed likely will remain just part of the Star Trek mythos.
Perhaps when it comes to the darker side of science fiction, we should be cautious and alert about where we may be headed, and should regard it as a portent of what to avoid – not a future we should embrace.

Jump in and try Linux

Don’t be Scared, jump in and try Linux, the waters Lovely!

Jump in and try Linux Mint, Linux Ubuntu Linux ElementarAre you scared to try Linux? You’re not alone! For people bought up who have only ever lived in a “windows” universe it can appear to be an alien concept. If you even know of its existence and many don’t, you consider it only for geeks, as it’s sure to clunky and unusable. Prepare to be amazed then, modern Linux distributions or “distros” are simple and user friendly in the main (there are hundreds of releases depending on your requirement). They configure an amazing array of hardware outside box (I’ve yet to have a piece of hardware that isn’t automatically configured) and have a vast library of programs and apps.

With that said you may ask why should I bother, Windows is what I know and works! But Linux is free and it’s easy to find versions supported with updates for a minimum 4/5 years. Windows has a long life span also you may say, well yes but with system requirements increasing and the fact you can’t transfer Windows on one computer to another you are stuck with your existing version unless you want to spend more money.

Linux evolves over time and often has an upgrade path to a more updated version and even if you stay with your existing version your applications will be updated. Unlike Windows, Linux in all its forms has a basic Kernel or core operating system and built on that is your desktop environment, which offers a different user interface and can be changed easily to suit your requirements or taste.

The ultimate benefit of Linux is the absence of all the Malware and viruses, because of the nature of Linux it is “Almost impregnable”, any major change requires the user to input a password, the software in the databases is being continually improved and check by an army of self-motivated programmers because of the open source nature of the system (as opposed to a handful of Microsoft employees).

It can be quite frightening at first coming from Windows and sitting behind layers of security but you quickly adapt and realise that as long as your browser is up to date and you at least exercise caution in the sites you visit off the mainstream you are more secure than a windows setup with the most expensive antivirus scanner, malware scanner, firewalls etc. So put it this way, if a devious person wanted to write a virus they would have to contend with different flavours of Linux, a password entry requiring the user to authorise running it and a virtual zero day threat response for the software producers who can quickly update things to negate the problem along with a virtual universal rollout!

So it’s no surprise there are no known viruses in the wild and if any were about they would have no effect on an updated system so would be harmless. Why would they bother then? Windows is much easier prey.

So give one of the popular distros a try, you can try it live by running it from the disc to have a go first, I’m sure you will be surprised! My choice would be Mint, but there is also Ubuntu or Elementar.

Hope that was useful – feel free to comment and i will be glad to answer any questions for you
Andrew

An Introduction to Cloud Computing

The term Cloud computing is the delivery of hosted services and applications over the internet.

An Introduction to Cloud ComputingCloud computing enables people and businesses to use a computer resource, such as storage or an application, without having to build and maintain computing infrastructures in house. So you won’t need to set up a server and start a coding for the next 3 months.
There are many benefits form Cloud computing, here are a few:

Latest Updates

The provider of a cloud service or application will continue to update their system with the latest functions and facilities and provide security updates.

Do more with less

Having data and software running in the cloud, companies and end users can reduce the size of their own data centers or eliminate their data center altogether. The reduction of the numbers of servers and software can reduce IT costs without impacting businesses and their IT capabilities.

Flexible costs

With cloud computing the costs are more flexible because companies only need to pay for what they need or use. Most cloud provider’s offer different levels of services at different sign up fees which can depend on the requirements and number of staff etc.

Availability

Cloud computing providers maintain a 99.99% uptime. Normally if you are online the service is available to use whenever and wherever. Some applications work off-line and will update and synchronise when you are next connection to the internet.

Mobility

Your applications and data are available to you or your employees no matter where they are in the world. Staff can take their work anywhere via smart phones and tablets or can work from a laptop. As well has Jordan IT Services I also own a graphic design business. Jordan IT Service needs an office with staff, however the design business can be run from a laptop from anywhere. So, I find myself taking my laptop everywhere with me, even on holiday.

Finally – Cloud computing security, is it safe?

Security is a major concern for any business sending data out to a cloud service. Many businesses and organizations are bound by complex obligations and government standards and have a fear of loss or theft. With more reliable data encryption and security tools available, things are slowly becoming more and more cloud based.

A Successful Working Day Running your Business

A Successful Working Day Running your Business GloucesterHere are a few things that will help you have a successful working day

A Successful Working Day – Step back and reflect:

It’s important to take a moment to look at the big picture. It’s easy to jump in head first. Look at the larger goals in order to better prioritise and Strategise

Take a few minutes to think about where your business should be going. Pursuing strategic clarity is a worthy objective. It’s hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going.

Check your to-do lists and calendars and update

It’s important that you take a quick look at your to-do list and calendar to know what’s ahead. Missing any early meetings or deadlines will cause stress and problems.
Acknowledge and plan for the tough projects

There are always difficult projects that get put aside. Address how you’re going to attack them so they don’t have them hanging over your head.
Write something that requires thought

Writing requires discipline, and research finds that willpower is at its peak early in the day. The first hour of the day can be a great time to write a well-crafted email introducing yourself to a new client, a proposal or report, marketing materials, or even an op-ed or article.
Glance at emails

You want to start the day in a proactive fashion, not a reactive fashion. However, I’m pretty sure 99 percent of us do check email pretty near the start of the day. The trick is to glance at it, and not get bogged down in stuff that doesn’t matter.
Avoid distraction

The latest headline or office drama can cause anyone to be distracted, no matter how high up the chain you are. Focused professionals inherently know when they’re taking themselves off-track.
Meetings

It’s better to put meetings at low energy times which is mid-afternoon for many people, and do projects that require focus at high-energy times when you feel most motivated to tackle them.
Relax

This one is difficult for most people, but successful individuals understand the importance of creating a few minutes of peace before jumping in. Taking a moment to stretch and breathe will help you make better decisions during this chaotic time of day.

Success is indeed a mindset. If you’re mindful of what it takes to succeed you’ll likely revisit these priorities throughout the day and stay on task.

Website Design History of 20 Years (1998 – 2018)

Website Design History of 20 Years (1998 – 2018)

Introduction

Website Design History of 20 Years 1998 – 2018 Web Design HistoryMy name is Andrew Jordan and I have been a full time self employed website designer and developer for over 20 years. As a pioneer on website design in the UK, I though it would be a nice idea to put a brief history of the website design industry together as an educational post for those who maybe interested in the way were and to show how things have changed.

The early days of website design were very different from today’s one click installs and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) installations and systems. There was nothing simple, very little guidance and just getting your files uploaded via FTP using a dial up modem was challenging enough itself.

In 1998 only 17.5% of the UK had access to the internet, most of the general public had never heard of the World Wide Web. So there was not a lot of companies seeking a website or willing to invest. The concept of buying something online had not arrived.

First Websites

The first website I built was a formula one enthusiast club. The website was built completely in HTML with a bit of JavaScript thrown in to manage payments and memberships. I ended up using a company in the USA to handle the payment gateway and the only bank in the UK that would support and offer a merchant account for online transactions was HSBC.

Frames

A lot of the early websites were built in Frames. This seem to offer a simple solution when using software like Microsoft’s FrontPage, which at the time was very popular. The frames page layout concept offered easy page layout with a holding page and the section pages being embedded into it. However this caused issues with search engine optimisation, because the content pages could be indexed without the frame holding index page. So a footer would be loaded without the rest of the site. A simple bit of code did correct this issue, but the index was then the only page that could be indexed and had no content other than the code for the framed pages.

Flash Animation

With the then limited use of HTML, the birth of Flash animated websites soon became popular, where the entire site was in flash. The original idea of using flash was to gain moment and high end graphics and unrestricted layout that you could not gain from using the then clunky HTML. However a flash website may look great with an attractive intro and a nice moment on the menu, the massive disadvantage was that there was no page content for search engine optimisation. There would only be one page (index) and one graphic file inserted. So a beautiful website that would cost a lot of money due the the labour intensive work involved with the flash creation, however no one will ever see it. With the birth of smart phones round the corner, Apple and Adobe dropped flash because of file sizes and security issues.

Macromedia / Adobe Dreamweaver

In 2005 using adobe Dreamweaver seemed to be the benchmark of website design and development. It was full of useful tools like code cleaners, a link checker and offered easy management of content like library items and files. You could also run the software on 2 screens to make access to tool menus and previewing changes easier. I still using Dreamweaver today for various bits of coding when needed and run our own Magpie Image intranet with it.

WordPress & Database Driven Sites

With WordPress becoming the number one system in 2010 it was easy to see why with its built in Mobile Responsive CSS, general coding and HTML became a thing of the past. A lot of hosting packages offer WordPress, Joomla & Magenta to name a few, as a one click install, which includes the SQL server database part as well. In the modern WordPress system there is very little to do with a lot of the themes including great layouts and home page functions. The latest plugins also bring massive features to the site visitors and are no more than a single click install with a few tick box selection and options.

Final Thoughts

It will be interested to see where the industry goes next. I think most changes will now depend on advancements in technologies, media and trends.

I hope you found that was interesting / Andrew Jordan

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