General Information Archives - Cloud Genius Ltd
08000 433 006 james@cloud-genius.com

Cloud Genius checks your emails (from your website) are working

Most web hosters won’t admit it, but email from websites is a NIGHTMARE.

It used to be really easy and cheap to set up email to send from a website, for instance when a form is filled in on the website inform the owner of the website.

As it gets more complex, many hosting companies take a set it up and keep fingers crossed approach.

At Cloud Genius, we monitor that even this aspect of your website is working.

In the old days the web server sent out the email.

The problem is that spammers used to use servers to send out millions of spam emails in a day.

So, web hosting companies have gradually clamped down on this.

Even if you do send an email from your web server, the chances are that the recipient will block it… assuming it to be spam.

What is worse, if someone else on your shared hosting is sending out spam all YOUR emails will be treated as spam, too.

Your emails will not be received and you won’t know!

For this reason, we send our webserver emails via the client’s Office 365 account.

This gives them the same reputation as if they came from the client’s normal email. (Google for Business works just as well.)

This process is slightly more complex.

At Cloud Genius, we monitor this connection so that if it starts to fail we get a message via Slack to tell us which of our clients is in difficulty.

Part of our service that puts us above the rest.

Why do you pay people?

I recently heard a great story about a man with a hammer… bear with me as I have a more up-to-date version.

The story starts with a submarine captain. His submarine is broken. This is a big problem. The submarine had a large crew. Every day that he was stuck in dock would cost a lot of money. Not only that, but he had a mission to complete. He was desperate to get going again. He asked around the docks and could not find anyone to fix his craft.

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Eventually, his first officer managed to find an old chap with a hammer. The captain was sceptical, but invited the man aboard. He went straight down into the engine room. The man looked at all the pipes, took out his hammer, tapped a pipe and the submarine sprang back into life. The captain was overjoyed. He asked the man to invoice him. The invoice was immediately produced: £2,002.

The captain was staggered and challenged the man.. why so much money? All you did was tap a pipe it only took a few seconds.

The man patiently explained: Cost of tapping the pipe £2. The thirty years learning where to tap the pipe – £2,000.

A client of mine has been trying to integrate their website and their email and their CRM system. So far they have worked their way through 3 volunteers. The volunteers were great people, but they did not have the experience and knowledge necessary. They had not put in the time to build up the certifications, the years building up experience (through mistakes as well as successes). Although the volunteers were committed, they did not have all that experience and all those certifications.

The lack of functionality has cost their organisation dear… possibly thousands in lost donations, wasted time, etc.

When they came to us, we were quickly able to see the issues and get everything working closely together.

Like the man with the hammer we then have to send in our bill. Although it is not free, it will save them thousands. We are not ‘cheap’, but we try to offer great value.

Let us help you!

Passwords… and why you need to care

Let me tell you of an IT company. It had started off small so the director had chosen a favourite password ‘D0neit01

This was some time ago, so the fact that it had numbers in made it really secure. It wasn’t particularly long, but it was memorable. Much better than other familiar passwords, like ‘Password01’ or ‘letmein’.

There were five of them working for this company and they were all really good friends. Three directors and two minions. They were working with cleaning companies and whoever would take them on. They realised that their level of service was a cut above everyone else’s, so they realised they could aim higher.

With one of those flashes of inspiration that sometimes hits small companies they realised that they could start working with the finance industry. They already had some contacts in that area of business and, well, those clients had money. It was a sure-fire hit!

Success Breeds Success

A few years later and they had an impressive portfolio of clients. Around a hundred in the bespoke finance industry. Hedge-fund managers, bespoke bankers, investment companies. Their clients loved their high level of service. In part this was because an engineer visiting site knew what the top admin password would be. You’ve guessed it. By this point about a hundred of their clients were investing more than $1B each. (Yes, 100 x $1,000,000,000 = $0.1T). Which starts to look like a significant part of the UK’s GDP. Some of the companies demanded ’secure passwords’ with funny characters in. For those companies the password became ‘D0nit01!’. Engineers knew that if the ‘low security’ password didn’t work you could use the high security one. Simples!

One of the managers was tasked with looking for a password manager. This would be able to hold all types of password. It would be able to fill in passwords automatically. You could give different members of the company different levels of access.

It came back with a price-tag of £10,000.

That was a lot of money.

The directors were not convinced that it was necessary.

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An Innocent Mistake

One day, one of the directors was logging into a client, let’s call them ‘securefinance’. Their website was ‘securefinance.com’. The director had not noticed that in their speed they had typed ‘securefinance.co’. The website looked EXACTLY like securefinance.com so why would they notice?

Over the coming months they started to notice that some of their clients were failing. In one bad incident a client lost $0.1B in a week! That client immediately started the process of winding down. It was sad – they were a difficult client, but they had been a good payer.

You are probably going to guess what had happened. That fake website had grabbed the entered username and password and was now beginning to use it on lots of websites. They were getting lucky. They were also trying password variations automatically. So they were picking off both the ‘low’ and ‘high’ security clients.

Bad Guys Collaborate

They had also submitted the successful usernames and passwords to a database that is maintained by hackers. (Yes, this really does exist.) So lots of other people were trying these passwords… but they were not using them themselves. They were getting computers infected with ‘malware’ to try them. That IS the job of a lot of malware. If the malware successfully logged in then they would update the database. If the password failed then the bad guys were untraceable. Either way the bad guys win.

By now, clients were getting picked off at an increasing rate.

It was looking very bad.

Several consequencies could have happened, including a significant impact on the UK economy, jail terms and collapse of the IT company. This is based on a true story. The directors were potentially negligent, so could have lost the shirts off their backs.

The Good News

A good password manager is available for FREE. It has greater capabilities than that old software costing more than £10,000.

There is an Enterprise version which has all the granular controls you require for a little bit more.

With a password manager, doesn’t that mean that I am committing all my passwords to a database protected with ONE password? Surely that is a really BAD idea? Yes, it would be UNLESS you set up 2 factor identification. This means that you have a code to type in that is sent to you or generated on an app on your phone in addition to the password. As a hacker will not have both access to your password AND your phone your database is safe. It is also highly encrypted and if you lose your phone or your admin dies there are very secure ways to recover the database.

Here is the manager we use: Lastpass It is not the only one out there, but it is very good. We manage more than 1,500 passwords with it. All our client’s passwords are unique, long and very complicated.

You might not be managing billions of dollars, but you wouldn’t want to lose what you have.

Delivering the Fastest in Web Servers

In the world of websites, fast is king.

Why?

If it isn’t fast you:

  1. Lose visitors
  2. Get down-ranked by Google
  3. Are tedious to navigate
  4. Risk losing sales opportunities

So, Cloud Genius is very proud to be able to announce that our top tier of web servers are:

  1. Super fast – they use SSDs instead of old hard disks
  2. Use super-fast networking
  3. Now use the HTTP/2 protocol, which is far faster than the old HTTP protocol
  4. Have the option of using StackPath content delivery networks for global reach. (Great if you have an international market.)

If you want the very best in website hosting, come to us.

Who is Sarah Owen?

Sarah Owen

Founder & Director of DISCsimple

Sarah is recognised as one of Europe’s leading experts in the niche topic of Referral Marketing and uses DISC (the behavioural style tool used by millions of people every year) to help her clients to understand more about themselves and others to build strong, long lasting relationships that deliver profit to their businesses. 

As a best-selling author, she’s been embraced by thousands of professionals around the world for her in-depth knowledge of how to grow a business by referral.  She is a sought after Speaker in Europe and America on this topic.   

Sarah has worked for large international companies during her career and she has owned and run (and sold!) a successful national training and consulting business.  She was even referred to the person who bought her last company!!

So, Sarah wrote the book, is a best selling author AND is coming to present the first ever session at The Training Club in the Beacon Centre, Llanelli.

WOW!

https://cloud-genius.com/training-club-membership to find out more.

Ensuring that disaster recovery is not a DISASTER

Everything goes wrong.

It’s obvious but many of us work as if our IT equipment is faultless. That it will never go wrong. We act shocked when all the information that our business requires to operate disappears with the failure of a hard disk or a USB stick or a theft. This normally means the end of the business, too.

So it is refreshing to know that some IT suppliers take a sensible approach.

For instance, here is a recent email from Salesforce.

What is a site switch and what action is required to prepare?

Each Salesforce instance is built and maintained in two geographically separate locations. An instance is actively served from one location (the active site) with transactions replicating in near real-time to the other completely redundant location (the ready site). During a site switch, we swap the locations of your ready and active sites; the ready site becomes the new active site and vice versa.

So if one of their data centres fails you continue working based of another data centre.

None of your data is stored on your computer, so a theft does not matter.

If only everything in life was as reliable as Salesforce. (And when it fails it still keeps on working!)

As I say to our customers: if two data centres fail, you probably have even more important things on your mind than your data.

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