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UK Dedicated Server, Cloud , Colocation and Managed Hosting Specialists | CWCS


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Managed Hosting – It really is all about Reliability and Security!

CWCS Managed Hosting prides itself on providing enterprise-class managed hosting services. Recently we commissioned a study to ask senior IT professionals what they consider to be the most important factors in the purchasing of a hosting solution.

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What did we find?

The independent study, completed on behalf of CWCS Managed Hosting reveals that around half (50.96% to be precise) of senior IT decision makers consider reliability and uptime to be the most important aspects of a hosted solution. Additionally, nearly a quarter (22.12%) consider security to be the most important aspect.

Is this shocking and breakthrough information? No, not exactly. Reliability and security are the key foundations of our business.

One of the most surprising outcomes of this survey revealed that price was actually a small factor in choosing a hosting solution. In fact, only 7.69% of the 100 senior IT decision makers asked said that pricing was the most important aspect of a hosting solution. On the contrary, some in the industry would consider price to have an overwhelming majority in this instance. Either way, we believe the prices we charge reflect the quality of our products and services while offering value for money.

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CWCS Managed Hosting – Supreme Hosting. Supreme Support.

CWCS is a hosting provider that provides great reliability and uptime. This research confirms that purchasers and users consider these factors extremely important and directly correlates with CWCS’s offerings. CWCS Managed Hosting takes pride its efforts to provide supreme support and service to its customers.

Amongst other accolades and accreditations, CWCS is an ISO 27001 certified hosting provider. Through introducing extensive physical and cyber processes we go out of our way to ensure that all data held on our servers is safe.

However, we think it is also the case that reliability is now taken for granted, rather than something actively sought out. That’s why nearly 50% of people who responded to the survey actually rated other factors, such as security and scalability, as most important.

As you may know, your hosting solution keeps your website, applications, databases and therefore your business running. Any downtime, failures or security compromises could result in a loss of sales and profit. That’s why it’s always important to take care when selecting your hosting provider.

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What to Consider When Purchasing Hosting

For smaller companies with smaller budgets, price may prove to be a larger factor in the final decision. But there are more important issues to consider first.

  1. Make sure the Service Level Agreement (SLA) meets your needs and is not misleading.
  2. Ensure the reliability of the service is sufficient.
  3. Check the hosting solutions specifications meet your requirements – what support and management options are available?
  4. Keep in mind the scalability of the solution for your potential future requirements.
  5. Is your data secure? Find out what security measures are in place to keep your data safe. ISO 27001 accreditation is a good indicator of high security levels Do you need to add more security?

So, you may find yourself asking a great deal of questions when it comes to choosing your next hosting partner – that’s good! CWCS Managed Hosting provide a comprehensive range of hosting solutions and can customise any solution to meet your exact needs and requirements.

Visit our website for more information on any of CWCS Managed Hosting’s products or services, or contact us today on info@cwcs.co.uk or 0115 740 1234.

 

Additional information:

CWCS Managed Hosting surveyed over 100 senior IT decision makers in the UK about their attitudes to hosted services.  As part of this research, the question ‘What is the most important aspect of a hosting solution’ was posed.  The answers were as follows:

Reliability/Uptime: 50.96%

Security: 22.12%

Flexibility and scalability: 15.38%

Price: 7.69%

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

WordPress – Urgent Security Warning!

WordPressA recent security warning reveals that websites running WordPress and the popular newsletter plugin, MailPoet are susceptible to hacks that give attackers almost complete control.

MailPoet has over 1.7 million downloads and this threat affects all users.

CWCS Managed Hosting strongly advises all users to update their software to the patched 2.6.8 version of MailPoet.

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What is the flaw?

The major issue with the MailPoet flaw is that an attacker can exploit this vulnerability without having any privileges/accounts on the target site.

It gives hackers the ability to pretty much do anything they want on the victim’s website. The attacker can use the website for phishing lures, sending SPAM, hosting malware and infecting other customers (on a shared server). They can remotely upload any file of their choice to the vulnerable server.

The company that discovered this flaw has issued a warning that this bug should be taken seriously. As the flaw is so severe, it is important that all users should update the plugin to the patched version (2.6.8, released on 4th July, 2014) immediately.

In patching the original flaw (version 2.6.7), new problems were created and which require the second update to be installed. It is absolutely essential that you update to 2.6.8.

WordPress and Plugin Security

CWCS Managed Hosting is passionate about the security of both our data centres as well as our customer’s websites and servers. That’s why our whole business is ISO 27001 certified. CWCS would like to re-iterate how it is important for you to keep all software up to date.

It is important to realise that each time a new update is made available, it’s for one or more of the following reasons:

(a)    New and improved functionalities

(b)   Fixes of bugs and glitches in the functionalities

(c)   Security Issues

For the final reason alone, it is important that you regularly check for updates.

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Do you have an IT maintenance schedule?

Keeping your servers and software up-to-date is essential to keeping your website and business secure.

All businesses, small and large should have an IT maintenance schedule. It is important that you routinely check all software, plugins and applications for updates and are implement them immediately.

It is also important to keep your antivirus software up-to-date. If you have an antivirus through CWCS, then your software will be updated automatically.

If you have gold or platinum support with us, our technical team will keep your server fully patched and managed.

It is important to note, that it is the site owner’s responsibility to keep all software up-to-date.

More Information

If you require assistance on keeping your WordPress site safe, or would like more information on CWCS Managed Hosting’s web and server hosting products and services then contact us on info@cwcs.co.uk or 0115 740 1234.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

DDoS Attacks – A Growing Concern Amongst UK Businesses

In this Blog, we have touched on the many types of malware, hacks and data breaches, which effect businesses around the world, in particular small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) however, is a different form of cyber-attack that has evolved over the last 3 years. They have become more sophisticated and are now common occurrences.

Surviving in the digital age

How Common Are DDoS Attacks?

BT recently undertook some research on DDoS attacks and SMEs. The study reveals that 41% of organisations globally were hit by DDoS attacks over the past year (2013/2014). More worryingly, over 78% of those were attacked more than once.

36% of UK SMEs say such attacks are now a key concern to their business operations and on a global scale, this figure rises to 58%.

What is a DDoS Attack?

DDoS attacks can cause major disruptions to operations and can have a direct effect on visitor numbers, sales and reputation.

DDoS attacks can take down an organisations’ website or cause networks to grind to a halt and become unusable.

Commonly, an attacker will use a network of computers on a botnet to overload your site with requests (loading of webpages, emails and etc.) This unexpected level of traffic to your site uses your server’s power and memory to decrease the performance and speed of your site. In more sophisticated attacks, servers will halt all together.

We all know what happens when a website is down – you lose customers and sales!

Visitors attempting to get onto your site can lose patience and move onto one of your competitors sites. This can then have an effect on future sales and damage your reputation.

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Who Have They Targeted?

There are a number of high-profile DDoS attackers and they have targeted large corporations such as Microsoft, Amazon, CNN, Yahoo and eBay to name a few.

The attacker’s resources can be vast and can take down entire networks.

How to Combat DDoS Attacks

As the BT study indicates, the frequency and sophistication of these attacks is becoming higher. If you do not have the internal knowledge or resources to defend against this type of attack, it is essential to use an enterprise-class managed hosting company, such as CWCS.

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Here at CWCS Managed Hosting, we take security extremely seriously and it is our core mission to provide reliable and secure performance. We are an ISO 27001 certified hosting company and we have extensive cyber and physical security measures in place to prevent and combat DDoS attacks.

Our support team are highly qualified and are onsite 24/7/365, so your server has proactive security protection all day, every day.

For more information on secure hosting services for your business, please contact info@cwcs.co.uk or 0115 740 1234.

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

What is Windows Server Hosting?

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Windows server hosting is an increasingly popular choice for many small and medium enterprises (SMEs). As of the end of 2013, around one third of the top 10 million websites on the web run on a server that is powered by Windows. Traditionally, Linux has been the operating system of choice for webmasters, but Microsoft has made significant improvements to the Windows platform and it is now a viable choice for many business owners and webmasters.

Why Choose Windows Server Hosting?

Windows hosting is slightly more expensive than Linux hosting, because of the license fee that hosts must pay to run a Windows server. However, Windows hosting offers stability and security, ease of use, good uptime figures and good performance.

You can use Windows dedicated servers to power ASP or .NET websites associated with Access or MySQL databases, or to run Apache, MySQL and PHP or Perl if you wish.

Is Windows Server Hosting Worth It?

Windows server hosting can be a good choice for many businesses. If your intranet or web applications have been developed with Windows in mind then it makes sense to stick with Windows hosting.

It is hard to rate Windows vs Unix-like hosting for the
current generation of servers, because both offerings are high quality. Choose the hosting package that makes it easiest for you to work with the web development technologies you prefer.

Windows Server Pros and Cons

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An advantage of Windows servers is that they are generally easier to maintain than Linux servers. This is because, unlike Windows, Linux is open source software and updates can be rather complicated.

Another key benefit of Windows hosting, other than the familiarity of the Windows platform and the support that you can get from Microsoft, is the quality of Microsoft certifications. Microsoft offers a range of certification programs that allow prospective employees to demonstrate that they have valuable, current skills in systems administration, support or development. These certifications are a good indicator of the skill level of job applicants, and can help business owners to find qualified employees even if they don’t have some in-house expertise to assist with interviews. Due to Microsoft’s extensive certifications you will be able to find someone to support your business internally with confidence that they are well versed in how Windows Servers run and how you can get the most from it.

The main downside of Windows servers is that they are more expensive than their Linux equivalents, and they will need upgraded every few years to stay up to date with Microsoft’s new releases and end-of-life cycles.

The Future of Windows Server Hosting

While Windows remains a popular choice for dedicated servers, the broader web industry is moving towards the cloud. With Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualisation platform, this is ensuring Windows is at the forefront of Cloud technology. In the future, it is likely that Windows hosting will follow a similar path to Unix-like systems, with cloud hosting and hybrid systems becoming increasingly commonplace.

3 Questions to Ask When Looking for Windows Server Hosting

If you are considering a Windows server (Cloud, Dedicated, VPS) or a shared server that runs Windows, be sure to find out the following:

1. What server technologies are supported on your installation?

Most Windows hosting is configured to support ASP, .NET, MSSQL and other windows-specific technologies. If you want to use PHP, MySQL or the Apache web server, make sure that the hosting will allow that.

2. Do you allow the installation of other server applications?

Many companies run instant messaging services, VOIP and other applications on their Windows servers. You usually need to have a dedicated server to do this, because a shared hosting account will not have administrator privileges.

3. What support and disaster recovery options do you offer?

A good web host will offer 24/7 support, and a reasonable uptime guarantee. Check that the service level agreement is adequate for your use-case, and pay particular attention to problem resolution times. Remember that your website is the first interaction that many consumers will have with your business, so it is imperative that it runs well and that downtimes are kept to an absolute minimum.

Factors to Consider

Windows hosting is typically more expensive than Linux hosting, but that does not mean that it is a bad choice. If you need support for any of the following services, then Windows hosting is the best choice for you:

• Microsoft SQL

• FrontPage Extensions (although Linux does have support for these)

• JMail

• MSXML

• MSADO

• ASP

• .Net

Windows hosting integrates well with Exchange server and with other Microsoft products. This may be an important part of the decision making process for you – especially if you want to host your company intranet or internal applications on the same server.

Is it Right for My Business?

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Both Windows and Linux are good web server environments today. The environment that your web server runs does not have to match the environment that your business workstations run. Windows hosting is no more or less “compatible” than Linux hosting as far as your users are concerned, and in most cases the hosting environment should not matter for you as the administrator of your blog, CMS or online store installation.

From a security and a performance point of view, you have nothing to be concerned about with Windows today. In the past, Windows servers had a bad reputation, but Microsoft has made significant improvements over the last few releases of Windows Server, and the platform is now production-environment ready.

If your web developer or systems administrator recommends that you use Windows hosting because a particular language or server runs best under Windows, then you should listen to them. ASP, .NET, Access and MSSQL are all things that run best on Windows, for example. You should choose the environment that suits your use-case best, whether it is Windows or Linux.

If you would like to discuss how Windows server hosting could benefit your company, then contact CWCS Managed Hosting today on info@cwcs.co.uk or 0115 740 1234.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Heartbleed 2: The Latest OpenSSL Bug

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They think it’s all over… not quite yet! We thought the Heartbleed bug, which came to light in April was bad enough for OpenSSL, but now a researcher has discovered a second backdoor in its coding.

Fortunately for users, it’s nowhere near as severe or on the scale of Heartbleed. It does however further decrease people’s confidence in the open-source code.

The newly discovered weakness came to light during the development of fixes for Heartbleed but was introduced in 1998 and missed for 16 years!

What is the Heartbleed 2 bug?

Heartbleed

The new bug, found by a Japanese researcher, takes advantage of a portion of OpenSSL’s “handshake” for establishing encrypted connections, known as ChangeCipherSpec (CCS).

The bug enables the attacker to force the PC and connecting server performing the handshake to use weak keys. This allows a “man-in-the-middle” snoop to decrypt and read the traffic going back and forth. The hacker is able to watch and intercept messages, and extract sensitive information (usernames and passwords).

How does Heartbleed 2 work?

Attackers sitting on the same network as a target, such as a public Wi-Fi network, could force weak encryption keys on connections between victims’ PCs and web servers. This enables the hackers to intercept the data transferred (much like Heartbleed).

However, unlike the Heartbleed bug, which allowed anyone to directly attack any server using OpenSSL, the attacker exploiting this newly discovered bug would have to be located somewhere between the two computers communicating. That could be an eavesdropper on your local Starbuck’s Wi-Fi or the NSA who could strip away your Web connection’s encryption before its even ready.

What are its limitations?

The new attack does have other limitations. Hackers can only use the attack when both ends of a connection are running OpenSSL. Most browsers use other SSL applications that aren’t affected. However, Android web clients are likely to use the vulnerable code.

Among servers, only those using more recent versions of SSL are affected. Also VPNs may use Open SSL and thus be vulnerable.

Who is affected?

A number of versions are affected and fixes are now available.

A full list of effected versions and their suggested upgrades is available on the OpenSSL website.

• OpenSSL 0.9.8 SSL/TLS users (client and/or server) should upgrade to 0.9.8za.

• OpenSSL 1.0.0 SSL/TLS users (client and/or server) should upgrade to 1.0.0m.

• OpenSSL 1.0.1 SSL/TLS users (client and/or server) should upgrade to 1.0.1h.

• Ubuntu 12.04-> 14.10

• Debian 6/7

• Centos 5/6

What actions do I have to take?

CWCS have already taken action. We have updated the OpenSSLs for Platinum and Gold Support customers accordingly.

All other customers should immediately update their versions according to the OpenSSL website. If you need any help or advice on updating OpenSSL, contact our support team on support@cwcs.co.uk.

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Secure Hosting: CWCS is ISO 27001 Certified

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