Canadian Web Hosting Blog and News
16Dec/140

Let’s Encrypt provides free security certificates for any domain

Logo Source: Let's Encrypt

Beginning this coming summer, a new certificate authority will allow any domain to obtain basic security certificates for free. Let’s Encrypt is sponsored by Mozilla Corporation, Cisco Systems, Akamai Technologies, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and IdenTrust Inc.

Let’s Encrypt is built on the idea of cooperation and openness. It is a simple one-click process developed with the help of researchers from the University of Michigan and through the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) to deliver an open Internet security infrastructure in 2015.

With so much personal and business information flowing through the internet. In the past, we have used SSL certificates. Now there is the successor TLS that is supported by every browser and device supporting it. The challenge, however, is the public-key certificate that needs to be used to verify the server you talk to so actually the one you are intending to talk to. For many operators, basic server certificates is a big hassle to obtain – the application process is confusing, it costs money, is tricky to install and frustrating to update.

Untitled Infographic

Let’s Encrypt wants to solve these problems by making their service:

Free – any domain is eligible for a certificate at no cost

Automatic – the enrollment process is easy and renewal occurs automatically

Secure – it will serve as a platform for security techniques and best practices

Transparent – records for certificate issuance and revocation is always available for those that wish to inspect them

Open – the software will be open-source as much as possible and there will be a standard of automated issuance and renewal

Cooperative – Let’s Encrypt is a joint effort to benefit the community and will not be controlled by a single organization

 

Sheila W.

@CAWebHosting
@CWHUpdates

7Nov/140

Time to go secure

Have you been working on your SEO and hoping to get your website to the top of the search engine?

Google is pushing for HTTPS

On August 6th, 2014, Google tested out using HTTPS as a Ranking Signal. They reported that their test showed positive results when they used encrypted connections as a signal in their ranking algorithm. HTTPS has since become a permanent search ranking signal on Google.

Google stated that the HTTPS is a very lightweight signal that only affects less than 1% of global queries and there has been no reports of ranking changes. So if two sites were the exact same, then the page using HTTPS may rank above the unsecured page. The boost will only be URL specific and not site-wide.

Watch Google’s video on why HTTPS matters: http://bit.ly/1tmM5z5

High quality content on a webpage will still outweigh the HTTPS signal but it looks like Google is pushing for the switch and hinting that the HTTPS signal will become a bigger part of their ranking algorithm in the future.

Even if you are a non-commercial website, it may be wise to switch to a secure server anyway. For one thing, a secure server guarantees that your content cannot be altered, e.g. have unexpected ads added. It also allows your website to look more authentic, an important factor if the content on your website is intended to provide advice, e.g. financial or medical information.

Google may be pushing for HTTPS so that it helps identify site ownership and therefore eliminate spam. It could also be potentially harder for NSA to track the content users are consuming if we browse HTTPS sites.

Migration nightmare?

No, migration to HTTPS doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s relatively easy to purchase the Security Certificate from your web hosting company. But sometimes you may experience a 301 error code, which means the redirect from your HTTP domain to your HTTPS is corrupted. This happens when there is a potential for duplicated content and several other technical issues during transition.

To avoid potential problems during migration, site owners should avoid redirect chains, similar to this one:

  1. I click on your website at http://iloveyoyos.com
  2. You redirect me to http://www.iloveyoyos.com
  3. Then you redirect me to https://www.iloveyoyos.com

If you’re building a new site, changing domain names or making a change to your URL structure (e.g. platform changes) then you won’t be experiencing the redirect issues.

It is estimated that we have two years to move to HTTPS before a non-secured website becomes a critical SEO problem. So you can take your time, but we are starting to see warnings generated on websites that tell visitors they are connecting onto a non-secured website:

Example of website warning/Canadian Web Hosting

So for a low annual sum, it may really be worth it to make the move now and avoid these privacy warnings that kill site traffic.

The different kinds of security certificates

These are the different types of secured/non-secured URLs you will come across:

On Google Chrome:

Non-Secured Connection

DV/OV Certificate Valid

EV Certificate Valid

DV/OV Certificate Error (cert invalid)

DV/OV Certificate Error (mixed content)

 

So which one should we choose for our website?

Google won’t factor in the different kinds of certificates into site rankings at this time, but they do affect user trust and conversion rates, so it is good to understand how to choose from the variety of security certificates available.

- Shared Certificates are commonly offered by web hosts. You use their certificate but the security certificate isn’t connected to your domain name. www.iloveyoyos.com will contain your non-secure content while your shopping cart will go on www.iloveyoyos.cartprovider.com. This is less costly but takes away from your brand name and user confidence.

- Free Certificates are sometimes used for personal websites or forums. Companies may offer these free security certificates for specific reasons, e.g. if you are part of qualified Open Source project. These certificates will not be valid for businesses but may be applicable for non-profit projects.

- Domain Validated (DV) Certificates are the most common SSL certificates. It is often used by small businesses and covers a single subdomain, e.g. www.iloveyoyos.com but not iloveyoyos.com. Users to this website will see a security icon by the domain.

- An Organization Validated (OV) Certificate requires both the organization and the domain registry to verify information. The OV certificate will check to make sure the business is legitimate and is therefore more expensive to get than the DV certificate. Users can only tell the difference between the two if they click the padlock icon.

- The Extended Validation (EV) Certificate is the most expensive and hard to get SSL certificate. It requires a business to include domain ownership and organization information, as well as show legal existence in their organization. The EV Certificate takes more time to process and are more expensive. Users of EV certified websites will see a green bar on their browser and likely be more confident in their shopping experience.

Hopefully by now you have learned more about security on websites and how to improve your business online.

Still confused or need help with getting a SSL certificate? Contact Canadian Web Hosting today by emailing sales@canadianwebhosting.com.

 

Sheila W.
@CAWebHosting
@CWHUpdates

12Sep/140

Need a web-hosting company? Some key factors to help you choose:

Most businesses have their own website now and it is essential that the web-hosting provider is secure so data and business isn’t lost through malicious hacking or downtime. But how do we choose a reliable web-hosting company? Here are some factors to consider:

1.  Customer support
If any issues arise, whether your site is down or data is missing, it is essential that your web-hosting provider is there to support you. Settle for nothing less than 24/7 customer support so that your issues can be resolved in a timely manner. Make sure you can get help anytime and wherever you are located.

2.  Reliability
Check out the web-hosting provider’s guarantee of uptime. You want a reliable service and your website to have maximum exposure to potential business. Where 100% server uptime does not exist (if a company guarantees that, it is false), there are definitely web-hosting providers that will meet expectations of 99.9% - 99.99999% guaranteed uptime. Also make sure they provide backup services or other options to secure your data.

3.  Guarantee
Just like when we shop for any other product, we want to have the freedom to return something we don’t like or doesn’t fit our needs. Look for web-hosting companies that offer at least a 30-day guarantee or pro-rated money back guarantee. This trial period will let you cancel your service early with less penalty.

4.  Options
Check out the web-hosting provider’s website. A solid company will offer you flexible plans and a variety of packages to suit your needs. Compare the prices and inquire about differences in rate. If you’re looking for a web-hosting plan to resell web space, make sure there are reseller plan options.

5.  Extra charges
Are there limitations in your plan, such as bandwidth? Providers will often charge extra when you exceed your plan restrictions and as a result, your site could go offline. Check and compare that these prices are reasonable and that the company will keep your site online when these charges are paid off.

6.  Discounts
Once you have narrowed down a few choices, chat with the sales representatives to inquire about discounts and special offers. Many providers will offer free software installers or domain names.

7.  Reputation
Finally, check reputability of a company. Instead of using forums or other unreliable sources, consider looking into accredited business directories with ratings, such as the Better Business Bureau.

 

Sheila W.

@CAWebHosting
@CWHUpdates

18Nov/130

Canadian Dedicated Servers and DDR4 RAM

 

Every three to five years, we get a product upgrade that has a significant impact on many products that we use - dedicated servers, desktops, cloud servers, shared hosting that has the potential to change how customers use our Canadian Web Hosting services.  That technology upgrade is RAM.  Specifically at the end of 2013, companies like Crucial, Micro, Samsung and Adata are expected to start rolling out their DDR4 Memory technology.   This new technology is engineered to pack more performance into your system and has the potential to double or triple the available density per module.  This is a continuing theme for dedicated server and technology partners as everyone works to make systems and components more dense, more efficient with less cost for end users. Moreover, DDR4 modules will use up to 20% less power than the previous versions, and will enable data rates that are at least twice as fast as  current DDR3 memory.

So what is DDR4?  The Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council (JEDEC) signed off on a final DDR4 standard this summer. But a draft of the spec and its key attributes was actually issued last year. Those preliminary specs call for DDR4 memory to operate at a maximum of 1.2 volts (20 percent less than current DDR3 memory) and achieve data transfer rates of 3.2 billion transfers per second (double that of the top-end speed of DDR3's memory bus).

Initially, most DDR4 modules from companies like Micron and Crucial will handle transfer speeds of 2.4 billion transfers per second, with later versions ramping up to the 3.2 billion memory transfers per second at the top-end rate.  Right now, that translates to roughly the same number of bits per second in throughput.  However, note that Samsung has advertised a throughput of 2.113 gigabits per second for its DDR4.   The "DDR" in DDR4 is an acronym for "double data rate"—all DDR memory moves data across the memory bus twice for each cycle of the bus' timing clock. That's the most primary bit of architecture that DDR4 shares with its predecessor. Instead of using multiple shared channels to link memory units with the CPU's memory controller, each DDR4 memory module has its own dedicated point-to-point connection. 

Aside from the reduced power consumption, DDR4 RAM also reduces overall power requirements through an improved version of the pseudo-open drain interface (POD) logic, a technology that is also used in DDR3 RAM.  POD logic interfaces draw no current except when they're flipped to their low state.

So, what isn’t there to like about DDR4? It will make my cloud servers, dedicated servers and every other web hosting service perform better.  DDR4's technical advances do come at a price. The first is finding a way to accommodate the additional memory connections. While the point-to-point architecture gives DDR4 the ability to read and write more data per cycle that becomes increasingly challenging to handle the large amounts of memory.  With some of the servers that Canadian Web Hosting is preparing to deploy, these new servers use high-speed digital switches in order to reduce the number of direct memory channels connecting to the CPU's memory controller.

All in all, DDR4 RAM means that you will process your data twice at least twice quick, make your websites or applications much faster and end users will experience improved responsiveness for each interaction for your website or hosted application.   As today’s applications require more and more resources, your preferred tools like Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress will work faster and more efficiently without any added cost.    Crucial created a great graphic demonstrating the performance differences and improvements that DDR4 RAM provides.

   Canadian Web Hosting looks to integrate DDR4 RAM

For more information about DDR4, new web hosting service that integrate the latest ram technology or dedicated servers that will help you improve the performance of your website or application, contact our team at sales@canadianwebhosting.com or by phone at 1.888.821.7888.

4Nov/130

Migrating Your Website to a New Web Host

Many of our prospective and current Canadian Web Hosting clients come to a point where they need to have their website(s) migrated to another server or want to move their hosting over to us from another web hosting provider.  As one might imagine, we do hundreds of migrations a month and through our extensive experience in migrating websites and cloud servers, we have been able to identify several key areas that need to be considered before, during and after the migration.

DECISIONS TO MIGRATE

With anything, the decision to move is never an easy one.  Potential Canadian Web Hosting clients who have requested migrations from remote hosts have more often than not reported the following four (4) reasons as their main purpose for migrating:

  • Pricing is not reflective on the services provided
  • Change of service to: VPS, Dedicated Server, Cloud Hosting, Private Cloud
  • Service level is not acceptable
  • Requirements have outgrown the scale the current provider is operating at
  • Requirement or preference to have company data hosted within Canada
  • The need for additional corporate governance like SSAE 16

After identifying the need to migrate, it is important to consider any third-party dependencies that could also play a role in the migration.

THIRD PARTIES

For those who are not managing their own websites it is crucial you contact the individual(s) who know the dependencies or requirements of each site. Making sure everyone is on the same page internally will go a long way both with the migration and for extended maintenance of the site. For instance, if the DNS service for the website is hosted externally Canadian Web Hosting needs to make the necessary changes with the remote provider to minimize impact during the migration.

EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE ANALYSIS

Once any 3rd parties have been identified, we will have our support engineers evaluate the existing configuration to ensure there is a clear understanding of where the migration will start.  Including items such as:

  • Identification of applications that are in use
  • Identification of versions of all applications that are in use
  • Use of control panels
  • Ensure there is no evidence of server compromise or malicious activity, if the existing server has been compromised we must ensure a greater degree of independence with the new system, ensure passwords are reset etc
  • Identify any interaction with third party services which may have IP (source or destination) specific requirements or restrictions in place

IDENTIFY SITES/APPLICATIONS BEING MIGRATED

Create a list of the domain names, servers, software, data and other tools which have services that are to be migrated. Where possible, extract lists of the following:

  • Domain names - from web server configuration
  • DNS
  • Mail domains
  • System user accounts
  • Mail accounts
  • FTP accounts
  • SSH accounts
  • Database user accounts and database names
  • Remote access services
  • Local service

IMPLEMENTATION AND TESTING

After the decision to migrate has been reached and the required information has been supplied, and in coordination with you, we would proceed to schedule the migration. Depending on the size of the migration it can be done quite quickly and with minimal delays. In certain cases where a large scale migration is required, a Canadian Web Hosting support engineer will be assigned as the main point of contact during the process. This helps us maintain continuity with the flow of information and updates between us.

In most cases website migrations will involve significant changes to the versions and installations of the programs or applications that support the websites. Even slight changes can cause significant problems. Thorough testing is always absolutely critical to avoid outages and service disruption. Testing will need to be carried out by someone with intricate knowledge of your website or application that is being moved and how it is expected to operation.

If you are interested in migrating an account or have any questions about the services we provide feel free to contact us at 1.888.821.7888 or send us an email at sales@canadianwebhosting.com.  We offer free website migration and up to 6-months of credit for any unused credits.