Cyber Security – How Important Is It?

Any business that uses the internet or email, has to take this seriously...

Cyber Security and understanding more

I went to a really informative Cyber Security event last week in Hailsham. It was presented by Andy Rawlinson from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and sponsored by the Hailsham Chamber of Commerce and Astec Computing (UK).

We see a lot of companies in our day to day work, who don’t really have a lot of understanding of the dangers of the internet, or even the importance of having a reliable, secure IT infrastructure.

I think people and businesses just think they will be OK. However, listening to the presentation this morning, they clearly won’t be!

Some of the elements I understood more than others as we see them all the time, like Phishing, Denial of Service Attacks and Website Hacking.

Cyber Security

Some of the key elements I took away with me were:

Anti-Virus

Make sure that any device you have that connects to the Internet is running an up to date anti-virus system. These don’t have to be expensive, there are some really good free ones; but you have to use something. Keep this up to date and make sure that it is working properly, as well as regularly scan your devices.

Also use something to detect Malware on your devices. Malware is the malicious software or programs that are harmful to your devices; it’s these that actually do all the dirty work.

Firewalls

A firewall is your first line of defense. It’s a protective barrier that sits on your PC or router and protects you from unwanted access to the system. You can change the security settings on your firewall to suit your requirements, making them specific to you.

When you add new software or apps to your PC, you will need to change the permissions on your Firewall and you will probably notice requests to do this. You can also review what software/websites have access to your system. Setting up your firewall properly is important.

Secure Offsite Backups

Make sure you have an effective back up of your computer data. If you can get a backup of your system files that’s even better. This will make it easier to get things working again if your security is breached. Also do your best to understand how the backups work and what is actually backed up. As well as this, you need to know how to restore the backed-up files.

Backups should be offsite. Whether that’s in the cloud or on a drive that you physically remove from the office after the backup is completed. You may not want to trust a cloud backup, but they are generally pretty good and make a lot of sense.

If you don’t have time to do this, or the inclination, then it makes sense to find an IT company who can help you create a backup plan.

2FA (2 Factor Authentication)

These days most online systems that require you to login with a password also give you the option to set up 2FA. This basically means that when you login with your user/password it will also send an authorisation code, usually to your mobile phone. To gain access you will need to have access to the phone and enter the code that is sent to you.

We build a lot of WordPress websites and we have been starting to implement 2FA on the CMS (Content Management System) so that you can’t login and make changes unless you can authenticate properly. This is relatively simple to do so ask your developer to help you.

Email security

This is something that affects us more than most of the others on a day to day basis. We manage email for most of our clients and security and strong passwords are very important. We also see quite a few Phishing emails which we regularly speak to clients about. Spotting a dodgy email can be hard enough especially as they are so well disguised, but it’s really important that if you have any suspicions then you must not open an email.

As a rule of thumb, large companies, banks and government bodies won’t ask you to login to your account via an email. If you are worried call them instead. Phishing emails will try and push you, by adding a sense of urgency to the request, but again if the request is unexpected or urgent and you don’t know what it is then it’s probably not from who you think it is.

Having a good password won’t stop you opening a phishing email, but it might stop someone using your email account for a different purpose. Hackers can use your account to attack other businesses, sending thousands of emails to slow and cause their systems to crash. DoS (Denial of Service) attacks may not be focused on you but if you are part of one, even unwittingly, it can lead to your mail account getting blocked and much more.

Create a business wide policy in regard to handling suspicious email, so that as a group you understand how to handle these as well as how to deal with them.

Password Management systems

Having good quality passwords is very important. Ideally of 14 characters or more, with upper and lower case text plus numbers and special characters. Unfortunately, the better you make them the harder they are to remember.

Another good idea is to create a pass phrase, so three sets of words that you can remember but that aren’t linked or obvious… something like “RelaxingFriendsSkiing” might be a good one for me. You can then juice this up a little by making some of the characters numbers or using special characters; “#Rel4xingFriends$kiing”.

But creating and remembering lots of good passwords is still going to be hard, so you could try using a password management system. These store and remember all your different passwords with you using one good pass phrase to access the management system. A lot of these can also remember and log you in automatically to systems that you use regularly. But only do this on devices you trust and manage and of course make sure you use 2FA.

Some simple steps to take

OK so here are the basics of what we have said above:

  • Make sure you use a good anti-virus and keep this up to date and working
  • Combine this with a good Malware package to illuminate malicious software
  • Back up your critical business systems and understand how to restore the back up if anything goes wrong
  • Use 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) whenever possible
  • Use business email and make sure your passwords are strong. Also have a policy within your business for dealing with suspicious emails
  • Invest in a good password manager

For me the single most important thing to do is get help. Speak to an expert about your Cyber Security and work with them to do as much as you can to prevent access to your systems. This is definitely worth spending money on as it potentially can save you EVERYTHING…

Wow so yesterday was the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web. Obviously it took some time to go from a proposal written by Tim Berners-Lee to what we call the internet today. I read that his supervisor wrote “Vague but exciting…” at the top of the document. 

happy birthday WWW

So is this going to catch on then?

It reminds me of the time I first heard mention of the internet. I was in my print studio and a friend had called me to discuss his new business; he needed a designer as he was setting up a website design company. This was back in late 1997 and when he explained that the internet would enable companies to share information and advertise all over the world, I apparently asked him “So is this going to catch on then?”; he reliably informed me that the Internet was going to be the next big thing. Well done Paul I think you might have been right. 

Well I took the design job and worked there for 11 months before moving on to what I hoped was bigger and better things. After 18 months selling, planning, designing and building (I wouldn’t call it developing) websites I went back to what I think I do best… running my own business. 

I remember that noise that the modem made as it connected via the phone line at 14.4kb/s or later at the positively explosive 28.8kb/s, or  trying to design and build websites with graphics that were tiny by today’s standards and structuring a website using tables; such fun…  

The rise and fall of giants

Yahoo seemed to own the world in 2004 raking in astronomical profits, they would surely dominate the internet for years to come, but it wasn’t soon after that the much simpler Google search came about… rather than paying for a position on a search engine your content helped you get there instead. It felt like Yahoo disappeared almost overnight as is the way with the internet. 

I suppose 2004 was also the start of social media as we know it now, with MySpace and then Facebook bringing a new way to communicate. Whether you like social media or not it has had a dramatic effect on nearly all of us, especially our children. 

One of the biggest areas of change caused by the internet has to be shopping; e-commerce is changing the physical nature of our high streets. It’s hard for specific types of businesses to compete with the internet, with the high street becoming more about service lead businesses rather than shops selling things. Love or hate them Amazon’s plan to lose millions before making billions seems to have worked for them rather well with them dominating internet sales. 

Easy Money!

Then there is my personal favourite; no it’s not what you are thinking… online gaming is now a job, you can play games all day on the internet and get paid to do so. Some streamers get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a month through online subscriptions, donations, sponsorship and merchandise; one of my favorites Shroud recently celebrated getting 100,000 subscribers! 

I’m looking to see what happens over the next few years. 

So once again happy birthday WWW. Love Julian

Networking works!

Julian goes to a few local networking groups. As a company, we want to get our name out there, meet new businesses, talk to people and hopefully give them good advice that will help to grow their businesses. At one of these groups was Jane Guest from Adaray Marketing. Julian, along the course of a few conversations chatted with Jane who then referred Sokada to her clients, organic skincare brand, Nathalie Bond, based in Sheffield.

Organic Skincare by Nathalie Bond

Organic Skincare by Nathalie Bond

Nathalie Bond is a family run business. They have created their own brand of luxury handmade organic skincare. It is being sold wholesale, abroad and through other online companies, but they also wanted to start promoting it themselves to the massive growing online retail market.

Nat and Andy are a great family led couple, (expecting their third baby) who want to offer an alternative to the mass produced, chemical filled, skincare products that are being sold worldwide. They have gone back to basics, using organic essential oils and butters. Everything is organic, gentle and most importantly, there is no animal testing and no harsh chemicals or additives.

Product testing

So in the spirit of trying the products before we work on them, we bought some through their online shop. They arrived promptly, beautifully boxed with no damage whatsoever. The packaging is all completely recyclable, as are pretty much all of their jars and bottles.

Jude has always been thinking of going organic, when it comes to skincare. So we ordered some of the handmade soaps, the Bloom skin balm and a set of the organic facial skincare, as well as some of the liquid soap, with a lip balm thrown in for good measure. The organic soaps are wonderful to cleanse your face as well as body. Using the soap bars in the shower with a bath puff ball sponge (whatever you call it…) works perfectly, letting you use the soap as a body wash. But apparently you can also use the liquid soaps, which are also ideal sitting in the kitchen, downstairs loo or at the bathroom sink.

The skin balm is great for the body, including feet, elbows as well as the rest of the skin. It is just as lovely on the face and neck though!

And using the organic soap, with the Bloom face mist and then the Gentle face oil, leaves your face clear, smooth and completely moisturised. This is such an easy skincare routine and with all products having a multi-use capability, they are extremely versatile.

Organic Skincare by Nathalie Bond

In summary

Obviously, we can’t always product test all the businesses we work with at Sokada. However this was an ideal opportunity. And this organic skincare company is really going places. Wonderful gentle products that can also be used on sensitive skin, baby skin, during pregnancy as well as skin with allergies. The ingredients in these wonderful products are organic, gentle but still smell fabulous! We have already ordered again and will continue to do so.

And what makes it even easier to make the transition across to this skincare brand is the price! It is really competitive and you don’t need loads of products for a daily skincare routine, which doesn’t break the bank (unlike some skincare brands!).

Sokada are currently working with Nat and Andy on their online marketing as well as a Google Adwords campaign – all is going very well and bringing them in lots of online orders and new customers from the retail sector.

Nathalie Bond Organic Skincare are a definite “YES!” from Sokada!

 

Christmas is fast approaching. We therefore wanted to let you all know our opening hours over the Christmas period.

Our offices will be shut over Christmas from the 22nd of December to the 3rd of January 2019. Should a website or email related emergency occur please contact us via Email with the subject line URGENT.

The Sokada team wish all customers a lovely Christmas and a very successful New Year.

WordPress 5.0 has arrived

WordPress are about to launch the biggest update of the year and most probably next year. This update will shake the way we’ve known WordPress and completely revamp the user experience of creating pages & posts.

The Gutenberg Editor

Gutenberg is the biggest part of the WordPress 5.0 update and there are lots of ways to describe how this will work but I feel the WordPress Gutenberg handbook explains it perfectly!

Gutenberg began as a transformation of the WordPress editor — a new interface for adding, editing, and manipulating content. It seeks to make it easy for anyone to create rich, flexible content layouts with a block-based UI. All types of page components are represented as modular blocks, which means they can be accessed from a unified block menu, dropped anywhere on a page, and directly edited to create the custom presentation the user wants.

It is a fundamental modernization and transformation of how the WordPress experience works, creating new opportunities for both users and developers. Gutenberg introduces new frameworks, interaction patterns, functionality, and user experiences for WordPress. And similar to a new macOS version, we will talk about “Gutenberg”, and all the new possibilities it enables, until eventually the idea of Gutenberg as a separate entity will fade and it will simply be WordPress.

 

To summarise, WordPress are swapping the Classic Editor for Gutenberg block builder.

I’m not ready for Gutenberg what do I do?

If you are not ready for Gutenberg (That’s fine you are not alone) you can install the Classic Editor, backup the website and perform the update.

Will my existing site with Sokada use Gutenberg

Not currently, we are installing the classic editor onto all websites previously built to this blog post. Due to the bespoke parts for the websites we have built, we felt this was the safest approach rather than rushing a testing and push live process. We aim to have all previous websites on Gutenberg as soon as possible so our customers can enjoy the features Gutenberg have to offer.

Sokada’s future with Gutenberg

We will be embracing the WordPress update with all future websites planning to use Gutenberg. We have just started our first production website using this and understanding the process of how we can use this block builder, to enhance the customer and user experience, when it comes to our websites.

If you have any questions about The WordPress 5.0 Update, then please get in touch!

About Me

My name is Jamie Hall. I’m a 24 year old website developer from East Sussex. I’ve always been playing with code since I got my first computer when I was 9. It all started out as a pure hobby, creating silly little websites for fun and learning photoshop. I started to get more serious about website development when I was 12 years old and received a gift of “Zen of CSS design by Dave Shea”. I read this book over and over; at this point I knew I wanted to be a website developer.

My hobbies outside of work are playing PC Games. I’m super competitive when it comes to them and have played in many online tournaments and teams. I’ve been playing poker since I was 18 and really love the strategic side to it. Last but not least I wouldn’t be a true developer if I didn’t say I enjoy experimenting with code and learning new languages. I’m currently learning Vue.js and hoping to increase my skillset to showcase these skills on websites in the near future.

Before Sokada

I’ve worked for many agencies; run an online business; worked on small websites; worked on big websites; worked for small companies and worked for the bigger companies and I can safely say I love my job!

Life at Sokada

At Sokada, each day is different challenge for me. I’m either creating the next website for our newest clients or creating additional features for our existing websites.

I enjoy building the front end of a website and exceeding a clients’ expectations on delivery.

Why Sokada?

I’ve worked for a few website agencies and Sokada is one of the only agencies that I agree gives the customers the best service possible. Since I’ve known Julian, he has always expressed his passion to help businesses grow, using the best web methods available.

There are just too many companies out there not giving the service they promise.

A typical day at Sokada

A typical day at Sokada for me is a mixture of project managing and developing. I try to get myself as stuck in as possible, offering any knowledge I have, towards helping customers and ensuring the work we deliver exceeds the clients expectations. All this fueled by regular amounts of coffee and cake!

What is a Featured Snippet?

It is a daily struggle to keep up to date with everything that is Google. Updates are published that only the most tech savvy have a clue of understanding. Different text boxes, images and links pop up at the top of Google on a weekly basis! One of the features that has been around for a while now, however, is the Featured Snippets section. It is an “answer box” for questions when they are asked online. An ideal way to get a quick answer and they are great on mobile devices. But who gets to have their links listed as answers to these questions? Here are some ideas on how to get seen on Google’s Featured Snippets, what you could do that would work well with your own website.

If you are searching for an answer to a question, then the chances are the answer box that may show up could be Wikipedia. This, along will other major websites will most probably take precedence. However, if your website ranks well and you include questions, bullet points, videos and images that are relevant to someone’s question, then you stand a slightly better chance of being seen. And this power is great for getting people finding you online. You only have to start showing in Featured Snippets and this will increase the strength of your own website.

How to Get Seen on Google's Featured Snippets

Keyword Research is a MUST

If you rank in the top ten for your keyword search, then this will definitely go in your favour. So find a way to gain loads of great longtail keywords that may not even be that competitive – a great starting point for ideas on what to write about as well!

And research shows that it will be a concise answer to a question that will help to get you seen. A paragraph of text that answers the question asked. So think about the sorts of questions that will be asked for something in your industry and answer them well.

But don’t think you post or page must just be one paragraph. Google is clever and will spot an answer within your text. Ensure that you have the question as your sub heading and you have one paragraph for the answer. Try and keep this in mind with all your content writing. Google loves a question and answer, so be innovative, be clever and keep writing about what is relevant for your products and your market.

Videos also do well

Videos will work well on Google’s featured snippets, but not so much with images. Below is an example, (this is a weird analogy for an example we know) – it was the first thing that popped into our heads! (After how to tie a bow tie…)

How to Get Seen on Google's Featured Snippets

Is your SEO effective?

Ensure you have all your SEO (search engine optimisation) in great condition. Make sure you have relevant SEO titles, meta descriptions, labelled images and lots of lovely strong keyword within your text. But do not stuff the text with irrelevant wording – this won’t help your website at all! You bring your ranking up with a great online marketing campaign and this will go towards being seen in so many ways.

“People Also Ask” Section

This is yet another section that Google have introduced, which gives you variations on your search enquiry. If you click on one of the questions, then it will keep offering other listed ideas. So just because you may not appear in the top Featured Snippets Box, does not mean that you won’t appear. If you have lots of relevant information on your website, appertaining to what you do then you will become a great knowledge in your field and potential customers will keep revisiting.

How to Get Seen on Google's Featured Snippets

How to Get Seen on Google’s Featured Snippets

A summary:

Our easy ways and suggestions on how to get seen on Google’s Featured Snippets are as follows:

  1. Keyword rich blog posts and pages
  2. Title your posts with something relevant
  3. Use sub headings that are keyword rich
  4. Keep your answers concise, interesting and informative
  5. If possible, include videos within your website
  6. Always ensure your SEO is at the top of it’s game

As with all that relates to organic marketing, sometimes whatever you do doesn’t quite hit the mark. But keep going, as your knowledge will grow and you become more and more experienced in what you do. Product knowledge for what you are marketing will shine through on your blog posts and people WILL return to see what else you have written.

As we say, Google is always updating what you see, how you search and the way it formats its answers. It is no wonder people get confused! The whole aim of what we write at Sokada, is for people to understand these changes, in an easy to read way. Please get in touch if you have any questions or comments about what we write. Thanks for reading!

 

Just seen this on Social Media. Sums this up nicely for a Friday afternoon!

The lighter side of GDPR

1. Excited for the day after GDPR deadline day when, if I understand it correctly, no one is legally allowed to talk to me ever again.

2. My mum is leaving it awfully close to the GDPR deadline to ask if I want to opt in to receive her emails, calls and texts.

3. The kids haven’t responded to my GDPR requests so I don’t think I’m legally allowed to tell them when dinner’s on the table.

4. Just to be GDPR safe I’m gonna text everyone in my phone contacts list and tell them I hold their phone number and email address and ask if they want to continue receiving texts from me.

5. My Nan just emailed to confirm I’d still like to receive:

  • Birthday cards
  • Dove sets
  • Phone calls about nothing
  • Updates on who died

6. Do you know a good GDPR consultant?

  • Yes
  • Can you give me his e-mail address?
  • No.

7. Just received an email from a wealthy Nigerian Prince. He told me that he doesn’t have any fortune to share with me at the moment but he would appreciate if I could let him know before May 25th if I wish to continue receiving emails.

Happy Friday everyone!