Thursday, April 24, 2014

It’s time to change your password


About 99% of us make two mistakes with passwords:
1. Use the same password on multiple websites; and
2. Do not periodically change the password

If that’s you, read on. You may have read about the “Heartbleed” bug in the past couple of weeks. It seems that for years, the security method used by over half of all websites to pass data to you and back had a bug that allowed hackers to intercept the transmission and get your username and password. This bug was recently made public and websites are scurrying to fix it.

In the case of DomainNameSanity.com’s website, we weren’t subjected to the problems of the Heartbleed bug because we didn’t use the defective software. Therefore, passing your password to our site was secure. However, if the password you use at a website that didn’t have the Heartbleed bug is the same password you used at any other website that did have the bug (and over half the websites did), then it’s possible your password is floating in cyberspace and has gotten into the wrong hands.

If you’ve been told that a website didn’t have a problem with Heartbleed, don’t get lulled into a false sense of security if that same password was used by you anywhere else on the Internet.

If you want to check if a website has a problem with Heartbleed now, you can do that at this link:

However, almost all websites have fixed the problem by now. Therefore, just because it’s safe today, doesn’t mean it wasn’t vulnerable at some point over the past couple of weeks.

This is a wake-up call. It’s time for all of us to get serious about passwords and change them periodically and keep them unique to different websites.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What’s the “title” of your website page?

There is one simple thing that most novices don’t do to help search engines list their website. That being, each web page needs a good “title”. The “title” refers to the code the top of each web page. While it is invisible to your website visitors when visiting the page, they may see at the top of the browser or through search engine listings. Most importantly, the title is an important element when search engines decide how to list your pages.
It is in the area enclosed by <title> and </title>.
Some of the common errors with title tags are:
1. Leaving them blank
2. Giving every page the same title
3. Having the title and the page content not match
4. Making the title generic such as these:
<title>Home</title>
<title>Index</title>
You want each web page to have a descriptive “title”. It should contain fewer than 70 characters. It should include import key words (i.e. those words people would use to find you at search engines). You may want the title on your home page to include your brand name. When you are using multiple key words, you can space them with “|”. There is no perfect “title” for you to use as an example because your “title” must be customized to what you are trying to accomplish. Here are a few examples:
<title>Web Design | Affordable Web Design - website designing | Trusted</title>
<title>Tax Advice, Tips on How to Pay Less Taxes</title>
<title>Free Domain Name | Web Site Hosting| Easy | DomainNameSanity</title>
Our final suggestion is that you use a search engine to find websites similar to your own; both the successful ones and not so successful ones. Then see what title tags they are using. We think you’ll see a lot of great and poor examples with this method.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Help search engines find you with a Sitemap


A Sitemap is an easy way for the owner of a website to let search engines know about pages on their site that are available for “crawling”. A Sitemap should be an XML file in a very specific format which lists the web pages for a site along with additional metadata about each page so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.


Using the proper Sitemap format does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site (i.e. no guarantee but it helps).

This XML format was first created by Google but is now used by all of the major search engines to know which pages they should index at your site. While you can learn the various techniques to build an XML formatted Sitemap, there’s absolutely no reason to do that.

Clients of DomainNameSanity.com can simply contact us through the Contact page request that we add a sitemap to your hosting plan. We’ll do that for you for free – with no further effort or knowledge on your part.

If your hosting isn’t with DomainNameSanity.com, there are a number of free services that will build the XML file for you including http://www.xml-sitemaps.com and http://www.freesitemapgenerator.com

After you have created the sitemap and uploaded it to the main directory in your hosting plan, you’ll also need to create and upload a file named robots.txt. DomainNameSanity.com will also do this for you. However, if you’re not using us, the way you create the file is to open a basic text editor. Then place these two lines into the page:

User-agent: *
Sitemap: http://www.mydomain.com/sitemap.xml

You should replace (a) “mydomain.com” with your actual domain name and (b) “sitemap.xml” with the name of your sitemap file if you used something different. Then save this file with a name of “robots.txt” and upload it to the main directory for your website.

The final step is to “ping” Google and Bing (the two largest search engines) to let them know about the existence of your site map. You do that by going to each of these two Internet addresses after you use the method above to get the correct location of your sitemap.

http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ping?sitemap=http://www.mydomain.com/sitemap.xml

http://www.bing.com/ping?sitemap=http://www.mydomain.com/sitemap.xml

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A new way to break into your home


We have all seen commercials for a fully connected or “smart” home. A few of you are signing up for a full package and many of you are starting to install a few WiFi enabled devices and appliances in your homes such as an alarm system you can set through your phone, a WiFi enabled security camera or baby monitor that you can watch remotely and a thermostat to set the temperature of your home while you are away. Manufacturers are in a race to connect every object in your home through WiFi or Bluetooth as consumer interest peaks while prices continue to decline. It won’t be long before your refrigerator, toaster and potentially every other appliance in your home is interconnected. However, these systems come with real security risks so you should pay attention.

Hackers are in fact, getting into those devices and doing real damage. If you perform a Google Search for “hacking baby monitor”, you can see thousands of articles about the problem.  Hackers are getting into all sorts of Wifi and Bluetooth devices in people’s homes. Some hackers are doing harmless pranks while others are using these devices to break into homes.

One solution is to not place any of these objects in your home but I’m certainly not suggesting that. What I am suggesting is that you become aware of vulnerabilities and pay more attention. Here are some basic things for you to do:

1. Almost all of the devices come with some preinstalled password by default. You must reset those passwords to something new. This has been a problem since the first answering machine was installed in a home. To access the answering machine, you just call the phone number and press * followed by the code. Very few people changed the code from the default and hackers have been having fun with people’s answering machines ever since.

2. Make sure your WiFi Router in your home is security protected and again doesn’t use the default password provided by the manufacturer. If a hacker can get into your Router, he has open access to everything.

3. Know what is connected in your home. Keep and update a list. Check the User Guide for each of these devices to find out if and how it’s encrypted and how you can update security settings

4. Most importantly, pay attention to security issues and ask a lot of questions before you get the next connected device.

We’re well into a new age of connectivity.  We’ve all heard horror stories about computers getting hacked. You are going to start to read more and more about home security systems, electronic door locks and other “ordinary” household appliances being hacked. Be sure you can get ahead of the problem.