Are you at risk from WannaCry Ransomware?

By | Security | No Comments

Since Friday, the proverbial cyber ICBM known as WannaCry has been encrypting and holding to ransom hundreds of thousands of computers all over the planet. This attack has no borders, and it’s target is seemingly anyone with a heart beat and a lazy $300 -$600 in Bitcoin to get it fixed – AND IT’S NOT STOPPING ANYTIME SOON.

It has shut down hospitals, airports, universities and government agencies. While your personal computer may not be that critical, I would not personally want to risk the infection and loss of data.

Here are some of the facts:

  • It encrypts your files in a way that makes your computer un-usable
  • It affects unsupported or un-updated versions of Windows (especially Windows XP , Vista, )
  • Microsoft provided an update in March to prevent this attack. If you have an up to date version you may be ok.
  • The software originated from the NSA in the united states (Mircosoft)
  • The original version is dead – But many more variations are coming out.

How do you know you are infected?

Currently, the only 100% sure method to be sure, is when the ransomware appears on your screen and locks your computer up. Other than that, security organisations have not released any more details on the infection. It is suspected that it is spread extremely easily on a network.

What should I do?

Install malware/virus protection software and update your Windows operating system immediately.

I heard this ransomware has been neutralised… is this true?

Yes…kind of… On the weekend a security researcher discovered in the code a URL ‘kill switch’. After registering a special domain name and connecting it to a server, he activated it. The kill switch did its’ job perfectly. However, this is not the end to this ransomware story,  new variations are already in the wild with NO kill switches – and they are spreading like wild fire.

 

What should I do if I have a vulnerable system?

My best advice would be to quarantine those computers from any networks you are in, and do not use them again until a patch has been released for your device. Even as unpalatable as that may seems, the alternative of loosing all of your data may be a pain worth bearing.

Website Speed – Why it pays to optimise your website

By | Search Optimisation, Site Speed | No Comments

We’ve all been there. You’re online… you’ve found a link to a website you’re interested in… but that site that should be ‘just one click away’ takes what seems like an eternity to load.

These days, the average viewer expects things NOW! And why should they wait? We have the technology, but it seems that the emphasis on fancy graphics and bells ‘n’ whistles has become more important than page load speed.

The simple truth is, your website loading speed DOES matter! In fact, every second counts. According to kissmetrics a whopping 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. And 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. We are an impatient bunch of net noodles these days, aren’t we?

So what does page load speed mean for your bottom line?

Having a slow website can be devastating for your online store or business. 79 percent of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from the same site again.

These days, Google is focused on user experience and factors site speed into their algorithm. So, if your site is slow or has errors, you may not rank well in search engines, resulting in less traffic and poor sales.

How do I know if my website is slow?

There are many free tools available for checking site speed including Google’s own PageSpeed Tools. It will even help you identify ways to make your site faster and more mobile-friendly. As well as Page Speed Tools, we also use Pingdom to test the load time of a page, analyse it and find bottlenecks that may be slowing things down. Curious? Try them out some time. The reports can be a little difficult to understand at first if you’re not familiar with them, but given time you can figure them out.

How can I speed up my website?

There are many factors involved in how fast your website loads. Without going into too much detail, here is a list of some things that can help you on your way to speeding up your site:

  • Enable compression
  • Optimize images
  • Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML
  • Reduce redirects
  • Leverage browser caching
  • Improve server response time
  • Use a content distribution network (CDN)

Help! My website is so slow!

In a perfect world, your web-page should be in the vicinity of 1mb in size and load in under 2 seconds. These days, with the popularity of content management systems like WordPress, this is becoming harder to achieve. Of course, the speed of your website will also depend on the kind of website you have, the websites purpose and the number of images and videos you want to cram into each page. Themes and plugins can also bloat the size of your website, adding extra and sometimes unnecessary CSS and Javascript to your page size.

Unless you’re a web developer, this kind of optimisation can get a little tricky. It takes time, lots of patience. Often the results provided by Pingdom and PageSpeed Tools can be like working out a Rubik’s cube.

If you’re reading this thinking “What is this guy talking about… he lost me at Minify CSS and Javascript!” don’t worry! The team at Think BIG Creative have you covered. We have had great results using the above techniques and can optimise your WordPress website for performance while maintaining quality.

You don’t have to settle for a website that looks good but takes 10 seconds to load! Bells ‘n’ whistles and optimisation can live side-by-side after all.