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Let’s encrypt, an industry nonprofit that issues free SSL certificates, had to revoke 3M certificates Wednesday March 4, 2020 due to a bug.  SSL is the technology that gives websites the https “padlock” and is often used to secure other things like mail servers.

For more information, you can visit the Sophos security blog.  We’ve already checked all SpireTech web hosting and Managed Services clients to see if anyone is affected, and installed new certificates where needed. 

If you visit an https website and receive a certificate error in the next several days, it’s possible the site is affected.  We don’t recommend proceeding to the site, instead consider notifying the site owner.  Bad actors are already taking advantage of this and launching phishing emails and banners, so use caution.  If you find that a website we host or server we manage for you is affected, please let us know and we’ll fix it right away.  Read more...


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used with permission from SBA.gov., by Anita Campbell

Bad online reviews can cause potential customers to shop elsewhere, negatively impacting your business’ bottom line. If your business has received a bad online review, here are steps you can take to handle it and minimize the damage.

Respond to Customer Reviews

Ignoring a bad review won’t make it go away. On the other hand, responding to customer reviews can result in better ratings and improve your business’ online reputation.

The Harvard Business Review analyzed tens of thousands of hotel reviews and responses from TripAdvisor. The study found that around a third of reviews on TripAdvisor receive a response and almost a half of hotels respond to reviews. According to the study, hotels that respond to customer reviews receive 12 percent more reviews and their ratings increase by an average of 0.12 stars.

Yelp for Business Owners points out that responding to reviews is a great way to learn from your customers and build goodwill among your most vocal customers.  Read more...


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used with permission from Norton by Symantec

Mention “cookies” and most people expect a chocolate chip treat to appear. When talking about computers, however, cookies aren’t on the dropdown menu. In fact, they’re not even physical objects. Yet they do a great deal of the work that makes it more convenient for you to browse the Internet — and they can be troublesome if you don’t know how to clear or delete cookies.

Meet the computer cookie

A computer “cookie” is more formally known as an HTTP cookie, a web cookie, an Internet cookie or a browser cookie. The name is a shorter version of “magic cookie,” which is a term for a packet of data that a computer receives and then sends back without changing or altering it.

No matter what it’s called, a computer cookie consists of information. When you visit a website, the website sends the cookie to your computer.  Read more...


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used with permission from FTC.gov, by Lesley Fair

Engage, connect, protect was the theme of a series of Small Business Security Roundtables the FTC sponsored last summer. We listened to businesses talk about the challenges they face in securing sensitive information and fending off cyber threats. We also heard that they want concrete advice from the FTC. For example, how can a small company – especially one that may not have the in-house expertise to host its own website – get down to business while also addressing these concerns?

In search of a solution, many businesses turn to web hosting firms to set up their website and email systems. In a just-published Staff Perspective, Do Web Hosts Protect Their Small Business Customers with Secure Hosting and Anti-Phishing Technologies?, the FTC’s Office of Technology Research & Investigation (OTech) looked at 11 web hosts that market their services to small businesses. (The Staff Perspective explains OTech’s methodology.)  Read more...


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used with permission from SBA.gov., by Anita Campbell

When it comes to online advertising, there’s a powerful technique called “retargeting.” On Google Adwords the approach has another name. Google calls it “remarketing,” but no matter what you call this method, it can be a game changer.

Retargeting enables you to show your ad to someone who has visited your site or seen your product online, even after they have left your site.  You can also use this technique to turn an abandoned shopping cart into a sale. That’s because retargeting allows shoppers to see the product several times again in ads across the Web.

There are other marketing objectives you may want to consider, too. You can set retargeted ads to appear to users who visited your site, encouraging them to come back and register or sign up for your newsletter.

You are not limited to Google AdWords if you want to do retargeting.  Read more...


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used with permission from HP Tech@Work

8 business trends for 2018 – and beyond

As the calendar rolls over into 2018, we’re looking into the crystal ball at business trends that will shape the upcoming year – and years to come.

Community engagement over social media interaction

Despite the proliferation of smartphones and connected devices, companies are recognizing that social media and virtual connections cannot replace the value of live, in-person interaction with their customers, or the communities they’ve created.

Smart companies will recognize that social media and technology can enhance the value, and effectiveness, of face-to-face interactions, making them even more meaningful.

Generation Z making waves in the talent pool

Generation Z – those born after 1998 – reaching an age where they’re entering the workforce, and their influence on business is starting to be felt. Estimated at nearly 70 million strong, the upper reaches of this group are into college or joining the workforce, and will soon outnumber their Millennial predecessors.  Read more...


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used with permission from Microsoft US Small and Midsize Business Blog

A few years ago, a startup called Groove that makes helpdesk software found itself just months from running out of money. The founders did something unusual for businesspeople in that situation: They devoted themselves to rethinking their content marketing strategy. Then they took the radical step of telling the story of their company on their blog with complete transparency, including revealing their actual numbers. The result of this daring move? They now have more than 6,000 customers and annual recurring revenue of $10 million.

Interested? That’s because you’ve been hooked by a story.

  • Use the power of storytelling. Narrative is fundamental to the way the human mind works. It’s how we construct meaning and make sense of the world—just think of the power of myths in shaping societies and belief systems. We tell ourselves stories about our own lives to discover who we are.
  Read more...

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You may have heard about a recent vulnerability that has affected Cloudflare, and therefore certain sites that use cloudflare services.  Cloudflare is a “Content Delivery Network” or CDN, and is used to speed up websites by acting as a “cache” that sits between your web browser and the certain sites you may visit.

SpireTech does not use Cloudflare services, so none of our data or customer data would have been exposed.  However, some customers that host websites with us use Cloudflare – typically this is setup and managed by your web developer.  If you fall into that category, you should contact your site developer or SpireTech for advice, which would vary depending on the function of your website.

Despite this not affecting our data directly it may effect many of the sites you frequently visit. If you have accounts with Uber, Yelp, Fitbit, OKCupid, 4Chan, or sites listed at the end of this bulletin, it would be a good idea to go and change those passwords now.   Read more...


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IMG_6042At Spire, we’re constantly on the lookout for new technology that gives us or our clients the competitive edge.  While we don’t want to be bleeding edge, we do want to be ahead of the mainstream. We take vendor and technology selection very seriously, and only a few carefully chosen ones make the cut.

Why are we telling our clients this?  We want you to know we aren’t sitting around waiting for technology to pass us by.  Investing the time and money to attend conferences like HostingCon regularly is an important part of keeping up with the fast pace of change in our industry.

Many Managed Service providers (MSP’s) are attempting to get into the hosting business, and many Hosting/Cloud companies are trying to enter the managed services space.  The lines are getting blurred as technology converges into more “as a service” and cloud.  We’re already there, and have been for many years – and while our competitors are trying to figure it out, we’ve already got a solid foundation to build upon.  Read more...


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used with permission from Norton by Symantec, by Nadia Kovacs

internet-lawsNumerous laws in the U.S. cover Internet, data security, and privacy in the United States, with the 1974 Privacy Act arguably being the foundation for it all. The Privacy Act passed to establish control over the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personal information by agencies in the executive branch of the U.S. government.

The invention of the Internet changed the definition of privacy, and made it necessary to enact new laws concerning electronic communications and security.

Let’s review some of the laws currently in place to provide a more solid idea of your rights as a consumer or businessperson:

Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was passed in 1986, and while technology has changed significantly since then, the act has remained the same. The law allows the U.S. government to access digital communications such as email, social media messages, information on public cloud databases, and more with a subpoena.  Read more...

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