Monthly Archives

June 2017

What should you do when your IIS server is hacked?

By Security, Tips & TutorialsNo Comments

Maryland Government Site Hacked By ISIS

On July 25th, 2017 multiple government sites were hacked by friends of ISIS according to Bloomberg’s Mark Niquette. It turns out that Maryland’s Howard County Website server was hacked.  The site was running IIS and had some critical vulnerabilities that were exploited. Ref: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/

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First Things First… Don’t Blame Your Team

Your site was hacked.  The first thing you naturally want to do is get angry.  We agree with you that you should be angry, but not at your IT staff. The actors taking your site down are making your life difficult and have every tool in the world available to them. The deck is stacked against your in-house team who have to juggle multiple issues, including the side job of training to maintain a cutting-edge cyber defensive capability on a limited budget.    The “hackers” of the world that are running scripts to break into your computer 24/7, looking for any vulnerabilities that could creep up over time.  Don’t blame your IT staff!

Move Fast

The first thing you should do is re-route your domain to a safe domain, like the fail whale. For more about the fail whale, please see this.

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The Famous Fail Whale – What you show when your website is down

With a temporary down page on display, you aren’t promoting ISIS’s propaganda, and you are free to get your site back online. Your other option is just to kill the DNS name complete or shut the server down.  This is exactly what Howard County did.

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Restore

Hopefully, you have a decent recovery system in place and can restore your site from a previous backup.  We recommend a full server rebuild (or imaged) and then reload your content. It starts with a clean server, with a trusted OS configuration, loading IIS, and then your content.

Inspect

Review your logs to see if you can see how people are accessing your site.  We recommend publishing your IIS logs to an offsite file storage location as the records are created so you can see how potential hackers are entering your site and what commands they are running.

Open Ports

Also, review your firewalls and look to see what ports you have open. There is a chance that you left a port open that could be bottled up. You should only have 443 and 80.  All HTTP traffic should be forwarded to https.

Plan

The best way you can solve this problem is by building up your infrastructure enough so you could throw it away and restart in a few minutes.  Hacking happens, so you should plan for the inevitable.  Your solution should include building out a separate database from your CMS solution, a decoupled server, backed up file content, and of course a separate copy of your code on a server.  Your downtime should be in minutes, not hours or days.

Outsource

Get this off of your plate.  Many hosting providers and service companies can handle your website extremely efficiently and at scale.  Website hosting is a commodity and should be framed out to keep your team focused on what it does best, like providing incredibly helpful information to your clients. Sites like liquidweb.com  or azure.microsoft.com can take a huge burden off your team.

 

Branding your Company: Part 1 What you need to know before jumping in

By Marketing, Startup, Tips & TutorialsOne Comment

Part 1 of 2

Your brand is your company’s identity; it’s completely original and unique to you and your business’s mission. The message it portrays will fill the minds of both current and potential clients; it separates you from the rest of the pack. If done correctly, branding your company will help define yourself as a leading force in your sector, but where do you even begin?

 

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Start Soul-Searching:

To brand yourself successfully, you need to spend some quality time figuring out who you and your team are. You need to be honest with yourself in order to figure out what makes you great. Get out a pen and paper and jot down any answers that come to mind. Consider what particular factors of your business shine and in what ways these factors separate your company from the competition. What are the core values and long term goals that you wish to share with the public? What elements of your team’s personality should be represented in the brand? In what ways will you ensure that the message of your brand is shared with your audience?

Most importantly ask yourself, why. What is the reason you get out of bed every day? What is the purpose of your company, why is your business unique and why do consumers need your product? This Ted Talk, featuring Simon Sinek, sums up this concept of asking why nicely and how asking the right questions can lead to successful business.

Focus on who matters:

Of course, branding also needs to appeal to your customers and to please them in the best way possible; you must do your research. It is important to gather information about your industry and your business, who are your consumers? What do they enjoy? What do they do in their free time? How do they communicate with their peers? What makes them happy? And most importantly, how can you help them solve their problems? It is crucial to discover what information can aid customers so they can actualize their vision.

season-1985856_1920Connect with your Customers:

An article on HubSpot recommends that companies should find a way to connect with your customers on a deeper, more emotional level. The article asks: “Do you give them [your clients] peace of mind?” By discovering both the physical and emotional needs and desires of your customers, you can adjust your efforts to help them be successful.

Answering these questions can provide an accurate representation of your customer base. To create a simple overview of your clientele, you must group your current customers and record the characteristics of optimal clients that your business interacts with frequently, this is creating the coveted list of Customer Personas. Before publishing a blog, picking up the phone or promoting an advertisement, checking the list of customer personas can ensure efficient communication and a pleasant interaction for both parties.

In the quest to please your customers, do not forget who is essential to the entire process: you and your team. In order to create the best experience for your client, it is essential to assure that the brand is represented accurately across all fields of your company. The branding should include a consistent, congruent message which is recognizable across all sectors: from customer service, to social media to your website. If you are looking for inspiration, check out this great article by Muzli.

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Share Your Knowledge: 

If you appear open, friendly and genuinely concerned about the needs of your clients,  you are creating an inviting environment for your customer while simultaneously establishing trust. By offering advice, you have created an excellent opportunity to promote your brand and showcase your company’s values and personality. It is important to remember not to force your product or services upon potential customers, it could create a barrier between yourself and them. Offering advice and consultation makes you genuine, positioning you as an advocate for your customers.

Study your Competition:

After some deep contemplation, turn outwards and start analyzing your competition, ask: What works well for them? What makes them successful? How do their strengths and weaknesses rank against yours? After compiling all of this information, take note of the recurring ideas, feelings, and emotions which are conducive to your business.

Furthermore, the advantage of taking these steps before developing a branding program is that it provides a benchmark. As you implement your new strategy, over time you will be able to measure improved conversions and customer loyalty. All in all, research allows you to measure results using objective metrics.

Concluding Thoughts:

At Bytelion, we wish you success as you start developing your brand.  We sincerely hope we can help you. What kind of blogs would help your business? We would love to hear from you, and if you have any questions please comment below and subscribe to our blog here.

Stay tuned for part 2 on how to begin building your brand.

 

Additional Links:

Want to find out more about customer personas? Click here