More on Fast Secure Contact Form

Many of the newer sites use Fast Secure Contact form. This plugin was withdrawn last weekend following the discovery that someone who had acquired it had attempted to manipulate it to show adverts for payday loans and other things. In this case it never got to the stage where it showed adverts, and everyone that has come back to me has confirmed their site has been upgraded to remove the advertising (or spamvertising as it seems to be called) code.

This is a great shame because the original plugin by Mike Challis worked really well and had a few side benefits from the earlier form manager I used about 6 years ago.

Continue reading More on Fast Secure Contact Form

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MailPoet 3

I flagged up that MailPoet 2 was being superseded by MailPoet 3 and it was a complete rewrite. There seems to be something going on with MailPoet 2 that is causing problems on some sites generating lots of requests to a housekeeping function called CRON which is a background process running on the server. I have looked at several sites and they were all the same. Mailpoet creates too many requests for attention, which causes the server to no longer respond to requests.

It appears that some time during one of the later releases of MailPoet 2 this problem has been created, perhaps it is something to do with advising people version 3 is available.  The symptoms are that some housekeeping functions will fail to run, notably the backup, but there are no doubt other things as well.

Am I affected?

Continue reading MailPoet 3

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Fast Secure Contact Form

Some of the websites I have built use a plugin called Fast Secure Contact Form. It was a very popular form handler highly regarded by users written by Mike Challis.  The plugin was sold to a third party in June of this year and the new owner attempted to manipulate the code in the plugin to set up adverts.

Please check ASAP whether the version that is currently in use on your website is version 4.0.56. You can do that by logging in, and going to the Plugins page and look down the list. You will see an entry similar to the one below which includes the version number.

If you have version 4.0.56 you are OK! Don’t panic. 

If your site is at an earlier version contact me immediately and I will sort out updating it. 

(update: 6:00am 27/9/17 Nobody has reported a problem so far, all sites have upgraded automatically. That was to be expected. If you cannot find Fast Secure Contact form another method is used for forms on your website. Probably Form Manager. You are not affected by this notice.)

Why is this important?

Continue reading Fast Secure Contact Form

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Is my internet slow?

Or…   the Onion of Discontent

There are many reasons why an internet connection may be slow, some of them will be directly under your control, and others will be under the control of the equipment manufacturers of the devices used that the communications pass through. The extent of which is from the device you are using to the server at the far end of the connection. Various services providers share the responsibility of carrying the traffic. It is a complex picture to reconcile.

Where is the problem?

When trying to establish where a problem exists the first person you call is your service provider (BT, Talk Talk, Virgin etc). They will follow a fixed trouble shooting process which will try to prove that the problem is something you are doing, or have done or is within that part of the network you control. They adopt this approach because if nothing is listed as a fault in your area, then statistically it is most likely to be something at your end.

That will include your router/ hub, your phone wiring, the building materials used in your house, the location of WiFi access points, the list is large. They will not be as direct as that, however those are the implications. Continue reading Is my internet slow?

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Phishing Page

What is it?

We have all read about phishing trojans, but many of you probably do not know what they are or how they work. I came across one over the weekend while backing up a client’s website. My anti virus system prevented me from downloading the backup to my computer and warned me that one was present. As I was concerned about the security of this particular website I took it apart to find out where it was, and what it was doing.

Phishing

Phishing refers to a form of identity theft, it is where credentials like a user name and password are compromised, often without your knowledge. Other than reading about them, I had not come across one before. This one relates to stealing the credentials to access someones email address and email password.

I turned off my anti-virus (not recommended if you do not know the risks) and downloaded the zipped folder containing the files into a special area on my computer and then inspected the files. Two files contained code, one was a web page. Only one of the files was being flagged as the one containing the Phishing Trojan, the file contents were very simple, they packaged up the information and sent out an email to two recipients.  Continue reading Phishing Page

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Divi Template Update Bug

8th Sept 2017

Important information about a bug

A new release of the Divi template occurred overnight. The chances are that sites which are based on this template will not automatically update immediately. If you have updated your site you may find that it behaves differently. The images have disappeared. This is what happened to me this morning. (8/9/17).

Divi have released some powerful animations with images, and this modification is affecting an upgraded website. The images are still in the site, but one of the settings is to make an image transparent which was not there before. So now images default to transparent. The solution is to delete your web browser cache. I am hoping that this is a problem local to me because I was on the site prior to upgrading it, and still had the site in my local cache after the upgrade. Removing the history did restore it and now it behaves normally.

If the developers had left set the new default transparency setting to visible, then this problem would not have occurred. No idea why they did it that way. I have reported it to the developers.

If you receive any reports about Divi losing images, then suspect this first, check it yourself and delete your web browser cache history. If the problem remains please get in contact with me.

I have confirmed if you see this problem, it is local to your computer, your users will not see it.

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Be seen (by Google)…

I have just finished working my way around 100+ websites and backing them all up. I also check them to make sure the infrastructure is up to day. There are a couple of interesting observations that are worth noting, particularly if you are new to editing, or struggling with updating your website, or don’t like updating it for some other reason.

All of the points raised and guidance are included in a downloadable document at the end of this article.

1). Google Searches.

Before I start checking a site I perform a google search on the entity name (not the domain name) to make sure it comes very close to the top, if not at the top of the first page on Google. I have never had any problems getting people to the top of searches without paying a penny. But there are things you need to do to stay there, and stay fresh.

Download some tips

2). A picture paints a thousand words

Well in web terms it doesn’t unfortunately. I have seen lots of examples of people placing images, such as posters on their home pages. Posters are generally a graphic stored as a PDF, JPG or PNG file. It is an image file. Humans can read and interpret images. Google and computers generally cannot.

Download some tips Continue reading Be seen (by Google)…

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New Home-Start Lite Design

Click on the image to open up a full screen version in a new browser window.

A new design for Home-Start sites is available in the “Lite” off the shelf versions that I make available to new clients. This offers a website in a box. I take the content and localise it for any Home-Start organisation.

The new design is based on Divi. I have built quite a few Divi sites now and am getting quicker, and learning short cuts which can radically reduce development time. Continue reading New Home-Start Lite Design

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Good Catch ESET

Here it is a bit closer:

I have recommended to quite a few of my clients the benefit of using both an antivirus program and a personal firewall. The products I have used for around 20yrs now are from ESET.  I currently use Smart Security.

It simply runs in the background and checks things for you. I frequently use mxtoolbox.com to check out information relating to websites. I went to one just now and in my haste typed in mextoolbox.com (there is an e in there that should not be in there). A sharp hacker has taken out that domain name and used it to hide a virus. It was detected as I opened the webpage.

If you just use a free AV product, this would not have been detected. Many of the charities I work with have no AV, or free AV products. I consider myself to be very careful on the web. But even I can make a mistake.

I recommend Eset Smart Security to protect your Windows computer. You can find out about here:  https://www.eset.com/uk/home/smart-security/

As a charity you can get it heavily discounted, and if you buy more than one or multiple licenses then it is even lower cost.

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