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Heartbleed – Few things strike fear in the hearts of computer users like a VIRUS!

Normally security is never an issue for those logging into a site or entering payment information. This is because most consumers are aware that we need to look for the little padlock and https:// on the sites we give personal information.  What does that padlock and https:// mean? When you visit a secure site you will see a lock next to the URL, this means that your communications with the site are encrypted.

When a website wants to let you know that they are reliable and trustworthy, they use SSL (Secure Socket Layer).  A browser connects to a website using SSL, the data that is transferred between the browser and server is encrypted. So all attackers see is data that looks like gibberish. Attackers have found a way around that encryption and the result has been mass panic.

OpenSSL software is built into Apache. Apache is a HTTP server that is used by approximately two-thirds of the world’s websites. Most SSL-encrypted sites are based on this open-source software package.

This Heartbleed bug was added to the OpenSSL software, accidentally. Accident? I will wait until all the facts are out before I decide if I believe that. A security engineer at Google Inc. and researchers at Finnish security company Codenomicon discovered the bug. Essentially this bug allows access to the memory of the server. Once the memory is accessed our usernames, passwords and credit card information are compromised.

The Heartbeat bug was introduced over 2 years ago. Systems that used releases before December 2011 as well as those that did not use OpenSSL are safe and secure.

What Now? How do we protect ourselves? Do not freak out, it is early in the game and the information flooding in will probably change at least a dozen times in the weeks to come.

Review online banking accounts frequently. If you see suspicious activity, call the fraud dept.

Do not change passwords until the website has been patched. If they have not updated, it is pointless.

  1. Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters.
  2. Read updates on the virus from trusted news sources.
  3. Stay away from public Wi-Fi
  4. Do use a password manager – LastPass
  5. Download Software Updates when available
  6. Turn off your router’s remote access

Here is a list of larger sites patched so far -

  • Google, YouTube and Gmail
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo, Yahoo Mail, Tumblr, Flickr

Sites you do not need to worry about are –

  • Amazon
  • AOL and Mapquest
  • Bank of America
  • Capital One bank
  • Charles Schwab
  • Chase bank
  • Citibank
  • Fidelity
  • HSBC bank
  • LinkedIn
  • Microsoft, Hotmail and Outlook
  • PayPal
  • PNC bank
  • Scottrade
  • TD Ameritrade
  • Twitter
  • U.S. Bank
  • Vanguard
  • Wells Fargo

Do not change these yet – Unclear

  • American Express
  • Apple, iCloud and iTunes
  • Healthcare.gov

Bottom line is to just be aware. This is not the first time this has happened (although not on this scale) and it will not be the last. So take a deep breath and remember “This too shall pass.”

Lori Davis, Office Manager and Accounting

Facebook Video Advertising

It was only a matter of time before Facebook advertising finally announced the highly anticipated video advertising feature. Have you noticed that when scrolling through your newsfeed videos automatically start playing? In the past users had to hit the play button to watch a video. Now Facebook ads will show up in the newsfeed and automatically start playing without sound, similar to the videos posted by their friends.

Facebook videos will automatically play on a user’s newsfeed without sound. Which means that advertisers now have about five seconds to catch the attention of a viewer and get them to click on the video. Once a user clicks the video, it will appear in full screen and the sound of the video will play as well. At the end of the video, a carousel featuring two additional videos will appear, making it easy to discover more content from the same marketer.

According to Facebook, these video ads are meant for awareness campaigns that are meant to reach a large number of people. You may have noticed the Divergent trailer playing as the first demo ad. Facebook partnered with Summit Entertainment to promote the new film and test out their ads.

These video ads are still not available to the public, but after the initial test run Facebook will determine who will be able to utilize these new ads. Fingers crossed we all get a chance to try it out.

Interested in video advertising? We offer YouTube marketing campaigns to supplement your social media campaign and increase social impressions and traffic to your site. Contact us today to learn more about our social media campaigns.

#TheMisuseofHashtags

Sometimes seeing certain hashtags on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook makes me wonder if people know the purpose of hashtags. Social media allows us to connect with others who are talking about similar interests and join together in one conversation. When there’s a hashtag that takes up more than one line, that’s probably your first clue.

Let’s clarify, hashtags are used to connect with others sharing your same interests or discussing relevant topics. For example, when watching your favorite show, you may see your show’s hashtag trending on Twitter. You can click the hashtag and see what everyone else is saying about the show, and you can join in on the conversations. Hashtags also help others discover you when they click on a relevant hashtag.

Using hashtags that no one will ever use is a complete waste of a hashtag, like #mysistertaylorisamazingthankyouforthegiftiloveit. What? Hashtags are short and to the point, never full sentences. Also, that hashtag will probably never be used again. When choosing a hashtag, think about why you are using it. You can also test out a hashtag by searching to see who else is using that same hashtag.

Using hashtags at events is one of my favorite things to do, especially at weddings. When everyone uses the same hashtag at an event, like #hardywedding2012, the bride and groom can actually find all of the photos after their big day. They will probably never see your photo tagged #wedding #icantbelievetheyarefinallymarriedcongratsguys (seriously, these are hashtags I have seen). Use relevant hashtags that other people are using so they can find your pictures.

Another hashtag don’t is turning every other word into a hashtag. For example, this is the #best #party I #love my #friends. Less is more in this case, use valuable hashtags that will help you connect with others who attended the same party.

Finally, use relevant hashtags in your posts. If you are talking about Apple releasing a new product, you probably don’t need to include a hashtag mentioning Nordstrom’s semiannual sale. This may seem like common sense, but it does happen. Pay attention to the hashtags that are trending. Often trending hashtags are associated with specific campaigns, events or shows. So if you use a hashtag talking about #sochifails and you’re really just talking about slipping in the hall at work, the correct hashtag you are looking for is probably #epicfail.

If you have any questions about your social media or how to properly use hashtags for your brand, contact us today.

-Makenzie Hardy, Social Media Coordinator

RipOff Report Reviews

If your company has ever had a horrible review, you have probably done everything possible to get it removed. You have spent hours on the phone trying to get ahold of a human on Yelp, or you’ve tried without success to get a hold of someone at Google with no success. You thought you had seen it all, until your site appeared on RipOff Report.

RipOff Report is a site where users can leave permanent, negative reviews anonymously about your company. The worst part? There is no way to get these reviews removed… ever. Short of filing a law suit or paying thousands of dollars to leave a response, there aren’t many cost effective ways to get rid of the review dragging down your online reputation.

It’s no surprise that the founder of the site receives death threats on an almost daily basis, but there is one effective way to get your bad review off of the first page- social media profiles.

Do you have a Facebook page? Twitter? Google+? All of your social media profiles will pull above your bad review and can help push your RipOff Report review off the first page. The review still won’t be deleted, but this is a great way to get rid of a negative review. Your profiles also don’t need thousands of followers to be effective because Google doesn’t crawl social media sites like other pages. According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, there are currently no signals in the ranking algorithms that put any weight on how many fans or followers a specific page has.

Even if the number of fans doesn’t matter, the content on your pages still matters. Now that you have social profiles appearing in search, users will be more likely to look at your profiles. It’s not reassuring to any consumer when they see a page with four fans and the most recent post dated three years ago.

We build up our clients’ pages with Facebook advertising, weekly posts, custom creative, and custom build apps. Check out our work to see some of our custom Facebook pages and Facebook campaigns. Contact us today to get started on your social media.

Cheers to 2014

It’s a new year and you’re probably reflecting on the past year. You’re reminiscing about all the trips you took, successes, failures, challenges and good times you had in 2013. Here are some of our favorite moments from 2013:

  • The NCAA® Final Four Tour. Our client, Connor Sport Court® International, provides the official floor of the NCAA® Final Four. We ran social media and internet marketing for the event and our CEO Michelle Smith went on the tour to the Georgia Dome.
  • Solitude Mountain Resort. We love new clients, especially our first ski resort! We love having an excuse to drive up the canyon and spend time at the best ski resort in Utah. 
  • We finished our largest medical site, Scottsdale Medical Imaging. A year of website designs, hours of website coding and content writing went into this site. We are very proud of the final product. 
  • Our Christmas Party at The Yurt. This year, we decided to take the company Christmas party to a new level. We snowshoed up to The Yurt at Solitude for an amazing meal prepared by Chef Franck Piessel. 
  • We moved into a new office. Change is good, and we are so excited for the new year in our new office. 
  • We continued to grow! Going into our seventh year, we have consistently grown each year adding new clients and continuing our internet marketing services with existing clients.

2013 was an amazing year for us, and we look forward to 2014. If you want to grow your company’s online presence this year, contact us today.