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Has your email address been sold?

has your email address been sold?You will be aware of the data losses by big companies over recent years such as T Mobile, Sony Playstation, Morrisons supermarket, Mumsnet, Talk Talk and many others.

As we get more “connected” and use our data more widely to make things easier to buy, to be “remembered” by our suppliers, personal or business, then we expose ourselves to losing control over some of our personal data.

Our email addresses are mainly “harvested” to go into spam activity. Spam has been decreasing in recent years yet it is unfortunate to still note that spam accounts for some 50% of all email received every day.

In this article I wanted to to give you a useful tool to assess if your email address has been sold in the past few years and from which data loss it may have come from.

I’ve tried it and wasn’t surprised to learn that my email address had been sold several times. My email address has been available in the public domain for many years so this came as no surprise.

However, if you are concerned that someone may have more info on your than you are comfortable, this website can help you identify which services that may have “lost” your data. If you find a hit on your details then at least you can ensure that your password is up to date.

Take a look at https://haveibeenpwned.com/ (as always, we cannot be held responsible for any external websites).

Perhaps you should let your friends and colleagues know about this? And don’t forget to check your personal email addresses as well as work ones.

I got this from Google today…

if the sites do not add sufficient value, we generally consider them as spam

I got this from Google today:

…”if the sites do not add sufficient value, we generally consider them as spam and take appropriate steps to protect our users from exposure to such sites in our natural search results.”

This is referring to automated website creators running on spam servers that may have been compromised by hackers.

There are two issues here that I find interesting, and to an extent vindicate what I have been warning folks about for many years;

1) Don’t skimp on your website hosting


2) Ensure that any website that you publish is worth someone reading, and not just stuffed full of keywords.

1) If you don’t want to pay for your hosting you may find a “free” one out there. This message from Google today was warning specifically about that as they are often compromised by hackers piggy backing with automatic website builders stuffed with keywords to raise someone’s profile in Google. Google are saying “watch out, we are on to you”. Free hosting is dangerous and it always has been.

This reminded me of the battle I have sometimes over charging for quality hosting. We make a monthly charge to host our clients’ websites. This charge goes towards the very large monthly bill that I have to pay to Rackspace for our dedicated servers and the support they provide us (and therefore my clients). In the 12 years that Clickingmad has operated we have had 5 hosting providers. Rackspace has proved to be extremely professional and supportive with excellent levels of support and proactive assistance. Therefore I am prepared to pay for the best, on behalf of my clients who trust me.

Never, ever, skimp on your hosting. Yes it’s unseen and if you don’t have any problems then you will never need any support. BUT what if you do? What if you’re on a shared server that gets black listed by Google? What if your provision is so cheap that it’s not cost effective to maintain properly by your provider?

Hosting: you definitely get what you pay for.

2) I have been long saying that Google wants valuable websites in its listings. Again they are reminding us today. So for those who think that spamming Google will help you, look out… they are on your trail.

A lot of SEO is being offered from overseas at the moment, some of it is OK in terms of being above board in method. Some however is clearly “black hat” and will only result in Google tightening its grip on indexing websites, which of course hurts all of us and also this practice diminishes the importance of “white hat” SEO which is a combination of useability, search engine ranking and website management. It’s not about hits anymore – it’s about enquiries.



Clickingmad Ltd is a West Midlands based Website Design
Agency. Started in 2000 we now have 11 dedicated full time staff based in
Shropshire and Birmingham offering a wide range of website design, website
promotion, ecommerce advice, hosting, search engine optimisation and related
services to our business clients. All with a consultative approach. We never
sell you something that you don’t need, only what your business needs. Our
advice is often as important as any service we provide you. Our principal Shaun
Carvill is an acknowledged expert in the Internet, having been involved right
at the start of the commercialisation of the web in the UK some 20 odd years
ago. If you mix traditional Marketing experience with technical development and
programming then you get the Internet.

Our services are taken up by companies large and small and
in nearly all sectors. From Estate Agents to Schools, Charities to Engineering
companies. Manufacturing and Service sectors alike all receive the same quality
Clickingmad treatment. As quality mark holders and members of the UK IT
Association (our Principal; Shaun Carvill is also on the board of UKITA)
ISO9001 accredited and rigorously tested by many Government and Public Sector
purchasing consortiums, we have been accredited to be able to create, build and
supply a comprehensive suite of Internet related marketing products and
services for our clients.

We welcome all enquiries as we bring our method to a
business near you. Give us a call on 01746 769612 or email
sales@clickingmad.com with your query. Join the growing Clickingmad family. You
will be made very welcome.

Hackers attack PHPAdmin from “Paris”

Many web servers have been hit over the past 24 hours by an attack which overwhelms the memory on the web servers.

The attack was designed to sniff any access openings in the PHPAdmin controlling interface. Then it continued on all websites hosted on the servers and used up all available RAM, (random access memory” when that was used up it then used the servers swap file, which is an area that computers use to temporarily store data whilst the memory is in use.

Because of the frequency of requests for access in a very short time the web server will report errors.

Fortunately our hosting provider has installed extra monitoring on our range of servers and took preventative measures to minimise the impact of the attack.

If your website is down or has been down over the past few hours, this may well be the cause.

I did some investigation and our attack apparently came from an Amenworld server situated in Paris, France. This however was undoubtedly not the source of the attack as that server itself had probably been compromised by the attack itself and started to replicate the activity on a massive scale.

Do ensure that your hosting provision is robust enough to handle problems like this. Business hosting should never be bought on price alone. Check the features, the support and the monitoring as your business may well be affected.

If you have questions or want us to attempt to penetrate your server or website, benignly of course! Then let us know. Just like the Scouts – be prepared.