Is Russia’s New Internet Law ‘Draconian’?

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Russia has passed a new law placing restrictions on bloggers and users of social media.

Russian Internet LawAuthors of blogs with over 3,000 daily readers are now required to register with the Roskomnadzor, the federal executive body responsible for overseeing the media.

The Roskomnadzor governs Russia’s major media outlets. The new law also requires internet companies to grant Russian authorities access to users’ information. Some human rights groups are calling the new law “draconian.”

The stated purpose of the law is to prohibit anonymous blogging.

Social networks are required to store user data for at least six months on servers in Russian territory in order to facilitate government access.

Hugh Williamson from Human Rights Watch in New York says the law is “another milestone in Russia’s relentless crackdown on free expression. The internet is the last island of free expression in Russia, and these draconian regulations are clearly aimed at putting it under government control.’”

The BBC reports that millions of people have previously been following Russian opposition news on the internet, as “commentators opposing Vladimir Putin often face restrictions in broadcast outlets and newspapers.”

The law goes into effect on August 1, 2014.

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White House, Lawmakers Discuss New Cybersecurity Bill (CISPA)

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White House Discusses Cyber Security ThreatsAccording to a February 26, 2013 joint resolution of Congress, the U.S. requires better coordination of cybersecurity research and development efforts between public and private sectors. Reuters reports that that the U.S. House Intelligence Committee and the White House have resumed negotiation on a new cybersecurity bill called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).

The bill is intended to remove legal hurdles that prevent the federal government and private companies from sharing intelligence about cyber threats with each other in real time.

The House passed a similar bill last year, but it failed in the Senate.

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US. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the two sides are “very close” to an agreement over what roles the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other government agencies might have in keeping the country safe from cyber threats.

Rogers hopes to wrap up negotiations and draft a bill by April.  Current discussions are informal and no text has been drafted to date. Rogers says a renewed interest in the talks has been generated due to increasing worries about the cost of cyber attacks.  “What helped is that the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal were all hacked and they talked about it publicly,” he told Reuters. “It is starting to raise awareness. I can feel movement.”

Additionally, Iran’s denial-of-service attacks against U.S. banks in recent months have also heightened awareness around the need for a new bill. Rogers called such attacks a “probing action” and said additional attacks would likely follow.

According to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), one of the sticking points in negotiations is whether or not businesses should be required to strip personally identifiable information from information they share with the government.  “We’re going to try to do what we can to deal with the issue,” he said. “I think if we can resolve this, we can probably get a bill passed. You’re not going to please everybody, but I think we can get a bill.”

Secure your business against cyber threats with managed network services from Vergent.

Both Ruppersberger and Rogers said the U.S. government should also put more pressure on countries like China to stop hacker attacks designed to steal intellectual property from American companies.

House members told Reuters that the country cannot focus on confronting economic espionage from China and other countries until the bill is written and signed into law.

 

 

 

 

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T1 Service vs. Metro Ethernet–What’s right for you?

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T1 service is an easy and affordable phone and internet option for small-medium businesses. A typical T1 line provides 1.5 mbps of bandwidth, but businesses that need more than that can buy bonded T1 lines which are bundled together to increase the total amount of bandwidth available.

Businesses in a Large City Should Consider Metro Ethernet

However, businesses that are located in a major metropolitan area should consider Metro Ethernet service. Metro E is available through multiple providers in most large cities, and in many cases, it’s available for a fraction of the price of T1. It’s also often faster and easier to implement than T1 service. T1 lines require special connection equipment, but with Metro Ethernet, you just plug your computer into the provider’s Ethernet jack and you’re ready to go.

ConsiderationsT1 and Metro Ethernet Implementation

T1 Lines and Metro Ethernet are also both great options for creating point to point connections between office locations, but in most cases, Metro Ethernet is easier to implement, and it is also more easily scalable than T1 service. As noted above, T1 lines are limited to 1.5 mpbs each. If you need more bandwidth than that, you must bundle multiple T1 lines to get it. However, Metro Ethernet is available in speeds from 1 mbps to 10 gbps, and it is scalable up and down to meet the changing needs of your organization. You can easily upgrade or downgrade with one phone call to your provider. No bundling.

Check T1 Pricing Nationwide

Check T1 Pricing in Dallas

Check Metro Ethernet Pricing

T1 and Metro Ethernet Price Comparison

T1 lines from Vergent Communications are available for prices as low as $149 a month in Dallas and$249 a month nationwide. However, 10MB Metro Ethernet service in Dallas is available for only $895 per month, which is about a $400 savings over the same service delivered by a true wireline T1. Dallas businesses can also get 10 MB Metro Ethernet with four phone lines and 2000 minutes domestic long distance for $995 per month.

Conclusion

The main consideration in deciding whether to choose Metro Ethernet over T1 service mainly depends on where you live. If you live in a rural area, Metro Ethernet might not be available to you. However, T1 service is available nearly everywhere telephone service is available. Vergent provides  T1 service to every office location nationwide.

If you live in a large metro area and need more bandwidth than a standard T1 can offer, Metro Ethernet is probably the right choice for you. The maximum speed you can achieve depends on how far your office is located from your Metro E provider. The shorter the distance to your provider, the faster the available speed.

The secondary consideration, of course, is price. If both services are available to your office, in most cases Metro Ethernet will be the more affordable option.

If you have any doubts about what’s right for you, Vergent’s engineers are available to answer questions. Just give them a call at 855-VERGENT. They are skilled at determining which type of connections will be the fastest and the most cost-effective for your particular business. They have decades of experience building efficient, affordable networks that minimize resource waste and provide significant savings.

 

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Vergent is on SearchEnginePeople.com

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Pay Per Click advertising through internet services such as Google Adwords can be a critical part of a business marketing strategy. It’s the only way to make your business web site visible in search engines if you don’t already rank on the first page of results organically.  But what used to be a straight pay per click bidding system is now a lot more complicated, particularly in Google. If you aren’t creating tightly structured campaigns and writing quality ads for quality keywords, Google won’t even show your ads at all (and if they do, they’ll charge you an arm and a leg).

Read Vergent blogger Jennifer Null’s post on how to maximize your quality score to get the most advertising bang for your buck.

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Video on Demand: Facebook vs. Netflix

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Movie Projector Internet Bandwidth T1 ServiceIndustry analysts are predicting that the first ever video on demand service delivered by Facebook will be a success. Although the service is  still in the experimental phase, competing companies such as Netflix, Blockbuster, and Uverse are watching closely.

Right now, Facebook’s streaming inventory consists of only one movie: Batman’s “The Dark Knight,” which is available as an online movie rental for three dollars, or 30 Facebook credits. To watch the movie, go to the Dark Knight’s fan page and click the “Like” button. After you do so, you’ll have 48 hours to watch the movie.

Thomas Gwecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution says that offering movies via Facebook is a natural extension of their digital distribution efforts. Additionally, Internet News reports that online viewing is up by 45 percent over last year, which suggests that film fans are ready for this type of service.

You can’t watch online movies without a lot of bandwidth. Vergent Communications offers affordable T1 service nationwide starting at $249 a month.

Industry analysts say it only makes sense for Facebook to step into the world of online content delivery because it already has such a large ready-made audience. According to comScore, Facebook is already among the top 5 video-sharing sites in the United States. “With a massive user base and its own virtual currency, Facebook could yet become a significant platform for paid content, beyond the virutal goods of social gaming, especially via connected TVs,” wrote Forrester analyst Nick Thomas in a blog post about the new service.

But what does it all mean for Netflix, Blockbuster, and Apple? Some analysts believe Facebook could be a competitive threat, but others point out that the delivery models are different. For example, Neflix offers a certain amount of movie views for one low monthly subscription price, whereas the Facebook model offers limited-time viewing priced per movie.  Additionally, whereas Neflix downloads are available through devices that are already connected to the television–such as the Nintendo Wii–Facebook users must connect their computers to the television before downloading and watching a movie. (This scenario will, of course, change as internet-connected televisions make their way into the market.)

Sound off: Would you be more likely to watch a movie via Netflix or Facebook? How come?

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A Lazy Person’s Guide to Server Response Codes

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Guest blog post by Terrence Forsyth

It’s a high likelihood that you’ve been lazy and never taken the time to learn about server response code basics. Well, here’s your chance to clear yourself of being labeled lazy.

It would take forever to discuss every single server response code out there so we’re only going to focus on the most important and most frequent of them here. These are the ones that the average webmaster and SEO should know about.

Server Codes 100 – 199

The browsing public will never notice Server Response Codes in the 100 – 199 range and they will go unperceived.

Request Completed 100: This means that the request to the server was completed and the process can continue as normal.

Protocol Switch Accepted 101: Servers are constantly asked to switch protocols. For example they may switch from the HTTP protocol to the more secure SHTTP protocol or perhaps to the FTP protocol. Code 101 means things went smoothly during the switch.

Server Codes 200 – 299

Codes in the 200 – 299 range mean that a request was successful.

Like the codes in the 100 range, you will never see any of these codes while surfing the web because they mean that everything is working properly.

OK 200: The request went through with success and everything is OK.

Created 201: A new resource was successfully created after posting data from a form, or using CGI, etc.

Accepted 202: The request was accepted but it hasn’t finished being processed.

There are other codes in the 200 range but these are the main three you should understand for the basics.

Server Codes 300 – 399

Multiple Choices 300: This is what I call a confused redirect. It has no idea where to take you because it is pointing to more than one URL. At this point you may possibly be given a choice of where to go. It all depends on the server’s configuration though.

Moved Permanently 301: This is one of the most important codes to understand. If you are changing the URL of your site or you moved domains, use this server code. Search engines won’t penalize this and in fact recommend it. They are not too fond of other redirects but this one is completely kosher.

How do you create a 301 redirect?

Simply create an .htaccess file if you don’t already have one. Then include the following code:

redirect 301 /oldurl.html http://www.newurl.com/newlocation.html

Replace oldurl.html with your old page’s URL and replace http://www.newurl.com/newlocation.html with your new location or URL.

Moved Temporarily 302: You can use 302 redirects when you are forwarding a page or even an entire site to another location but you are planning on using the original site sometime in the future. For example, you might own several versions of the same domain name. The only difference is that they have different domain endings (.com, .net, .org, .biz, etc.). You may want all your sites to redirect to your primary .com domain temporarily.

How do Search Engine’s handle this? Google engineer Matt Cutts says that Google will index the destination page 99 percent of the time to prevent URL hijacking. So in the above case scenario, your .com will be the one getting indexed.

How do you create a 302 redirect? The same way you create a 301 redirect just modify the number.

Other 300 – 399 codes: Yes, there are many other redirects but 301s and 302s are the most important for SEO purposes. You can find information about codes 303 and up at w3.org.

Server Codes 400 – 499

These codes appear when the server request could not be completed. The error here is being made by the person making the request and is not the servers’ fault.

Bad Request 400: This is essentially caused by syntax errors and will appear when bad syntax is used on the requested page.

Unauthorized 401: The request requires user authentication. The Web server thinks that the HTTP data stream sent by your browser was correct, but access to the URL resource requires user authentication Make sure your username and password are correct.

Forbidden 403: A 403 Error Message means just that; that your request is off-limits or forbidden. You might need to get authorization to reach these pages.

Not Found 404: Even if you don’t know anything about server response codes, probably everyone has seen a 404 message on a page that could not be found. A 404 Message is simply a page not found error produced by the server.

A 404 “not found” error message means that we are probably looking for something that does not exist or that has been deleted. A smart SEO or webmaster should take advantage of traffic that lands on 404 error pages and give visitors options as to other available pages they could visit. This can be done by creating custom error pages.

Request Timeout 408: You get a 408 code when your request did not go through in time so it timed out. This most likely happens when there is heavy net congestion. You can simply try your request again in a few moments.

Other 400 – 499 codes: Yes, there are more codes in the 400 range but the one’s mentioned here are the most relevant for our purposes. You can look up the other at w3.org.

Server Codes 500 – 599

Errors ranging from 500 to 599 happened on the server itself. These are different than 400 to 499 codes because 400+ codes were errors beyond the server’s reach.

Internal Server Error 500: Everybody makes mistakes, even servers do. A 500 error means that an unexpected error occurred within the server so it could not complete your request.

Not Implemented 501: Here, you requested something that couldn’t be processed by the server, so this one is your fault, not the servers.

Bad Gateway 502:

A 502 code means that an invalid response was received from the upstream server while the server acted as a proxy or gateway. This simply means that your personal server received an error from the server that you were connecting to.

Service Unavailable 503: The server may be down for maintenance or it may be temporarily overloaded with requests. If you are getting so much traffic that it crashes your server then that’s a good and bad sign. Good because you are the lucky owner of some very popular internet realty, and bad because you should have prepared for this a long time ago.

Gateway Timeout 504: Very similar to a 408 timeout but this time the time out occurs on the server’s gateway.

HTTP Version Not Supported 505: 505 errors mean that the HTTP protocol version that was used while you made the request is not supported by the server. Or the server refuses to handle that specific protocol version. Remember that there may be various versions of the HTTP protocol (e.g. HTTP 1.0, HTTP 1.1, etc) and not all versions are supported by all servers.

Still following me here? We haven’t lost you, I hope. If you’re new to server codes then just take it slow. With a little experience you’ll understand the basics in no time. These are always good to know if you are a webmaster or SEO. So now if somebody asks you about a 301 redirect you can tell them how it’s done.

 

Emory Rowland is editor at Clickfire, a social media blog for the digitally outspoken. He’s a fanatical bloggerentrepreneur and web hosting enthusiast who occasionally writes for A Small Orange, a  business web host. Emory’s love for social media and success with organic search led him to start a SEO consulting venture.

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More Businesses Blocking Social Networking Sites at Work

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Software security company Clearswift has issued its 2011 WorkLifeWeb report, which details employers’ opinions on social media use in the workplace. Most businesses across the globe are increasingly wary of allowing employees to use social media services such as Facebook and Twitter at work–68% of companies monitor employee internet activity and 56% of companies block access to certain sites. In 2010, 9% of companies specifically blocked access to Facebook and Twitter, and that figure has risen to 19% over the past year.  America alone is bucking this trend, with 30% of companies actually encouraging social media use in the workplace.

Social Media at WorkMost companies who have implemented blocks say they are concerned about security and data loss issues. Japan leads the pack in this trend, with 92% of managers citing security fears as their reason for clamping down. However, even company managers who share security concerns acknowledge that social media in the workplace could have some inherent value, particularly when it comes to web collaboration tools, enhanced communication, and brand reach.

Employees, naturally, do not share the same concerns as their managers. In particular, the younger generation views access to social media as a job perk. A Telindus survey of 18-24-year-olds revealed that 39% of them would consider quitting if a Facebook ban was imposed. For all age ranges, Clearswift reports that 26% of employees would become demotivated if stricter social media policies were implemented in their workplace. Another 14% say they would work around such policies, and 3% would consider leaving.

There is no quicker way to demotivate employees than providing slow or spotty internet service. Does your internet service need an upgrade? Consider T1 service from Vergent, starting at only $249 a month.

What are the Benefits of Social Media at Work?

Collaboration & Communication

Social networking tools promote employee communication and productivity, particularly if the social media is an in-house solution (although Facebook groups and Twitter streams can be  used to similar effect). This alternate form of communication cuts down on email inbox clutter and facilitates more open communication (which can be a book for managers who are seeking transparency in workplace processes). Additionally, it can be a repository for company news, questions, answers, and new ideas, all of which can be indexed, searched, and filtered by relevance across the organization. This online “database” can boost productivity by promoting cross-training and providing an easily accessible database of answers that are available to all employees, 24-7. The key, experts say, is in how use of these tools is managed.

Productivity

Several recent studies state that employees who are allowed to spend time on social media sites at work are happier, more loyal to the company, and more productive overall than those who don’t enjoy this privilege. The ability to take short mental breaks throughout the workday can enhance mental clarity and focus, promoting better work overall. One study found that “People who do surf the internet for fun at work–within a reasonable limit of less than 20 percent of their total time at the office–are more productive by about nine percent than those who don’t.”

Weigh in: What other benefits might be realized from using social media at work?

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Netflix’s Qwikster Dies Before It’s Born

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If you’re among those who are angry with Netflix for creating Qwikster (and who’s not?), good news! Netflix is scrapping its plans to split the DVD service apart from its streaming internet service. The Qwikster plan would have forced current Netflix users to maintain not one, but two accounts (at a 60% price increase!) to keep all aspects of their existing service. Why did Netflix think this was a good idea? Probably for accounting reasons. But what looks good on paper doesn’t always translate to real good in the real world.

qwikster-sucks

Netflix decided to reverse its move after they began dropping subscribers like flies. According to CNNMoney, the company lost over 1 million customers after the Qwikster spin-off announcement, and the company’s stock price dropped a bit as well.

The decision to scrap the Qwikster plans paid off, and Netflix stock jumped 10% after the announcement.

“Netflix has a major leg up on its competition, because it offers library titles via streaming and any title with a two-day delay through the mail,” said Brett Harriss, analyst at Gabelli & Co. “By separating them, Netflix would have allowed Apple  and Blockbuster to compete with each portion of its business separately.”

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New Zero Day Security Hole Discovered by Microsoft

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A new security hole that exists in all versions of Windows exploits a common method of sending various media types in email messages. The security hole is called the MHTML protocol handler, which is a Zero Day attack that  lures people into clicking on a link that takes the internet user to a booby-trapped site that sends the handler a malicious script. Wikipedia defines a Zero Day attack as “a computer threat that tries to exploit computer application vulnerabilities that are unknown to others or undisclosed to the software developer.”

Speed up your internet service and save money at the same time by switching to Vergent’s T1 service or Dallas metro ethernet.

The attack enables “unintended information disclosure” rather than taking control of the user’s entire computer system. Microsoft is currently working on a security patch for all versions of Windows which would “lock down the MHTML protocol and effectively address the issue on the client system where it exists,” says Angela Gunn, a security response communications manager at Microsoft.  Microsoft has not announced a date for the coming patch release, although the company typically provides patches on the second Tuesday of each month.

According to Microsoft, the Zero Day Hole is a Windows hole, although the script itself exploits Internet Explorer. The only two browsers that support MHTML are Internet Explorer and Opera. Computer users can protect themselves from the malicious script while waiting for Microsoft’s patch by turning off MHTML. To turn off MHTML, computer users must either manually edit the Windows Registry or use Microsoft’s Fix It tool. Directions for manually editing the registry can be found at www.networkworld.com.

January 2011 was a light security patch release month for Microsoft, with only three security patches released.

Add your two cents:

Did you know that more people prefer FireFox over Internet Explorer? Which do you prefer? Networkworld.com reports that MHTML crashes Firefox. Have you found that to be true?

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Egypt Restores Internet Service

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Although protests and violence continue in Egypt, internet service and access to social networks like Facebook and Twitter has been restored after a five-day outage.

Egyptian government authorities blocked internet service with the intention of quieting the protests, but the move appears to have had little effect. Other countries who have attempted to quell protests typically have only blocked access to social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, but Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the primary target of the demonstrators, took the country entirely offline, effectively shutting down an entire segment of the worldwide digital communications grid.

BGP monitoring group founder Andree Toonk told Datamation.com: ” Egypt has been offline for five days. This is truly unprecedented in these modern days. It’s been interesting to see how alternative ways of electronic communications have been used and how ad hoc Internet connections have been made available.”

Internet service providers brought service back up one by one on the morning of February 2, 2011. By 11:30 local time, only one internet service provider had not restored service. Access to Facebook and Twitter had been restored by early afternoon.

In the meantime, the situation in Cairo has escalated, resulting in one dead and over 600 people injured. After international leaders pressured Mubarak to announce that he would not seek re-election in September, his supporters swarmed the streets and clashed with protesters. CNN reports that at least some of Mubarak’s supporters were paid to jump into the fray, although others appear to be geniune.

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