Worldwide Server Sales Reach $50.9 Billion in 2014: Report

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Worldwide server shipments and factory revenues increased in Q4 2014 on the strength of Chinese server investment which drove the Asia/Pacific revenue growth to a 15.8 percent jump, according to the latest IDC report.

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KnownHost recognized by ReviewSignal for Best Managed VPS Host 2014

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The Great Hacking Heist of 2014

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2014 seemed to be the year of the hack and whittling away at website capabilities. While some hacks can serve as a mere annoyance to web hosts and their clients, others can be downright devastating for days to come. Such hacks can lead to the release of sensitive employee information and private correspondences, as was the case with the infamous Sony hack. Besides having to deal with the public, hacked companies also have to deal with the legal repercussions and potential damage to their reputation.

Just as there are hacker groups like Anonymous who use their hacking skills for good, there are those like Lizard Squad who use theirs for evil. What’s more is that some hackers aren’t above selling their skills for $ 6 a pop for an individual to unleash a DDoS attack on an unsuspecting website. As a web host and member of the IT community, you should make it a top priority to learn if your sites are vulnerable to online drive-by attacks and how you can defend yourself and your clients against them.

Marketing With Malice

Towards the end of 2014, a hacker group called Lizard Squad launched a DDoS attack against popular gaming services Xbox Live and the Playstation Network, leaving gamers and users in limbo when they attempted to sign on. Later the group admitted the attack was a type of twisted marketing campaign for a new service they were offering: the ability for anyone on the globe to launch an equally crippling DDoS attack of their own all for $ 6. For the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee someone could attack any website and knock it offline for 100 seconds. Pay $ 130 and the site would be down for eight hours.

The group got their comeuppance when they themselves were hacked and the names of their customers were released online. While the $ 6 hacking tool attracted more than roughly 14,200 individuals, only a few hundred of them actually paid for a DDoS attack of their very own. An excess 11,000 USD worth of Bitcoins were used to pay for the tool. Is it ironic that a group of hackers couldn’t keep the names of their customers safe or just plain lazy? In either case, take a lesson from Lizard Squad and make sure you take preventative and protective measures for DDoS attacks against your sites and web hosting services.

Let the Right One In 

There are several things you and your clients can do to protect yourselves against DDoS attacks. The very first thing you should do is learn how to identify when you may be under any kind of hack or attack. Quick action can save you and your clients a severe headache in the future. Express the importance to your clients of learning what their average inbound traffic is so they’ll be better able to identify when their website might be under attack. It’s also a good idea to have a designated individual to respond to such an attack should one ever occur.

It’s also a good idea for you to have more bandwidth than you absolutely need for your websites. Not only is the extra bandwidth good for mitigating the effects of a hacker attack, it’s also a good way to accommodate for an unexpected spike in genuine traffic. While over-provisioning a site by one-hundred percent or ever five-hundred percent won’t be enough to stop a DDoS attack completely, it can most certainly help give you time to formulate a plan of action rather than watch as the walls of your digital Jericho come tumbling down.

After you’ve done what you can to repair and prevent the damage done by an online attack, get in touch with your ISP. If your clients notice the attack before you do, make sure they call you ASAP. It’s best that you have the emergency contact information for your ISP kept close at hand so that you don’t have to waste time scrambling to find it and potentially getting in touch with the wrong department or individual. The great thing about having a web server in a hosting center is that there are more capacity routers and bandwidth links in addition to experienced individuals who know which steps to take during an attack or hack.

If the attack is major enough, it could require the focused expertise of a DDoS mitigation company. Such companies have the resources and expertise necessary to keep a website up and running during an attack. Learn more about these companies now and which are a good match for you and your web hosting needs in order that you can take action as quickly and efficiently as possible should your sites ever come under attack.

Going Mobile 

Besides focusing on protecting regular websites, web hosts should also make sure websites that are optimized for mobile use are prepared for DDoS attacks. It’s been reported that the newest countries that will start launching DDoS attacks are Vietnam, Indonesia and India. While these countries may not yet have the capabilities to launch an attack that measures up to Lizard Squad’s, they can most certainly focus their efforts on mobile phones. With more and more people doing business and using the internet on their phones, a mobile DDoS blow can still cost a business money both from lost revenue and the money it can take to remedy and respond to such an attack.

Specifically, IT managers and internet security teams will need to make sure they develop and implement measures for multi-vectors attacks in order to avoid outages instead of utilizing volumetric methods. They’ll also need to account for swelling packet volume that can potentially bleed out into their current DDoS protective measures.

Many companies and individuals have become so used to relying on a specific website throughout their day-to-day life that suddenly not having access to that website even for a few hours can completely ruin their day. For businesses, being offline can potentially cost them thousands of dollars if their website is their only means of receiving and fulfilling orders. Keep your IT eyes on the latest developments with DDoS attacks, the hacker groups who seem to be using them the most and the steps you can take to either prevent or properly respond to such an attack.

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2014 Hacker Attacks: There Were More Than You Know

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While the world was in an uproar about the alleged North Korea hack on Sony Pictures, many other organizations were compromised as a result of loopholes and deficiencies in their web security. Many of these attacks did not receive as much publicity as the North Korea and Sony Pictures fiasco did. Here is a brief look at some of the other cyber attacks that were going on around the same time.

Who Were the Biggest Hacks of 2014?

Rackspace

Rackspace was the victim of a several hour DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack that left its DNS servers at their London, North Virginia, and Chicago data centers overwhelmed. Company engineers noticed that its DNS requests weren’t resolving at around 12:54 AM EST on December 22, 2014, as a result of the DNS attack. To fix the issue, Rackspace engineers began reducing the amount of services that were running on the affected servers which may have caused some of their legitimate traffic to be blocked.

Approximately 12 hours later, Rackspace had restored much of its DNS service, but not without complications. A small percentage of DNS services that were routing legitimate and DDoS traffic had been blacklisted, and the resolution required further investigation and tweaking by engineers. The complete breach was resolved later on that day.

To prevent further complications from this attack, Rackspace began implementing a Root Cause Analysis to gain better insight and information on what lead to the DDoS attack so they can take the necessary precautions to prevent this type of incident from happening again in the future.

ICANN Network

An unknown hacker used email spoofing to compromise ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in November 2014. The hacker gained access to the company’s internal systems using the credentials of an employee. During the attack, emails were created to look as if they came from ICANN’s domain and sent out to other employees in the organization. The emails may have contained links to bogus websites, which encouraged employees to type in their security credentials, thus providing the hacker with access to their usernames, passwords and other types of confidential information.

Employee names, email addresses and other personal data are stored in ICANN’s Centralized Zone Data System (CZDS) and were compromised as a result of the breach. In addition to the CZDS being breached, ICANN’s blog, GAC Wiki, and WHOIS were all compromised as well.

To resolve the breach, ICANN disabled and reset all passwords and advised its employees to take extra precautions with other online accounts that they have used the same username and password for.

JP Morgan Chase

In what may be forever known as the attack that should have never happened, JP Morgan had to deal with the aftermath of a cyber-attack that reportedly affected at least 83 million of its customers and small business clients. Had JP Morgan implemented a security update to add a two-step authentication process to its servers, the security breach could have been prevented.

The bank states that this situation was very limited in its scope and the only information compromised was email passwords, addresses, and phone numbers. To determine the extent of the breach, JP Morgan is currently in the process of running an internal review to discover any other remaining and potential loopholes that could create security problems in the future. As of this moment, the origin of the attack is not known.

PlayStation Network and Xbox Live

On December 7th, 2014, PSN servers were down. Hacker group Lizard Squad informed the world on Twitter that it was responsible for the attack on PlayStation Network. While Lizard Squad is known for using DDoS attacks on their targets, officials at Sony are not sure if the attack is DDoS in nature. The PlayStation Network was previously taken offline back in August 2014 by the same group. Lizard Squad is also claiming responsibility for the attack that left Xbox Live servers down for several hours on December 1, December 5, and again on December 25, 2014.

PSN’s attack comes right on the heels of a previous attack on Sony in which a large amount of private company information was exposed to the public, via the internet. At the current time, not much information is available on how the attacks were resolved, but both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Networks are up and running.

Challenges These Companies Face

Security breaches and cyber attacks are on the rise. While no company is completely safe, large companies are far more likely to be compromised because they have access to more sensitive data that hackers want. Large companies are experiencing an increasing number of security breaches and are often left scrambling in embarrassment to clean up the mess that these breaches create.

Some of the most world’s popular companies such as JP Morgan Chase, ICANN and Xbox are not quite prepared for the methods that hackers use to infiltrate their systems. While careful consideration must be given to each organization’s infrastructure, it is apparent that drastic and revolutionary security measures need to be taken sooner than later. As companies resort to adding more software and technology into their infrastructures, more effort needs to be given to identifying the vulnerabilities that software and technology create.

Evolution of Cyber-Attacks

The face of cyber-attacks has evolved. Now hackers use many different tactics including spear-phishing, DDoS, USB devices and other fraudulent methods to compromise some of the world largest and most well-known organizations. These attacks don’t happen all at once; instead they happen persistently. Once hackers gain access to a system, they lurk and systematically steal information for extended periods of time. In many cases, an organization can be compromised using an employee’s credentials while the employee and the company remain unaware of the breach.

There is a problem with the way that organizations are dealing with these attacks. Companies are scrambling and playing catch up when hackers are steadily evolving their tactics to remain ahead of the game. A deeper look needs to be given to software and security protocol to determine where the risks exist so that solutions can be created to get rid of the loopholes. Organizations should invest more of their resources to implement a host of security strategies and measures to protect its vulnerabilities and its customers.

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Huawei Sales Rise 15 Percent in 2014, Ending Year at $46B

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Huawei, a Chinese provider of equipment and services for networking and telecoms, has ended 2014 with a 15 percent rise in sales revenue, surpassing its 11.6 percent growth in 2013, according to a New Year’s message from Ken Hu, the current Huawei CEO among its three rotating CEOs.

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Hosting Trends That Changed Small Business in 2014

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At GoDaddy, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the way that small businesses have taken advantage of all that the Internet offers, expanding their services and sales opportunities beyond the traditional brick and mortar. So what are some of the biggest trends that impacted small businesses this year, and how will they grow in 2015?

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Top 5 PlayStation 4 Games of 2014

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The PlayStation 4 is, hands down, the best console to date. Featuring impressive hardware, slick design, an easy-to-navigate-through menu and a solid-built Dualshock 4 controller, it’s easy to see why so many game developers released numerous titles either compatible with this gaming console or remastered for it to offer an elevated experience. Because there were so many noteworthy titles, we compiled a list of the must-have games for PlayStation 4.

1) GTA V

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Every time a new Grand Theft Auto game is released, it’s bound to end up on a “Best Of” list. The best part about it is that it’s not something done by default – it’s one of those rare cases when the games actually live up to their hype. GTA V sets the bar high for production values – there is no other video game right now that feels so cinematic. There is attention given to every detail, from the voice acting to the city of Los Santos, which looks absolutely gorgeous. Textures are beautifully rendered – the scenery just begs you to stop and look at it, without doing anything. But when you DO something, there is a level of authenticity involved that you can hardly find in any other game. The PS4 version brings a new mode to the table – the First-Person perspective, which makes you feel even more involved with the character you’re controlling, instead of just having him from a somehow detached third-person point-of-view. The way characters like Trevor interact with the rest feels both scary and authentic – they are criminals and they know it, so the game won’t manipulate you into liking them. The dialogue is sharp and witty, continuing to satirize America and its corrupt agencies (I’ll let you guess to what does GTA V’s filthy agency FiB allude to). Apart from some frame rate issues and a slightly problematic Online Mode, there isn’t anything else to complain about and even those things are basically just nitpicking.

2) The Last of Us Remastered

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Just like GTA V, The Last of Us isn’t a 2014 release, but since it has been specifically remastered for the PS4, it would be a sin to omit it. The remastered version runs at a higher frame rate, featuring sharper texture – it makes an already gorgeous game look more gorgeous. It’s not that much of an improvement and for anyone who played it on PS3, it will probably not make any difference, but that doesn’t take away any of its merits. It’s one of the best adventure games in years, thanks to its thoughtful story which poses questions you can ponder on. The Last of Us is set in a world where all hope is lost, where people can’t afford the luxury to live, but merely to survive. And in such a nihilistic world, getting attached to someone who might be gone the next day can prove to be a terrible mistake. Still, this is what Joel, our bitter protagonist does with Ellie and as the game progresses, you can see why. Ellie is that dim light shining in a dark world.  This is not a game where you throw grenades and shoot countless bullets at people; you get the sense of desperation by having to improvise and search every abandoned house for items you could use as weapons and the combats are equally nerve-racking. As a bonus, the PS4 version has Left Behind, the DLC story chapter, available right from the start. It gives us more insight into Ellie’s life and the people who mattered most to her. All in all, those emotional punches feel stronger thanks to the superb voice acting and the constant sense of authenticity given by the storyline. The Last of Us feels natural and – dare I say, real.

3) Dragon Age: Inquisition

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Dragon Age: Inquisition raises questions about faith and divinity – and just like in the real world, those questions are not easy to answer. You are believed to be the chosen one, tumbling from a rift in the sky. Those witnessing the fall also claim to have seen a woman they believe to be a prophet whose doctrine was the basis for the Chantry religion, but you have no memory of the events that unfolded before, except the presence of a light. During the course of the game, not only will your character ponder on its mission, but he will also meet other ones equally tormented. What’s best about the game is that it doesn’t try to manipulate you into believing in something that is against you – instead, the choices the character makes in this role-playing game can be adjusted to match your own belief system. The character creation system gives you the option to choose a Qunari or even a Dalish elf, with each option having its satisfactions. The group that will accompany you on the quest is diverse and, what’s best, free of the clichés they could have so easily fallen into. The gameplay is tight, with every choice you make affecting the way people see you – either as someone they should be afraid of or as a liar. Your mission will be to go through the war either as a combatant, an ambassador or a spy. The combats in the game might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but the game is such a superb experience, that we’re willing to overlook it.

4) NBA 2K15

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There had to be a sports game on the list and instead of going with the obvious FIFA 15 choice, I’m opting instead for the NBA 2K15. While last year’s NBA game was solid enough, 2K15 is on an entirely different level, thanks to the natural movement of the players and the respected laws of physics. Controlling the ball through the analog stick has never been this fluid and fine; the success of your shots or defense will depend entirely on your ability to anticipate the situation and make the best out of open spaces. There is a meter there to guide you through the shots, in the sense that its indicator will help you determine why some shots were successful, while the other ones weren’t. The AI has never been more intelligent; if you focus too much on marking your man, chances are you’ll miss the whole action set piece, since the AI cleverly finds open players to pass the ball to. While the realistic movement and reaction of the players are a marvel, it also means you have to work harder and possibly deal with frustration, when you have to mark someone like LeBron, who is of course a world-class player. The career mode lets you start as an undrafted player that has 10 days at his disposal to impress those who see him on the court – and if you do, be prepared to sign endorsement deals and become a fundamental player of your team. Statistics shown during the half-time have never been more helpful, since you will be given strategies to improve your game and have the upper hand. The graphics aren’t anything new, if you are familiar with last year’s NBA game, but the improved control and movement on the court, as well as the shot meter, are solid additions which improve 2K15 greatly.

5) Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

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It’s enough to see the first chapter unfold, to know that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare means business.  There are explosions, melodrama, an extravagant setting – this is how you make a statement, by starting it out big. You play as Jack Mitchell, a US Marine, who is forced to become a mercenary for a company run by none other than Kevin Spacey himself. Well, his character’s name is Jonathan Irons, but it’s easy to forget that, since the realistic rendering might led you to believe you are seeing an episode of “House of Cards” unfold. The missions are exciting and although the visuals are less stellar than other games of its kind, the compromise is fair, since Advanced Warfare doesn’t lose any of its smoothness. The standard combat gameplay is sometimes refreshingly interrupted by stealth missions in which a rappel is your best friend, as well missions where you’re required to dive with a jet ski. History references are scarce, the only notable mention being the invasion of North Korea in South Korea; instead, the game opts for a futuristic approach, but sadly, the characters are mere caricatures and the villain’s one-liners are laughable. Because you’ll be wearing an exosuit, the Call of Duty maps have been adjusted accordingly, since a lot of climbing will be required, due to its structure. Apart from these issues, this first-person shooter is a solid entry in the Call of Duty series and thanks to its futuristic setting, it opens the door to explore new and unique storylines.

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Top 10 Hosting WHIR Articles of 2014

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Outages, ecommerce, and SMBs were some of the most popular hosting topics within the WHIR’s social community this year.

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Top 5 Best Smartphones of 2014

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A few years ago, there were no smartphones. They were just cell phones. You were able to send messages and call people wirelessly with them and we thought it was groundbreaking. For those times, it was, and it was a luxury to own one. But the world has changed – what yesterday was considered to be groundbreaking is now outdated and what was considered to be a luxury is now banal. Smartphones have evolved a lot and 2014 was a year with great releases, from Apple to HTC, so without further ado, here are our rankings of the best smartphones released this year.

5) Moto X (2nd Generation)

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Who would have thought that Motorola would found its way back on a “Best Of” list? Sorry we doubted you Motorola, because your upgraded Moto X is quite awesome. The Super AMOLED clarity of the 5.2-inch screen, fit in a curvaceous design, won us over; combined with the Motorola Active Display that lets you slide your finger on the display to see the most important notifications, it’s a winner. Thankfully, they ditched the plastic design in favor of the aluminum one, so that it feels natural and even smaller in your hand. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 is pure power and the 2GB RAM is not too shabby either. Too bad the camera is pretty sub-par and the battery will barely get you through one day, because the smartphone is remarkable in all the other aspects.

4) Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

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As smartphones keep increasing in size, we felt compelled to add a well-built smartphone which has ‘compact’ in its name. It has slightly less power and resolution than its bigger brother Xperia Z3, so why is this phone on the list, you might wonder? It’s just the classic saying of good things coming in small packages and in this case, it’s a 20.7MP camera, Remote Play for PS4, an impressive IPS LCD screen at an accessible price.

3) Samsung Galaxy Note 4

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Samsung once again shows why it’s a dominant force on the mobile market, by pulling out all the aces from its sleeves and packing them into the Galaxy Note 4. The QHD resolution and a Super AMOLED screen make it hard not to stare at it; the wide-angle 3.7MP front camera allows you to take better selfies than ever and the 16MP rear one has built-in Optical Image Stabilization. It’s one of the best phablets and it would be close to perfection if only the price would be lower.

2) iPhone 6

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Shock! The iPhone 6 is not the number one on the list. It’s not that it’s a bad smartphone by any means – after all, it’s our number two, but it’s just that for the oh-so-very-expensive price tag, we had slightly higher hopes. It is of course a step forward from the previous releases and the iOS is probably the best operating system at the moment; the interface manages to be both intuitive and simple. However, the low-res display and camera, which for the given price should have been stellar, prevent it from taking the top spot.

1) HTC One M8

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HTC One M8 deservingly takes the first spot; the most impressive aspect of the M8 is that it actually managed to improve an already spectacular smartphone, like their previous HTC One. The Boomsound system brings the clarity of the audio to a whole new level and the Duo Lens camera with UltraPixels ensures that all your special moments will be beautifully captured. The Snapdragon 801 processor speeds up everything, from photo processing to gaming experience. One can only wonder how much harder the M9 will crush the competition.

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Web Hosting Sales and Promos Roundup – December 19, 2014

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In the week ending December 19, 2014, there are many hosts offering discounts just in time for the holidays. Cloudways is offering up to 65 percent off cloud hosting, while AIT is running its 12 Days of Christmas promotion.

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