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Spectre and Meltdown CPU Vulnerabilities: What are they?

This week, we learned that billions of the microprocessors (CPUs) in existence today contain a flaw that could allow data and instructions to be monitored by an outside listener, as they are being processed. Affected CPUs are found in hardware devices ranging from smart phones, to PCs, to cloud infrastructures the size of a datacenter. The vulnerabilities are called Spectre and Meltdown, due to how each interacts with the CPU.

In plain English, for affected devices, a programmer (an attacker) could write a program that eavesdrops on a device as it processes data. Once uploaded to a device, it could listen in on the data and transmit it back to the attacker.

Unlike malware, which typically is unknowingly installed during an active user’s session, the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities occur separate from the active user’s session, literally sampling and listening in on the data outside of the virtual programming space. Compare it to wiretapping, but at the bridge point between a CPU’s hardware and how it manages instructions.

The vulnerabilities take place in a way that would never be visible to the data owner or any portion of the programming space handling the data. Because the vulnerabilities exist at the hardware level, operating systems, which run firewall, security, and anti-virus services, would have no ability to prevent such intrusions.

If loaded onto your smartphone, consider that emails, messages, photographs — pretty much all of the data on your device — could theoretically be monitored without you or your phone’s operating system having any clue it was occurring. Now imagine it on a larger scale, such as with a cloud hosting service. With these vulnerabilities, customer data could be obtained, passwords and credit card information copied, and entire social media accounts compromised, all without a hint of anything awry. That’s what is so alarming.

And that leads me to a point regarding our stance on cloud hosting. Cloud has its use, but unless you’re looking at uncontrollable scalability concerns, in our opinion, the risks outweigh benefits. Since its advent, cloud hosting has concerned us due to the level of integration and reliance that both data and hardware share with one another. Your business might be located in Oregon, but your data could also be stored in New York, or Sweden, or Thailand, or all four places, wherever the cloud determined your data should be stored. And, your data neighbors in each of those places could be up to no good. Should there be a lapse in security, as with Spectre and Meltdown, the keys to the entire kingdom could effectively be handed over, all of your data obtained, and no way to know of or prove it.

And now, those concerns are a reality. Cloud computing takes advantage of pooled computer resources that are shared between users (tenants). With these vulnerabilities, one of those tenants could be an attacker, and simply implement their programs throughout cloud platforms, each snooping on countless other customers’ data. In several industry articles we’ve read, cloud hosting has been noted as the platform of greatest concern.

As a customer of Canvas Host, what we want you to know that while we are concerned about the potential impacts of these vulnerabilities, at this time we are confident your data is safe. None of your data is hosted in a cloud environment, and we carefully vet all customers in our network. Though we cannot guarantee your data is entirely safe from these vulnerabilities, through our business operations we have already taken many steps to protect you.

Patches for the vulnerability are already being finalized and released for most active operating systems. It has been noted that at least initially, the patches may cause as much as a 30% slow-down in CPU performance. This could considerably impact all data processing services, including hosting provider platforms like those we use.

We are actively monitoring our software vendors’ communications and are awaiting release of the patches. We will thoroughly test them before rolling them out to all of our hosting platforms, and will communicating directly with all of our dedicated customers to arrange for times when the patches can be rolled out to those systems, as well.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us and we’ll be happy to address them as best we can.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Owner

Sources:

https://access.redhat.com/security/vulnerabilities/speculativeexecution

https://meltdownattack.com/#faq-why-spectre

Spectre and Meltdown logo credits:

Natascha Eibl, Graz University of Technology


Celebrating Four Years as an Oregon Benefit Company

Wow! It’s been four years since we became an Oregon Benefit Company!

On January 2, 2014, we joined 28 other businesses to kick off a brand new Oregon business program. In the years since, it has grown into a statewide movement of more than 1,800 companies united through a common goal of using business as a force for good. (Read about the inaugural signing: Canvas Host: An Oregon Benefit Company)

Signed into law on June 18, 2013, House Bill 2296 enabled Oregon businesses to incorporate social causes into their operating by-laws. We were already a B Corporation, which implements similar corporate by-laws, but Oregon’s implementation of the benefit company structure brought us legal protection and precedence to operate on the triple bottom line.

Over the years, we’ve continued our mandate to uphold a higher level of ethics, transparency, and honesty throughout our business operations. From how we care for our customers, to how we provide meaningful services without the up-sell, to how we’ve improved employees’ lives with benefits most companies our size only dream of, Canvas Host is walking the talk.

What does the term, “benefit company” mean to you? It looks something like this: When you connect with us, we listen to you, and we break down the complicated technical stuff into plain English. We provide you the tools you need, and help you make the most of them. We’re here to help you succeed, period.

Our annual benefit report details the programs we’ve implemented and are actively working on. One of them is the creation of a statewide directory featuring Oregon benefit companies. Our objective is to help unify the community and enhance its capacity to effect positive change throughout the State.

We welcome your input as we enter 2018, and look forward to connecting with you and earning your trust.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Owner


Canvas Host selected as a 2017 Best for the World B Corporation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 12, 2017

Portland, Oregon — Canvas Host has been selected from among its B Corporation peers as a 2017 Best for the World honoree, as a Service Provider with Minor Environmental Footprint for the Long Term.

Certified B Corporation were evaluated and selected based on areas of impact, including: Best For Workers, Best For Community, Best For Customers, Best For The Environment, Best For The Long Term, and Best For The World: Changemakers.

A total of 846 businesses across 52 industries from 48 countries were recognized on the full list:
https://bthechange.com/the-2017-best-for-the-world-honorees-9412ab4a64f0

“We’re thrilled to have been selected as a Best for the World company”, said David Anderson, owner. “We intentionally operate our company to bring benefit to our team, our customers, our community, and the environment. B Corporation values are in our company’s blood. We can’t imagine doing business any other way. It’s such a huge honor to have made this list, and we intend to answer the challenge to continually impact our world in a positive way, for the Long Term.”

Canvas Host recently renewed its certification through B Lab, the nonprofit certifying body for all B Corporations, and entered its eighth year as a B Corporation with its highest-ever B Impact score of 117 points. The measure evaluates a B Corporation on its impact with respect to Environment, Workers, Customers, Community, and Governance.

Full details of the B Impact score may be read in full on Canvas Host’s profile on the B Corporation website, at:
https://www.bcorporation.net/community/canvas-host

About Canvas Host

A sustainable web hosting provider based in Portland, Oregon, Canvas Host provides comprehensive web hosting, domain registration, email, e-commerce and dedicated hosting services. An Oregon Benefit Company and certified B Corporation, the company operates on triple bottom line principles of people, planet, and then profit, giving back to the community through partnerships with local non-profits and organizations, organizing monthly educational networking with Green Drinks, planting trees through Friends of Trees, and offsetting not only its energy consumption, but also 15 Portland-area homes with clean, renewable wind energy through Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

For information on Canvas Host’s services, please contact the Sales team at sales@canvashost.com, or by calling 877.HOST.503 x1.

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Canvas Host Acquires Eugene-Based Host2Help

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 11, 2017

Portland, Oregon – Canvas Host, a Portland web hosting provider, acquired Eugene-based Host2Help on March 23, 2017. Financial details were not disclosed. The merger comprised approximately 100 customers and websites. Additionally, Host2Help’s owner, John Smart, joined Canvas Host to add to its growing repertoire of advanced services.

Originally from England, John is a true “European import”, bringing both skills and humor, including trying to compel staff to spell “color” as “colour”. It’s worth noting this mild eccentricity because of John’s affinity for Search Engine Optimization and all its nuances. He began working with SEO before it had a catchy name, when Google rules were vague, and when “link backs” were the only thing that mattered. As Google’s algorithms became more complex, John kept studying and learning, and today invests at least 4 hours a week to keep up on the latest in SEO technology.

The story of John’s business is important, and underscores how Canvas Host supports customers’ businesses through the various stages of evolution. More than ten years ago, John leased his first dedicated server from Canvas Host, at a time when he had begun growing his own hosting company. As the years passed, his business expanded and contracted several times. At the start of 2017, his server began running slow, due largely to the number of clients hosted upon it. As with many small businesses, John’s reached a challenging stage of growth in that it was too large for the server resources he had, yet too small to afford the future capacity he would need. And so, he approached Canvas Host to take on his customer base.

John said, “This has been great for all of my clients. They are getting what I promised them when I started – green hosting, amazing support, and lightning speeds. I am truly thrilled that my old clients are with the best there is for hosting.”

He continued, “The team here is genuinely excellent. I have worked in tech since I was 16 years old, and have never worked with such phenomenally intelligent people. It’s a little intimidating to me. I have always wanted to work with the best, and now I am here, I hope I can keep up. But so far I am doing well. The clients I have worked with have all been great to work with, and I have not broken anything… yet.”

David Anderson, owner of Canvas Host, added, “John is a wonderful addition to our team. His selfless commitment to helping his customers over the years was well known to many of us here, and it seemed only fitting to have him join us, to help evolve our own business to the next level. Canvas Host is excited to have John on our team, and hope customers find his wit and ‘humour’ refreshing!”

About Canvas Host

A sustainable web hosting provider based in Portland, Oregon, Canvas Host provides comprehensive web hosting, domain registration, email, e-commerce and dedicated hosting services. An Oregon Benefit Company and certified B Corporation, the company operates on triple bottom line principles of people, planet, and then profit, giving back to the community through partnerships with local non-profits and organizations, organizing monthly educational networking with Green Drinks, planting trees through Friends of Trees, and offsetting not only its energy consumption, but also 15 Portland-area homes with clean, renewable wind energy through Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

For information on Canvas Host’s services, please contact the Sales team at sales@canvashost.com, or by calling 503.914.1118 x1.

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Canvas Host Acquires England-based Web Hosting UK

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 27, 2017

Portland, Oregon – Canvas Host, a Portland web hosting provider, acquired Web Hosting UK on June 13, 2017. Financial details were not disclosed. With approximately 600 customers and 1,100 domain names, the acquisition is among the largest for Canvas Host.

Jonathan Munn, owner of Web Hosting UK, said in a release to his company’s customers, “I chose Canvas Host due to the way they treat their customers and their values. I did not want to send my customers to a company that was orientated more towards the bottom line, but someone who was going to be there to help customers and offer bespoke packages. I would also add that I chose Canvas Host due to the technology they deploy and also the fact they offer the client base more than I could ever offer them. Finally, the fact that Canvas Host is a UK/US split company, will be helpful for our UK customers in adjusting to a new host.”

David Anderson, Owner of Canvas Host, added, “When we first spoke with Jonathan, we were excited about the prospect of expanding our hosting footprint ‘across the pond’. Though we have for years maintained a UK presence through our close colleague, Tom Craig, the majority of our customers are based in North America. We foresee many opportunities with this new family of clients entering our network, in terms of expanding our UK operations and brand presence, as well as shifting our mindsets ever-more global.”

About Canvas Host

A sustainable web hosting provider based in Portland, Oregon, Canvas Host provides comprehensive web hosting, domain registration, email, e-commerce and dedicated hosting services. An Oregon Benefit Company and certified B Corporation, the company operates on triple bottom line principles of people, planet, and then profit, giving back to the community through partnerships with local non-profits and organizations, organizing monthly educational networking with Green Drinks, planting trees through Friends of Trees, and offsetting not only its energy consumption, but also 15 Portland-area homes with clean, renewable wind energy through Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

For information on Canvas Host’s services, please contact the Sales team at sales@canvashost.com, or by calling 503.914.1118 x1.

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