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Putting A Stop To Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is defined as “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” While cyberbullying can occur against anyone, it typically is focused against protected classes and youth.

The United States government operates a public service website, stopbullying.gov, detailing laws by each State and programs designed to assist in the prevention of cyberbullying. I spent some time reading up the laws in Oregon, in which Canvas Host is legally registered and operates.

Oregon’s Regulatory Statute (ORS 339.351) widens the scope of cyberbullying, emphasizing protected classes (groups of people defined or perceived to be set apart by race, religion, and sexual orientation, to name a few) as well as youth and students, and spells out disciplinary and legal actions that may be taken wherever cyberbullying occurs against these groups.

The reason I’m talking about cyberbullying, is that as a parent, community member, business owner, and private citizen, I’ve had it. I’m fed up with the plethora of abusive behavior I see on social media, as attack articles pushed through “fake news”, or blatantly oppressive actions people think they can get away with in emails. Cyberbullying is very real, and it has the ability to bring harm to a victim. In some cases, it can be lethal.

Cyberbullying: 30 Years In The Making

In 1998, when I first started dreaming about an online business, “cyberbullying” didn’t exist as a word, but abuse was already plentiful on BBS (bulletin board systems) and in email. I was targeted a few times by people that just wanted to get a rise out of me. It seemed these people didn’t understand that their words could inflict harm.

Around the Millennium, a group of individuals got together and wrote a book foretelling the advent of social media. It was called, The Cluetrain Manifesto, and it predicted an “Internet 2.0”, in which businesses would find themselves no longer the masters of the Internet, presented with new apps and communication platforms that would give rise to an online population of consumers and private citizens that would want to connect. A poorly-worded exchange would have the potential to destroy a brand’s reputation, just as an act of good will could launch admiration and support for a company to new heights.

Was business, as a whole, prepared for the Internet to become a two-way conversation? Seeing how vicious complete strangers could be towards one another, I had my doubts. Even so, I realized that to remain relevant, a business must develop a personal voice with which customers could learn to love. When I founded this business in 2002, I wanted to create a service to help customers and businesses connect and prosperous online.

I didn’t realize what a future with social media would mean. Since that time, I have seen an additional evolution of social commentary: No longer would it be a two-way conversation for businesses and people to exchange ideas; Rather, it would become like any other middle school gossip ring: Cutting one party entirely out of the conversation, with private exchanges behind its back and bringing rise to entirely new, uncontrollable, and viral attacks. In the twenty-teens, this is what cyberbullying has become.

Cyberbullying Spreads Like A Virus

An ill-stated comment by a brand, an unfortunate photo taken of a friend without their knowledge, a compromising “revenge” video posted publicly, all of it carrying the potential to spread faster than a biological pandemic with global reach… You know what I’m talking about: The kind of stuff that damages reputations, spans further and deeper and worse than schoolyard note-passing and that can even lead someone to commit suicide.

It’s led me many times to unfollow “friends”, “unfriend” contacts, outright block some user accounts, and trim down the digital noise — something that in 2019 is becoming known as “digital minimalism” (I will save that for a future post). It works for me — but what about you, your friends and loved ones? What can you do to counter cyberbullying on your own terms and turf?

Fighting Back Against Cyberbullying

One of the best ways to prevent cyberbullying, is awareness: To learn how to identify it, who within your circles of influence are participating in it, and who is being victimized by it. Education and behavioral shifts are possible, but may require involvement of educational administration, or potentially law enforcement if necessary. Thankfully, in the few situations I have been involved in, simply talking about what happened, and how it made the other party feel, has provided enough feedback so as to prevent it from happening again. I recognize this is not always the case, but I feel that a de-escalatory approach, whenever possible, is the best first approach.

On the business side, we take cyberbullying extremely seriously. We have revised our Acceptable Use Policy to directly forbid our network from being used for the purpose of cyberbullying, with a zero-tolerance response that will see a customer’s account terminated without exception, and possible referral to law enforcement if it is determined the action was done willfully.

As a B Corporation, we actively take a stand on issues that impact us, our customers, and our community. Cyberbullying is something that we can do something about. In 2019, I am proud to announce that we have evolved our mission statement to reflect this:

At Canvas Host, our mission is to create a safe, just, and socially equitable Internet, one website at a time.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Founder and Co-Owner

Sources / To learn more:

Canvas Host’s Acceptable Use Policy

Oregon Regulatory Statute 339.351 (Cyberbullying Law)

U.S. Government Stop Bullying Campaign

IC3 Internet Crime Complaint Center

Cluetrain Manifesto


Tier 1 Vs. Tier 2 Support

support

Howdy, all you gorgeous, internet wizards…

Lawrence here, with another informative article about the goings on behind the scenes at Canvas Host.

We’ve got a lot going on in the realm of streamlining and improving things throughout the company this year, and the Support department is no exception.

In this newsletter, I wanted to touch on something which you may or may (not) have noticed, but something I feel should be addressed none the less…

If you’ve opened a support ticket within the past week, you may have noticed the designation of “Tier 1” and wondered what that’s all about, so I wanted to take a moment to explain and hopefully allay any confusion and satisfy any curiosity about it.

From now on, when a new support ticket is opened (either by an email being sent to support@canvashost.com or being directly opened through your customer dashboard), the ticket is assigned to Tier 1 support. Depending on the complexity of the matter, the ticket will either be answered straight away by the support team on staff at that time, or, it may be escalated to Tier 2.

So what’s the difference and does one tier have priority over the other?

Firstly, Tier 2 tickets do not have higher priority over Tier 1. If anything, Tier 1 will be answered the fastest. Customers cannot open a Tier 2 ticket. The designation is decided by our staff at our discretion.

Basic Rundown…

* Tier 1: Simple, everyday questions/issues that can be answered/resolved quickly by anybody on the support team within under an hour depending on the size of the support queue, number of phone calls coming in etc. Missed call tickets are designated Tier 1. Any staff member who touches this Support queue is required to make sure Tier 1 tickets are answered/called back before their shift is over for the day/evening.

* Tier 2: Tickets that address issues which senior members of our staff might have to take over, issues requiring further research and development, internal discussion between staff members etc. These tickets will generally be resolved within 24 to 48 hours depending upon their complexity and other tasks being juggled as we all wear several hats around here.

The reasons for this new system have to do with managing the daily throughput of our support ticket queue as well as internal tracking and analysis which will help us to establish a clearer understanding of how and where our resources can be most effectively utilized.

As always, we hope this explanation serves as a continuance of our rule of transparency in business.


1/2/2019 Network Interruption Analysis

Whenever our network experiences an interruption or failure, we wish to provide a full accounting, to the best of our abilities. It is part of our B Corporation and Benefit Company commitment to operating our business with complete transparency.

This notice is in regards to the service interruption experienced by some customers on January 2, 2019.

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is one in which a network is flooded with millions of simultaneous requests, from numerous external sources, in a coordinated fashion so as to paralyze the network, and make it difficult for the network’s administrators to stop the attack.

Yesterday, one of our upstream carriers’ core routers was targeted by a DDoS attack, which resulted in over-utilization of a routing table. The attack was mitigated, but caused a physical component of the router to partially fail, resulting in the router sending one-way traffic.

Because it was not a complete failure, standard alerts for the router were not issued. Because of the type of fault, network redundancy was unable to counter the issue. Therefore, it became a process of elimination to manually identify the point of failure, and replace the faulty component.

This took time, and is why we at Canvas Host were initially informed of and reported on a resolution to the problem approximately 28 minutes after it began, yet continued to diagnose and troubleshoot connectivity issues for some customers throughout the afternoon.

No system is 100% fault-proof. It should be noted that the router had performed without issue for 906 days.

Per our Terms of Service, DDoS attacks are not subject to our 99.9% Uptime Guarantee. Still, we care that your service was interrupted for any reason, especially due to a third-party assault on our network. We take these matters extremely seriously, as we recognize any impact to your service can hinder business and communications.

As a side note, we have received a number of inquiries from customers stating their websites are not functioning properly. Please note that this is not related to a network interruption, which would prevent you from accessing all aspects of hosted services you receive from us. There have been recent updates to WordPress, as well as the PHP version required to run the latest codebase, and either could be a factor as to why your website is not functioning properly. If you would like a no-obligation assessment of your current website, please let us know, and we will be happy to assist.

On behalf of everyone at Canvas Host, we hope this message finds you well, and provides answers as to the recent network interruption.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Co-Owner


WordPress 5.0, One Week Later

If your website runs WordPress, the latest version is here. We emailed our customers last week about the new interface, the Gutenberg editor, and included troubleshooting advice.

Gutenberg isn’t for everyone. It may not be compatible with your theme or page builder plugins. It could simply break your WordPress installation.

With the benefit of one week’s insight, we’re pleased to provide four simple steps to upgrade to WordPress 5.0 safely, and with minimal risk for your WordPress website.

How do I Safely update to WordPress 5.0?

1. Make a complete backup of your WordPress installation. This is done using a plugin like BackupBuddy, or by importing your WordPress installation into Installatron within Cpanel, then choosing Backup. Or, if you’re subscribed to our Managed WordPress service line, we’ve already taken care of it for you.

Learn more about our WordPress Management here:

https://www.canvashost.com/wordpress/wordpress-support.php

2. Update your core WordPress to 5.0. This is done by logging into WordPress administration area, and then navigating to Dashboard -> Updates on the left-hand navigation bar.

3. Once WordPress is updated, you will be prompted to update your theme and plugins as well. This is because theme and plugin developers have created versions compatible with the older WordPress versions (4.9.x), which function differently than the versions needed to use WordPress 5+.

4. Finally, let’s be honest… the Gutenberg editor is different. It is used to build pages in blocks of content, which is more akin to platforms like Concrete5, but a complete diversion from the interface to which WordPress are accustomed. If you’d prefer to avoid Gutenberg, there is a plugin you can install, aptly named Classic Editor. It returns your WordPress 5.0 website to look like the older interface.

To install Classic Editor, navigate to Plugins -> Add New -> In the search bar, type “classic editor”. You will see the first one that comes up is named Classic Editor, and as of the time of this blog post, has been installed by more than 1 million WordPress websites! If you’d prefer to visit the plugin page directly in a separate browser, the URL is:

Classic Editor

With these four steps, you can mitigate the major issues of upgrading to the latest WordPress edition.

What if I still need help?

If you have questions or need help, Canvas Host is a full-service web agency. At $60/hour, our WordPress consulting services are far less than other agencies’ rates. And, as a B Corporation, we don’t nickel and dime you, and want you to get the most out of your website. We’re here to help.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Founder and Co-Owner


Is Your “Website Down”? 

By Lawrence Hearn, Support Lead

Never fear, problems have solutions. A handy guide to process of elimination trouble shooting.

Here in the support department, I and the rest of the team are in an interminable state of diagnosing and resolving all kinds of issues. It’s like the mail… it never stops, and no two packages are ever the same.

This is of course a bit hyperbolic; it’s not really that bad. However, I thought I’d take a moment to go over some of the basics of how we approach some common issues when we receive a trouble ticket. Hopefully this information might help you to get a better handle on things (should you encounter said issues).

Firstly, when it comes to “Our website is down”, 99% of the time the website is not down, not in the technical sense anyway.

If you try to bring up your website and it does not load, the most likely cause is that the IP address you’re connecting to our network from has become blocked in the server’s firewall (for any myriad of reasons). Common causes are a choppy internet connection, failed login attempts etc, but in most cases the blocks are temporary at best and only last between 5 to 15 minutes.

How can you know if (in fact) you have become blocked? The first thing I like to do is check to see if you can view the website on a device that is not connected to the WIFI network you are connecting from (such as a smartphone or tablet using a carrier signal like AT&T, Verizon etc). If the site comes up, then you know (#1) that the website is not “down” and (#2) that the firewall is blocking your IP address.

You have several options now from here…

#1:

You can use the “Unblock My IP Address” tool located under the “Support” menu in your customer dashboard at https://support.canvashost.comes

This tool automatically detects the IP address you are connecting from and queries the firewall of the server your hosting account is associated with and unblocks it. Very simple, very fast.

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#2:

Email support@canvashost.com with a request to unblock your IP address. In most cases the support system will flag the IP address you’ve emailed us from, but it’s good practice to provide the IP address in the body of your message. There are many ways to find out what IP address you’re connecting from, we have our own tool you can use at: https://canvashost.com/ip

Once we receive your ticket, we’ll unblock the IP and in some cases add it to the firewall’s “Ignore” list, which will prevent the firewall from blocking you in the future. This is performed at the discretion of our staff.

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#3:

Just give us a call. All though the other two methods are likely going to be faster, you may feel challenged by navigating the support system etc and we totally get that. As long as you can provide us with your domain name and the IP address you’re connecting from, we’ll get you unblocked right away. Our customer service phone number is listed right at the top of our website at https://canvashost.com Portland: 503.914.1118 | Toll-Free: 877.HOST.503 | UK: 0800 081 1815

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If your website is actually down for everybody then that is of course a totally different issue. Assuming there are no global issues with the web server and your website is the only one effect, questions our staff will ask in these cases are as follows:

When was the last time you recall seeing the website up and working properly?
Have there been any updates made to the website recently and prior to the issue occurring?
Has the person(s) who built and/or maintain your website(s) been notified and if so, what (if any) feedback do they have?

In most cases, websites break because of old, depreciated code or conflicts between different software installed on the website. The average WordPress site is an amalgamation of 2 to 3 software vendors writing code independently of one another. This is the nature of the platform and the finickiness of PHP.

Let’s use this an an example of a quick (process of elimination) troubleshooting technique…

In a WordPress file framework (which you can access via the File Manager in your cPanel) there are 3 to 4 core folders. One of which is named “wp-content”. In this folder is another folder simply named “plugins”. Renaming this folder (to whatever you like, I generally just do something like “plugins2”) will disable all of the installed plugins without effecting any other part of the WordPress framework. If you do this and then check your website and it comes up, then you know there is/are one or more plugins which just aren’t vibing with each other. Now you can log into your WordPress dashboard (you’ll want to name the plugins folder back to “plugins” first) and go to the Plugins screen to disable all active plugins, then reactivate them one by one, checking the site each time until you’ve identified which one(s) “break” the website.

Assuming there are no updates available for that plugin, it’s just a matter of uninstalling it and looking for a replacement, of which there will likely be at least 2 to 5 available depending on what kind of plugin it is.

And there you go! Now you’re an internet scientist and the envy of your friends and co-workers.