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DDoS Attacks - What, Why & How CloudAccess.net Responds

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From time to time our network experiences DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks. Most of the time DDoS attacks are small, and our network can absorb the hit while server admins resolve the issue, resulting in little to no downtime for our clients. Twice during the last few days, however, we experienced large scale DDoS attacks that impacted our entire network. This blog explains a little about DDoS attacks, how they can debilitate a network, how we respond and what we are doing to improve our overall reliability.

What is a DDoS attack?

Essentially, a DDoS attack is an attempt by many computers (usually controlled by a primary computer) to use up all the network resources available on a server, limiting website availability for intended users. If the DDoS attack is large enough, our clients experience a lag, and legitimate traffic cannot get through because bad traffic is flooding our Internet connections. In very simple terms, our gear is busy handling DDoS traffic so it cannot handle traffic to your website. The video below by MicroNugget is a great explanation of how a DDoS works.

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FREE Webinar Invitation & HUGE Savings on Watchful

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You're invited to attend a free webinar and save 50% off Watchful, one of the most popular Joomla extensions in 2013. Winner of the Innovation of the Year award at JAB13 and the Best Joomla App award at CMS EXPO 2013, this is one webinar you do not want to miss. Watchful gives site admins the power to:

  • update and backup Joomla and Joomla add-ons remotely
  • [EXCLUSIVE] supports commercial add-ons for Akeeba, NoNumber and ACL Manager
  • utilize powerful activity logging
  • receive notifications when important site files are modified
  • manage all of your Joomla websites in one convenient location
  • save time by ensuring that critical maintenance tasks are implemented consistently

When: Friday September 27th @ 9:00 a.m. EST

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Antivirus Scanning Approaches for Linux Servers: Comparing & Contrasting Available Options

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The CloudAccess.net Server Admin Team is always looking for new and innovative ways to improve every aspect of our servers. We perform continual monitoring and routine maintenance to ensure our linux servers are optimized for the best performance possible. Part of this routine maintenance includes antivirus scanning. This blog describes three different types of antivirus scanning approaches: on-access scanning, on-demand scanning and gateway scanning. We've also included a list of pros and cons to consider and our team's conclusion about the best antivirus scanning option.

On-access Antivirus Scanning

An on-access antivirus scanner scans a file when it's read from a disk or written to a disk. This requires a kernel driver to intercept IO from the file system layer. The kernel driver then passes the requested file(s) to an antivirus daemon for the scan. When an infection is detected. IO to that file is refused. This is an automated process that can take additional actions like deleting, healing or alerting the server administrator about the issue.

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A Thank You to the Entire Joomla! Community

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Thank You, Joomla!

We are a company that was born out of Joomla it is a great honor to be part of the Joomla community. We're passionate about contributing to the project, and we're lucky to be a part of it. We have so many great employees that comprise our company - people who are committed to our goals and the community. Please watch the thank you video below.

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A Comprehensive Guide to Joomla Compression and Caching

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The Basics of Compression and Caching

When visitors come to your site, their browser displays content that is served from a web server. The web server is told what content to send based on the output of the Joomla application. Each page that the visitor loads requires Joomla to generate content into an html page for the visitor's browser. Sometimes Joomla has to generate the same content over and over. When this happens, site administrators can take advantage of caching to reduce the amount of work required from Joomla and the web server, which can greatly improve performance.

Compression comes into play when the files and data that is generated by Joomla gets sent from the web server to the browser. In many cases, compressing that data can increase the speed at which the data is sent, as well as the performance of the web server itself. In combination, these two factors can greatly decrease the speed at which your pages load for site visitors.

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Is Memcache Slowing Down Your Joomla Site?

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We often see tickets about slow-loading sites or sites at a complete standstill. Most clients' first reaction is to blame the server, but this typically isn't the server's fault. Time and time again the very first thing we check is whether or not the client has Memcache enabled within the Global Configuration area of their Joomla site.

What is Memcache?

Memcache (memory caching) works within core Joomla and is a server-side caching technology. CloudAccess.net offers memory caching as part of our servcies, but the problem with Joomla and memory cache is that, once you start adding plugins, components and other extensions to your site, things become more complex. If Memcache is turned on and 3rd party extensions are installed, there may be compatibility issues that cause a looping effect, ultimately slowing down your site.

This looping effect slows down your site’s load time or could cause the site to become completely unresponsive. If you want your site to use memory caching you have to program it into your PHP code. The core Joomla CMS has a decent implementation of Memcache and we hope to see continued improvements overtime. If your site is only core Joomla, go ahead and try out Memcache and run a speed test. If you use 3rd party extensions, templates, modules, and other things that render when the Joomla site is called upon by a browser, your site may be slow to load.

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Understanding Joomla! ACL - Core Features & Available Extensions

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Access Control Lists (ACL) is one of Joomla's most popular features and a draw for a lot of new users. ACL controls what site users can do and see on a website. The robust core ACL enables administrators to create tiered levels off access to different areas of the site for thousands of users. ACL is complex, and it raises a lot of questions.

We've scheduled two upcoming webinars to help answer some of those questions. The first webinar is Joomla! 3.1 ACL Explained. Hosted by CloudAccess.net Operating Manager Jonathan Gafill, this webinar will focus on core Joomla ACL. Jonathan will:

  • offer a definition of basic ACL terminology
  • create new User Groups
  • assign Permissions
  • add new Users and assign them to User Groups
  • create Access Levels
  • Create Categories, Articles and Menu Items specific to a User Group
  • test ACL front end functionality

The second ACL Manager Webinar will be presented by Sander Potjer, a leader in the Joomla community and the developer of the ACL Manager extension. Core Joomla ACL can be difficult to comprehend and that’s where the ACL Manager comes in! Available in 28 languages, the ACL Manager features tools to help users easily understand and manage Users, User Groups, Permissions and Access Levels. During this one hour webinar, Sander will discuss:

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Selecting a Template for a Major 3rd Party Extension

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If you need a template and you’re using a large 3rd party extension, you have a few options. You can build your own custom template or look for a template that was built specifically for the extension you need. Many template manufactures have pre built templates built specifically for an extension, which can save time and money. Your options are detailed below, and I’ve included some other tips to consider as you get started.

Consider a Pre Built Template

If you want a shortcut, consider starting with a template that is built to fit the purpose, even it it doesn’t match the colors you want right off the bat. You could use a standard template not built for your major 3rd party extension, but the views may look awkward. Standard templates aren’t really built to override the views of large extensions. As a result, you’d probably have to spend time styling the shopping cart views to get the desired look and feel. If you like the basic style of a template built for your extension, you can always dive into the CSS and HTML to adjust the style to fit your brand. This will ultimately save you a lot of time and money.

Shaper MegaDeal - The Best VirtueMart Joomla! Template

I recently had a chance to talk to Kowshar Ahmed, a passionate Joomla enthusiast and the owner of JoomShaper. The JoomShaper team creates high quality Joomla templates and they recently released a great VirtueMart template called MegaDeal. If you need to build a VirtueMart site, you can’t find a better template.

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What’s under the hood? Making the Invisible Layer Visible

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One of the best parts about Joomla is that the core CMS is continually updated, retooled and improved, which benefits everyone. At CloudAccess.net, we strive to do the same. We’re always seeking new and innovative ways to improve every aspect of our platform, and that includes offering the best hosting environments possible.

The hosting layer of any online service provider is commonly referred to as “the invisible layer”. Many service providers don’t expose details about what type of equipment they use and many clients don’t know to ask questions about what’s under the hood - what’s powering their product. We use the best equipment available and our invisible layer is now completely visible and transparent. Part of that transparency is keeping our clients informed about platform upgrades and additions.

New Storage Area Network for our Hosting

We recently added several Dell R510 servers to the platform and we’re moving from dedicated machines to virtual dedicated machines. Each machine will be virtualized which means that there will be one more virtual machine per physical box. Each physical box has at least eight SaS 15K disks and additional SSD to speed up database access. Our new system will enable us to offer a storage area network (SAN) for shared hosting clients. The new distributed SAN allows us to save client content on separate disks and on separate servers.

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The People Behind the Avatars: My JAB 2013 Experience

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I am a member of the Joomla Extensions Directory Team and I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to attend J and Beyond 2013, which was held in Noordwijerhout in the western Netherlands from May 31st until June 2nd. Before the conference began I experienced the Netherlands a bit and I tell a few stories below, but there was a moment on the first official night of the conference when I grasped just how wonderfully global and diverse the Joomla community really is.

     

After a very funny keynote presentation from Peter van Westen, attendees migrated to one of the fabulous restaurants at the NH Conference Center Leeuwenhorst. I sat down to dinner with Saurabh Shah, my colleague from India and a member of the Joomla Social and Events Teams, and OSM Board Members Javier Gomez from Barcelona, Spain and Ofer Cohen from Tel Aviv, Israel. Four guys from four countries on three different continents talked about Joomla and recent strides the community has made to reach more users worldwide. Saurabh shared his passions for marketing Joomla internationally. Ofer told a story about Eden Orion, an Israeli who was making Joomla more accessible to Hebrew-speakers. Javier talked about the importance of people like Guillermo Bravo, who won a J!OSCAR Personal Contribution Award earlier in the night for his work promoting the JCM to Spanish speakers.

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