Miscellany for March
People who think the internet changes faster than the real world probably don’t go outside often enough. At least, that’s what spending March in Iowa teaches me.
We kept a steady course at PureNyx, tweaking a few things here and there, keeping an eye on security, and following through on our long term plans to introduce a few new features. Meanwhile, we did our best to ignore the 70 degree temperature swings.
Watch Your Email List Bloom
PureNyx has used components from Elegant Themes since our very first project and they’ve only become more integral to our offering in the intervening years. We’ve been anxiously waiting for their latest tool since it was announced last year. Now, the Bloom Email Opt-in plugin is available on our network.
Despite plenty of prognosticators calling for its demise, email continues to be an integral component of online marketing. Our most successful clients make extensive use of email lists to keep their prospects’ interest. While we’ve been supporting this process for a while, primarily though simple integrations to tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact, our process for inviting visitors to join email lists just wasn’t very cool. Bloom gives us a varied toolset to kick it up a notch.
Whether you’re looking for Opt-In pop-ups, better looking subscription widgets, tools to restrict content to list members, or simply better analytics, Bloom is the tool you’ve been looking for. We’ll be using it in most new projects going forward and we’re deploying it across current sites as the opportunity arises. If you’d like to know a little more about what Bloom has to offer, take a look at ElegantThemes’ site.
We’ve Switched Login Security Tools
For the last couple years, we used a tool to prevent malicious brute force login attempts against our network. It was simple and effective at protecting against a specific sort of attack. Like most security plugins, we had a few instances where it over-reacted to a potential attack and locked the network down for a bit, but this was rare, most users never noticed it, and the trade-off was worthwhile. Unfortunately, the tool wasn’t being updated as quickly as WordPress was changing and attacks were evolving.
So, we dumped it for the “Protect” feature in Automattic’s Jetpack. We’ve been integrating more of the services offered by Automattic ever since we started using their spam protection tool, Akismet, and so far we’re just as happy with Jetpack Protect. As with all security tools, Protect is designed to stay mostly out of sight. However, you may notice the new “blocked malicious login attempts” number on your dashboard.
Don’t be surprised if it’s a high number…. evil robots are pretty much constantly attacking your site. That’s why we talk about security features every month.
We’re Actively Blocking More Traffic
Speaking of security, we’ve started using a service called Cloudflare to handle the internet nameserver records for our key domains. There’s actually several reasons for this, but the most important one for the time being has to do with Vladimir Putin. He doesn’t like us.
Well… sort of. The be more specific, and realistic, we get a lot of malicious traffic from foreign countries, primarily Russia and the Ukraine. The combination of a vibrant internet industry and a complete lack of concern for criminals attacking western businesses makes Russian web servers popular tools for hackers, regardless of where they actually hail from. Cloudflare has provided us with a larger toolset to combat the problem, mainly by detecting and actively blocking traffic from malicious sources before it even reaches our server. That doesn’t mean we’re blocking all overseas traffic, or even visitors from specific countries, but it does mean we’re wasting fewer resources on evil robots and your site is a lot safer.