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Happy That You're Using Wordpress for Your Website? So Are the Hackers!

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While hacking continues to be the hot topic of the day in political news, for those of us in the web development business, it's been top of mind for decades. 

Because hack attempts are almost as certain as death and taxes, everyone who takes security seriously maintains vigilance and takes care to make it more difficult for hackers to find a way to get into their websites or email. They use strong passwords, hardened firewalls, and solid security compliance standards that keep their web site platforms constantly updated. In so doing, they minimize their chance of having miscreants steal valuable personal or customer information, or take control of their digital presence to launch trojans and viruses on other computers, email accounts and networks.

As a web development leader, our mission has been to protect our client sites and email accounts from near constant hack attempts for decades. 

So we all laughed when we heard that one of the email accounts that was hacked in the recent election was vulnerable because the password was "password." But we found it ironic that many of those who laughed at that lack of concern for security still run their websites on WordPress.

WordPress is an open-source blogging tool that uses plug-ins to extend its capabilities and provide much of the functionality that content management systems like Drupal, Joomla! and Concrete5 or e-commerce platforms like Magento have had all along. Even though its back-end administrative UX is not very user-friendly, thousands of $48 themes and $15 plug-ins are available to provide small businesses, freelance designers and small agencies to create good-looking, but generic low-cost websites. That combination has allowed Wordpress to grow to host 27% of all the websites in the world.

It has also contributed to it becoming the most hacked platform on the web.

Hardly a week goes by without news stories reporting another phishing scam going viral. Hackers create bots to scour the web, identify thousands of hackable sites, then create fake bank, branded customer service or eCommerce login pages on those sites. They then use the mail program on those servers to send out millions of emails luring unsuspecting recipients to those pages to enter personal or credit card information where it's harvested and used for criminal purposes.

According to a 2016 study done by a leading website security analysis firm*, 78 percent of those hacked websites ran on WordPress. Joomla! was a distant second with 14%, 5% were running on Magento, 2% ran on Drupal. Concrete5 didn't even show up. 

Trivera requires that whenever a client of ours insists that we build their site on Wordpress (usually against our recommendation) that they have a service agreement that assures that we'll apply security patches immediately upon their release. Because we've learned from history, that agreement always also includes support provisions for mitigating hack attacks.

Whenever  I check my spam folder to make sure a legitimate email hasn't ended up there, I find several emails that have been sent by a WordPress site attempting to get me to go there and either enter my information or get infected by a trojan. Just last week, I found two more, which provided me with the impetus for this blog. One was running an older version of Wordpress with a widely known vulnerability (see image below).
 

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Example of a falsely-branded email sent from a hacked un-patched Wordpress site with a link to a that same site that autoforwards to another site that, without anti-virus protection would have infected my computer with a virus, torjan or ransomware.

But it's not just old, non-updated versions of WordPress with well-known vulnerabilities that are being hacked. The other email I received last week sent me to a hacked WordPress site running the most current version available at the time. Hackers had found and exploited a vulnerability before Wordpress even had a chance to identify and send a patch to close the vulnerability.

 

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Example of a falsely-branded email sent from a hacked totally current  Wordpress site with a link to a that same site that autoforwards to another site that, without anti-virus protection would have infected my computer with a virus, torjan or ransomware.


With WordPress, the question is not whether your site will get hacked, but when it will get hacked.

Smart marketers and business owners spend more to hire developers with a greater sensibility for security build their websites using content management systems…like Concrete5, Magento, Joomla! And Drupal…that have a much lower risk of being hacked. It will cost more, but avoiding the legal, reputational and financial damage to your business and your brand when your site has been found responsibe for the theft of visitor information makes it an investment worth the price.  

*Sucuri Website Hacked Report 2016 Q1

Trivera turns 21!

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Having been in business 21 years has allowed us to celebrate several birthdays with a look back at how far we've come. But 21 is symbolic of the entry into of adulthood and typically marks the beginning of a new level of maturity and accountability. And so, we're using this milestone to look forward.

The year ahead will be marked by the successful transformation of the ideal Trivera client relationships, as they evolve from exclusively website-based project work to deeper, more strategic ongoing digital marketing partnerships. That change began last year with the addition of new team members with skill sets in branding, integrated digital and inbound marketing strategies. It has continued with the development of a new, transformational 12 month process, one that begins with brand discovery and strategy development, and continues with tactical plans to strengthen every aspect of our clients' digital marketing efforts with constant monitoring, analysis and improvement. That new process is appropriately named "Evolve."

In addition to the new process, we've also deepened the strengths we've been known for for the past 21 years. Trivera's team now has greater depth in the areas of organic SEO, PPC and Social Media. We've also added Magento and Concrete5 certification to our credentials to back up our significant experience developing websites in both platforms.

While we're growing by addition, we are also maturing by subtraction. Over the next year, we'll be continuing our efforts to transition much of our hosting operation from our own data center to fully managed third party operations that specialize in Magento and Concrete5 hosting and 24/7 support. That effort will allow us to focus our own internal resources on the quality and management of the sites and applications we've developed, and less on the equipment, environment and security necessary for their operation.

Our client list will also continue its shift from smaller limited "website-only" engagements to one of fewer, but larger, deeper, long term ones that take advantage of all Trivera has to offer.

Watch for our own new trivera.com website to launch in February. The site will communicate our new direction and highlight more of our new client success stories while still preserving the archival information resources we've developed over decades of digital marketing leadership.

Over the past 21 years, how we've used the internet to support our businesses and organizations has evolved. What was once referred to as "Cyberspace," "the world wide web," the "CB radio of the 90's," the "information superhighway," the "dotcom boom"...and crash...the "new economy," have all evolved to become simply an integral part of every person's...and every business'...daily life. We're proud that we've been able to evolve with it and help hundreds of businesses leverage the power of digital marketing we knew existed when we opened for business on January 16, 1996.

About Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder - TriveraTom Snyder, founder, president and CEO of Trivera, a 20 year old strategic digital marketing firm, with offices in suburban Milwaukee.  Tom has been blogging since 1998, sharing the insight gained from helping businesses and organizations re-inforce their brands by taking full advantage of digital and Web technology as powerful tactics in their marketing and communications strategy.

 

Omelio Hopwood Joins Team Trivera

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Omelio Hopwood has joined Team Trivera as a PHP wizard, with a specialty in Magento development. While developing robust functionality for client websites may not seem exciting, "Oh" (as we call him) has already experienced a more amazing life than most of us will ever live.

Omelio came to the US from Jamaica as a child. Since his arrival, he has always had a passion for all aspects of technology. But, starting in high school, he decided to focus his passion on the web and software development. After graduating high school and spending a year in college, he took a detour and joined the US Air Force. His tour of duty took him to Japan for 3 years. With a new sense of self confidence and worth following his time in the service, he came back and got his Bachelors of Science from UW-M, majoring in Information Science & Technology. Following a stint at the Milwaukee veterans accelerator program VETransfer where he developed an app that got him covered in the Milwaukee Business Journal, his focus of late has been to take his programming expertise, turn himself into an accomplished, certified Magento developer, and become a valuable member of Team Trivera.melio Hopwood has joined our team as a PHP wizard, with a specialty in Magento development. While developing robust functionality for client websites may not seem exciting, "Oh" (as we call him) has already experienced a more amazing life than most of us will ever live.

Previously, Omelio was a Magento Developer at Sitesquad and a PHP programmer at Gross Automation. 

A brand new dad, and new Menomonee Falls resident, Omelio is grateful to have a gig within walking distance of his home so, when he's not working, he can spend all his time with his family.

Why I (and Our Clients) Love the Concrete5 CMS

by Serene Mireles, Web Design/Front-end Development Specialist

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Concrete5 is a powerful open source content management system (CMS). I started using concrete5 (C5) when I first came to Trivera a year ago. Previously, I worked with proprietary CMSs and other open source platforms that have a steep learning curve. Not C5. Concrete5 is user friendly for content editors, developers, and designers. I’m not the only designer who loves concrete5—it was the winner of the CMS Critic Award for Best CMS for Designers of 2015.

Here are a few of its many features:

  • In-context editing and a Microsoft Word-like content editor. All page edits are done on the page itself once you are logged in and in edit mode. No more filling out web forms and guessing where the information will end up on the page. 
     
  • Mobile Optimized & Responsive. Your website will look good on any screen size or device. 
     
  • Easy to set up and use right out of the box. You don’t need to purchase any extensions to achieve the look or functionality you want. 
     
  • Forms and Surveys. Easily created in few simple steps without any code. 
     
  • Developer Community. There is an active concrete5 community where you can get support from hundreds of other developers in the forums. 
     
  • Scalability and Extendability. Hundreds of add-ons (eCommerce, inventory management, customer management, fulfillment, the list goes on and on) make it possible for your site to do nearly anything you can think of.


Our clients love it too! Here’s what some of them have to say about concrete5:

“As a developer I've worked with numerous CMS solutions. Some have been cumbersome to manage, others are limited by a simplistic client interface. Concrete5 accomplishes the best balance between the two: it is both powerful and simple. A user-friendly interface lets editors manage site content with ease and minimal training. Developers can easily create themes, blocks, and add-ons to create a powerful, custom-tailored platform.” — Sean McMahon, MMSD

“We really like the flexibility and ease of changing evergreen content blocks with the stacks option. Certain aspects of our organization can change at a moment's notice, and we need to be able to update site-wide content in the fastest way possible. Stacks allow us to do that in the blink of an eye!” — Erik Bergstrom and Erin Donegan, Dental Associates

“Concrete5 allows me to turn a unique design into a dynamic, customizable site in a short amount of time and with no fuss. Unlike other CMS options, my designs are not bound by anything other than my own limitations or goals.” — Bilan Hockers, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino


If you’re not satisfied with your CMS, or if your website isn’t built with a CMS and you can’t update it yourself, it’s time to check out concrete5! Visit concrete5.org to learn more.
 

About Serene Mireles

serene01.jpgSerene Mireles is one of Team Trivera's Web design/Front End Development specialists. In her role, Serene uses her 18 years of digital design experience to build websites focused on user journeys to create ROI for our clients. Serene was the first developer in the world to be certified for Concrete5 version 7. 

A Shout-out to Trivera Client MMSD During Water Quality Month

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August is water quality month. Here at Trivera, we're observing the month by kicking off a new project for one of our newest clients, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. We've actually been working with MMSD since earlier this year, migrating all their web properties from an expensive proprietary Content Management System to Concrete5. We're well into the migration of milorganite.com, and are just now beginning to migrate the remaining MMSD brands: mmsd.com, Huntgreen, Basement Connection and Fresh Coast 740.

At Trivera, we start every client engagement with a brand discovery process. During MMSD's brand discovery, we learned some really interesting things about them and their commitment to the environment.
Did you know that MMSD:

  • Is responsible for water reclamation and flood management for about 1.1 million people
  • Serves 28 communities in the Greater Milwaukee area
  • Allows licensed hunters to use MMSD land during hunting season
  • Has been recycling nutrient-rich microbes from the city's water reclamation process into Milorganite, a natural fertilizer, since 1926
  • Is committed to meeting a goal of having a net 100 percent of its energy supplied from renewable resources 

Trivera's efforts are focused on making MMSD's digital marketing efforts both more successful and more efficient. Greater results for less money means MMSD can continue to be great stewards of our natural resources while also making them more efficient with their financial resources.

Trivera is honored to be partners with this high profile agency, working to support their efforts to improve the quality of our water. You can learn more about MMSD and milorganite in this video: 

Craig Schneider Joins Team Trivera

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Craig Schneider has joined TeamTrivera as a designer/front-end developer.

Craig is one of those guys who possesses the unique talent of being able to create awesome, intuitive, user-friendly website designs and then using frameworks and content management systems to turn them into fully functional websites. 
 
Craig comes aboard after a long tenure at Kalmbach publishing where most recently he was Interactive Art Director. In that role, he had been overseeing all of Kalmbach's digital properties including their 20 web sites and a team of 2 designers.  He has also been part of their Internet Strategic Development group and participated in the ideation and planning of their web-based products.
 
Craig was instrumental in leading Kalmbach into the Digital realm. On top of building the layouts and interactivity, he also worked with their in-house development team to build custom storefronts for 3 of their publications that had in-app purchases. And most recently, Craig helped lead them into responsive web design, moving 10 of their sites in that direction.  All of that experience has combined make him the perfect fit for our team.
 
When not working, Craig is an avid golfer, loves playing softball, outdoor recreation. Like the rest of the members of TeamTrivera he enjoys spending time with his family. He is also a loyal cheesehead who loves going to Packer, Badger, and Brewer games.
 
 

Trivera's Tom Snyder to Speak at 2014 BizExpo

tom-snyder1.jpgOn May 21, 2104, hundreds of Milwaukee area business owners and professionals will descend upon Potawatomi Bingo Casino to learn about the latest trends and best practices at the BizExpo, presented by BizTimes Media.  The event consists of dozens of booths, several award events and an impressive list of  seminars led by some of the area's most knowledgeable business leaders and experts.

Among them are Trivera President and CEO Tom Snyder who will be presenting  "The 5 Digital Marketing Mistakes You're Probably Making." at 2:45 in seminar Room C.  

In the 18 years he's been in the digital marketing field, Tom has watched thousands of owners, agencies and marketers struggle to figure out how to use web technology to help their businesses. As the parade of almost universally misunderstood shiny objects...websites, email marketing, search engine optimization, Social Media and mobile...marched on, he has seen a lot of those businesses succeed, but he's seen even more fail. Ultimately, the challenge is effectively integrating proven marketing tactics with the newest technologies. Tom will identify five of the most common digital marketing mistakes most businesses and organizations make, why those mistakes are preventing them from acheving the results they’re looking for, and what they should be doing instead. 

The session will also help them avoid a sixth digital marketing mistake they're also probably making by encouraging them to attend Trivera's upcoming Social Media University - Milwaukee on June 11th, also being held at Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

Admission to the event and all sessions is free, but requires pre-registration.

5 Visitor Groups Your Website Needs To Be Ready For

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Your presence on the web has never been more important to the success of your brand.  It's also never been subject to more circumstances, elements and efforts that can damage it. And the only thing necessary for every bad thing imaginable to happen to it, is for you to do nothing and think your site is doing fine. So it just boggles my mind that so many marketers and business owners choose to sit back and let failure happen.

Website success has always been about who will be coming to your site, how they will access the site, what they're hoping to accomplish, and what will..or won't...happen when they get there.  While everyone hopes that it will simply be customers who will come and engage in a business transaction, it's a lot more complicated than that.  There are actually 5 easily identifiable groups of visitors who require strategic efforts that you'd better be prepared for.

Because, ready or not, here they come:

1.) Hackers, Crackers and Internet Miscreants  

Unless it's more than a few years old, your website is likely built on a Content Management System (CMS). Just like any other software product,  that system has likely had improvements made to it over time. In addition to feature improvements, every upgrade since it was first built also contains critical security enhancements. Legions of hackers are scouring the web every minute of every day trying to find old and vulnerable installations of Joomla!, Drupal, Wordpress and Concrete5 and using them to execute mass identity theft. I don't know if it's a fear of change or just a reluctance to spend the money on repairs should a CMS upgrade "break" the site. Regardless, the thousands of out of date websites are a jackpot for hackers.  Unless you have an upgrade plan in place, there's a good chance that someday thousands of people will be getting a fake email that looks like it came from their bank, but actually came from your site. Not only that, but then they'll click a link to log into a fake bank login page on your site and give identity theives the info they need to drain their real bank account. Because this activity leads to blacklisting, site shutdowns, and even potnetial legal consequences it's not the kind of traffic you want. But if you're not regulalry upgrading your CMS, it's the easiest and mosty likely traffic you'll get.

2.) People With Browsers Newer Than Your Site 

Every time a new version of a web browser is released, design and functional elements on your website that may have worked before  potentially malfunction or totally fail on the new one. If your website was built in 2009, it was tested to work on Firefox version 3. The current release is version 24.  Internet Explorer was on version 8. They've just released version 11. Safari 4 was the current version, but has now been replaced by version 7. Unless you've upgraded your site, or conducted ongoing browser compatibility testing, you have had people coming to your website to do business with you, but either can not or choose not to because the site doesn't work for them. And while that number has grown every month, that's a growth metric you don't want. 

3.) Mobile Device Users

Smartphones and tablets are no longer just for "people on the go." For millions of people, they are the preferred method of acessing the web. If your website isn't formatted to provide a visitor an optimal visual and navigational experience regardless of the device they'e using, you've essentially told half your potential customers that you're really not interested in their business.  And they are happily taking that business to sites that are. 

4.) Social Media Enthusiasts

Word of mouth has always been one of the most effective forms of marketing. Social Media takes that power to a new level.   Does your site have a blog? A pressroom? Videos? Do your pages have Facebook "Like," Twitter "Tweet This," Pinterest "Pin it," and Google "Plus 1" icons?  The jury may still be out on the extent that your execution of a Social Media plan will create meaningful inbound traffic. However, your site still needs to be updated to include the kinds of content that is easily shared in Social Media channels, and the tools that make it easy to do so. If it doesn't, you are missing the opportunity to take advantage of the viral referral power of your visitors' social savvy and their inclination to share your brand with their professional and social networks.

5.) Search Engine Traffic

The sad fact is that, unless you've been keeping up with the major changes in the way Google produces results to search queries and making sure your site has been adapting to accommodate those changes, the number of qualified customers coming to your site as a result is steadily declining. If you think that Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird are zoo animals, and an algorithm is a catchy tune about a former vice-president, your share of the 125 billion searches per month is pretty close to zero, and getting closer every day. Those are the people who aren't coming. But if your site isn't set up to show up on page one with meaningful and accurate search results and instead send unqualified visitors to your site, the ones who do come will leave your site as quickly as they came. Those are called bounces, and the more of those you get, the lower Google will rank you in their searches.  A strategic Search Engine Optimization plan is the only way to get meaningful numbers of qualified visitors to come to your site. 

 

While there are other elements that will contribute to a successful web strategy (email, direct and traditional marketing), this list represents the minimum effort necessary to just avoid failure.  With a new year beginning in just a few months, now is the time to plan your budget for setting up and executing a strategic plan that systematically optimizes your site to create the right outcome for every one of these groups and help your web presence reinforce, and not erode your brand, and more importantly, contribute to your bottom line.

 

About Trivera:

Your growing business is faced with more challenges than ever before. Managing your online presence in the face of tightening budgets and steadily increasing customer expectations can be a difficult and complex task.

Trivera’s proven approach to web design and development builds your online brand with smart design and creative technology. We’ve been helping companies like yours since 1996, growing our capabilities along with the web to serve the needs of our diverse mix of clients.

For most compnaies, the web is a cloud of confusion. Our experienced team excels in managing your projects for the greatest return on your investment using a proven, collaborative process that delivers results on time, on budget and on target. Our mission is to provide you with the knowledge, service, products and ROI that will make you a hero.

Trivera and Concrete5 Shine at Local CMS Showdown

Billed as a no-holds-barred Content Management System Showdown, a group of Milwaukee area developers met on May 10, at Bucketworks for a Web414 panel to discuss...and demonstrate...the comparative benefits and shortcomings of 6 major CMS platforms.

Trivera VP of Business Development and Client Strategy Chris Remington invited Trivera customer Chris Graham from Potawatomi Bingo Casino to tag team the presentation on the capabilities of Concrete5. Among the contenders were ModX, Wordpress, Sitecor, Drupal and Joomla!. While the other presentations focused on developer-focused feature sets and perecentage of market, Trivera's approach focused on the client experience.

While no CMS "won," the fact that, with a depth of experience in Concrete5, Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla!, Digitalus and Expression Engine, Trivera is able to dig deep to discover every client's needs and create a web presence in the CMS that makes the most sense for them.

See the presentation here (cue in to 51:00 to see the Trivera Concrete5 Demo):

Potawatomi Bingo Casino Bets on Trivera and Concrete5

Potawatomi Bingo Casino is one of the most state-of-the-art gaming facilities in the Midwest. So it would only make sense for their new site to be built on one of the web’s most comprehensive, state-of-the-art development platforms. An all new version of Paysbig.com, the website for Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, built on the Concrete5 development platform, was launched by Trivera Interactive on December 13, 2010.

The project began with the strategic decision by the Casino to empower the managers of the many business units to update their own areas of the site with a tool that could balance power with ease of use. While Trivera has worked with several different content management systems, concrete5 was mutually determined to be the best choice for Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s new site. A relative newcomer to the CMS arena, concrete5’s array of powerful plug-ins, extensions and add-ons, plus an extremely user-friendly administrative interface made it an obvious choice.

The new website is not the first major initiative undertaken by Milwaukee’s Trivera Interactive for Potawatomi Bingo Casino since becoming their primary web and interactive services partner early in 2010. The relationship began with a migration of all of the Casino's web assets to Trivera’s world-class hosting center. Trivera has also migrated and updated other online systems used by the Casino.

While Trivera has developed hundreds of complex web-based applications for clients over their 15 years in business, with dozens built using various content management systems, the new Potawatomi Bingo Casino site was their most ambitious site to date created using concrete5. The wide and varying business units within the Casino include several restaurants,  entertainment venues, bingo hall, off-track betting room, table games and slot machines. Trivera’s decision to use concrete5 to be the platform to bring all those business units to the website proved to be the right one as the project launched, fully functioning on the originally scheduled launch date, on time, on scope and on budget.

Potawatomi’s web administrator Christopher Graham says: “I really am amazed how the Trivera team was able to take my mock-ups and bring them to life. Also, I was thrilled with their feedback, communication and forward thinking."

Trivera President Tom Snyder added: “It’s amazing to see what happens when incredible talent, a proven process, powerful tools, mutual respect and hard work all come together.

About Potawatomi Bingo Casino:

Located at 1721 West Canal Street, Milwaukee, WI, Potawatomi Bingo Casino is the Midwest's number one entertainment destination. With nearly 100 table games, 3,100 slot machines, 1,350-seat Bingo Hall, Poker Room and Off-Track Betting Room, the Casino offers thrilling action 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Casino also has a 500-seat theater that features world-class entertainment and five unique restaurants including, The Buffet, Dream Dance Steak, The Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill, Menomonee Valley Food Court and RuYi. For more information, visit paysbig.com.

About Trivera:

Located in the historic Menomonee Falls Mill building in suburban Milwaukee, WI, Trivera Interactive is one of the region’s oldest and most respected Web development, e-commerce and marketing firms. Since 1996, focusing first on website design and development, and branching out into email marketing, search engine optimization and Social Media, Trivera has been helping businesses and organizations all over the world use its unique combination of smart design and creative technology to leverage the web as a powerful brand reinforcing tool. Trivera clients include General Mitchell International Airport, Usinger’s Famous Sausage, Frabill, RegalWare Worldwide, ZBB Energy and dozens of other local, regional and national businesses and organizations.