Monthly Web Roundup - January 2017

Posted by: James Hall

The January edition of the Reliance Web Newsletter.

In this issue, we take a look at various social media stats from 2016 including user counts in Austalia and some overall observations. We read about LinkedIn, who have finally launched a major redesigned desktop version of their app. And finally, we take a look at an upcoming web trend of 2017: Emphasis on Content.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to send an email to support@relianceit.com.au or give us a call. We'd be happy to hear from you.
Until next time,
Peta Simpson
Role: Web Team Leader
LinkedIn: Connect with me
Social Media Statistics 2016
Today we look at a report showing the most popular social networks in Australia over December 2016. We also recap the year as a whole and highlight the biggest changes to the social media landscape over 2016.

The Australian market is now in a mature phase, we don’t see large growth for all networks as we did a couple years ago, however there are still some significant changes to major services like Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

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LinkedIn Desktop Redesign Puts Conversations and Content at the Center
LinkedIn have completed the largest desktop redesign since its inception. Something they have taken the time and investment to build from the ground up and in concert with their new mobile app, to provide a LinkedIn experience that is more intuitive, faster and creates more value for you.

Most importantly, this desktop redesign brings conversations and content to the heart of the platform, so you can more easily share ideas, join a discussion, and discover news and topics you care about.

Click the link below to find out more and check it out yourself.

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Web Design Trends 2017: Emphasis on the content
We’ve spent years adding things to our websites such as sidebars, headers, banner ads, sidebar ads, calls to action, comments, popups, social media buttons, signup boxes, etc. All of these things have ended up cluttering our websites and taking up more and more real estate, taking the attention away from the entire point of a web page: the content.

In 2017, websites are likely to start moving back to basics and placing more emphasis on content. Whether that means we remove all of the other distractions we’ve spent years adding, or just making them take up less real estate is yet to be determined. Getting back to the heart of a website — the content — will be prevalent moving forward.

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Monthly Web Roundup - November 2016

Posted by: James Hall

November edition of the Reliance Web Newsletter.

In this issue, we take a look at a new feature that Instagram will be rolling out soon. We find out what Google has been doing with reCAPTCHA to make your webforms/website secure and how we can prevent spam from landing in your inbox. And finally, we take a look at the current design trends for this month on the web.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to send an email to support@relianceit.com.au or give us a call. We'd be happy to hear from you.
Until next time,
Lucas Bradley
Role: Director
LinkedIn: Connect with me
Shopping Coming to Instagram
Mobile has changed the way people shop. You browse products while waiting to be seated for dinner, make purchases on your commute into work, and compare prices online when you’re at a store to see what’s the better deal.

Starting this month, Instagram are testing a way for users to learn more about the items they view within an Instagram post.

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No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA
So, what is the importance of having a reCAPTCHA on your webform? What does it do or more importantly what does it do for you? Simply put captcha is state of the art spam and abuse protection for your website. It is a free service that is provided by Google that we can attach to your webform and will prevent spammers for sending through false data or even viruses through your webform and into your inbox.

In the past captcha has been a complicated process with the user attempting to decipher a scrambled image of letters and numbers. Google in their brilliance have now simplified it. It's as simple as checking a box. On the surface its simple, however this is fully backed by Google's secure infrastructure & learning engines. Even better it is now fully accessible for the visually impaired AND is mobile responsive.

If you would like to find out about integrating reCaptcha with your webforms please feel free to contact us.
Current Design Trends
Have you noticed a shift in design on the web recently? Bold colours, big buttons and shapes. A prime example is www.theverge.com which recently launched a redesign, stepping into bold colours and gradients and even created their own design language with the use of shapes and lines. Instagram's new branding with its bold colour gradient logo is another great example of this. Click the link below to find out more about the current design trends across the web.

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Monthly Web Roundup - October 2016

Posted by: James Hall

October edition of the Reliance Web Newsletter.

In this issue we take a look at some best practises when it comes to writing content for your website. We hear about a new partnership with Litmus and Microsoft with the intention of improving email compatibility in Outlook. And finally we take a look at some statistics to do with usage of social media networks and answer questions like which are the most popular networks.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to send an email to support@relianceit.com.au or give us a call. We'd be happy to hear from you.
Until next time,
James Hall
Role: Web Designer
LinkedIn: Connect with me
Best Practices for Improving Your Website's Usability
Writing content for web users has its challenges. Chief among them is the ease with which your content is read and understood by your visitors (i.e. its readability).

When your content is highly readable, your audience is able to quickly digest the information you share with them — a worthy goal to have for your website, whether you run a blog, an e-store or your company's domain.

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Litmus and Microsoft Partner to Make Email Better
Litmus and Microsoft are teaming up to make email better for thousands of email marketers — and the hundreds of millions of people who use Microsoft Outlook.

Through the partnership, Litmus will help Microsoft prioritize email rendering bugs in Outlook, identify issues faster, and announce improvements and fixes to the community.

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Latest social media statistics of consumer adoption and usage
Social networks are now so well established, that there are now a core 'top 5' social networks which are most popular which doesn't change from year-to-year. But, as we'll see in this post, the most popular social media sites vary a lot by level of usage in different countries and with demographics. So understanding these differences in popularity of different social networks is really important when targeting specific audiences.

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  Quick Tech Tip

A sharp rise in the number of "brute force attacks" is causing widespread data and productivity losses to businesses and organisations all over Australia. A brute force attack is an attempt to gain access to a network by attempting as many username and password combinations against a system until one is found to work. This makes users with simplistic passwords such as Password1 very susceptible to being compromised.

Test the strength of your current password by going to: https://howsecureismypassword.net/ and see how long it would take for your password to be cracked.
 
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Tech Alert - Password Integrity & Disaster Planning

Posted by: Reliance Technology

ATT: PASSWORD INTEGRITY AND DISASTER RECOVERY PLANNING

As a follow up on last week's email on brute force attacks using Crysis ransomware which hopefully explained the dangers of using simplistic passwords. I'd like to go further and encourage everyone to test the strength of their current network password by test it at : https://howsecureismypassword.net/

The above site will not capture your password and is a safe and secure utility that will give you the estimated time it would take hackers to brute force crack your password.

More often than not, network security is only as strong as the weakest password used on the system.


In the ACCC's annual Small Business in Focus report is states it has received 7,600 enquiries and complaints from small businesses in the first half of 2016. The report shows Ransomware is one of the biggest problems faced by small businesses with a reported loss of $1.6 million in scam activities recorded in the past six months.

The best security strategy is to avoid Ransomware altogether, however this requires planning, work and for there to be no such thing as human error, before it hits your network. To that end our strategy for SLA clients is to ensure a best practice disaster recovery plan is in place.
  • What can you do safeguard your business against Ransomware?
  • What are the best practice strategies for protecting your business?
There are a number of critical components of any ransomware security strategy, firstly a robust Anti-Virus / Threat Protection package is a must. Secondly, regular backups of your files, systems, and application data is vital. Having a clean copy of your mission-critical data will minimise the impact of the ransomware infection. In addition, scheduling regular restore tests will ensure that your backup plan is working and identify any kinks that need to be worked out before the attack hits. For our SLA clients, we automatically implement a Disaster Recovery Plan which we continually refine to meet and improve on industry best practice.

If backups and restore testing are done regularly, a ransomware infection won’t have a devastating impact; you’ll have a safe, recent and clean restore point.


As always, if you have any questions feel free to send an email to support@relianceit.com.au or give us a call. We'd be happy to hear from you.
Until next time,
Lucas Bradley
Role: Director
LinkedIn: Connect with me
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Tech Alert - Ransomeware and Brute Force Attacks on the Rise

Posted by: Reliance Technology

ATT: Ransomware 'Crysis' and "Brute Force Attacks" on the rise

A sharp rise in the number of "brute force attacks" and instances of a new variant of ransomware called Crysis is combining to cause widespread data and productivity losses to businesses and organisations all over Australia.

A brute force attack is an attempt to gain access to a network by attempting as many username and password combinations against a system until one is found to work. This makes users with simplistic passwords such as ABC123, or Password1 or 123345 very susceptible to being compromised.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brute-force_attack

Once an account is compromised using a brute force attack, the third party is then able to deploy malware such as 'Crysis' to encrypt data that the compromised account has access to on the network thereby denying legitimate users from being able to access their files and software. Holding the organisation ransom to unlock their data or forcing them to restore from their backup system.

The Crysis ransomware has quickly become the scourge of cyber security experts everywhere. The way in which it can quickly destroy network data makes it a frightening threat. It's only a threat however if an account is compromised, or if a user is duped into downloading it from the internet and executing it.
http://blog.trendmicro.com/the-ransomware-crysis-continues-a-new-strain-is-on-the-rise/

Our recommendation to protect our clients against brute force attacks from compromising user accounts on their network is to implement a minimum password complexity policy and to lockout users for a short period of time after a number of consecutive unsuccessful login attempts. Wherever a ransomware attack has been successfully initiated, the only safeguard is a robust disaster recovery plan that includes on premises backup sets that are replicated offsite, for example to the cloud.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to send an email to support@relianceit.com.au or give us a call. We'd be happy to hear from you.
Until next time,
Lucas Bradley
Role: Director
LinkedIn: Connect with me
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Monthly Web Roundup - August 2016

Posted by: Reliance Technology

This month we look at what is "Millennial Branding" and how simplicity is key. In social media news Instagram has begun rolling out their new business profiles. Find out how the toolkit can assist to market your business. And we also take a look at how Facebook have made changes to their social media sharing tools to bring them inline with modern design.

I also have an ulterior motive this month. I’ve been nominated for the Service with a Smile award in this years’ Rhino Awards. Voting is nearing a close and I’d love your support by voting here: https://polldaddy.com/poll/9486353/

As always, if you have any questions feel free to send an email to support@relianceit.com.au or give us a call. We'd be happy to hear from you.
Until next time,
Peta Reardon
Role: Web Team Leader
LinkedIn: Connect with me
What is millennial branding, and why should you care?
In 2016, we’re living in an age of information saturation. At each turn we are bombarded with images and messages; everything we could ever want to know is at our fingertips (literally).

Simple design, when used correctly, can articulate the most important part of a brand’s message. So, what simplistic logo designs are emerging in 2016?

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Instagram starts slow roll out of business profiles
Instagramm announced it would be releasing a new set of business tools back in may, and according to Wired, these are finally starting to roll out in certain regions – mainly Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

As a recap, the new business profiles are heavily inspired by Facebook’s business Pages. Perhaps the most notable feature is the big ‘contact’ button, allowing you to to text, call or email a business.

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Facebook has redesigned its Like, Share, Follow and Save buttons
Of all Facebook’s good design choices, the ‘like’ button remains an example of a bygone design era. That’s all changing though: Facebook has updated to Like button.

Instead of the familiar ‘f’ and a bubble telling you how many likes a post has, the new button integrates the familiar ‘thumbs up’ and like count into one icon, with the ‘f’ disappearing entirely.

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Tech Brief - June 2016

Posted by: Reliance Technology

Microsoft have been busy recently with multiple updates to their flagship products: Windows and Office 365. Below we have a look at some of the changes that Microsoft have rolled out over the last few months including a large update to Windows just last week.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to send an email to support@relianceit.com.au or give us a call. We'd be happy to hear from you.
Until next time,
Lucas Bradley
Role: Director
LinkedIn: Connect with me
Windows 10 Anniversary Update Available August 2
The Anniversary Update will help people be more productive, stay safer online – and of course, have fun. Together, the Anniversary Update brings various areas of innovation and improvements to consumers and enterprises including:
  • Additional security features for a more secure Windows
  • Windows Ink
  • Productivity updates to Cortana - Your digital personal assitant
  • Updates to the Edge Browser including extentions
    and much more.

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What's new / improved in Office 2016 for Office 365
If you are an Office 365 subscriber or an Office 2016 user, you regularly get new and improved features. Click the link below to find out how Microsoft have been improving these products. Some featured updates include the new "Researcher" function which helps you find the relevant quotes, citable sources, and images without leaving Word. There are also new ways to verify & track your reservations in outlook using summary cards available in your inbox and calendar and much more.

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Tech Alert - Ransomeware

Posted by: Reliance Technology

ATT: EMAIL SCAM: copies AGL Energy Bills.

A destructive scam email that infects computers and holds them hostage has successfully targeted at least 10,000 Australians since it was detected this week, a smh.com.au article reports.

The email, purporting to be from energy company AGL, sends a fake bill and prompts the recipient to click on a link to download a copy.

It then saves a .zip file on the computer which, when extracted, locks the machine down using malware known as "ransomware". The recipient is prompted to pay $US640 ($A880) to unlock it.

We have seen a sharp increase in this type of scam affecting our clients, not only purporting to be from AGL but other large companies such as AustPost, Toll and others. If ever you receive an email from a supplier, or potential supplier in a way that you have not seen before, do not open any links or attachments. We would welcome you to forward us a copy for inspection before you take any further actions. Simply forward the email to support@relianceit.com.au and we’ll happily review and confirm if the email is legitimate.

If you, or a member of staff has received a suspicious email, please contact Reliance Technology. Likewise if a computer within your organisation has been affected please contact us immediately.

Read the full article at smh.com.au

As always, if you have any questions feel free to send an email to support@relianceit.com.au or give us a call. We'd be happy to hear from you.
Until next time,
Lucas Bradley
Role: Director
LinkedIn: Connect with me
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Responsive Web Design

Posted by: Reliance Technology

We want to talk to you about Responsive Website Design. It's a term that has been thrown around a lot in the last 12 months or so, and one that isn't going away anytime soon. But what does it actually mean? and more importantly, what does it mean for you and your business?
What is Responsive Website Design?
Put simply, Responsive Website Design is a technique that allows a website's design to be optimised for a range of devices including your desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone.

Why do I need a Responsive Website Design?
First up, it looks good! I don't just mean it's pretty, but it's functional, and easier for users to read and interact with your site.
Google recommends Responsive Website Design. If you're wanting to maintain, or improve the visibility of your website in Google results, then it's worth knowing that Google uses a website's mobile-friendliness as a factor when ranking websites. To prove just how seriously Google takes mobile-friendliness, they even developed a tool to test your website - see how your website performs!
 
Can I Convert my current website to a Responsive Design?
We often have clients ask "Can I just convert my current website to a responsive design?". The answer is yes, it is possible. But more importantly, is it worth it? The answer is almost always no, it's more cost-effective to build a new website. I can feel the looks of confusion already, "but why?" you ask. To answer simply we would need to rewrite all of the code to use the latest technology, and that's expensive.
When should I get a Responsive Website design?
I'd love to say "now", but that's not a real answer. I can however ask you a few questions that can help you decide when is the right time to upgrade:
  1. Is your current website less than 3 years old?
  2. If your website is less than 3 years old, does it have a mobile-specific version?
By "mobile-specific" I mean does it display a whole different website optimised for mobile devices? Or have templates for mobile and tablet views? If yes you need to decide if you are happy to continue using your website in this manner?

If you answered no to any of the above, it's time to start considering a full website redesign. Please don't hesitate to get in contact and we can discuss the range of options available.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to send an email to support@relianceit.com.au or give us a call. We'd be happy to hear from you.
Until next time,
Lucas Bradley
Role: Director
LinkedIn: Connect with me
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Monthly Web Roundup - June 2016

Posted by: Reliance Technology

This month we look at how customers read their emails by analyzing over 13 billion email opens. We also take a look at Google's new Photos App as an online solution for storing your photo library. And finally Microsoft have confirmed that they have stopped support, including security patches, for Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10. 

As always, if you have any questions feel free to send an email to support@relianceit.com.au or give us a call. We'd be happy to hear from you.
Until next time,
James Hall
Role: Web Designer
LinkedIn: Connect with me
13 Billion opens have been analyzed to discover where subscribers read email
The past year has brought many changes to the world of email marketing. Whether it was the replacement of Outlook.com with Office 365, the introduction of the Apple Watch, or a continuous increase in mobile opens, email client market share stats have seen plenty of shifts.

In Litmus' Email Market Share infographic, they analyze over 13 billion email opens to see where subscribers read emails.

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Google announces unlimited picture and video storage with new Photos app
Google is making a big play for your photos. It's releasing a revamped Google Photos today that offers unlimited storage of images and videos entirely for free. Resolution is limited to 16 megapixels for photos and 1080p for videos, but that's not much to complain about (if you want to store a higher resolution file, it can also tap into Google Drive storage). Photos is being made available on iOSAndroid, and the web.

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Older versions of Microsoft's browser lose support
If you still use an old version of Internet Explorer, it’s probably time to upgrade: Microsoft has confirmed that it has stopped supporting IE 8, 9 and 10 on Tuesday 12 January, marking an end to security updates and technical support for users of older versions of the web browser.

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