Skip to content

Week 15 Version Control

December 3, 2009

My past experience with version control in class has always started with a set up that enabled each of us to check in/out work using Dreamweaver. The reality was that many of us were working on different parts of the website at the same time. We found that submitting everything to one person to place on the server was the only way we could keep the version straight – always having this same person backup the site.

An article from Woorkup mentions a few project management trial and free versions. Two programs activeCollab with a free trial (but commercial price tier program) and No Kahuna – with a free and commercial version – have methods to track work as it is being updated and changed. In another CCO class on Web Project Management, my team successfully used ClockingIT and Google Docs to portion out the workload and track progress. Both of these are free, you can add workers to make changes alongside you in spreadsheets and documents and determine whether users can edit any portion of the work, or just view the work in progress. This is not for making version changes on the main website and server, but these tools helped by tracking our progress – and also let us see where we needed extra help – or if another team member was lagging behind, we could jump in and help. I believe that some of the functions that the commercial programs have available can be met using these free programs. Another commercial program mentioned in the Woorkup article is Base Camp for Web Management, and costs from $24-$149 per month depending on the number of sites that are being tracked. Base Camp has a 30 day free trial available on their website.

Working with CMS projects really makes version control easier in the sense that the developer can restrict some of the editing that others are allowed to do – but keeping a version control number in an orderly manner can be hairy because of this. Also the 3rd party updates and CMS updates add to the complexity requiring a way to monitor factions outside of a schedule. I would probably have one Super Administrator back up the website before any changes, and keep a running log of the versions using GoogleDocs and listing the major changes of each version. This way clients and all involved can see the changes and make suggestions for improvements.

I think that version control will be imperative as I maintain more websites. I think it will give me a chance to keep track of updates, show clients that they are up to date and that their websites are being properly maintained. For this reason I will be researching good version control programs as my business grows and I recieve more clients.

Week 14 Marketing

November 30, 2009

Before I get to the artist that I am following, Sarah Camp, I noticed that the many social marketing venues available can introduce a current or potential customer to more of the skills that a graphic artist or freelance web designer might have. For instance, a graphic artist might contribute one piece of artwork to an internet project, but on a social site like deviant art or Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., could demonstrate a talent for recreating this artwork in jewelry or statues. I have a relative that displays his graphic artwork on DeviantArt – then also adds an ongoing internet comic book with some of these characters. I can see where a current follower of one medium might also discover a second or third reason for following an artist because of these social interactions. One quilt artist, Linda Schmidt whose work I am always astounded with – uses the internet to let others discover her talents in artistic wearables, portrait and fiberart and I have taken some of the courses she teaches through Quilt University. Linda sums up my feeling towards social marketing in a comment she writes on her website:

On the wall of my daughter’s room, as she was growing up, there was a poster of a prima ballerina teaching a little girl in a tutu how to dance, and the caption read: “A candle loses nothing by sharing its flame. ” Thank you for sharing your flame!

Sarah Camp owns a small 9 person company Camp Creative Group designing websites with WordPress and custom content management systems. I loved the websites that she produced, and especially chose her because of the variety of designs she creates. Her website is beautiful, the tag line matches the design; the name of her company conjures up all kinds of ‘wish I could join them’ ideas for me – a budding freelancer; there are lines under the navigation headings that create a friendly expectation before one even selects the page. The website, the blog, and all of the social interaction links list award links, links to articles written by magazines, and a means for the customer to follow future articles using RSS feeds and easily ‘following’ Sarah’s blog. This website chooses to write articles that appeal to potential customers advising them about web page related information – which lends to trust. There are other articles that are poised at fellow freelance artists, creating a give and take – a sharing attitude that I really liked.

Each social connection emphasizes something a bit different about Sarah and her company. Camp’s LinkedIn is more of a professional overview of her company, however it allows her to increase customer and employee trust by divulging projects that cannot be posted on her website. She shares information, for instance about close work on an astrophysical research project in the South Pole as well as the honor of working with a teacher on an exclusive project. Sarah’s Twitter page shares inspirational links that I plan on following. I like the fact that she finds more peace and website inspiration taking long nature walks instead of browsing the internet to see what others are creating. The Facebook account is used to talk about new projects before they are posted on the company website. The interaction allows followers to provide feedback, which is a great way to get customer input while working on a project. So far I have not seen the feedback during the process of development, but as an appraisal afterwards – which again builds trust as the client sees other people’s reactions to their new site. The blog allows the previous customers a place to provide direct quotes (even though they are also showcased in the gallery and praises section of the website). The blog also allows one to bookmark articles using delicious,facebook linked in, twitter,friend feed, stumble upon, technorati favorites, redditt and squidoo as well as a +Share/Save button to quickly bookmark the page using diigo,wordpress, amazon, and several others. Another marketing feature used is a button allowing one to email the article to a friend – thereby widening the audience as close to word of mouth as possible on the internet. Reactions to the blog located on the home page keep both pages active, as well as postings categorized in recent/popular tabs in the right column to help the customer navigate and personalize their search. I find that all of these social interactions point back to the website, back to trust and enhance the professional and unique talents of the artist, Sarah Camp – much in the same way that professional web design standards do – creating a social ‘implied’ and ‘psychic’ line pointing back to the artist. If an artist is not using social marketing to their advantage, they are missing a free advertising opportunity.

Week 13 Back Up Joomla!

November 23, 2009

This assignment is to describe the trials and learning process encountered to backup and restore a Joomla! website. Initially I wanted to use 3 methods available to me: A complete FTP transfer; A 3rd party extension for Joomla! Backups; and using a C-Panel Backup Wizard from my hosting service. I used both C-Panel wizard and 3rd Party Backup methods earlier this month, and thought that they were ready to go. What I learned was that they were not complete: the C-Panel backup stated that it had been terminated before completion and the 3rd Party backup was less than half complete because I didn’t backup the database. My File Manager showed a small link file that I later realized was not the entire backup. I completed the entire process with the benefit of videos provided by this excellent 3rd party called JoomlaPack.

Back Up Lessons

The problems I encountered with my C-Panel happened when I created 2 backup files – the first was a zip (I also downloaded a tar.gz zip) of my files and folders – thinking I could use one or the other if needed, the second was a .sql backup of my database. I could not extract my tar.gz file in Filezip, and my zip file seemed to be faulty.
More C-Panel Backup Wizard problems – I learned that zip files can sometimes miss files, and that it is imperative to immediately restore a test site to ensure that all files are included in a zip. If I were to make major changes on a website, I would keep at least one backup that was completely checked beforehand. My C-Panel Backup wizard also claimed that it would send an email to me when the files were complete. The email came instantly after the start of the backup, and the backup link in the CPanel Backup wizard remains static with ‘in progress’ stated at the end of the link. This most recent link is directly below the 2 other backup links that I had created earlier in the month – both sent email notices to me that they were complete, however they state ‘not complete -timed out’ at the end of the respective links. I reviewed some C-Panel tutorials with my hosting service and online, but still am not certain what to do to fix this – outside of writing to the web host.
FTP takes too much time – but with a good database download, and a bad zip file of folders and files, I turned to my FTP client, Filezilla. I transferred the zip file to the server, and realized that I didn’t know how to unzip it at that point….so I manually selected all files and folders from my joomla website and dragged/downloaded them over to my computer. This process took 30 minutes, so I started to think about my 3rd party Backup method using JoomlaPack for all my files and folders – which ended up to be a less time consuming and still efficient method.
Plan B…or is it C –JoomlaPack was installed and has a wonderful set of icons displayed in the Administrator section that make backing up a less daunting experience. I knew that I had a database download on my computer, and after watching the JoomlaPack video (listed in the resources below), I knew that JoomlaPack would take care of backing up my files and folders. I received 2 warnings after selecting ‘Back Up Now’ – and these warnings referred me to the JoomlaPack website explanation. It seems these are common warnings that didn’t really effect my backup, so I proceeded. I also knew that I would be prompted to list my new database name during website restoration in the same manner as my original Joomla! initial installation. The JoomlaPack video showed an earlier restoration screenshot, however the current restoration was extremely easy to follow with NEXT prompts and warnings that allowed you to return to an earlier prompt if an area was left incomplete.

  1. Download all files and folders to a folder on your computer – drag/dropped them via FTP Filezilla (30 minute process) or use a 3rd party JoomlaPack backup (3 minute process to create zip file plus less than 2 minutes to download this file to my computer)
  2. Using phpMyAdmin, EXPORT your database to a file on your computer. Check the Drop Down Table, and Save File As (this is where I saved it both as a zip file – which didn’t work – and a regular no compression .sql file – which worked) I used the siteground tutorial listed below.

Restore

The restoration can be used on the same server, or to a new server. I was worried about placing a backup file in a public area, but since this is a working website restored to a folder, and not a backup set of zip files – it really wasn’t a problem.
JoomlaPack has a wizard built in to restore the website. All you need is the new database name, your user name and password. I was prompted to enter my email address during the process, which went very smoothly. Here are the steps I took to restore my website to a folder on my server.

  1. Created a folder that I wanted to use as a working copy of my website using Filezilla
  2. Created a new database name and loaded the old database information into this new database
    • C-Panel phpMyAdmin informs me that I cannot create a new database.
    • I discovered C-Panel MySql Database and MySql Database Wizard. I started with the Wizard, but found that the MySql Database could do the entire process just as easily. These were the Create a new Database functions that I am used to seeing in my localhost phpMyAdmin. They allow you to add a new user, create a new database and add functions for the user to use.
    • Returned to phpMyAdmin and IMPORTED my database information stored on my computer (I found that the zip file version did not work – had CHKSUM errors, but the .sql non zipped version worked – both of these options are available on phpMyAdmin when you EXPORT database information)
  3. Using my C-Panel File Manager, I selected the folder I created in the first step, and Uploaded (a button at the top of the C-Panel in File Manager) the zip file of my website files and folders created by JoomlaPack
  4. Still using my C-Panel File Manager, I EXTRACTED the JoomlaPack zip file (using another button at the top of the File Manager section of the C-Panel) into this folder – this process took only a few minutes
  5. I typed in the URL of the http://www.mysite.com/folder (name created in the first step), which started the JoomlaPack wizard to install and restore the website. The JoomaPack installer 4.0 process begins by displaying all green checkmarks on a page of required settings. Prompts follow via NEXT (in the upper right corner) after filling out information such as a valid email address and ftp user id and password. This is also the place where the new database name is entered. The last prompt asks that you remove the installation directory from site – which I did using the FILE MANAGER on C-Panel because I just had that handy – I could have used my FTP client Filezilla to do the same thing.

Summary

After some rambling false starts, I realize that the process is very similar to the original Joomla installation …. and that once again, having all of the ducks in a row….the database name (plus in this case database information), the user name and password….are all necessary to keep the process running smoothly. I have placed this working copy of my website in progress as part of my assignment, but if possible I will continue to practice downloading and restoring this site as it becomes complete.
As for clients backing up and restoring their websites, I found a few articles on Cron jobs and also have the feature on my C-Panel to schedule daily backups. I feel that there needs to be an easier way to do all of this – like a running backup that would allow a client to return to an archived page at a time, rather than an entire website archive/backup. JoomlaPack is definately the way to go, but now I can see how to use my C-Panel and FTP client to pick up the slack, if I ever need them. Did I mention that I also had to upgrade my Filezilla during all of this???? It was a long process, but many lessons were learned, and now I am very excited that I can backup and restore a website!

Resources

  1. Joomla! How To Move Your Joomlaarticle
  2. JoomlaPack, Back Up and Restore Joomla! websites
  3. Siteground php-mysql tutorial for backing up and restoring a database
  4. Backup Schedule PHP script to check out
  5. PHP Script for Cron Job automatic backups that was posted a while ago, but might be worth considering
  6. Wiki Copying a Joomla Website from Joomla Documentation

Week 9 Assignment – Modifying a Theme

October 25, 2009

Starting Point

Following are the stages I am taking to change images on the original template. Up to this point, I have used Joomla’s back end HTML and CSS edit modes and Firebug to locate the images to change. I have uploaded images in Filezilla to my image folder, and replaced the old image files with the new image file names in HTML. Colors are changed with the CSS file, and I have kept an original template file on my localhost, as well as copy/pasting the HTML and CSS in Notepad++ before I make any revisions – just to be safe and have a backup. I chose this template because it seems to be a challenge, concerning many more div’s than I design with. I feel as though I can learn from this template, yet I also wish I had the time to really tear apart the html and look for duplications. One thing at a time, however – so here goes the template.

  1. Original Template – unchanged
    localhostGreen2
  2. Changes up to week 9 – Replacing images found with Firebug; changing the backend Administrator HTML file and using PhotoShop CS3 text for the title, and brushes for the decoration around the title; PS used to change image size to fit the predetermined template banner size. Breakdown follows using the toolbar Tools>Firefox Web Developer>Images>View Image Information :
    Week9BeforeModify template original design

    • Background: 200px x600px with a repeat-x of grainy gradient of Medium green to yellow
    • Main Footer design is one concave and one convex image both 500px x 83px.Both have a lighter green top outline.
    • Upper left image of yellow you can see in the original, and only the background in my 2nd version is 378px x 150px with a lower light yellow thin line that blends with the background on the left, and is more prominent on the lower right.
    • The curve image to the right also contains an extended right and right top grey ,as well as a white curve that shows beyond the header and inside the banner. I could not figure out how so many depth layers could exist on this template, but I now believe that this is one key image in producing that effect.RightCurve1000x209100px x 209 px
    • Main Content background is another gradient text 511px x 298 px.
    • Left Navigation has 2 images, one that has the upper envelope with 2 colors, and a second which has the curved bottom with a thin dark line
    • Right Navigation has 2 images for the top of each section (one with the main 2 colors, and a second with a thin upsweep to widening to the right; Another bottom section with a thin lower color and a second thin dark image to round that out a bit.
    • The header has another set of 2 images with extending colors, both the same size 500px x 73px.
      top_1a

      top_ra

Continuing to change this theme

After a week of the flu, and trying to catch up I can only post this change. I had visions of setting a sunset scenery with mountains inside the bubbles, but after ours of photoshop work…it just didn’t look right. My next thought was to place a background of the windmills nearby on mountains inside the bubble, but after all day working on this I figured I should post SOMETHING. I still need to change the sidebar and footers. I am having all kinds of fun changing things in photoshop, and then finding them in the class file directory instead of the xampp/htdocs/templates/my template/images directory….blaming the fatigue from the flu, but know that this is just part of my merry chase down the wrong roads!
Another challenge I had was taking the entire set of images (some shown above) and trying to change each individually. It would have been easier/saved LOTS more time, if I had corralled some of them into one image, or chosen to turn off many and just insert what I wanted – which is what I did with this background image. I copied the background image from another free template design, then realized that the original background ended in white with a repeat of x axis colors. I used the color picker in photoshop to find a good matching color to use and added this as the background color to help it look seamless (I hope). Timewasters:

  • Still trying to match the bubble image in the header with another bubble (replacing the right curved original template that is in green with a copy/pasted bubble from the magic wand in photoshop)
  • Erasing images and centering them in the header – using the magic eraser
  • blending several background images using brushes to create a woodsy look – but never could get the extension seamless – so too much time spent on this neat effect before realizing that the original template background y axis blended into white

Wee9Start

Week 10 continuing to change footer, header, font

wk9BlueTemplate

Deciding to place blue (above) or tan (below) – I have made some of the matching blue and tan textures for the left and right module boxes, but feel I need to turn in this assignment soon. The image-flow gallery is off, the right column module is off…when I center it, the template falls apart – either the center doesnt let the words wrap around, or the right column moves too far to the right – and it looks ‘off’ unless it lines up on a grid imaginary line below the photo header. This assignment is to help us learn all of the places to change the template…and I feel that the ‘off’ things are due more to my css/html skills….which I don’t want to waste template learning time to fix…..if I can stand it looking this way, that is!

template screen shot in tan texture

Tan Version of the template so far

Preview of template with water

Lining up some of the grid and green in header

I have made changes in the XML files to add images and personalize the template name and information. I have found that the past weeks of changes need to be categorized in my computer better so that I can find the changes I want to keep, and those that I want to trash. This has been a very exciting adventure into template making…most of my delays have been healthwise with the flu, and getting more proficient with div’s in the original template. I am ready to move on to a blank template and very encouraged that I could zip a package together and upload it in the admin install area! Theme making could be very addictive!

There are several changes I would like to continue – making a new database to proceed with this template was something chose not to do, since I wanted to revert back to the original template and make some different changes for my project. Now that I have proceeded this far, however, I am able to work on different template versions uploaded into the admin install area, and I would like to keep improving them as I go along. I am terribly slow, I feel…at designing, but this is starting to get the creative juices going in a way that regular paper and pencil sketches could not accomplish. Some of the changes I would like to do are:

  • Create a semi-transparent backdrop for the content that will extend past the header, but be contained inside the footer and header blue wrapping as well as the upper left corner section/diagonal
  • change the green left and right menu areas to blue texture as an outline for mirrors…the content will be inside the mirrors, and the background semi-transparent will be the background here as well…I think (original idea was something nautical, if this doesn’t work)
  • create a new database for this
  • fix the top div on inside pages so that the water image does not show through above the content….this is in lieu of the semi-transparent panel behind the content….I want to be certain that the font is dark and (already) large enough for this change
  • Align the columns better so that the poll does not interfere with the content , and the home page gallery will be centered, changed in the module some more to work on this page better – or shuffled to an inside page with 2 columns
  • Figure out how to get this to validate on W3C CSS

Resources

  1. Toolbox tutorials from Smashing Magazine
  2. Blue Water Template – I only used the image for this, not the template
  3. 6 Ways to Take Your WebDesign from Good to Great

Week 7 Site Project 5 oh SEO MIO

October 19, 2009

SEO functions installed

Going through several components, and trying many free SEO/SEF functions, I settled on the following with my client in mind. I might be able to keep up with a small website, creating unique keywords and titles – but tried to find the functions that would be automatically in place. Some of these will have to be tweaked, and a lot of content has to be incorporated, but I am pleased with the way this is starting to come together.

  1. Headings are semantic – I will keep these in mind as I add more content
  2. SEF was first used in global configuration, along with .htaccess/mod_rewrite. I did figure out that .htaccess needed both SEF and _modrewrite selected on the administrator back end to work properly. Later I added AceSEF, which must be uploaded in the ACE upgrade tab if you already have this extension and are upgrading to a current version. For first time users, upload it in the Extensions>Install/Uninstall as you normally use to install a 3rd party extension. ACE SEF added:
    • Titles using the page or alias plus the website name – automatically, unique to each page!
    • Meta name Description tags – automatically, words taken from the first paragraph where I will try to be cognizant of leading information with keywords – a great savings for new articles that the client might add, once they know how this works. The interface is excellent, the support is incredible (within hours of my forum question, they had a fix uploaded in a new version to JED which solved my problem of blacklisted words creeping into my meta keywords). Also, the author has thought to blacklist conjunctions, and words that would throw off Google – easy to add to the list which is in alphabetical order
    • Custom 404 page – which I am still figuring out how to link to – but easily composed
    • SEF – option to hide or use categories and sections, along with many features possible to make the URL structure easy to remember and navigate. I do have to reorganize a few pages that had some redundant or wordy URL’s, but this is making it very easy to keep them tidy
    • Easy to update…the component interface alerts you in red letters when an update is available, and then has an icon for updates (still in the admin back end), and opens your browser to install the update without ever leaving the component interface! Easy for the client, and myself again…and this is the free version!
  3. Breadcrumbs enabled using Joomla Breadcrumb module
  4. XMap used to creat a Site map in html, and a Site Map in XML – appear to update with additional pages automatically
  5. Images are optimized as I replace template images with my own, and will keep alt tags in mind – waiting for final images to do this as I replace quilts for hairstyles
  6. Placed a robots.txt page on site
  7. Still need to keep an eye on replacing ‘read more’ links with descriptive links. Read More is inherited in Joomla, but can be replaced with a better description.
  8. Google Analytics added by uploading J!Analytics
  9. As I add feedback forms to the site, and get the RSS feed articles working, I will change the robots.txt or at least keep it in mind to keep links to undesirable/unknown sources and words from being followed.

Week 7 Blog – SEO

October 11, 2009

Useful Tool

I have been very interested in SEO since completing the Cerro Coso College course, Accessibility and Usability, taught online. This class was the biggest inspiration for me as I learned page ranking and meta tags. I signed up for Scrub The Web and found it to be a wonderful aid in researching, detailed explanations and filling out forms such as Meta Tags. However, the amount of time and work involved in researching keywords, and backlinks was something I chose to improve in this assignment. I want to add that my Scrub The Web membership had expired several weeks ago, and that the company extended my renewal offer after reading my dilemma on a feedback form as I was exiting the page. I did not expect this, and really give the company kudos for offering this – the renewal is a LOT cheaper than starting a new membership. By the way, as I was looking for the URL for the course, I noticed that the Cerro Coso Web Design page has been updated to now include RSS feeds from A List Apart & Digital Web, which I quickly added to my feedreader.

Enter the Firefox Add-on, SeoQuake, a list of 17 different SEO options that immediately load with the web page. I know that there are many toolbars, including one I almost chose – SeoMoz’s SEO Toolbar, but the experience I have had with Firefox’s Web Development assistance pretty much sealed the deal for me – at least to try. I am so pleased with this toolbar! I can instantly look at the Links, for example and it lists both internal and external links. If I click on this, it opens a page that lists the links. I chose to add the hover option so that the SEO toolbar will pop up in a tooltip if I hover over a link – rather than leave the page. I would say that all of these bars and options can be distracting, but since they are part of Firefox, it is easy to enable/disable/edit straight from the Tools option in the main toolbar. This is such a timesaver for typing in Google link searches. This toolbar includes Google, Yahoo and Bing – I am still working with all of the options. I was also pleased to see a blog with installation and feature examples.

More Inspiration

I installed Google Analytics on my project after reading all of the SEO lectures on our class website, and finding a really good article from Website Magazine called Tips to Better Google Analytics. This article made me think about building specific information on the pages most visitors ‘land’ on. I think this really ties into SEO research, since the analysis of visitors once they are on your page is just as important as getting the robots and search engines to make your page more accessible. Another article from this same magazine continued the SEO inspiration I found this week Findability Makeover, which added some tools that might be useful, and are worth keeping in my SEO toolbox. This article used these tools to present a means of trumping the competition and keeping track of updates. I receive Website magazine at no cost in the mail, but was pleased to find that the online version allows a search of ‘findability’ that reveals all of the archived findability articles. Some of the tools mentioned in the article are:

  • SEOmoz.org, which really looks like several good tools useful for measuring a domain, and is also listed in our lecture this week. I am sure I will try this toolbar and compare it with the Firefox addon, SeoQuake described above under Useful Tool.
  • Website Grader, which is having some problems at the time of this post, but is a free tool to measure marketing effectiveness by generating a score sent to your email address
  • SpyFu, a free PPC tool for keyword research A video on YouTube shows many of the SpyFu features.
  • Spying on competition using keyword alerts on Google, Yahoo and Alerts.Live which can send competitor updates to you via email.

2010 Finds

I attended 2 webinars yesterday and was most impressed with  Avinash Kaushik from Market Motive.  It was a bit of a pain to call the phone number for the audio portion of the presentation – but after seeing the technical difficulties of the second webinar by Hubspot,  I could understand the decision.  I must say that I am paddling as fast as I can in this ever growing body of information and feel a bit intimidated by all of the marketing numbers/info.

This list is Kaushik’s extraction of the usable part of 3 new Google Analytic tools – along with some other tools that are either free or a very low cost, and how he uses them. I have also subscribed to Kaushik’s blog  because I enjoyed so much of his SEO information. I added Hubspot’s Facebook links in the same list:

  1. Tynt
  2. AnalyzeWords
  3. Statsit
  4. Swix
  5. Compete
  6. Quantcast
  7. Search Engines/trends/keywords Insights for worldwide directly from Google for Google search engine
    and WordTracker for worldwide Yahoo and Bing search engines
  8. Facebook Grader
  9. Hubspot’s Facebook for Business kit (Free)

Week 6 Blog – Security

October 4, 2009

Assignment

Find a story about a security snafu that took down a web site, corrupted the database, caused user data to be stolen, etc. Describe what happened, how it happened, and the cost.
I found this a bit depressing research, since so many unsolved stories come to mind, and so many barriers to prosecuting criminals exist as criminals find hostage in countries that choose not to share information, or even suspend criminal ISP activity. In my E-Commerce, a Managerial Prospective 2008 book by Efraim Turban, the Group of Eight (G8) international forum comprises governments that work together to prosecute and stop cybercrimes. As of the writing of the book, the G8 countries included Canada, France,Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the US.

This situation helps explain why a huge majority of the hackers (some estimate about 95 percent) reside in Turkey, China, Romania, or Brazil.

UBS Paine Webber

Electronic Commerce, a Managerial Prospective 2008 also included a 2002 ‘insider’ crime against UBS Paine Webber by a disgruntled former employee. I started this assignment researching the continuing story from this particular crime and found myself uncovering more stories – which I will list later in this article.
A former systems administrator at UBS PaineWebber was charged with designing software that would delete all files in the host server at the main data center and in every US branch office. Within hours of quitting his job, in 2002, he bought stock in UBS PaineWebber that would only pay out if the company’s stock plunged within 11 days. The company’s servers went down the next day and approximately 17000 brokers across the country could not make trades. Backups went down within minutes of being run and files were deleted. An employee trying to fix the main server discovered a line of code that seemed to hang up the system. She renamed this line to ‘hide’ it from the logic bomb/software which was key to stopping further destruction and led to restoring servers one at a time (30 minutes to 2 hours each). This affected nearly 400 branch offices, and cost the company $3.1 million in assessing and restoring the network – calling in 200 IBM technicians to expedite the recovery. The company never divulged the amount of money lost in business during the disruption – between 6 hours, a day and a half for most, and weeks for some branches depending on complications at different servers.
In 2006, despite finding parts of the logic bomb code at the house and on 2 of 4 home computers of this former employee, and a forensics expert testifying that the password and user account information of this person were used to gain remote access to the insertion point of the malicious code, the defense lawyer kicked in to suggest reasonable doubt to the jury. He was able to show that UBS computer security had flaws and holes – backdoors in the system (such as allowing more than one person to be logged into the system at the same time with the same username/password); how could the jury be certain that someone with this employee’s password and username wasn’t retaliating and setting him up; and a claim that evidence was destroyed when starting to work together on the incident – UBS and @Stake, the first computer forensic company on the scene, were mentioned in an Information Week article that the company @Stake hired hackers and further quoted the defense lawyer:

”Are hackers good people?” he asked. ”Are hackers reliable?”

The trial moved on, turning to blame other companies, bringing up the accused employee’s statements of wanting to get even and eventually taking a possible 30 yr jail sentence and $1 million fine down to a possible 78 to 97 months in federal prison with no parole. This was all of the information I was able to uncover online.

Resources

More Security Stories in the News

Here I list some information online, and elsewhere encountered on the subject of security.

  1. High Profile Breaches in Security, reminded me that earlier this year the FAA sent its employees and retirees a free credit reporting service after lists of personal information were hacked into. Actually, the FAA was pretty quick to do this, but found that its first list was incomplete, and sent a second list along with an apology to those that were included months down the road. I was impressed that they did not blame anyone but themselves for the breach and the late list, as well as the quick action that they took with the first list of possible victims. This information would have been used for id theft and to my knowledge was never used against anyone….so far.
  2. Forbes Slideshow of Recent examples in the news of Phishing,Stock Scams, Swatting, Insider data theft, Identity Theft, Adware, Counterfeit Software. The interesting thing here, is that the phishing story has the first extradition from Romania to the US since the accused was vacationing in another country when arrested.
  3. A friends business website has been hacked several times, the hacker has been traced to Romania. My friends site is made in Joomla, and they are still trying to discover the security leak.
  4. ZDNet article – NASA hacker who hacked into 97 military and NASA computers is being extradited from the UK to the US. The accused claims he was looking for UFO information….
  5. MD5 Hash database has compiled several stories from Harvard, and other stories. The neat thing about THIS site is the encouraging essay on Securing your joomla website
  6. PDF File – CSI 2008 Survey Report that mentions cybercrimes are dropping in numbers, but this is because of the firewalls and security in place. It admits a better picture than reality, since the crimes that are caught before they do much damage don’t really reflect in the numbers. Basically it takes every ounce of work AFTER the site has been compromised as well as every ounce of work DEVELOPING more secure sites as we try to run legitimate businesses online. (By the way, students enrolled in a security type class can get membership to CSI at a reduced rate of $99/yr)