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Beanstalk's Internet Marketing Blog

At Beanstalk Search Engine Optimization we know that knowledge is power. That's the reason we started this Internet marketing blog back in 2005. We know that the better informed our visitors are, the better the decisions they will make for their websites and their online businesses. We hope you enjoy your stay and find the news, tips and ideas contained within this blog useful.

September 10, 2012

Executive Order for Cyber Security

The Obama administration has been circulating a draft for an executive order focused on protecting the country from cyber-attacks. Following a proposed cybersecurity bill from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) that was blocked last month by Senate Republicans, the new draft proposes to codify standards and suggest best practices for critical infrastructure. The draft proposal has been sent out to relevant federal agencies.

obama cyber-security

After the first senate bill died, the White House counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan recommended that an executive order be issued to ensure power, water and transportation networks are secure.

“An executive order is one of a number of measures we’re considering as we look to implement the president’s direction to do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today’s cyber threats,” said White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “We are not going to comment on ongoing internal deliberations.”

The proposed order would use the following system:

• Would setup an inter-agency council led by the Department of Homeland Defense
• Members would include the DOD, Commerce Department and possible other representatives from the Department of Energy, Treasury Department, the attorney general and the director of national intelligence.
• DHS would manage the program.
• Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would help to craft the framework of the program and work with private sector companies to develop cyber-security best practices and guidelines.
• DHS would receive guidance from NIST and work with ‘sector coordinating councils’ to determine which industry sectors are considered as critical infrastructure as well as determining what standards the industry participants are to follow.
• It would be left up to the companies to decide what actions they would take to meet the standards.

One of the main issues still under discussion involves the kinds of incentives the government will offer critical infrastructure operators to entice them into the program as the executive branch is limited in the types of incentives that it can offer companies, and much of this power resides within Congress.

Some opponents of the proposed order are not in favor of a join program led by the DHS and point to their previous track record in leading national security efforts.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:01 pm



August 29, 2012

Fetch as Google Bot Helps Hacked Sites

Anyone who has had their website hacked (and knows about it) understands that pains that are required to clean up your site to remove the infection. Besides "clear-cut, black-hat webspam" the second largest category of spam that Google deals with consistently is that of hacked websites. I wrote a post a while ago detailing what to do if you site has been hacked and steps you can take to clean it up in this post:

Google Bot

Many times, webmasters will resubmit their site after a malware attack to Google thinking that they have successfully purged the offending code from their site. Often the site is still infected with malware and is subsequently declined for reinclusion by Google.

Hackers will often let you think that you are seeing clean content on your site, but when a search engine, or a visitor from a search engine views the page, they see spammy content. This makes it decidedly more difficult to find and remove the hacked content, so the hacked content stays up on the site longer.

Following the steps outlined in our previous blog posts, will help you to clean up your site and to prepare it for review from Google. After you repair the damage, but before and are ready to resubmit it to Google, you should use the "Fetch as Google" tool.

This will allow you to view your site’s content as Google sees it. This can also be useful for troubleshooting issues that may be impeding your site from ranking. The information returned by the tool includes:

  • http header response (404, 301, 500 etc)
  • The date and time of your crawl request
  • Your page HTML code
  • The first 100kb of visible, index-able textual content

If your site has been hacked, the Fetch as Google tool can help you identify problematic pages. Let’s imagine that Bob, the administrator of, is searching for his site in Google. He’s surprised to find that his site is appearing in search results for popular spam terms such as "Viagra", especially when he can see that those terms don’t exist in the source code of his site pages. Fortunately his site is verified in Webmaster Tools, so he uses the Fetch as Google tool to understand exactly what it is that Google is seeing on his site. The tool displays the details and the content of the fetched page, in which he can clearly see the word "Viagra" and other spammy terms.

This can happen when a malicious hacker penetrates the security of a site and inserts undesirable content, disguising it so that it doesn’t appear to normal users, but only to Googlebot. Because the source code of the site appears normal to everybody except Googlebot, the problem is difficult to diagnose without the Fetch as Google tool.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:39 am




August 28, 2012

Litigation vs. Innovation – The Apple Way

I’m really ashamed of my days of being an Apple loyalist, encouraging people to consider Apple solutions, and fighting for the ‘little guy’ computer company.

That ‘little guy‘ I once championed, has since grown up to be a thug making immoral decisions that I no longer agree with.

Apple is causing me deep personal embarrassment as they strut about the digital playground smashing things that compete with their creations.

A scene from the movie The Dictator where he wins by shooting his competition

You know something’s wrong with a company’s decisions when you’re watching a Sacha Baron Cohen movie (The Dictator) and the opening scenes of winning a race by shooting the competition reminds you of Apple’s choices to force litigation/product bans vs. accepting a financial settlement with Samsung.

Samsung will fight the decision and have already announced that they will counter-sue Apple.

Since Samsung successfully defended themselves in many countries (Germany, Korea, Netherlands, and United Kingdom), winning court battles which ruled that they did not copy Apple’s designs, a counter suit and appeal are likely to change the situation drastically.

On top of everything else, jurors in this recent court case are already making headlines stating that they were unable to properly review all the evidence, and ignored the prior art evidence that proved Apple clearly copied others in it’s iPhone design.

The jury actually took a defensive role, putting themselves in the mindset of innovators defending their patents. Velvin Hogan, the 67 year old jury foreman, stated that the jury :

“wanted to send a message to the industry at large that patent infringing is not the right thing to do, not just Samsung.”

With any luck, the same feelings will hold true as Motorola (Google-rola?) continues it’s legal action against Apple’s unpaid patent uses.

Since the patents in the current lawsuit are non-essential, one would assume that Google-rola has the opportunity to give Apple a taste of how it feels to block a company’s products via legal nonsense.

However, the likely result will be that even after (2?) years of trying to get Apple to pay the licensing fees, Google-rola won’t turn-down an offer of fair payment, just to block all product sales, unlike Apple.

Speaking of a ban on products, Samsung is already talking about releasing updated products that are completely free of Apple’s patent bans.

Zero Day Java Vulnerability

According to a few reputable sources online, there’s a new browser-based exploit for Java that is ‘in the wild’ and a patch won’t be coming very soon.

When someone says ‘in the wild’ it means that there’s reports of the exploit being used publicly, which means that there’s a high risk of contact.

In this case the exploit has been used to remote-control Windows based PCs that visit websites with hidden code on certain pages. The hacker in this case picked a Chinese proxy/IP and the ‘control network’ is also believed to be located in Singapore.

Since ‘wise’ hackers usually pick a point of origin outside their own country, this info actually points to someone non-Chinese as the source of the hack.

While that exploit only works on Windows computers, the payload is totally independent of the hack, so the same strategy will work on any computer and any browser.

To avoid getting hit, you may want to disable JavaScript:

In Chrome:
- type “chrome://plugins/” into your address bar
- on the plugins page, scroll down to Javascript and disable it.

In Opera:
- go to “opera:plugins”
- on the plugins page, scroll down to Java(TM) Platform
- click on Disable
- also scroll down to Java Deployment Toolkit
- click on Disable

In Firefox:
- press the Firefox button
- go to Add-ons
- go to Plugins
- click the “Disable” button next to anything named “Java”

Finally if you are using Internet Explorer, you probably don’t care, but here’s some recent instructions stolen from the help desk over at Indiana University:

To enable or disable Java in Internet Explorer:

From the Tools menu (or the Tools drop-down), select Internet options.

  • Click the Programs tab, and then click Manage Add-ons.
  • Highlight Java Plug-in.
  • Click Disable or Enable (located under “Settings” in version 7), as applicable.
  • Click OK twice.

To enable or disable JavaScript:

From the Tools menu (or the Tools drop-down), choose Internet options.

  • Click the Security tab.
  • Click Custom Level…
  • Scroll to the “Scripting” section of the list.
  • For “Active Scripting”, click Disable or Enable.
  • Click OK, and confirm if prompted.
  • Close and restart your browser.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:57 am



July 9, 2012

Hollywood & ISP Spies Are Watching YOU!

A partnership between the RIAA, MPAA and major ISPs such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast and Hollywood and Big Music, could allow your ISP to police your internet usage once a final agreement is reached. The partnership would see these ISPs spying on your activity to monitor for sharing copyrighted movies or music files from your computer.

Traditionally, your ISP attempts to protect you and your data by utilizing software and hardware to keep the connections between your computer and their servers secured. The irony of course is that with the new graduated response plan dubbed the “Center for Copyright Information” ( would make the ISPs involved responsible for policing and enforcing the violations and would see offending users warned, restricted and eventually cut off from the Internet for successive infringements.

Until now, media companies have had to try and scour the internet in an attempt to find and locate violators, but if the agreement goes through, the studios will have associated ISPs sniff packets of incoming data to and from their customers computers. The process of the escalation of infringements is structured as follows:

  • Rights holders track infringing Internet users and send notices to ISPs.
  • ISPs used this data to send warnings, called “Copyright Alerts”, to subscribers.
  • If subscribers fail to improve their behavior, further warnings will be issued.

ISPs will be given some discretion as to the variety of sanctions, but would range from throttling back connection speeds to limited browsing or termination of the account.
The agreements between the MPAA, RIAA and ISPs in the United States will be completely voluntary. The ISPs will insist that they are completely within their rights to amend their Terms of Service to accommodate such an agreement and will almost certainly do so quickly.

&Voluntary cooperative solutions are a priority focus and we believe that, in combination with law enforcement action, voluntary actions by the private sector have the potential to dramatically reduce online infringement and change the enforcement paradigm,& said U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel.

“We will continue to push forward to encourage voluntary cooperative actions on multiple fronts. Our ultimate goal is to reduce infringement online so we will continue to assess our approach to ensure that it is as effective as possible.&

Not only does this new agreement rekindle the online privacy and piracy debates, but it also raises some equally disturbing problems:

  • Sharing an internet connection (be it private, business, or public) becomes a liability to the owner, who becomes responsible for an individual’s activities on a network or shared connection.
  • Expectations of privacy are lost. Companies that deal in vitally sensitive information are not only at risk of someone seeing sensitive information but are now become a liability if the information goes public.
  • And the most obvious Big Brother paradigm: If ISPs are required to police you; who will police them?

In the light of such measures being introduced and other perceived infringements on Internet freedoms, a campaign to establish a Digital Bill of Rights & Freedoms from Active has been gaining momentum. It hopes to establish an Internet consisting of:

  • The right to a free and uncensored Internet.
  • The right to an open, unobstructed Internet.
  • The right to equality on the Internet.
  • The right to gather and participate in online activities.
  • The right to create and collaborate on the Internet.
  • The right to freely share their ideas.
  • The right to access the Internet equally, regardless of who they are or where they are.
  • The right to freely associate on the Internet.
  • The right to privacy on the Internet.
  • The right to benefit from what they create.

The Internet and the sharing of information (public or private) is still in its adolescence and will require much more deliberation and ratification of laws before we witness an Internet where media companies feel protected from piracy and users are guaranteed to have the freedom to share information without the fear of reprisal.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:01 pm



June 6, 2012

Attack of the Flame Computer Virus

Discovered earlier this week, the newly discovered Flame malware virus was dubbed to be the most lethal cyberweapon to date and may have been running unnoticed for over 5 years.

flame virus

The Flame virus (alternatively known as Flamer or sKyWIper) was found to have infected well over 5000 computer across seven Middle Eastern countries. It appears that the virus was specifically targeted and compromised computers in Iran, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This newly found virus is estimated to be at least 20 times more powerful than the Stuxnet worm that was responsible for disabling Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010.

The virus was discovered by the Moscow based anti-virus company, Kaspersky Lab. Kaspersky states that the Flame virus has the ability to collect private data, take screen shots, copy instant messaging conversations, initiate Bluetooth connections, activate computer microphones for the purposes of recording conversations.

Experts state that the Flame went undetected for so long as it only infected a limited number of computers over a long period of time; which is indicative of a long-term surveillance scheme.

Popular anti-virus programs were unable to detect the virus as they rely on existing instances of a known virus in order to create a detection program that is based upon signatures developed by analyzing the behavioral patterns of the existing bad code.

The fact that the threat went for so long undetected, speaks of the existing state of virus detection and of the inherent flaws in cyber security and anti-virus software.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:40 am



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