July 18, 2018
by Tim Prater

Why a Managed WordPress Solution Matters

We pride ourselves on our WordPress hosting, which watches for new updates and patches to WordPress for our clients and apply them automatically.

There’s a (really good) reason for doing so. If you don’t, your site is more exposed to exploits and other vulnerabilities putting your data (and that of your users) and site at risk. Hosting WordPress yourself can be a few quid cheaper a month. But you need a robust process in place to ensure you are updating your installation – at least daily.

A case in point: yesterday it was announced that there was a potential cross-site scripting vulnerability in older versions of a WordPress plugin used by a couple of our sites called Geo Mashup (which we use to do some interesting things with Google Maps such as for Sandgate Business) https://wpvulndb.com/vulnerabilities/9105

We received that notification at 9.31am this morning (BST) and our installation was updated by 10am. Clients have done nothing: they needed to do nothing – we just dealt with it.

There is no evidence yet that the vulnerability above was particularly dangerous, or even that it has been exploited anywhere in the world – yet. But keeping your WordPress install up to date – including all plugins – is critical to keeping your site as secure as possible long terms. If you are doing so yourself – well done. If not, could we interest you in our hosting?

We were delighted to be asked by our friends at Tendo Consulting to help with work on the End Our Pain campaign by moving their existing campaign website onto WordPress, generally update and put in place “Email Your MP” functionality we’ve developed to help people lobby their MP directly.

You may have seen a lot of coverage (in the Mail on Sunday, across the BBC and elsewhere) about Alfie Dingley and his need medical need for cannabis to control his epilepsy. That coverage – and Social Media support from a huge range of others including Patrick Stewart – saw THOUSANDS email their MP and thousands more sign the End Our Pain petition.

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Over the August Bank Holiday weekend Sandgate (where Prater Raines is based) holds an annual Sea and Food Festival. There’s free music, a public fireworks display from the beach on the Saturday night and a range of entertainment and food stalls on the Sunday.

Prater Raines are delighted to invite our customers down to visit Sandgate to join us for a few drinks, some food and fireworks on Saturday 25th August.

Nothing fancy: if the weather plays nicely, we’ll be on and around the beach: if not, in and around Sandgate & local pubs!

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We’re proud to be supporting the HG Wells Short Story Competition in 2018 through providing their website and Facebook support. It’s great to see that this year’s competition is going well (get your entries in by 23 July!).

We rebuilt their site onto our own WordPress hosting (including SSL support, daily backups, keeping WordPress updated with all the most recent patches and updates etc), and new for 2018 created the online entry process, replacing the former post or email entry system.

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June 18, 2018
by Tim Prater

GDPR Compliance: Accredit To Us All

Prater Raines are delighted to have been accredited by the Liberal Democrats as an Approved Supplier under their GDPR compliance programme. We’ve been supplying website to the Party for over 15 years so really hoped we would!

The accreditation is for our Lib Dem “Foci” website service as a “Website, Email, Campaigns and Social Media Platform”.

However, our WordPress installations and support are also acknowledged to meet their GDPR compliance requirements as well, with EU (actually UK) hosting, always running the latest version, automatically upgrading on your behalf, ensuring data is stored within the local WordPress database, regular plugin updates and built-in SSL support.

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As website developers, we take a great deal of pride in the work that we do, and hope that we go the extra mile to keep our clients happy, and their sites well supported.

However, sometimes things go wrong. Yesterday it went badly wrong on the site of one of our long-standing clients – the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

It was our fault, and we’re mortified, but we wanted to also explain what has happened and what we’re doing to fix it as best we can.

Essentially, ironically in the process of ensuring the Alliance website and emails match up to the standards required by the GDPR, the site started sending some emails we didn’t want it to and didn’t expect. By the time we identified the issue and stopped it fully at 10pm last night, it had dispatched thousands of emails to users who have signed up to accept emails, with some users receiving over 100 separate emails.

This mistake was entirely ours, and not that of Alliance. We want to apologise to anyone who received those emails, and to them and the Alliance Party for the distress caused.

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April 24, 2018
by Tim Prater

Emails: now with added DKIM

As of now, emails we send from all domains we hold are signed with DKIM (an email authentication technique – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/email-security-standards/domainkeys-identified-mail-dkim) as well as SPF (which we have done for some years).

This applies to all emails sent from email accounts and websites we provide: just another built-in feature of our service!

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Tendo Consulting approached us to make some updates to the Fair Tax on Flying site which was part of a campaign they were working on for a client.

Although there were a number of content changes, the key new functionality required was to rebuild the existing “Email an MP” functionality to use up to date open source data and based on looking up the appropriate MP from a supplied postcode, and then providing different suggested email texts based on the users selections.

This we did, building our own WordPress plugins to add the functionality. This project involved updating an existing site, on its existing hosting (rather than moving to our own), which added “some complexity”, but we’re really pleased with the result!

It’s come to light this week that serious security flaws have been discovered in the processors of most modern PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and cloud computers. These bugs allow programs to steal data being processed by other programs running on the device, and could be exploited to extract secrets from running programs, including passwords and personal files.

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Nuff said: new WordPress site set-ups from £250 + VAT.

WordPress hosting and support just £20 + VAT per month per site.

Secure SSL hosting, DDoS protection and backups as standard.