WildSnow Browsing Security & Safety


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 10, 2016      

Not a day goes by you can’t find another news article about compromised websites that can be dangerous to you as a reader-browser of the internet. Our page explaining our security measures is here, but we figured it would be a good to put a blog post up so anyone can ask a question about our website safety, or leave comments and suggestions. (Once or twice a year we’ll bring this post up to the homepage, and we’ll link to it from various locations.)

Essentially, we are doing everything within our power and budget to make WildSnow a safe place to land your browser. Every time a comment is made, it is scanned for bad links. The website is scanned for threats every day. All our advertising banners are served up by Google, they scan every advertiser’s links for threats and will shut down advertiser accounts if they ID something nefarious (they have caught a few). Our webserver is fire-walled and country-blocked to the max, and we run real-time software that constantly adjusts for new threats or suspicious activity.

In case you’ve not paid attention to the constant news of how insecure the internet is, know you have a right to be paranoid. It is open season out there. Hackers who commit crimes such as data theft or destroying your computer are rarely caught, let alone punished. This is the millenium version of the wild west. In a lawless land you have to carry and use your own weapons. Rest assured we are doing so here, and be certain you are doing so on your own computers and phones (running anti-virus software, being cautious while browsing, etc.)

Again, for a full overview of our security measures — as well as useful tips for things you do to “weaponize” yourself in the face of the wild west internet — please visit our security page.



IF YOU'RE HAVING TROUBLE VIEWING SITE, TRY WHITELISTING IN YOUR ADBLOCKER, OTHERWISE PLEASE CONTACT US USING MENU ABOVE, OR FACEBOOK.

Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


Comments

33 Responses to “WildSnow Browsing Security & Safety”

  1. biggb February 10th, 2016 10:44 am

    Great stuff Lou … I hope the migration / repair is going smoothly.

    Me personally … I don’t use AV … seems to have as many vulnerabilities as any other software nor the ability to catch 0-day threats. I subscribe to vigilant patching and hardcore browser security.

    WildSnow is the only website I purposefully can’t / don’t ad-block (as we’ve been over the reasons before). I trust you to keep it safe (sounds like you are doing it right … especially using google ads). Keep up the good IT work.

  2. Matt Kinney February 10th, 2016 6:41 pm

    I’ve always used Apples, currently the MacPro(09). I’ve never had a spam or security issue. Like AT skiing, most who try it, never go back to tele/Dell. They have excellent customer support. I began using WordPress sometime ago and no issues, but I keep things simple and that may be the key.

  3. Lou 2 February 10th, 2016 7:12 pm

    Matt, the siz e of the site and the number of years it’s been up, and the frequent updates, all make WildSnow a target. Smaller, less active sites are indeed more mellow, but if you looked at your server logs you might be surprised at how much you’re getting attacked and probed. Main thing is to have a good backup strategy, be sure your hosting company does, and do it yourself as well. None of this has anything to do with the type of computer you’re using, though I’ve heard that the mere act of unfolding a Mac in a coffee shop can lead to all sorts of miraculous occurrences (grin). Lou

  4. etto February 11th, 2016 8:02 am

    Have you considered going TLS only? I can’t imagine there’s many out there that are unable to handle https anymore.

  5. etto February 11th, 2016 8:03 am

    Never mind, you already do redirect.

  6. Lou Dawson 2 February 11th, 2016 1:38 pm

    Thanks biggb, the server move went pretty well, 8 websites, 4 being WordPress. It always looks simple on the surface, but migrating things like the ftp accounts proved to be a challenge due to directory structures and such. Anyone with the chops can figure out where we’re hosted, but I’ll share in public after testing for a few weeks. Hopefully they’ll trade a banner for a discount. It was expensive on previous host and still is so. Lou

  7. Jeremy C February 14th, 2016 1:24 am

    Hello Lou,

    Something changed yesterday (probably related to the mobile site) and I can no longer access the website from my iPad under either Chrome or Safari. It still works normally under iPhone/Chrome and Macbook/Firefox.

    The browser appears to load https://www.wildsnow.com, but the page is completely blank white. I assume it is detecting the tablet, but cannot determine what it is, so does not display anything.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2016 9:52 am

    Hi Jeremy, I’ll work on it, thanks for letting me know. I checked two different websites that provide iPad emulators and everything looks fine. I was indeed working on some website speed optimization yesterday, you might need to force a cache refresh or something like that. Try browsing http://www.wildsnow.com?foo=true and clearing your browser history, as well as turning machine off and back on, as well as hitting the refresh button. Let me know. Wish I had an iPad here for testing… Lou

  9. Jeremy C February 14th, 2016 10:32 am

    No change after a Microsoft restart. I also tried Terra, Mercury and Opera browsers, but got the same blank screen response. All the other websites I use regularly are performing normally. Hopefully someone else with an iPad will confirm whether or not it is working for them.

    I have an iPad 3 with the latest iOS 9.2.1 (13D15)

  10. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2016 11:28 am

    Hi Jeremy, wow that’s a challenge over here as I just can’t find anything else to sample on that’s broken. I’ll be working on it. Any way on iPad to see what page source is actually loading, as with most browsers you can right click and “view source” ? Would be better to do this on email, you can contact me using contact link in menu. Thanks, Lou

  11. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2016 11:31 am

    Jeremy, did you: “open up the iPad Settings app, go to the Safari settings and clear cookies and cache files” ? That’s what I’m googling is the solution to the white screen of death, which is not unusual. Lou

  12. Jeremy C February 14th, 2016 11:50 am

    One final forum comment. Since I tried 5 browsers, its definitely not a history or caching issue. I’ve just being trying every setting in Chrome. Once on the blank white page, under settings, I tried the “Request Desktop Site”, to force it off the mobile option, and it works, back to full site operation. So my iPad at least is not working with your mobile/tablet determination process.

    You’ll need to put out a call for an iPad local to Wildsnow HQ.

  13. Rodney February 14th, 2016 12:41 pm

    For what its worth, my iPad does not work either anymore. I thought your website has gone down again!

  14. Jim Milstein February 14th, 2016 1:00 pm

    I too have an iPad 3 with current iOS. Got the white screen for WildSnow. I cleared the WildSnow app data, restarted Safari, no change. White screen still white. Snow white, almost.

  15. Lou 2 February 14th, 2016 1:41 pm

    That is so strange! I will work on it. Probably something simple. Lou

  16. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2016 4:57 pm
  17. Jim Milstein February 14th, 2016 5:36 pm

    Now WildSnow works on this iPad 3 running Safari.

  18. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2016 5:39 pm

    Thanks Jim, are you looking at mobile version of site or desktop?

  19. Jim Milstein February 14th, 2016 5:51 pm

    I’m using the iOS version of Safari on an iPad 3. Latest versions. Is there an iOS app for WildSnow?

  20. Jim Milstein February 14th, 2016 6:03 pm

    Now on iPod 5g. Mobile version is declared at top of page. Whee!

  21. Jim Milstein February 14th, 2016 6:07 pm

    So, it seems that the iPad displays the desktop version and the iPod displays the mobile version. The mobile version is new to me. Both are working. Mission accomplished, I guess.

  22. Jeremy C February 15th, 2016 12:24 am

    It now works in all browsers for me as well, without any actions on my part. Now working in Chrome, Safari, Terra, Mercury and Opera browsers. Thanks for the troubleshooting Lou.

  23. Lou Dawson 2 February 15th, 2016 7:30 am

    Jeremy and all, thanks for the feedback! Turned out it was caused by something external I was using to do minification compression, junkware. Amazing what a junk pile things in web development are these days, I have a feeling that’ll never change. But if it was easy… (grin).

    I do need to find a junker ipad on Ebay and keep it here for testing when I’m doing site optimization. Would probably be nice to use when I’m in recliner mode, anyhow.

    Lou

  24. Ola February 16th, 2016 3:45 am

    I’d really like the country ban to be lifted. I read the site from Brazil most of the time and opening a vpn just to browse the site is annoying. I also doubt the benefits of country block are substantial.

    If you worry about attacks, consider setting up something like cloudflare which can do some quite aggressive filtering (even for free) with the added benefit that it’ll act as a CDN.

  25. Lou Dawson 2 February 16th, 2016 5:53 am

    Hi Ola, please contact us on Facebook and we’ll help you with easier access.

    Country blocking works for us (combined with other components of a quite robust security strategy). Bandwidth costs money, when 99.99 percent of the traffic from a country is bots, spam attacks and other unnecessary use of bandwidth we pay good money for and have to take time out of our lives repairing, we block that country. Simple as that. It’s not rocket science and the benefits are actually substantial, take it from a person who is in the trenches.

    I can discuss this more with you in private, I’ve got some pretty strong opinions based on more than 20 years of experience.

    For those of you who are curious about the war for bandwidth behind the scenes:

    http://info.distilnetworks.com/2015-bad-bot-report

    Furthermore, this problem with internet bandwidth actually has a substantial carbon footprint. The internet takes electricity, if 30% of the traffic on the internet is unnecessary and even criminal, then that’s 30% of the total electricity it takes to run the internet.

    “The internet releases around 300m tonnes of CO2 a year – as much as all the coal, oil and gas burned in Turkey or Poland, or more than half of the fossil fuels burned in the UK.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/aug/12/carbon-footprint-internet

  26. Lou Dawson 2 March 7th, 2016 7:27 am

    Hey all iPad users, seems as though something broke and some iPads got the white screen of death when browsing WildSnow.com, I think I fixed it but could use some feedback.

    And if anyone has an old semi-trashed iPad laying around, I could use a test unit for WildSnow HQ to test iPad/browser compatibility. The iPad compatibility testing websites don’t help, as I never see the “white screen” on those when I test.

    Lou

  27. Jim Milstein March 7th, 2016 8:22 am

    Just checked on an iPad 3 running current iOS. Both mobile and desktop versions display correctly, Lou.

  28. Lou Dawson 2 March 7th, 2016 8:29 am

    Thanks so much Jim! Couldn’t do this without the help. Lou

  29. Lou Dawson 2 January 24th, 2017 11:20 am

    Hey all, we’re using some Google advertising in the sidebar. If you see anything offensive feel free to comment and we’ll probably block. I thought the silicone padded panty ad was funny, but I’d rather see something more relevant to ski touring?

    Regarding security of our banners, refer to blog post above. We’re exceedingly careful about that stuff.

    Lou

  30. Frame January 25th, 2017 5:02 am

    Thought there had been a major change in focus when I saw an Alaskan Heli ski operation on the ad banner!

  31. Lou2 January 25th, 2017 7:13 am

    Frame and all, most companies spend their advertising dollars on dubious print advertising viewed by a tiny fraction of the numbers we produce here on WildSnow, thanks to you guys.

    Reasons for this are complex, for example, did you know that some magazines require a company to buy advertising before they will include their gear in a “ski test” ? Further, despite the new generation’s supposed enamoration with digital, the media buyers who we depend on to help support WildSnow still are seduced by dead-tree printed magazines. And then there is Facebook, a powerhouse of an ad dollar siphon.

    Point being, due to the ad dollars flowing to print and social media, I have to run Google network advertising, and it’s going to try using it’s AI to serve up ads. Usually, we only get paid if those ads are clicked on, which is frustrating since the companies essentially get free display advertising the rest of the time.

    So, you’ll see irrelavent ads. If they’re offensive I’m happy to block them, just say the word.

    As for heli skiing, many of our readers do mechanized skiing of various sorts so I see no problem with ad banners for resorts or heli skiing.

    Meanwhile, we appreciate so much you guys who support the companies who have faith in WildSnow.com, and continue to advertise. Voile, La Sportiva, BCA, Dynafit, Scarpa, B&D, G3 ! These guys are really our core, we couldn’t do it without them.

    Lou

  32. Lou Dawson 2 February 25th, 2017 6:35 am

    Just an FYI to some of you guys, I never got a good feeling about Cloudflare, and sure enough it is now CLODflare as probably most of you know. I’m glad I never went that route, instead running my own WAF (Wordfence Premium) on my own server seems to be doing quite well, along with security measures specific to the server, along with multiple redundant backups of course. And, always knocking on wood (smile).

    https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2017/02/cloudflare-data-leak/

  33. Lou Dawson 2 February 25th, 2017 6:54 am

    BTW everyone, I do have a tester iPad now, got a junker off Ebay some time ago, (ended up using it quite a bit for web browsing, quite nice). With the help of Dave at http://www.ovidnine.com, we figured out a pesky bug that was causing display problems on the iPad. For you of the geekish persuasion, it was a problem with how the iPad read our CSS files, depending on if we minified or not. Lou





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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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