You should always conduct yourself professionally!

Sometimes you just have to vent, and this is one such situation.  We recently had a customer who decided to make some derogatory posts on our forums accusing us of “pissing somebody off” resulting in us being a “target of DDoS attacks” when in reality it was simply a client we were hosting that was the target of the attacks.  One of the downsides of DDoS attacks is that they’re a carpet bomb and they affect all sites on the server, and not just the intended target.

The client was warned via private message and their warn level on the forum was increased and then they decided to make another reply yet again re-iterating their original post and going far enough to make a public threat against us on our forums.  We at this point disabled the client’s forum account and opened an abuse support ticket with them which you will find below.  The client’s identifying information has been removed as our privacy policy protects the client’s identity and personal information but the contents of the ticket itself is not personal.

MDDHosting – Abuse on Forums

Ticket ID: [Redacted]
Department: Abuse
Creation Date: 09/26/2010 20:28
Last Reply: 09/26/2010 22:47
Status: Closed
Priority: Medium

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Avoid “Hotlink Protection” feature in cPanel 11.25, 11.26

In cPanel 11.25 and 11.26 (not tested earlier versions) when you add “Hotlink Protection” in cPanel it will add the appropriate mod_rewrite code to all domains, subdomains, add-on domains. It looks similar to this:

Code:
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://test-cpanel.com/.*$      [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://test-cpanel.com$      [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://www.test-cpanel.com/.*$      [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://www.test-cpanel.com$      [NC]
RewriteRule .*\.(jpg|jpeg|gif|png|bmp)$ - [F,NC]

It actually checks for the line “RewriteEngine on” and does not add it a second time into the .htaccess which is smart… The problem comes when you remove hotlink protection.

cPanel goes through all domains, subdomains, add-on domains once again this time and removes the code but it removes all instances of “RewriteEngine On” in every .htaccess. The problem that comes with this is that if you’re running something such as WordPress, vBulletin, IPB, or any other script that uses mod_rewrite, as most do, suddenly all of your rewrite rules no longer work. Continue reading

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Jonathan Burdon – Apparently posting facts is a “Smear Campaign”

Jonathan Burdon of AlreadyHosting.com
Jonathan Burdon

I have written a pretty in-depth review of Jonathan Burdon and AlreadyHosting.com concerning their affiliate fraud campaigns here. I even discovered that Jonathan Burdon is directly using cookie stuffing to obtain fraudulent affiliate commissions.  You can watch a short video demonstrating the cookie stuffing for MDDHosting, BlueHost, HostMonster, and WebHostingPad in this video.  If you’re not very familiar with how affiliate systems work, the basic premise is that sites will use outbound links to the provider that place a cookie on the user’s computer to identify the referral so that the affiliate can be paid.

In an article about Jonathan Burdon [which is likely written by Jonathan] it is claimed that “There is one *unnamed* company on the web that refuses to pay Jonathan for his contract so they have launched a smear campaign against him, please ignore their comments,” and the article goes on to say “If users will take a few moments to visit Jonathan’s sites they will soon realize that his site is a great resource and that the individuals writing the slanderous posts about him are simply incorrect.” Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/branding-articles/jonathan-burdon-webmaster-2848333.html

It seems that Jonathan Burdon believes that I’m personally launching a smear campaign about him and goes so far as to claim my posts are slanderous.  What I find particularly interesting, is that I have only posted verifiable, factual information and even the email communications with Jonathan Burdon.  I’ve not posted or said anything that wasn’t simply true and verifiable.  To be entirely honest, I don’t care about Jonathan Burdon or his reputation but only that he doesn’t continue committing affiliate fraud and, as such, stealing money from other hosting providers.  I publicly challenge Jonathan Burdon to disprove any of the information I’ve posted about him or AlreadyHosting.com.

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SolusVM VPS Control Panel Good *and* Bad?

The Beginning

At the hosting provider I own we originally started offering Virtual Private Servers late 2008 to address the needs of our clients who were outgrowing shared but didn’t yet want to move to a full-blown dedicated environment.  We did offer VPSs for about 6 months before the HyperVM scare at FsckVPS happened where dozens of VPS nodes were wiped clean and data lost.  We then decided to discontinue HyperVM and worked on migrating our existing VPS clients to other providers we worked with and trusted to be reliable.

The Good

Fast forward to late 2009 when we brought our first new SolusVM VPS server node online.  SolusVM has been an exceptional control panel with a good list of features and while it is missing some basic features such as bandwidth reports, cpu graphs, and memory graphs SolusVM has been working on improving their software over time.  We can handle a few missing “features” as long as we know that those features are in development and will be added.

The administration control panel and the user side of the control panel are very clean and concise while still being very powerful.  The only gripes we originally had with SolusVM was the inability to customize the client side templates and re-brand the solution however they did enable this ability and so far we love the control panel in this aspect.

SolusVM does offer a forum where you can post your questions and issues and receive support from others using the software as well and fairly regularly a SolusVM staff member will also stop by and help out as well.  There is also a support ticket system should you have an issue that is urgent or that does require some privacy.  Our general experiences with SolusVM support over both methods has been fairly good – I wouldn’t go so far as to say great but the support definitely has not been bad.

The Bad Continue reading

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Sales Ticket with an [Interesting Character]

At MDDHosting today we received an order which our sales department reviewed and determined was likely fraud and marked the order as such.  We shortly there after received an email from the individual who will hence forth be known as “Interesting Character” to protect their identity.  While they may not actually be a fraudster – their order details and actions all indicated that they most likely were.

The individual signed up using a first name and last initial only, their mailing address was a mail forwarding address, and many other red flags were sent up when this individual attempted to order services.

Here is a complete view of the email conversation with all personally identifying information redacted and by all means read it over and let me know what you think in the comments.

Interesting Character
Potential Client
03/31/2010 20:39
hello,
it seems like there is an issue with my order. can you please review it and approve it?
thank you
[Interesting Character]

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Beware of “Web Hosting Review” and “Top 10 Web Hosts” Sites

As many readers of this site may already know I own and operate MDDHosting, LLC – a web hosting firm based out of Franklin, Indiana and we have been in business for over 2 years and 3 months as of the writing of this post.  Over the last 27 months I have seen just about every type of fraud, scam, and lie and in my personal opinion affiliate scams have to be one of the larger issues facing web hosting consumers today.

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Installing Apache + PHP + MySQL + MSSQL Extension on CentOS5

This is a short guide that will show you how to install Apache, PHP, MySQL, and MSSQL Extensions on a CentOS5 Server or VPS.  All “quote” blocks are to be executed in SSH (shell) as root.

Getting the server ready to build applications from source:

Check for any RPM installations of the applications.

rpm -qa | grep -i apache
rpm -qa | grep -i httpd
rpm -qa | grep -i php
rpm -qa | grep -i mysql

Remove any RPM installations found with the “rpm -e” command:

rpm -e application_name_here

Install some base requirements to compile and install the software. Continue reading

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Are you a host-jumper?

hostjumpWeb hosting providers rely upon long term client/provider relationships to reduce costs and to help pay for attracting new customers.  In my personal experiences it costs approximately $150 to attract the average new client to a hosting provider.  When you compare the average monthly hosting bill of around $5 to the cost to attract a customer you will very quickly see why a hosting provider needs long-term clients.

There are clients that see purchasing web hosting as a long-term relationship with their provider and they look forward to reliability, service, and support for a long time to come.  Realistically most clients tend to stay with their provider until their needs drastically change and this is how things really should be.

No host is perfect – every host is going to experience issues from time to time and what is more important than whether or not they ever have issues is whether the host is directly at fault for the issue or if the issue was something that shouldn’t be held against them such as hardware failure.  Just because your host experiences an issue is not reason alone to leave that provider unless they could have prevented the issue and chose not to or they simply handled the situation poorly.  Most clients understand that issues happen and as long as they are kept informed as to what has happened and what is being done to resolve the issue they are willing to work through the issue.  If you find yourself changing hosts every single time your provider has an issue you may want to consider giving your provider a chance to handle and resolve the issue before deciding to move. Continue reading

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Starting and Running a Web Hosting Business – Part One

SLDALThere are many qualities that are required in an individual for them to start and grow their own successful web hosting company on their own from the start.  Many people see web hosting as something that is simple to provide and requires little to no work which couldn’t be further from the truth.  There are many aspects of web hosting that the average first-time web host will not plan for or even think about such as their web site which can be simple but is very important if you are to function as an online business.  Other aspects of running a web hosting business range from obtaining the correct licensing as required by local laws to having a basic understanding of business management and accounting.  While most are not a jack of all trades, they can often get by based upon what they know and have people they can ask for help if they need it.

The most important quality required in a person starting their own web hosting provider is resourcefulness – when you are new to hosting there are certainly going to be roadblocks that you come across and questions that you do not know the answers to.  Being resourceful means that even if you don’t know the answer immediately you know where to look to find the answer.  The vast majority of support issues that clients raise could be answered simply by visiting Google.com and typing in the question or a description of the issue.  Unless you are an expert on everything (keep dreaming) then you either need to be resourceful or you will very quickly find yourself being asked questions you cannot answer which leads to very unhappy customers and bad reviews. Continue reading

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Another Day, Another DoS

Disruption of Service (Graph)

Let’s face it – the world tends to be a very hostile environment and the internet is not much different.  From viruses and trojans to distruption of service attacks – it happens all day every day and it is only a matter of time before it affects you.  I have personally dealt with two DoS attacks in the last two weeks and both for very different reasons although the end result is about the same.

Last week the DDoS, or distributed disruption of service, attack was motivated entirely by financial gain for the attacker.  The attacker had previously attacked another hosting company called A Small Orange and had attempted to extort $7,000 from the company to stop the attack.  ASO did not bow to the demands of the attacker and simply worked to filter out the attack and return service to their customers.  While some of ASO’s customers were not satisfied, many times when a provider is put in this situation there is not much that can be done.

The attacker moved on from ASO to my company and sent a message to our sales department informing us that we were next.  The attack began about an hour later and peaked at about 4.5GBPS which is enough to  bring down most small data centers in their entirety however our data center SoftLayer Dallas was able to filter out the attack within 10 minutes to restore full service.  The attacker subsequently moved on to their next target which was VectorLevel who was hosted with Colo4Dallas at the time.  The attack at VectorLevel brought Colo4Dallas to it’s knees until the attack was null-routed at C4D’s upstream provider.  At the time of this writing Colo4Dallas’ web site was unreachable and as such I am not directly linking to it. Continue reading

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