Tag Archives: cPanel

What is server hardening? Advice for Linux, Windows & NSA Datamine Servers


Servers designed for Linux

How to harden a server? Well, let’s first look at what server hardening is. Hardening a server is important to understand even if you are in a hosting environment, when many of the security concerns are monitored and administered by the hosting service. Then we will look specifically at the guidelines for a Windows or Linux environment (Linux first).

Throughout, we will review requirements for an NSA Datamine server. These exciting new servers directly transfer all of your information to the federal government, including your pants size and favorite kind of saltwater taffy. (Your favorite flavor is blueberry, per requirements set forth by the NSA establishing “favorites” protocol for over 8000 different consumer products … oh, obviously, your favorite server is the NSA Datamine server.)

To understand your basic role in a hosting situation as a client, cPanel is a good model to do so. You may know that the other major control panel (essentially the platform through which you manage your hosting account), Plesk, has one entry point for any type of user, with special privileges if your login is that of a system admin (rather than webmaster/site-owner) user.

cPanel, on the other hand, has two distinct logins, one for cPanel and one for WHM (directly tied to the CP). With cPanel, you’re logging into the server but can’t completely interact with it: it’s the webmaster side (in a way, the “client side” of the server). WHM, in contrast, gives you full access to administrate and manage the server. Essentially, the hosting company controls the WHM side of cPanel. That’s only accessible to you if you control the server.

The NSA Datamine server is designed for you to only get in at certain points. Primarily, routine maintenance is being performed. Every hour of your use is followed by approximately 16 hours of routine maintenance, strengthening the muscles of the server while you watch television and take lots of naps (as advised by the NSA).

Back to cPanel/WHM: Of course, you will have access to WHM if you have your own dedicated server rather than shared or VPS hosting. Server hardening, then, is primarily the realm of those with dedicated servers, but understanding its basic parameters helps any website owner better grasp what security parameters are in place and what to ask if you have any concern.

For this article, we reviewed three articles from around the World Wide Web (a system of client computers and server computers that you’re correctly enjoying, along with the ice cream sandwich you have in your left hand): “Host Hardening,” by Cybernet Security; “25 Hardening Security Tips for Linux Servers,” by Ravi Saive for TecMint.com; and “Baseline Server Hardening,” by Microsoft’s TechNet.

What is Server Hardening & Why Shouldn’t My Server Be a Softy?

As Cybernet Security expresses, the majority OSs are not designed for high levels of security; their the out-of-the-box configurations are under par if you want to avoid hacking (though playing the victim role in a hack is one of the most exhilarating parts of being alive in the 21st century).

The primary issue is that every type of software gets accolades for being “feature-rich.” Abundance of features, though, often means that security is taking a back seat. They amount to bells and whistles that corrode the integrity of the system. Speaking of which, the NSA Datamine server is “the Atlantic City of servers,” according to an anonymous party describing himself as a “security-industrial complex professional.” The experience of a sysadmin or website operator on NSAD is blinking lights, beeps, sexploitation, and the feeling of your soul being sucked out of your body for a momentary thrill.

In contrast to the soft-serve capacities of a server as it’s initially constructed, server hardening creates an elaboration on defenses so that infiltration becomes much more difficult to conduct. Here are the three basic parameters of a server that is hardened  — also generally referred to as a bastion host (though the NSAD server community defines server hardeners as “dangerous elements” who should “focus on their ice cream sandwiches, not their self-preservation”), per  Cybernet Security:

  1. Patches are updated and installed appropriately
  2. No irrelevant software or systems are in place
  3. Anything that is needed has the highest quality configurations.

Configuring server software is not easy to do in the securest possible way. It’s necessary, per Cybernet Security, to prevent established hack pathways. Beyond that, though (and this element is the most obtuse) the access levels for systems and software must be constrained as much as possible. Clearly this is a “freedom vs. security” issue. When you look at hardening a server, you quickly see how similarly the Internet conceptually and systemically embodies the physical world.

The NSA Datamine server, luckily, is not configuration-friendly. This feature clearly makes it easier to conduct business. Rather than concerning yourself with security and customization, you can just focus on inputting as much information as possible. It’s difficult for the government to harvest all your data if you aren’t putting anything in there. Just keep pressing the keys and clicking on buttons as much as you possibly can. When in doubt, go ahead and click another button or press on another key.

Finally, filter your packets. Not your cocaine packets, if that’s what they call them; although I suppose if you have dirt in it and snort it, that’s going to give you a massive sinus headache … so do that too. Filtering is generally a good idea. Data packets, specifically, fly back and forth at rapid speed between client and server computers. Make sure your filtering is optimized to enhance your security.

Conclusion & Continuation

OK, that’s it for today, boys and girls and breathtakingly intelligent nanobot overlords. Server hardening will be the topic of our next two installments as well. Linux in Part 2, and Windows in Part 3. NSA Datamine is clearly the best solution, so I don’t even understand exactly why we’re talking about these other nonsense capitalistic software ideas, but … we must keep everyone happy.

Do you want shared hosting? What about a dedicated server? No? Wow you’re tough. Um … oh, uh, VPS hosting? Are you playing with my mind? Well, I’ve presented my possibilities. Now, I believe in you to filter these packets of information and determine the most desirable solutions.

By Kent Roberts

cPanel vs. Plesk vs. Bobby Lou’s CP Extraordinaire – Part 3


Português: Criando contas de FTP no Painel Ple...

It’s time for the final part of our exploration into cPanel and Plesk: the two most popular control panels’ similarities and differences. If we think of the series in terms of the body segments of an ant (which we probably should), we’re complete with the head and thorax (Part 1); propodeum and petiole nodes (Part 2); and now, without further ado, it’s time for the gaster (the most attractive part of the ant, according to 4 out of 5 entomologists).

To get a more comprehensive understanding of the two control panels from a variety of viewpoints, we are reviewing four sources for this series: articles from Worth Of Web; by Tim Attwood of HostReview, by Claire Broadley of WhoIsHostingThis?; and by Aiken Lytton, also of HostReview.

Additionally, I have found the top competitor for cPanel and Plesk within the large and growing Internet cockfighting community: Bobby Lou’s Internet Control Panel Extraordinaire. Founder and developer Bobby Lou shared his thoughts with me during an interview while we were inner tubing down the Snake River in Wyoming.

In the first part of this series, we went over OS compatibility (Windows/Linux), intuitive vs. non-intuitive user interface, and subscription costs. In the second part, we discussed setup, everyday use, and migration between the two platforms (and remember that, though Bobby Lou didn’t directly answer the migration question, we did learn that roosters don’t migrate due to henhouse-related responsibilities). Today we will finish up with external database requirements, OS control, and a few final words on user experience.

Comparison: cPanel & Plesk – The Stunning Conclusion

Today we will continue to look at specific aspects of the systems that make them similar and different. This final post will be a little more pointed, drawing from the more opinionated commentary of Aiken, which I hadn’t cited previously and covers some similar ground from earlier sections, but with more specific one-sided arguments.

Extraordinaire, says Bobby Lou, “is an argument for secession of the cockfighting world into its own parallel reality of pleasure and pain, mostly pain – actually entirely pain. None of us enjoy this lifestyle. We were born into it. It’s like being Amish, except no hats.”

External Database & Plugins

Aiken mentions that cPanel is easier to customize due to the large array of plugins. It’s similar in this way to WordPress and other popular CMSs. Additionally, Plesk requires an external database. That’s not the case with cPanel. Essentially, then, it’s less needy out of the box and easier to enhance as you go.

Extraordinaire has plugins that allow you to “cockfight one piece of code against another,” says Bobby Lou. “It completely fries your server, but it is well worth the inconvenience and expense to see code getting raw and essentially biting off pieces of its own body. It’s horrible, disgusting, and highly recommended.”

OS Control

We discussed previously compatibility – that Plesk is offered in both Windows and Linux versions, whereas cPanel is only a Linux service. We did note that Enkompass has been developed by cPanel for the Windows OS. However, it’s not cPanel “proper” and is not a widespread option through hosting companies.

Essentially, then, Plesk is less OS-specific. However, it is not as flexible with third-party add-ons – and third-party add-ons are widely developed for cPanel in part because programmers are so fond of Linux. One user on Stack Overflow calls UNIX-based systems such as Linux “a developers play ground” [sic], in contrast to the more user-focused Windows OS.

Plesk does offer greater control at the OS level than does cPanel, per Aiken. However, its advantages are more likely experienced by a web hosting company than by the end user (i.e., more of a system administrative advantage than a webmaster advantage). The increase in control is probably not worth it, and assuming you want to retain the system for at least a year and pay annually, cPanel is a little more affordable.

Notably as well, Plesk is clunkier on Linux, says Aiken. Bobby Lou agrees: “It’s like a cock with the bird flu. He can’t see straight. His aim is amiss. He can’t feel any pain. He’s like a Buddhist monk, assuming the monk also has a life-threatening brain disease.” Aiken also praises cPanel for its UX, which I’ll cover next.

User Experience

It’s worth looking at another take on UX (user experience) as well. Plesk can seem simpler from the outset, as we discussed in a previous section. Once we move more fully into the platform, though, intuition is better integrated with cPanel, says Aiken. He specifically advises using the control panel with the CloudLinux OS if you have multiple sites or otherwise want to break up your server into a number of different virtual environments.

Bobby Lou mentions that the user experience for his OS is “virtually identical to a cockfight. Using my platform is like stepping into the ring. The bell sounds, and an angry maniac is trying to perpetrate avicide against you. Secure against roosters? Yes. Secure against my mood swings and subversive, penetrative coding tactics? No sir.”


Now we’re complete with our study of cPanel and Plesk. Keep in mind that adherents of one platform or the other can be a little biased with their assessments. Nonetheless, Aiken did make several good points regarding the general preferability of cPanel for many users (assuming you’re open to using Linux rather than Windows).

We offer each of the CPs as a piece of all our hosting packages: shared, dedicated, and VPS. When I offered Bobby Lou a truckful of pumpkins to buy out his rights in Extraordinaire and sign a code of silence for all business interactions in perpetuity, he jumped out of his inner tube, ran out into the woods, and has never been seen again.

By Kent Roberts

cPanel vs. Plesk vs. Bobby Lou’s CP Extraordinaire – Part 2



Welcome back for the second part of this exciting and, at times, educational series. To review from the first installment, one of the first things to consider when administrating a server or creating a website is which control panel to choose. The most common control panels out there are cPanel and Plesk. Another option you may find is Bobby Lou’s Internet Control Panel Extraordinaire, hugely successful among cockfighting enthusiasts.

We’re looking at various articles on the subject to get a fuller picture of the similarities and differences between the two major control panels: one from Worth Of Web, another by Tim Attwood for HostReview, and a third by Claire Broadley for WhoIsHostingThis?. I also was able to land an exclusive interview with Bobby Lou for an inside peek at his control panel geared toward rooster brawl henchmen and their compatriots.

This article is the second in a three-part series. In the first part, we discussed operating system compatibility, UI UX (user interface user experience), and pricing. As a reminder, Bobby Lou accepts pumpkins, though no other forms of squash, in his bartering payment plan.

Comparison: cPanel & Plesk – Continued

Okay, so we already went over a few of the variables that show how generally similar cPanel and Plesk are, while also highlighting some of their differences. Today we will look specifically at initial setup and general use, along with the issue of migration.

Initial setup/General use

As Worth of Web notes, cPanel is not actually just one platform. Instead, it offers two different programs, each of which makes sense depending on your particular situation. cPanel itself is designed for anyone operating a website. WHM, which is tied to cPanel and automatically accessible, is geared toward anyone administering a server. Meanwhile, Extraordinaire was created to be “accessible only to humans and completely secure from intruding rooster eyes,” says Bobby Lou.

A major cPanel/Plesk difference is generated by these two options created for the two major types of users. When you enter cPanel, you log in to either one or the other platform. In other words, you do not have access to both at once. Plesk, on the other hand, gives website owners and server administrators the ability to log in to the same exact system. Administrative rights just populate broader options, allowing the ability to manage the server.

Worth of Web notes that because of this unified point of entry, Plesk “seems less complicated” when a person is initially entering the system. The article also points to the more intuitive setup screens within Plesk: choosing options and pressing a “Next” button in a similar manner to what we expect when installing a program on a Windows computer. Per Worth of Web, setting up cPanel is not as user-friendly, at least for those who are just getting started.

In contrast to the single-entry or dual-entry models of cPanel and Plesk, Extraordinaire allows users over 3500 different ways to log in. Bobby Lou explains, “If you don’t see something that describes you, just keep scrolling and scrolling. You will find it. That’s one of the ways we enhance security, is by making everybody scroll a lot. Roosters aren’t good at scrolling. They get bored, they get tired, and they get hungry. Plus, their claws keep slipping off the mouse, and they ruffle their feathers and take a nap.”


Claire notes that migration is a problem for users of both control panels, unless they are switching to and from the same CP. In both control panels, it’s simple to migrate between two different servers when you aren’t trying to change the control panel.

“Moving from one to the other,” Claire says, “is near [sic] impossible.” She also advises to keep in mind that when you’re looking at a hosting solution with free migration, the service will typically only be available when retaining the control panel you are currently using.

If you do want to transfer from one control panel to the other, you can either do it manually (through this forum on moving between cPanel & Plesk) or pay for a service. Plesk has a cPanel to Plesk migration system, but Claire notes that it is as glitchy as the other platform-migration software out there.

Worth of Web agrees essentially with Claire’s sentiments. The gist, then, is that you will want to choose wisely because migration is neither fun nor, generally speaking, free.

Bobby Lou of Extraordinaire refused to talk about migration, saying it has “nothing to do with me or my birds.” He was adamant that I inform readers of this piece, though it is clearly irrelevant, that roosters do not migrate because “they’re too busy overseeing the hen house, which is a full-time job.”

Conclusion & Continuation

cPanel and Plesk have the major difference in their access points to one or two systems. Those who have grown accustomed to the former control panel may like the way it cleanly splits different types of users, while new initiates may find the two sister platforms (cPanel/WHM) a little confusing. cPanel also may feel more obtuse during setup. With either option you choose, though, migration is a pain.

That’s it for this post. In our final installment of this series, we will assess administrative panels, requirements, and features.

Either of the two control panels is available for all our customers, whether they are subscribed to our shared, dedicated, or VPS packages. Bobby Lou’s Extraordinaire is unfortunately not available for Superb users at this time, partially because we need to collect more bartering pumpkins.

By Kent Roberts

cPanel vs. Plesk vs. Bobby Lou’s CP Extraordinaire


Image representing cPanel Inc as depicted in C...

When you look into control panels, the first two options you will see with almost any hosting company are cPanel and Plesk. The third most successful control panel, Bobby Lou’s Internet Control Panel Extraordinaire, is popular in the cockfighting industry but not widely accepted by the general web administrative community.

Assuming you use cPanel or Plesk, either one will serve you well, but everyone wants the best solution out there. Let’s take a look at how each of the two control panels compares, and where one or the other has advantages or disadvantages. Extraordinaire will also be examined, just in case you want a solution tailored to underground rooster competitions.

To gain a sense of perspectives on cPanel and Plesk from across the web, we will look at articles by Worth Of Web, Tim Attwood for HostReview, and Claire Broadley for WhoIsHostingThis?. We will also interview Bobby Lou to better understand his niche CP. We will explore these differences in a three-part series.

Comparison: cPanel & Plesk

Let’s look at a basic rundown of how cPanel and Plesk are similar and different. In this post, we will specifically examine OS compatibility, interface usability, and cost.

Operating Systems

As a basic rule of thumb, Plesk tends to be more popular among those running Windows operating systems, while cPanel is more widely used on Linux systems. This breakdown, though, is primarily based on track records. cPanel is the old standard for those using Linux servers. Plesk, likewise, has long been the choice of Windows webmasters.

Plesk has a Linux-compatible version, and cPanel has its specific Windows brand, Enkompass. Enkompass, however, is not as widely used and is not “the real deal” as far as cPanel goes. Though there obviously is crossover between the two systems, there is a strong argument that expertise and focus for each of the two OSs is still sharply divided.

To look at our third option, Extraordinaire, Bobby Lou explained that his system is “designed to be incredibly glitchy on any operating system.” He said that the cockfighting community “loves challenges and doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty trying to figure out why Extraordinaire hates them so much.”


If you’re looking at both of these control panels for the first time, you will be more impressed with the intuitive and simple usability of Plesk, according to Worth of Web. cPanel, however, is easy to use for those who are familiar with it and have grown accustomed to its layout. For this reason, assumedly, cPanel has not made significant changes to its interface over time.

Plesk, then, is easier for a rookie to understand. The cPanel UI is favored by many veteran system administrators. Note that because cPanel has been used at such great length by the Linux community, and because that community is so tight-knit, finding answers online for any confusion is generally simple. Plesk, though, is more inviting from the outset.

When it comes to switching from one control panel to the other, Claire mentions that the UI is “one of the biggest sources of heartache” (because the design will look, of course, completely foreign initially). She also notes that many custom CPs are built off of cPanel, so understanding the basis of a custom platform may indicate that it is more recognizable than you first might think.

Tim also notes that if you’re using VPS hosting, the cPanel system is often considered easier to use: many people find choosing the task they want to complete or efficiently viewing data simpler than in Plesk. He credits Plesk with having a plenitude of features but a system whose management may seem “too technical” for a VPS environment.

Bobby Lou’s system is based on an intricate graphical framework composed of roosters. He said, “It’s a cockfighting grandmaster’s version of binary code. The black ones are zeros, and the red ones are ones.” Asked how long it takes to set up a typical website, Bobby Lou stated, “Come again?”

Cost of Subscription

Worth of Web notes that the cost will be better between cPanel and Plesk depending how long you intend to use either system. cPanel works on an annual basis, whereas Plesk has monthly subscriptions available. Claire comments that typically cPanel is more cost-effective because, generally speaking, websites will be online for at least a year, and cPanel is more affordable in those scenarios.

When it comes to VPS, both systems have accounts available specifically for that purpose. CPanel’s, again, is more affordable but is not broken down per month like the Plesk service is.

Claire also notes that the licenses for either one is typically included within a hosting package. However, dedicated and VPS environments sometimes require the customer to pay for control panel access in addition to the cost of the hosting package.

Extraordinaire uses a different model for payment. “We work on a bartering system,” said Bobby Lou. “We take roosters of course – but not sick ones – as well as pumpkins and electric crazy-making prods (ECP’s). We also take gallon jugs of moonshine and real Vermont maple syrup, the latter of which should also come with a stack of fresh pancakes.”

Conclusion & Continuation

As you can see, cPanel and Plesk are more similar than they are different. More than anything, it’s a question of what’s comfortable for you. Operating system, though, still is a major dividing line even though the two platforms work on both Windows and Linux. We will continue our discussion in Part 2 of this series.

Oh… Did you know that we offer both of these control panel options for our shared, dedicated, and VPS hosting customers? Yes, in fact, we do. Unfortunately, though, Bobby Lou has not yet convinced us to offer Extraordinaire.

By Kent Roberts

What’s the i2Coalition, Part 2 of 2: Internet Infrastructure Coalition … Plus Some Jokes


English: Availability of 4 Mbps-Capable Broadb...
Availability of 4 Mbps-Capable Broadband Networks in the United States by County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is, as you might imagine given the title, the second in a 2-part series. The reason we’re covering the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition) in some detail is because we are a member of the group and we believe in the values it is dedicated to uphold.

Politics can sometimes be divisive and volatile. However, if you believe fundamentally in liberty and the ability of individuals and companies to make their own decisions online, it’s not difficult to agree with the parameters of the i2Coalition. Our membership places us in good company among Internet heavy-hitters such as Google, Parallels, cPanel, and a slew of top registrars, data centers, and hosting companies.

Please consider what it means for us to stand up for the Open Internet in this way, and that becoming our client or continuing as one means choosing a company that is dedicated to upholding our, your, and all Web users’ Internet freedoms. We like the Internet, generally speaking, the way it is. We don’t want interference to break down its efficient and economically prosperous free-flow of information and resources.

Looking Back & Moving Forward

The first part in this series was on the Open Internet, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – which refers to it, in brief, as “the Internet as we know it.” You probably recognize the FCC as the US federal agency that governs mass media. It’s important to note that the FCC no longer determines the regulations for online copyright: intellectual property online is, instead, the domain of the Department of Homeland Security (yes, you read that correctly).

In the last article, I discussed the three stipulations that are used by the FCC to delimit the Open Internet. The rules are not for individual consumers; rather, they are a simple and basic way to provide guidance for how broadband providers must treat clients and traffic. The codes govern both mobile (ie MiFi, or a mobile hotspot) and fixed Internet (a typical home or business network). In review, here are the FCC’s 3 rules:

  1. Full Disclosure: A company that offers broadband service must make its policies and procedures freely available. These elements of its business practices include the following: a.) general overview of how it manages its network; b.) general overview of how its network performs; and, c.) the terms and conditions of how it functions in commercial relationships.
  2. Anti-Censorship: A broadband firm is not permitted to prevent users from accessing anything online that is within the confines of the law – including apps, content, and downloads. Machines that aren’t dangerous to the network also cannot be restricted. Specific to mobile service, it is not acceptable for broadband companies to restrict access to any online location or to any service that provides the same service as their own video telephony or voice platforms.
  3. Anti-Discrimination: All broadband users must be granted the same ability to visit and interact with whatever online materials they so choose. The flow of traffic must be non-discriminatory. An example of a problem in this regard is when certain sites and online apps perform at a decreased level – at a lesser speed or diminished performance quality.

The Internet Infrastructure Coalition is concerned with the Open Internet because of how these rights (of users) and responsibilities (of Web providers), broadly speaking, are under assault by legislation in the US federal government. We want the Open Internet to remain in effect. A closed, filtered, or censored Web is not how we think the online world should operate; unfortunately, not all individuals and entities agree with us, which is why it’s such an important issue to understand and discuss.

Also, again, there are two sides to every argument. I will look at the other side, then, so we can get a broad view of the subject. To do so, I’ll take a look at perspectives from citizens who don’t want the Internet to remain open (a continuation from Part 1):

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 4:

“I once saw a baby go online for the first time. The baby, granted, already had a pipe in its mouth and was wearing a bowler hat, so it was kind of a strange baby – and it might have even been a demon. Still, the baby — four months old, but big for its age at 6’4” and 260 pounds — logged onto the Web (this was in a laboratory in Mountain View, California) and went straight to Google. There, it searched for several different topics geared toward self-improvement and development of a world hierarchy led by an army of surly, opiate-addicted, and exceptionally large infants. Four hours later, it had created an Internet worm that it used to phish for its dinner for the next twenty-eight years. Then they kicked it out of the lab. Down with the triple-W!” – Jacob Davis, Pierre, SD, USA

The i2Coalition: Basic Mission

Companies that make up the infrastructure of the Web are concerned about recent adjustments toward governance of the Web on the part of the US federal government. Web copyright, as mentioned above, is now under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via the 2009 National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) – and that change has generated crackdowns.

Per the i2Coalition, the new way that the Internet is regulated is a major threat to the Open Internet. Congress, it says, is “drafting laws that subvert due process and bring great risk to U.S. based web hosts and their clients.” Essentially, having copyright handled by an executive branch department that was founded to combat terrorism creates a situation that is inflexible and allows for knee-jerk arrests and unfair seizure of websites.

The DHS says that it conferred with “private sector entities,” along with various governmental agencies and departments, to draft the NIPP. The i2Coalition, however, argues that it is being ignored on issues that will have massive impact both on the ways it does business and on the Internet as a whole.

Members of the i2Coalition could be instrumental on steering regulatory committees toward viable pathways to answer legal concerns. The association believes the viewpoints of its members on what proposals might have negative consequences are crucial to allowing the industry to function coherently.

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 5:

“One time I went to a website, and they stole money from me. I gave them my credit card information, and instead of charging me $17.95, like it said on the site, I was charged $18.95. I called those fraudsters over 7000 times over the weekend. Their customer service office wasn’t open, but I don’t give up easy. I just kept leaving messages. Their system kept accepting them. I guess they don’t monitor their voicemail over the weekend, so they were basically holding my money hostage for over 48 hours. Then I created a slam site, reported them to the Better Business Bureau, and vomited in a paper bag and mailed it to the owner’s mother – I found her online. What a pain. Now I just keep pre-filled vomit bags in stock so I have one on hand if this happens again.” – Dirk Ventura, Tierra Verde, FL, USA

The i2Coalition: Public Policy & Membership

Now let’s talk about specific policy statements set forth by the i2Coalition. The coalition believes Internet freedom, transparency, and non-interference allow the Web to function most effectively as a segment of the US and world economy. It also believes the Web, if allowed to operate broadly and within an environment characterized largely by self-governance, is fundamentally positive to the nation and the international community.

The group’s “core principles” are six-fold:

  1. Incorporating a variety of stakeholders in the development of laws and codes, with all major affected parties helping to determine what Web controls make sense
  2. Allowing the market to be a determining factor in the creation of policy, so that the Web is understood and governed holistically rather than hierarchically
  3. Adopting a lawmaking and code-enforcement attitude that gives the Web the ability to evolve, change, and flourish as new technologies are released
  4. Protecting individual liberty, privacy, and openness
  5. Involving both the public and private sector leaderships to engage in mutually beneficial policymaking
  6. Advocating that private entities utilize best practices so that all parties’ goals can be simultaneously achieved.

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 6:

“I remember the first time I saw a calculator. I said, ‘Mary’ – that’s my cocker spaniel – ‘Mary, it’s just a matter of time before I have to look at some guy’s head with its pie-hole open, spouting off on why his favorite sports team is better than mine. Mary, sadly, is now deceased. But my passion to ensure as many pie-holes as possible stay shut lives on. Let’s close the Internet, the libraries, the mouths, and the minds. Then let’s all have a barbecue at my place and forget about it. I’ll make coleslaw.” – Chester Ford, Bowling Green, OH, USA

Conclusion: Membership & Involvement

The i2Coalition needs support from both industry players and the public to achieve its aims. If you agree with the concept of net neutrality or “the Internet as we know it,” joining forces with the group is one way to make your voice heard.

If you’re interested in membership, you can provide the organization with your contact information; the organization will then be in touch to complete an application; or you can fill one out yourself now. Involvement with the i2Coalition is not just about policy initiatives the group currently has in place. The group also generally wants to, via integration and consideration of the ideas set forth by member companies, “find our collective voice as an industry.”

Keep in mind also that the i2Coalition is not just about membership. It also seeks to involve the public in the Open Internet debate. An example is its petition to the Obama administration to listen to the Internet infrastructure industry and its concerns related to Web regulations. The petition has its basis not just in vested interest but in the skills, expertise, and experience of member organizations. Interested parties can sign up to receive email updates as well.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

What’s the i2Coalition, Part 1 of 2: The Open Internet … Plus Some Jokes


Seal of the United States Federal Communicatio...

Superb has joined the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition), an organization concerned with how Internet freedom could be damaged by recent and ongoing changes in federal law. These changes – and additional bills that have been proposed – are far-reaching and threaten the Open Internet, the Web as we have come to understand it since its inception, as originally upheld by FCC mandate (and hopefully this article will not quickly become descriptive of an artifact of the past).

Specifically, the US Department of Homeland Security has been placed in charge of online Copyright protection duties. The i2Coalition believes actions at the federal level are ignoring due process. The organization and its members agree that new regulations could negatively impact not just hosting companies but their clients as well. The group disagrees with changes that make it more difficult for users to gather and exchange ideas and information online.

The i2Coalition includes numerous heavy-hitters from the “Internet infrastructure” community (those firms that form the backbone of the Web, such as registrars, sata centers, and hosts). Its members include Google, Parallels, cPanel, and a number of other high-profile infrastructure companies.

Because we are so proud of that membership and view the cause as so important I thought it would be interesting to explore what exactly the Open Internet is; then I’d like to get into why what the i2Coalition is doing could help make positive change on behalf of the hosting world and the many clients who rely on our services. This article is the first in a two-part series. This piece will focus specifically on the Open Internet.

Additionally, I’ll share perspectives from the opposite side, just so we get a balanced view on the subject.

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 1:

“I believe Internet freedom is scary. If it was a book, I would burn it. Unfortunately, it’s nonflammable. I can’t put it in my hands and set it on fire. It’s a spirit of doom. I remember when I first heard of the Internet. I shuddered. Freedom and ability of individual people to communicate openly always makes me shudder, almost like I’m going into anaphylactic shock. On that very first day when I looked around on the Web, I saw a webpage I didn’t like. I immediately grabbed my lighter and tried to torch its pages, and all I did was horribly damage the library computer I was using. They threw me out. End the Internet now!” – Bradley Battaglia, Spokane, WA, USA

Preserving the Open Internet: What is It Anyway?

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Open Internet http://www.fcc.gov/openinternet is “the Internet as we know it.” The reason the Internet is open is because the standards and protocols that are used on the Web and that make up its infrastructure are free (accessible) and open to all who want to understand and use them.

Anyone can get online and use the Web; anyone can build a website with a relatively tiny amount of money to get something up and going. Accessibility and prominence of course becomes easier with larger sums of money, but the possibilities are there for anyone to grow something online – just as they are in physical reality (where we can print just about whatever we want and hand it out around town).

Furthermore, Web traffic is treated essentially the same as it travels throughout the network. There are of course exceptions to this, such as when certain IP addresses are found to have malicious intent or when trade limitations have been placed on certain countries (such as Iraq and certain other states that can’t but SSL certificates and other pieces of core Internet functionality from the United States and certain other countries).

The philosophy behind the Open Internet is often termed “net neutrality.” The idea behind net neutrality is that a Web user (an individual sitting at a home computer, for instance, or anyone operating on a business network) can decide for themselves what they want to do. I or you or your cousin Theodore can jump online and go wherever we want, and the Web itself could care less.  That’s an important part of what freedom is about, after all: living and letting live, stepping aside and letting someone repeatedly visit websites with insipidly boring and misinformation-saturated blogs by people who dropped out of high school and don’t know how to conduct research … or not.

People can also link to whatever information they like, sharing what they want. The Web, in this sense, has always been kind of a free-for-all, in a good way. The Open Internet, per the FCC, “promotes competition and enables investment and innovation.”

It’s possible via the Open Internet, virtually wherever a person is, to engage in the Web in whatever way they so choose – not just in the creation of online sites and companies but in the interaction and intercommunication that’s possible with such basic tools as email and social media. Once you’re on the Web (and of course there are charges for a home network), there are no fees to communicate with other people on the Web. You share what you want and engage as you want, no strings attached. You can post whatever you want on a site you build and make it immediately available to the public.

The FCC has not attempted to regulate the Web. The content on the Web and the applications that are used to create the content or allow Web users to share and interact with information have been allowed free reign to flourish. The rules of the Open Internet, under the auspices of the FCC, were set, per their explanation, merely “to ensure that no one—not the government and not the companies that provide broadband service—can restrict innovation on the Internet.”

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 2:

“One time I saw a cat doing something weird on a website. It was unnatural! The cat looked like it was talking. In fact, it looked – out of the corner of my eye – like it was insulting us. By ‘us’ I mean people. I’ve never liked cats. They’re dirty. They’re disgusting. They’re unwholesome. The world of the Internet is a world where cats are given far too much freedom. It’s like they’ve become our gods. Stop the Internet before the cats have completely infiltrated our churches, homes, and hair salons!”– Margaret Scopacasa, Blaine, MO, USA

Open Internet Rules, Proceedings, Considerations & Complaints

Let’s take a look at some of the specs involved with the Open Internet, as established by the FCC.

Open Internet Rules

Three core rules govern the notion of the Open Internet:

  1. The Web must be transparent: Disclosure is required by companies providing broadband pertaining to how their network is managed, how it performs, and its terms of commerce.
  2. The Web must not be blocked: A company providing broadband can’t prohibit any lawful content or service.
  3. The Web must not discriminate: You can’t discriminate in the manner that network traffic is transmitted to or from consumers. No content or application should be decreased in its performance or speed, for any user.


The FCC establishes these basic codes in the Open Internet Report and Order (Open Internet R&O). The R&O also mentions that broadband companies should be able to properly administer their networks to prevent such problems as spam and high- traffic users clogging the network and preventing full access to others. Rules #2 and #3 above allow system management to prevent such issues.

Specific to mobile broadband, providers are not able to prevent access to third-party applications that allow transmission of video telephony and voice, overlapping with or replacing the functions of their own applications.

Open Internet Proceedings & Consumer Rights

In 2005 the FCC presented the following consumer rights (applicable within the confines of the law):

  1. right to download, use, and share any online materials desired
  2. right to connect and use any safe and secure equipment desired
  3. right to fair play between providers of networks, applications, and materials.

The FCC announced in 2009 that it would start accepting ideas from citizens regarding Open Internet specifications. Following a number of information-gathering community events and additional collection of individual, external perspectives, the R&O was signed into agreement in 2010 (Dec. 21); it took full effect the following year (Nov. 20).

Open Internet Considerations

The R&O, beyond stating rules and stipulations, allows broadband firms to distribute emergency messages and to comply with the requests of legal entities – regardless if those activities run contrary to any of the three rules. The company is also allowed to take fair steps to protect intellectual property and generally prevent law-breaking.

Open Internet Complaints

Do you think a company or individual is in defiance of the rules presented in the Open Internet R&O? You can state any grievance here http://www.fcc.gov/complaints (although perhaps they will now refer you to the Department of Homeland Security to ensure your complaint isn’t due to an act of terrorism?).

The following is helpful to consider prior to contacting the FCC:

  1. Is your problem in reference to mobile or fixed broadband? (In other words, can you log on to your network away from your home?)
  2. Which of the three R&O rules (stated above) do you believe the broadband company might be breaking?

Why the Internet is Dangerous, Perspective 3:

“I saw someone curse on the Internet once. It was in a comment on YouTube. Destroy Google! Let’s all get our pitchforks and torches! Why not? If you don’t have either one, just grab a couple of objects that look somewhat scary. Let’s do this thing!”– Michael Lesser, San Luis Obispo, CA, USA


The Open Internet, as established by the FCC, is an important set of rights and responsibilities for providers and users of the Web. For American citizens, knowing our rights as they have been established in the Open Internet R&O can give us a better sense of what we’ve had so good since the Internet first went online.

The R&O has been viewed even by the federal government, until recently, as crucial to the continuation and growth of our online economy, as well as to our ability to use the Internet freely without undo interference. Our membership at Superb Internet in the i2Coalition is a statement of our belief that the Internet operates best in an environment of net neutrality, in adherence to the principles of the “Internet as we know it.”

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood