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Akash Mahajan :: Interview

Some time back (when i was still procrastinating my way through life and looking for inspiration), a new (ok, don’t look at me like that, it is new for me even though it had existed way before i was born) idea hit me – What if i pester some of the brightest people i know and ask them for an interview (i am not high and this is not my hubris talking; i meant me taking their interview, not the other way round!)? If i pester them enough, maybe they’ll give me their time of the day and i would get to learn some things.

So here’s the first one.

Now, here’s is someone who started working in this field without fulfilling any checkpoint in a standard HR recruitment checklist. Yeah, no certification (Gods must be crazy!), However, he is famous not just for his involvement with NULL, Bengaluru (look ma, constitutionally correct pronunciation!) but also is an entrepreneur. The name – Akash Mahajan (AM).

ME – What is your online handle / real name (depending on your preferences)?

AM – Usually I use makash, in some places I use akashm. But mostly googling for Akash Mahajan will return most of the results about me.

 

ME – What do you do for a living?

AM – I help small and medium companies become secure. It starts with me supporting them in making their web apps, mobile apps secure, building internal app sec capability, usually extends to me making sure their servers and cloud networks are secure. Sometimes companies take my help in charting out long term strategy about their security choices.  For a long time I worked as a freelancer in this field but since last year I registered as a private limited.

 

ME – Can you describe your journey?

AM – So I was on my way to becoming a java programmer. Not particularly a good one. While working on java related projects there was a massive network outage in my company. The internet was basically not working for a week because of malware outage. I wasn’t affected personally because I was using a linux box. When the infection reached the team subnet I was in my project lead allowed me to take a look. I was able to isolate the malware and remove it from the system fairly quickly. Once that was done, I shared my solution with the IT team and realized that I had a lot of fun doing this. Definitely more fun than writing java code. That is what started my infosec journey. I quit my job and joined a security products company. While working there learnt a lot about network security, application security, python scripting and virtual machine automation. One day in the month of June of 2008, I decided that I should try being a freelance security consultant for all the hundreds of companies in Bangalore.

 

ME – What were the challenges in your journey & how did you overcome them?

AM – I am not an engineer. Initially I never thought about going on my own. I got rejected by a bunch of companies for not being an engineer or not having a security certification. I got myself a Certified Ethical Hacker certification because companies started demanding it. Once I had a certification it was easier.

In our industry a bigger challenge is to keep yourself updated about latest security techniques etc. I did struggle with that a lot at the beginning. Then one day on twitter I posted about asking for security communities in India and Aseem responded. They had started null – The Open Security Community sometime back in Pune and were looking for people to grow it to other cities.

Having a community full of seriously talented people doing security day in and day out makes it far easier to know what is happening in this field. Not only that we have so many folks who are doing original research, so in some cases we get to see the newer stuff even before it becomes public.

 

ME – What are the most important things that you want to focus on in coming years?

AM – Building and taking null to every state in India. Build my company to doing high quality security research and offering testing services for various levels. Personally I would like to try adventure sports. :)

 

ME – What, in your opinion, will be most in-demand things from a security standpoint?

AM – Automation of security testing, deployments(devsecops), user data privacy and figuring out ways on how to trust 3rd party software and services.

 

ME – What, in your opinion, should the industry focus on?

AM – Industry as a whole needs to focus on building quality solutions. Also while profits are important industry should understand that in the knowledge economy a well trained work force is not only an asset but the returns from such a work force can be exponential.

 

ME – Where do you see the security industry heading to?

AM – More automation, instrumentation of solutions, deployments. Also more and more systems will be in the cloud.

 

ME – How can one become an expert in your field (not security in general, but the work that you are doing currently)?

AM – Practice, collaborate, publish, solicit feedback. Wash rinse repeat.

 

ME – Do you think bug bounties help?

AM – Bounties do help. At the very least bounties offer a short term incentive for more people to spend their quality time in finding bugs. And humans tend to love competition. The indirect benefits of bounties are that when more and more people starting bug hunting seriously they also get serious about collaboration, sharing of knowledge and it always helps when a group of people are focused towards a common objective.

 

ME – What is your vulnerability disclosure policy (ignore if not applicable)?

AM – I don’t disclose bugs.

 

ME – In the wake of PRISM, and other monitoring activities that are taking place, do you think Internet usage will decline? Reasons?

AM – Internet usage will not decline. But yes it is possible that companies will spring up trying to get customers based on nationality etc. Governments tend to work towards exclusivity and sometimes inefficiencies get hidden due to the nature of how they operate. This will make sure that some parts of the world will be working with substandard software which if taken positively can mean better competition or a clear competitive disadvantage.

 

ME – What, apart from your regular work, are you doing in the field of information security (any open source work, tool, etc.)?

AM – Nothing at the moment. I am just trying to build the null security community, which sometimes is more hectic than even paid work that I do.

 

ME – What do you advice the newcomers who want to hop on to the information security bandwagon?

AM – There are enough and more avenues to learn, enough documentation, learning resources. What is required is that they take up a topic and get some indepth practice in that. For most things that you need to practice all you need is a virtual machine, some software and good documentation. Get started with that and they can quickly build capability in this field.

I usually tell newcomers to learn the following to get started.

1. Linux and Windows

2. TCP/IP basics

3. HTTP

4. HTML/ JavaScript

5. BASH, Python, Ruby, Java


Client Data Security – Why and How

I have finally decided to break the jinx of not keeping my blog updated. I shall update it once a week. Here’s the post for this week.

In today’s fast changing business world, regulations related to security are pervasive, so much so that with every new project (whether in the same or a different geographical region as that of the client), comes a whole set of laws to carry out (to the letter) as far as client data is concerned. If there is anything that the law misses, it is covered in the contract.

The next question is – why do client put these clauses (related to their data privacy) in their contracts?
They put it there because if the information leaks/gets modified, the client is liable to suffer monetary & intangible losses (lawsuits, fines from government, damaged image, lost clients, etc.).

Hence, in order to make sure that we understand and commit to the security and privacy of client information, they put the relevant clauses in the contract.

Bottom line – client data is sacred, and any security issue related to it can come back to haunt us (legally and otherwise). Hence, it makes business sense to protect our client data.

This poses some challenges.

The challenge is – No one, in their right minds, would want to put client data at risk. However, by virtue of our work & our focus towards it, security sometimes takes a back seat. This is reflected in our activities (we can also call them habits, as they keep happening from time to time). Some of them are (the list below is indicative):-

1. Noting some crucial information on a piecec of paper and keeping it at a public place;
2. Sharing password so that any client information that you have is now easily accessible to others;
3. Not keeping your anti-virus software updated;
4. Clicking on a link in mail without checking it first;
5. Discussing/sharing sensitive client information with people who do not need it to do their work;

Human beings are creatures of habit. Habits are very important in security. If i have a habit of sharing my password, there is a high chance that people near me (with good or bad intentions) can get access to it; further, if i have a habit of not locking my machine while going away, it is possible for someone to look at a crucial information (of client or personal) & make use of it.

Below are some habits that are found to be helpful in increasing the security quotient of a project, and should be used by all to ensure that we do not compromise the security of client information:-

1. Secure your passwords
While it is not always practically possible to remember a password that resembles Garnier Fructis (Long and Strong), one should understand that once you put a sensitive information like password somewhere other than your brain, you should protect it, lest it get into someone else’s hands.

2. Do not share your passwords
Once a password is shared, it is no more yours. If you have to share it (due to project requirements), make sure that you do not re-use that password for any other purposes and that you change it as soon as possible.

3. Keep your anti-virus software updated
While anti-virus software usually are put on auto-update by default, it pays to be vigilant and update it manually if the update gets failed (e.g., due to bad network conditions).

4. Be careful while clicking a link
Most of the bad code (virus/trojan/worm, etc.) require your effort (unknowingly, of course) to get onto your machine. We do so by clicking on some link without checking it first, thereby getting a bad code on our machine.
Always check a link (by putting your mouse over it, not clicking) before clicking it. If the link is pointing to a direction (e.g., an IP address or some mis-spelt address), do not click it.

5. Do not share client information with anyone who does not need it
Now this is tricky! How to find out if the person who is asking it needs it? A rule of thumb is – if the person does not belong to your project and is not authorized by your respective manager / superior, he/she should not have that information.

6. Lock your machine while leaving it unattended
Leaving your machine un-attended is a dangerous habit as almost all the access rights/privileges are attached to our machine identities. As one moves up the corporate ladder (and sometimes depending on the project requirements), one gets access to information that is confidential in nature. This habit of leaving the system/desktop/laptop unattended & unlocked may prove disastrous (Think someone-stealing-a-file-that-your-VP-sent-for-your-eyes-only)!


Bait for Your Identity

I overheard this interesting talk last sunday while harassing some poor developer to close an NC, have a dekko. But before that, a very short intro of the characters.

 

Character #1 – Baba Gyandev, aka if-google-had-a-body-this-would-be-it, BG in short

Character #2 – Baby Busy, aka this-will-never-happen-to-me, BB in short, BG’s follower#1

Character #3 – Paranoid Pandu, aka even-my-breadth-should-be-encrypted-to-save-it-from-sniffing, PP in short, another follower of BG

 

Context – BG & his disciples are in a very good mood (thanks partly to the planetary alignments – for BG, recent appraisals – for BB, and the latest encryption software that he purchased – for PP), but mostly because of the royal seafood meal that they just had.

 

BB – This place is good, we should come here more often.

BG (after a big gurgling sound that emanated from the deepest corners of his intestine, making everyone else in the restaurant look for cover) – Yeah, fish is good.

BB – I don’t know why some people have devoted themselves to anti-fishing causes on Internet, it is not if we are trying to finish all the fishes!

PP – That was not this fish, BB, it is called Phishing, and it is very dangerous.

BB (with some alarm on her face) – Oh!

 

BG – PP, please do not terrorize her. BB, while it is true that phishing is a concern, it can be managed by some very easy-to-do things.

BB – Baba, please tell me more about this. What is this about?

PP – It is about stealing your identity.

BB – My identity? What identity?

 

BG – Bhaktjano, we are not going to talk about the identity that all of us are always looking for, inwardly (who am i? What am i on this earth for, stuff like that). That talk will come if you treat me seafood in Taj Banjara. The identity that we are talking about is that of us on the information superhighway called Internet.

BB – Identity on Internet? What is my identity on the Internet?

PP (with some irritation) – Don’t you have a facebook account? Or yahoo/aol/hotmail/gmail ID? Or any other ID on any other website (irctc/icici/sbi/any-other-bank)?

BB – So what? Those are just login IDs, not my identity, mr.-know-it-all!

 

BG – Please don’t fight, kids. BB, in today’s online world, everything is connected to everything else on the Internet. You can share content of one website on another, e.g., share an online article or a review of latest movie that was put on some other news site, on your facebook account; you do a lot of financial transaction online. All of this requires that those sites know you. They give you login IDs so that they can recognize you, the next time you logon. So, all these IDs that we have online constitute our online identity. It is what we are and how people will recognize us when online.

 

BB – Yeah, i remember opening a recurring deposit account online in ICICI. They neither made me write a letter nor call me for an approval. I started it online and it automatically deducts money from my account every month.

PP – That was because they knew it were you, because they knew the login ID belonged to you.

 

BG – Correct. But now, the issue is – Crime always follows money. Bad people have realized that many (if not all) of the transactions are happening online now, it makes more sense if we can somehow get those IDs and passwords.

BB – Hmmm….. Baba, how do these people do it? Where does Phishing comes into picture?

BG – They will create copies of the well-known websites, with similar spellings, and put them online. Then they wait for you to land there.

PP – They do not always wait for your to come, they try to lure you to it. Remember that LinkedIn invitation that you said you had got from me? And the facebook invitation from your husband?

BB – Yeah, i do. I also remember that you had a look and then asked me to delete them and not to click on any link in that mail.

PP – Because it was a SPAM, meant for anyone who would believe and click on them, thereby landing on the fake site. The person will provide his actual user ID and password, and then, la-la land!

 

 

BB – How to stop it?

PP – These people are a reason why i am very skeptical while online. I don’t trust Internet!

 

BG – PP, in that case, stop buying house because land mafia may take it over, stop buying gold or silver ornaments because they can be stolen, stop carrying money in pocket because they can be , well, picked up. And while you are at it, stop living (PP looks at BG in shock) because there are criminals out there who murder for living.

 

BB starts laughing.

 

BG (with increased calmness) – Just because there are some issues with a technology or a facility, you don’t stop using it. Atleast not when you get so much benefits from it. More so, when you can save yourself using some common sensical tips.

 

BB – Please tell me some tips so that i can save my identity online.

 

BG – the first step is, don’t click on any link blindly. Check it first. Is it pointing to what it says it would.

PP – A link to facebook should not go to some random site like gimme-your-password.com

BG – True. In the lower left hand corner of most browsers users can preview and verify where the link is going to take them. Always check them before clicking.

PP – Also, look at the language of the mail. e.g., look at the mail below (credit – Microsoft):-

Phishing Example from MS Site

BG – In other words, do not click on links within emails that ask for your personal information.

PP – True. Actually, no organization in its right mind would ask for it in mail. If it does, there is something ‘phishy’ there.

 

BG – Never enter your personal information in pop-up windows.

BB – What is wrong with pop-ups if it comes up after the original site has loaded? It means it has come from the site, right?

PP – Not necessarily. Sometimes a phisher will direct you to a real company’s, organization’s, or agency’s Web site, but then an unauthorized pop-up screen created by the scammer will appear, with blanks in which to provide your personal information. If you fill it in, your information will go to the phisher. Legitimate companies, agencies and organizations don’t ask for personal information via pop-up screens. Install pop-up blocking software to help prevent this type of phishing attack.

BB – Means, i should never give confidential information in pop-ups.

BG – Correct. Also, phishing doesn’t always need Internet.

BB – ?????

 

BG – You may get a call from someone pretending to be from a company or government agency, making the same kinds of false claims and asking for your personal information.

PP – If someone contacts you and says you’ve been a victim of fraud, verify the person’s identity before you provide any personal information.

BG – In other words, don’t give (or offer to give) your account ID and password to some guy over phone just because he claims to be from IT-Support. I know you did that yesterday.

BB (blushing) – that was because i needed some document very badly but was not able to logon to my machine. I had raised a ticket too.

PP – How do you know that this guy had called because of that ticket? I was there, too and you did not verify his identity.

BB (getting a little angry) – There is nothing interesting in my account, even if the user gets the password.

PP – yeah, true, but you re-use passwords, right? Which means one password of yours can open many accounts of yours !

BG – Actually, it is not just a matter of having something interesting in your account. Once your account is compromised, it will be used by bad people to lure your friends and contacts.

PP – For example, if i get your twitter / facebook / gmail ID, i can just ask your friends from little money (i can guess who are your friends by looking at your past activities), and if they are like you, they will transfer money first and then call. And that is just for starters.

 

BB is silent.

After some time, BB breaks the silence.

 

BB – So what should i do to stop it from happening?

 

BG – Be suspicious if someone contacts you unexpectedly and asks for your personal information. It could be in any format (online or offline), but ultimately, you have the responsibility over your information, Keep it secure!

PP – You can also keep changing your passwords regularly and use security features available with major sites (like two factor authentication of gmail, privacy features of facebook, etc.).

BG – Keep your browser and operating system updated and secure because many phishing attempts are hidden in viruses and other bad code.

 

BB – Baba, what if i accidentally gave some information? What should i do then?

BG – Contact related officials immediately and inform them.

PP – for example, if you accidentally gave your banking related information, then contact the bank immediately. In case of an online account, change the passwords immediately and notify the website.

 

BB – Thank you, BG and PP.


OpenSAMM – Part 01

This is part of a series of presentations that i am going to create for explaining an open secure SDLC maturity model, called SAMM aka OpenSAMM. Click here to view the presentation.

Disclaimer – This is NOT an original work. I have taken help from the official presentation and some other articles/presentations available on internet. I regret that because i forgot to keep track of the sources, i cannot credit them properly in the presentation. However, if i get any information about the source, i will update this presentation with the credits. Would request people to get back to me if they have information on the sources.

Although it is generally believed that security should be in-built and not a patch after development, very few companies give it a try for one or more of the reasons:-

  1. There is little explicit demand (after all, my customers are not saying they want security, why should i bother? If i put some investment and cannot get it back, it’ll be bad for business, won’t it?);
  2. As a corollary to the above point, clients probably worry that if they demand security, maybe they have to pay for it (in terms of additional efforts and hence cost);
However, with SEC demanding that companies disclose “potential” security breaches (and this usually means that apart from companies to take notice of this fact, us compliance professionals can take little sadistic respite in the fact that we would be in little more demand 😉 ), i think companies better start demanding security in their applications (at-least those that come under purview of SEC).
OpenSAMM (or SAMM) is a maturity model that helps gauge the maturity of secure SDLC implementation in an organization. It also provides a benchmark against which similar efforts from different organizations can be judged. In retrospect, isn’t this how ISO propagated (capitalism, anyone?). Business wise, i think it makes perfect sense to demand security from a service provider, and then benchmark it against those of other vendors, makes ROI sense.
I gave this presentation at an OWASP Chapter Meet. Hope to finish the entire series in a couple of months. Watch this space for more!

ISO 27001 : A Business View

Hi People,

I am back after a strong lethargic break. Before i go back to hibernation (i can promise that i will be regular from now onward, but people who know me will differ – and i don’t blame them, either – but i digress), let me share a presentation that i did for a NULL meeting (what? You don’t know NULL? Shame on you!, go back and Google; on second thoughts, read this please and then go back, coz i am not sure if you will come back!).

Please visit this Google Presentation and share the feedback. My take is:-

ISO 27001 is a standard which provides a structured and step-by-step approach in solving many security problems , most of which do not involve technology.

I have tried to take some examples to illustrate some events that technology will need some years to solve. However, using a methodology such as ISO 27001 helps us in securing, and maintaining the same, the information and infrastructure supporting it.


Sach Ka Samna – Some InfoSec. Myths, Busted

OK, I am not Rajeev Khandelwal, but like our world, information security has its own share of myths, that, over a period of time, have quite a collection of believers behind them, masking the truth. This article is an attempt to rationalize their bust.
Long passwords means secure system
Long passwords means one thing – I will write it somewhere!
No seriously. How else would I remember it ?
Does that mean we should shorten our passwords? Not really. The God is (as has always been) in detail.
What it means is that we have to be careful while choosing a password. Keep it easy to remember, yet tough for others to guess (yeah, all the best!). It also means that everytime we chose to write it somewhere, we are on our way to make our system insecure.
Oh, I almost forgot the mother of all password mistakes – sharing it with others!
Security is a trade-off. Be careful what you trade it for!


Keeping anti-virus updated will save me from viruses
Anti-virus industry is like cops. We all know the probabilities and outcome of a cop vs. thief. Cop has to win everytime, thief only once. What it means is, if you have a paid version AND the anti-virus that you use currently, is the market leader (tough to determine), you can sleep on weekends (in night, sometime).
Does that mean we should shut our systems down and dust our papers and pens off?
Update your anti-virus daily (and keep a licensed copy of it, please. Kaspersky has gone cheap. And no, I have not yet received any commission from them!), and while you are at it, keep a backup of your important data. On a separate media (not on a separate partition on the machine).
Also, think about firewall and getting it installed on your machine.


SSL is secure
Nothing is 100% secure. That small padlock icon means that the data between the client (your browser) and the server (where the website is stored) is encrypted. But it doesn’t mean that people cannot sniff the data (if the server is compromised, or if there sniffed the initial cryptographic key – classic Man In the Middle).


If I don’t access Internet from my machine, my data is secure
True. But then you have to stop using USB sticks, stop using CDs/DVDs. In other words, stop using your computer.
Bottom line, there are more ways to get into your machine than there are hair on my head (I am not bald!). What it takes to secure your machine is a collection of good security practices (including some boring work like patching your machines, changing your password regularly, not sharing your password, etc.)


Linux is more secure than Windows
While I personally like Linux (because of its power), it is also true that mis-configured (or one that is not configured at all) linux is no better than windows.
So, should we dump all our Windows systems and migrate to Linux? The answer to most of us is NO.  One, we will have a hard time finding proper versions of everything that we require for our business. Two, the work associated with migration (including testing, and training) doesn’t make it a viable solution.
A possible solution could be to use Linux for some servers (like file and mail servers) while keeping Windows for clients.


Information Security Standards & regulations are just pain-in-u-know-where
I couldn’t agree more! However, regulations are there because they are response to some real pain that business had been facing for quite some time. Regulations like HIPAA, HITECH, SOX evolved out of a business need to secure customer data. Traditionally, they shouldn’t be present. Corporations/enterprises should have included security as part of their SDLC. More on that later, however.


We have to be worry about hackers
Reports have shown that internal threats are more dangerous than outside ones. After all, we know the loopholes, right? Problem is, not everyone is un-professional. People don’t do these kind of things very often (even in a cut-throat world like ours). However, the cost of one incident is so great (IP loss, loss of image, etc.) that organizations have to consider this threat as real. Where there is money, there will be criminals (real or virtual).
Further, increasing reliance on contractors, consultants, and outsource vendors increase the exposure.

Main Khelega

India vs. Pakistan, 1989, Sialkot

A bleeding nose.
Concerned people, seeking medical attention for the lad

Main Khelega, One Answer
Four in next ball, answer sealed, stamped and delivered.

Sachin Tendulkar
Answer to our fervent prayers for a hero, so unblemished, so integral, giving hope to parasites like me, reminding us of one’s strength and ability to become whatever one wants!

Main Khelega
Because Karma is what we should do, karma is what makes us, karma is our link & our salvation.

To India Integral & to a Hero
Main Khelega!


Remove the blogger navbar

You must have noticed the blogger navbar (also called navigation bar) on top of almost every blog (on blogger, of course!). It looks like this (part of it):-

a portion of blogger navbar

I will tell you why is it not visible on my blog (oops, site!), and also why is it not visible on many other blogger blogs. The reason is, they disable it using a CSS trick, which is neat. Take a look at this blog on blogger for a step-by-step procedure on how to make the navbar go poof (dresdain files, anyone?). I used the steps mentioned in the blog, and it worked like a charm. Also, it completes the deception (as far as my website is concerned 😉 ).


Use Google to host your website : For Free! – Part TWO

In my last post, i wrote about why i chose to use Google blogger to host my website. Here are the basic steps to do so:-
  1. Create a blog on Blogger;
  2. Modify the blog design;
  3. Change configurations in your DNS settings (of the domain that you own) and that of the blog.
Now let’s tackle the steps in detail.
  1. Creating a blog on blogger is not very difficult, so i won’t describe it here. However, a step by step video tutorial on how to create a blog on blogger (aka blogspot) is present on Internet. However, why two names for a blogging platform? Beats me!
  2. Now, we are going to make our blog look like a website. Please follow the steps below to do so:-
    1. Logon to blogger.com using your ID and password;
    2. Under the heading “Manage Blogs”, click on “Design” for the blog that you want to change the design of (you will see many blogs under the heading if you maintain more than one blog using one user ID. However, makes me gape at the stamina of people who maintain more than one blog! However, i digress).
    3. Click on “Template Designer”.
    4. Choose a template by clicking on it. After doing changes, click “Apply to Blog”.
    5. Click “Back to Blogger”;
    6. Click “Posting”.
    7. Click on “Edit Pages”. Click “Leave this Page” (if a windows comes asking whether you want to save any changes on this page).
    8. Click on “Create a Page”.
    9. Provide a page title and page text for the page (e.g., page title could be “About Me” and page text could be a brief description about yourself).
    10. Click “Publish Page”.
    11. Now blogger will ask you the placement for page(s). Choose the “Blog Tabs” option.
    12. Click “Save and Publish”.
    13. That’s it! You now have a blog with website-ish look!
To create and add further pages, logon to your blog, go to “New Post”, click “Edit Pages”, then click “New Page” to add another page to your site.
Now, to the most important aspect of them all – how to configure your DNS settings so that everytime someone types www.yoursite.com, it takes them to yourblog.blogspot.com without changing the address in the address bar! Yes, that is very important (we are not doing any redirection here). But before that, let me put up my gyaan hat on and deliver some very boring lecture to you (you can skip it, but then i would come to know about it and would deliver a curse that all your close relatives will be turned into gyaan-vriksh and would treat you as wanting some free gyaan. You know the results of that, won’t you!).
Basically, everytime you type a website address onto your browser’s address bar, some things happen:-
  1. Browser would try to locate the IP address of the server where this site is stored (using some hocus-pocus known as name resolution in coordination with a group of servers called DNS Servers);
  2. Once IP address is known, the browser requests the server (@ that IP address) for the website (that you requested);
  3. The server sends a copy of the website to the browser, and the browser displays it to you.
Phew, some steps! So don’t blame your browser the next time it fails to show the latest pics of some celeb who wanted her 15 seconds of fame because India won the WC, because the server might have been the culprit.
Anyways, back to the topic (men are pigs, i tell you!). Now, here, google not only allows us to use its server for our blogs, it also allows us to tell everyone about their IP address (well, not strictly, just the host name; rest all is managed by google).
To do all this, you MUST have a valid domain name that is registered to you. If you don’t have one, you can use one of the many registrar sites that sell a domain name. Use one of the them to buy a domain name of your choice.
After you have bought a domain name, visit the google help center page that details how to publish your blog under your domain name. Follow the steps below once your reach the google help center page:-
  1. Select “Host my blog on a URL that i already own”.
  2. Select “on a top level domain (www.example.com).
  3. Now you have to add something known as CNAME. Another google support page for step-wise instructions on how to do that for your domain registrar.
  4. After you are done with adding the CNAME, you have to add some IP addresses to your “A Records”. If you don’t fill “A Records”, visitors who leave “www” from your site address while looking for it, will see an error page. Basically, you will find the “A Records” on the same page on your DNS Manager provided by your hosting service.You will need to create four “A Records” pointing to the following four different Google IPs:-
    1. 216.239.32.21
    2. 216.239.34.21
    3. 216.239.36.21
    4. 216.239.38.21
  5. After you add them, you have to save your zone file (there would a button on the hosting provider’s interface somewhere to save it). Wait for an hour or so before moving onto the next step.
  6. Now, logon to the blogger, and go to “settings” > “Publishing”.
  7. Click “Custom Domain”.
  8. Write in your new URL (www.example.com), and save your settings. If you do not enter the “www,” you will receive an error message.
  9. You are done!
Some helpful notes:
  1. If your new domain isn’t taking you to your blog, wait another day or two to make sure all the DNS servers have been updated. If it still isn’t working, contact your registrar to make sure you entered the DNS settings correctly.
  2. Your original BlogSpot address will automatically forward to your new domain. That way, any existing links or bookmarks to your site will still work.

    Use Google to host your website : For Free! – Part ONE

    I had been struggling very hard (read tapping-on-keyboard-into-wee-hours-of-night) to get my website up. Now, don’t get me wrong – i know the basic rules:-

    1. Buy a domain name;
    2. Buy some space;
    3. Use some templates (given by the space provider), use your brain (no, not that one please!) and get your freaking site up!

    The problem is, i am broke most of the time (if you don’t believe, ask my family and friends :)). I somehow managed buying a domain, but when i googled, i found out that web-space was not free (well, it was in some cases, but they came with their own baggage). So i decided to write down my requirements for the website (i guess the developer in me will never die, sigh!):-

    1. Maintain my blog;
    2. Publish my resume, and to keep it updated;
    3. Tell (honker) everyone about my skill set;
    4. Keep a list of projects that i am doing currently, and to keep it updated;

    I realized a few things:-

    1. I don’t need a dynamic site for now, a static one will do;
    2. I had already started a blog, so moving the blog would be a concern (more so to a lazy bum like me);

    Around the same time, i came to know that one can use google to host his/her website. There are two ways,  Google Apps, and Blogger.

    I will not be writing about the first one because it didn’t work in my case (can’t figure out why). If someone succeeds at it, please tell me so, and i would be happy to include it (with all due credit) here.

    So, without wasting your time anymore, here are the steps that i took to put my own website up on blogger:-

    1. Create a blog on Blogger;
    2. Modify the blog design;
    3. Change configurations in your DNS settings (of the domain that you own) and that of the blog.

    That’s right! you don’t create your own site, you just modify your blog to look like a site. Then you need to modify your DNS settings a bit. After that, you need to configure the blog publishing settings, and presto!

    Check my next blog post to know how i did that …


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