HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) Implementation

Rackspace will be implementing HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) to the Cloud Sites infrastructure on August 1, 2016. This security upgrade only applies to HTTPS sites. HSTS significantly improves website security, ensuring redirects are protected from information capture by attackers and protects from malicious redirects to phishing sites.

All Laughing Squid Web Hosting customers using SSL for their sites will need to resolve any mixed content warnings on their sites by August 1st to avoid down time. More information on what mixed content is and how to verify and correct it is available here:

To test changes prior to the implementation, put this line in the top of your .htaccess file:

Header Set Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=90"

This will cause HSTS to be strictly enforced on the site for up to 90 seconds, enough time to prevent the site from caching the enforcement while still allowing changes to any page(s) if needed. On August 1st, Rackspace will set the enforcement time to 180 days, which is the full implementation recommendation. After this any mixed content sites will be unable to serve content properly.

If you have issues with the new HSTS implementation, please contact us through the Help Desk.

Control Panel/FTP Password Resets

Our upstream provider Rackspace has been conducting security audits for cloud hosting. As a precautionary measure, it has become necessary to reset Laughing Squid control panel/FTP passwords.

If you are suddenly unable to access the control panel and/or FTP for your hosting account, then your password was reset. Do not worry, your website has not been compromised. There are just a few clicks and some basic information required to enter and regain access:

  1. Please go to your control panel and click Lost your password?. This will prompt you for your login Username and will send you an email containing instructions on how to reset your password. Keep in mind that your control panel and FTP login Username and password are identical.
  2. If you do not know your Username, click Don’t know your username? for retrieval.
  3. If you are unable to remember or obtain access to your login information, please contact us through the Help Desk for assistance.

Going forward, PLEASE USE STRONGER PASSWORDS. We have posted about strong passwords before. We strongly encourage using password management tools like 1password and Lastpass to help you store and use 12+ character count alphanumeric passwords that you don’t need to remember that will tremendously improve the overall security of your digital footprint.

Control Panel Errors

2:42 PM PST. There is a ‘No Data Selected for Period’ error message on showing some control panels. Our upstream provider Rackspace is currently working to fix the problem and is updating progress on their status page.

3:06 PM PST. The problem is now resolved. If you still show this error, please log out and then log back in.

Discontinuing hosting for .is domains

With our move to a Rackspace cloud hosting environment, our DNS servers will no longer support the custom setup required to host .is domains. The technical requirements for hosting DNS for a .is domain are very strict, as outlined here. Specifically, the nameservers Rackspace uses for our hosting environment are set up as aliases to Rackspace’s main DNS system, which is not a configuration supported by ISNIC, the Icelandic registrar in charge of registering .is domains.

We will be discontinuing DNS hosting for .is domains as of December 31, 2012 and urge you to find a new host before that time. After this time hosting plans for all .is domains will be canceled and all data will be removed from our servers. To find a hosting provider we recommend checking the ISNIC list of officially supported .is hosting providers.

We do apologize for this inconvenience and will switch all hosting plans for .is domains over to free one month before they are discontinued. We’ll also zip up all files and databases for you for ease of moving to your new host.

PHP/MySQL upgrades for Cloud Hosting

If you haven’t yet upgraded your site to use PHP 5.3 and MySQL 5.1, this is a reminder that these are now available in our Cloud hosting environment. For those that haven’t yet upgraded, you are encouraged to do so soon as we will begin an automatic upgrade to PHP 5.3 on July 31, and an upgrade to MySQL 5.1 on Aug 31.

To take advantage of PHP 5.3 you can do the following:

1. Make sure your site can support PHP 5.3. If you’re running the latest version of WordPress or another actively developed CMS you’re ready to go!

2. Log into the control panel.

3. Go to the Features tab for your site and click on “Change Technology”.

4. Select “Linux/Apache/PHP5.3” and click the ‘Change Technology’ button.

The change may take up to 5 minutes, and after that your site will be up and running on PHP 5.3. Please note that this change will update your sites IP address to point to a new location. For anyone running CloudFlare, you will need to update your CloudFlare settings to point to this new IP address in order for your site to resolve.

Upgrading to MySQL 5.1 will involve the following steps:

1. Put up a ‘maintenance’ page and stop any database connections to your site. This can generally be done by renaming the config file.

2. Back everything up. Export your database using PHPMyAdmin or other tool.

3. Create a new database. All newly created databases are provisioned to use MySQL 5.1.

4. Import your saved database backup. You should be able to import any database smaller than 16MB using PHPMyAdmin. If you have a large database, open a support ticket and we can help you with the import.

5. Update your config file. The new database will have different login information and a different hostname. Once you replace this information your site should be able to make database connections normally.

As always if you have any questions or concerns about the upgrade process, please open a support ticket and we would be happy to help you out.

MySQL Upgrade to 5.1

The version of our MySQL database server in our Cloud Hosting system has been upgraded to 5.1. All new databases created will default to the new version. If you have a database on the old version of MySQL that you would like to upgrade, please open a help desk ticket and we would be happy to assist you.

An overview of changes made in MySQL 5.1 can be found in the MySQL documentation.