Web Hosting Security Guide with Best Practices
Want to protect your website, WordPress blog or online store? Don’t know what to do to have the most secure web hosting and a higher level of protection? So, this web hosting security guide will show you the best practices with tips and ways to prevent online threats.
Some may overlook security issues when it comes to choosing a web hosting provider. With any online pursuit, security plays a large role in the company’s growth and success. In this day and age, neglecting security can cost you sales and customers. When you leave the security of your server open, that gives hackers the opportunity to steal your data, launch DDoS attacks, and even take control of your entire website.
Since you’re reading this guide, I assume you want what’s best for you and your company. You want the best for your users. You want your business to run safely, and your users protected. In this guide, I will go over some common issues with web hosting and what measures you can take to prevent them. This guide assumes that you either have a web hosting provider or in the process of choosing one. There are many choices when it comes to web hosting, so I am here to guide you into making the correct one.
Common web hosting security problems
Secure File Transfer Protocol
In this web hosting security guide, we’ll focus on the most important things to look for and protect. However, on a day to day basis, your business needs to send many files across the web. Whether that is to your users or to members of your team, sending files is essential. The problem is, files can contain valuable information about your business and clients. Naturally, hackers are drawn into high priority information. As a result, you have to worry about them sniffing for your files.
- Read also: Monthly billing WordPress hosting services.
There are many ways hackers can go about this, and their techniques are getting more sophisticated every day. When choosing a web host provider, make sure they provide SFTP. SFTP is an abbreviation for secure file transfer protocol. You may be familiar with file transfer protocol, which is the protocol of sending files across the web.
SFTP is the file transfer protocol, but with a secure encrypted later. When your files are encrypted, hackers have a much harder time snagging the data from them. In most cases, hackers won’t mess with encrypted files unless they know for sure there is extremely valuable information in there. With a secure layer, your files should be safe since encrypted data is difficult to break.
When choosing a web hosting provider, make sure they have SFTP. If you already have a provider, make sure this option is checked. Some may not check SFTP because they don’t know what it is or don’t understand its importance.
One of the best SFTP web hosts is InMotion Hosting, I highly recommend them for your site security.
Secure Socket Layers
Secure socket layers, or SSL for short, is basically an encrypted path between your server and the browser. Every time a user requests a page, a stream of bits is sent across the networks. You may have heard of GET and POST requests. A GET request is to simply retrieve a page.
Example: GET https://www.google.com
GET requests aren’t what you have to worry about. When it comes to stealing data, hackers look for data submitted via forms. This can include login or credit card information.
A secure socket layer simply encrypts data before it’s sent through to the server. Login information is sensitive, and If taken, a hacker can potentially have access to all of the user’s accounts. Credit card information is even more valuable to hackers. Hackers look for this information more than anything else. Having an SSL certificate is absolutely essential, especially when it comes to credit card information.
A decent web hosting provider should provide SSL certificates. You’ll know your site has a certificate by looking at the left side of the address bar. If you see a green padlock, the site has a verified certificate. Go ahead and click on it!
If you have a site that takes a user’s credit card information, it is up to your site to keep that information safe. When checking out, two things should be present. One, the green padlock should be there for the checkout process. Two, the URL should contain HTTPS instead of HTTP. HTTPS is a secured layer version of HTTP. Without these two safeguards, your user’s information is at risk.
When choosing WordPress web hosting providers, make sure they offer SSL certificates. A big plus is good customer service that helps you throughout the process. If you already have a provider, make sure your website has a certificate.
- Related article to read: Fastest WordPress web hosting options.
In addition to the great security protection, SSL can help your blog or site to rank better in Google search results. It’s used a ranking factor.
Backing up your Data
Your website’s server contains lots of information that would be devastating to lose. A smart business owner will backup every bit of data. A good secure web hosting provider should be able to perform automatic backups behind the scenes. Even performing one backup a month can save your business the pain from losing all of its user’s data. Ideally, you should back up data as much as possible.
Make sure your hosting provider can provide automatic backups for you. If not, you’ll have to do them manually. The problem with manual backups is the simple fact that people forget. Backing up data isn’t the first thing on a busy man’s mind. This mistake can reverse progress by months, or even years if data is lost. Automatic backups take care of this problem.
If your hosting provider doesn’t provide backups, you’re putting your data at risk. It may not seem like a big problem now, but it will hit you if something happens. A simple shell command can delete every file on your server. If a hacker can get a hold of your shell for a second, all it takes is a simple
rm -rf command to delete everything. Be smart and set up automatic backups.
Be careful with shared web hosting
Shared hosting is when multiple domains reside on a single server. Every resource your website has is shared with everybody on the server. You’re putting your website at risk if you’re using shared hosting with people you don’t trust. If you’re a one-man show, it’s best to not get shared hosting. There are a few general guidelines to determine if you should get shared hosting or not.
For many years, Whoishostingthis.com received thousands of reviews and feedback about lots of companies. In their review section, you can find complaints about popular hosting companies since 2007. One of these issues is the downtime, the cost compared to the quality, and also the customer support.
If you’re hosting with a small company, then, I recommend checking if they’re using a parent hosting. All you need is type the domain name of any website or company in the WhoIs Hosting This search box. Next, you’ll get e reports with the flowing details:
- The hosting provider
- The IP address
- Name servers
- Whois details
The best part about that free tool is that you can get the real hosting and not just a domain name. It looks behind the IP address and domain name records and shows the truth. That way, you can see if the company you’re hosting with is registered and has its own servers or just a reseller hosting company.
The security risk of shared web hosting
Shared WordPress hosting gives hackers more opportunity to get access to important resources. As a result, hackers may be able to get into your shell(even SSH). With a shell, hackers can execute any command they want. They can request for your data, or even remove it.
For example: if a hacker were to get into your server’s shell, they could execute an SQL command that grabs all credit card numbers from the user database. With basic SQL knowledge, a hacker has access to every entry in your database. More often than not, hackers have this knowledge.
Is It necessary to host on shared servers?
If you don’t need to share resources with other servers, there’s no point of having it. In this situation, the negatives far outweigh the positives. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need it. If your business can operate without shared hosting, you don’t need it. There are many fully managed WordPress hosting providers with superior quality and dedicated resources.
Do you trust who you are sharing the server resources with?
If you do need shared blog web hosting, do you know who you are sharing with? If you’re sharing with trusted clients, you should be fine. If you don’t know who you’re sharing with, you are putting your site and business in danger. Make sure you can trust everyone you are sharing with.
In some cases, businesses don’t even need shared hosting. If you don’t need it, avoid it at all costs. It’s not worth the risks. If you do have a shared hosting provider and don’t need it, it’s best to switch.
There are many cases of a hacked WordPress site that caused security problems to hundreds of other sites hosted on the same server.
Preventative measures to protect your website
There are a few key measures to take when enhancing the security of your web hosting plan. Taking even the most basic measures can protect your website from an attack. Hackers look for website owners who are oblivious to basic security. Those who don’t keep security in mind are most vulnerable because they are easy pickings. Here are a few things you can do to ward off those hackers.
Do not use a free web hosting
You should not accept free hosting under any circumstance. There are many hosting providers out there, and some of them can be traps set up by hackers looking to steal data. Look for trusted hosting providers who offer valuable services for a fee.
Free hosting often comes from untrusted providers, and there are a couple of risks to getting a free WordPress hosting plan. First, the hosting provider provides low-quality services, thus ignoring even basic security measures. Second, they are a hacker luring you into signing up in order to steal your precious data. Either way, you are putting yourself in great danger by signing up for free blog hosting. Don’t do it, even if you are strapped for cash.
It’s easy to understand why many would fall for this trap. Business owners look for any ways to cut costs. Quality hosting isn’t that expensive and will save you lots of time and money down the road.
Set up a site firewall
Over time, your site will encounter IP addresses that need to be blocked. You can’t afford to allow just any request through to your server, so setting up a firewall is a smart idea. Firewalls may not be able to block every attack, but they can prevent some of the more basic attacks. This may not seem like a lot, but allowing even the most basic of attacks can devastate your business.
When it comes to web hosting or server attacks, you need to account for every case, including the obvious ones. Firewalls make your server harder to reach and they take care of small DDoS attacks, malicious viruses, and can blacklist malicious IP’s. In addition, having a firewall adds another hoop a hacker has to jump through to access your server. Some hackers aren’t very skilled and only know how to use already made programs. Firewalls are designed to take care of basic attacks such as those that are carried out through other’s programs.
Some hackers aren’t very skilled and only know how to use already made programs. Firewalls are designed to take care of basic attacks such as those that are carried out through other’s programs.
Keep your WordPress website updated
This is one of the more obvious measures, but it can go over the head of typical business owners. Keeping your WordPress website updated is crucial when it comes to keeping up with hackers. Outdated WordPress versions are much easier to hack than up-to-date websites. Updates are designed to patch up the recent exploits in the software.
The only reason websites are updated is because hackers find these exploits first. Ideally, you want to set up automatic updates. The longer you don’t update a website, the longer the exploit remains.
Setting up automatic WordPress updates ensures one important thing: always being ready. Hackers look for websites that aren’t updated since there are known exploits. Only skilled hackers know how to find exploits in up-to-date software, and finding them can be a long and complicated process. Keeping your website’s exploit open for even a day can be the difference between losing and not losing your data.
Keep your site or blog software updated, it’ll give hackers a hard time. Furthermore, make sure your hosting provider offers automatic updates, Ideally, you want to be updated all of the time without having to do any maintenance.
Web hosting security checklist
With a good WordPress hosting provider, you are armed with many valuable resources and tools. You probably already know the risks of neglecting the website security. So, you are in power to prevent every kind of attacks by simply using what is at your disposal. You want your business to run as smoothly as possible. In this conclusion, I will summarize what we went over in this guide.
- Your hosting provider has a secure file transfer protocol( SFTP )
- Make sure SFTP is checked
- Your site is secured with an SSL certificate
Only get a shared hosting account if:
- Your business needs it in order to run
- You trust everybody you are sharing with
- If you don’t, you are running the risk of sharing with potential competitors/hackers.
Preventative measures include:
- Getting quality hosting services, rather than free hosting
- Getting a firewall, which filters common threats.
- Keeping your website updated.
- Don’t install any plugin
Use the above information to get the most out of your hosting provider. Any good hosting provider should provide all of these options. If not, you shouldn’t trust them to keep your website safe from the countless threats out on the internet.
I hope you found this article useful. If you did, feel free to share it in order to spread the word! The best thing you can do for me is to spread this knowledge. The more business owners and bloggers that know, the better.