Web Hosting Security - Top 11 Best Practices

Web hosting security is a crucial aspect of website management. With cyber threats on the rise and becoming increasingly sophisticated, ensuring your website is on a secure hosting platform has never been more important. In this article, we’ll explore the 11 best practices for web hosting security. We’ll also highlight the security features your web hosting provider should offer, and how to protect your website and users from hackers, malware, and other online threats.

The Importance of Web Hosting Security

Cybercrime is on the rise and is becoming even more sophisticated and destructive. It seems to be relatively easy for malicious software and hackers to vandalize unsecured systems and servers, and to collect sensitive information, credit card details, and other personal information from websites.

Aside from the destruction of data and resources (both internally and online) that they can cause, these attacks always have major financial ramifications. Not only do you incur the cost of completely rebuilding your site and recovering lost data, but you could also face the implications of being sued for compensation by users whose information has been stolen.

If one of your users is the victim of data theft due to a security breach on your website that they can prove, then it is possible that they may claim damages from you, usually in the form of a negligence lawsuit. This can happen even though the breach was caused by an unprovoked attack, you are still the one that is responsible for your site’s security.

Ransomware attacks can hold your files hostage by encrypting them, thereby making them inaccessible and unusable, until you have paid the ‘ransom’ to have them unlocked. Even if you do decide to pay the attackers, there is no guarantee you will get all your data back, or if you do, that it may include corrupted files.

Depending on the type of attack, it is possible to recover the hijacked data with ransomware encryption removal tools. The best solution is performing regular backups to ensure that you can always restore your data without necessarily having to go through the recovery process.

Phishing attacks can irreparably harm your reputation by attackers pretending to be either you, or your company, after stealing pertinent information. This can lead to not only losing customers’ trust, but also having deposits diverted to a different bank account, and severely impacting your business’ livelihood.

Therefore, being proactive with guarding your web hosting from cybercrime is vital.

Common Security Threats to Look Out For

Common Security Threats

There are a range of security threats in the online world, the most common ones include:

Malware

Malware (malicious software) is an umbrella term for any type of software that has been specifically developed to encrypt, remove, and steal data, give unauthorized access to systems to ‘spy’ on users and change computer functions. Malware attacks can happen via emails, software vulnerabilities, and unsecured or fake websites.

Phishing

Is a form of online and social engineering designed to impersonate a legitimate entity and the attack is aimed at tricking users into sharing sensitive information such as login details, passwords, financial and personal data that can be used by the attacker for financial gain.

Ransomware

A form of malware that holds a user’s data and files hostage by encrypting them and making them inaccessible. Attackers will demand payment for decrypting it, but there is no guarantee they will release them even if the ransom is paid.

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS)

A DDoS attack is usually generated from just two coordinated-infected devices, or via DDoS-for-hire criminals, that target a specific IP (Internet Protocol) address with volumes of false traffic. That traffic is consistent for anything from hours to days and will overload the IP address (website or infrastructure) to prevent users from accessing the site and/or causing it to crash.

Viruses

A virus is a replicating computer program that initially infects files or operating systems on a hard drive, whether a computer, or a network. Viruses are small pieces of code that attach to legitimate programs to spread. They are either designed to deliberately damage files on that computer, or to replicate themselves and use a legitimate program to spread out. Usually, this is done via email to the contact address list, to send out an attachment that contains the virus program. When the document (or link) is opened (or clicked), it will then infect the recipient’s device.

Spyware

Spyware is used to gather a user’s information and data from a device or browser without their knowledge or consent, usually to send or sell it to a third party.

Having a web hosting provider that helps you mitigate all these risks goes a long way to ensuring your website is secure, protecting you and your users as much as possible.

11 Best Web Hosting Security Practices

11 Best Web Hosting Security Practices

Understanding why web hosting security is so important and what types of threats you could be exposed to give rise to our 11 best practices for secure web hosting, helping you ensure your online safety.

1. Choose the Right Hosting Provider

Security starts with your hosting provider. The right hosting provider plays a pivotal role in securing your website. They should offer a range of security features to keep your files, data, and user information safe from attacks and falling into the wrong hands.

Make sure you choose a hosting provider that offers SSL Certificates, automated backups, regular software updates, firewalls, and anti-malware software. Investing in a hosting plan that offers the best in cybersecurity will assist in keeping your website safe from potential risks.

Hosted.com takes your security seriously by including a tailored selection of security solutions in all our Web Hosting Packages.

2. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate

Your website’s first layer of defense is an SSL Certificate. An SSL Certificate verifies a website’s identity and establishes the encryption of data transferred between a server and web browser. This encryption requires public and private keys, to firstly encrypt and then to unencrypt the data when it reaches its ‘destination.’ The encryption and data transfer is all done in a split second and prevents data being viewed as it is being sent.

SSL Certificates also help prevent website spoofing. This is when someone has created a fake website, with a similar domain name as original, to trick users into downloading malware, stealing personal information, login details and other phishing attacks.

You can tell if a website is secure when the padlock symbol and “HTTPS” prefix appear in a browser’s search bar.

3. Malware Protection Software

Malware protection software helps to detect and remove dangerous code or unauthorized access intended to harm your website, server, and visitors.

Your malware protection software should include malware scanning and removal, anti-virus, firewalls, vulnerability detection and updates. These features help to ensure that your website runs on the latest, most secure version possible.

4. Use SFTP Instead of FTP

SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) is a safer way to transfer files between your device and web hosting server to ensure that they are protected from hackers and imposters.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is not as secure, as it does not use the same encryption to safeguard your files. If someone intercepts your file transfer, they could steal the data or ‘hijack’ your website.

5. System Hardening

System Hardening refers to the process of securing a system by locating and reducing faults in the actual system design, specifically faults that could be exploited to gain access to it.

An attack surface includes all the flaws and vulnerabilities such as default passwords, poorly configured firewalls, etc., which can be used by a hacker to gain access to a system. System hardening makes your system more secure by reducing the attack surface, thereby giving fewer opportunities for infiltration and damage.

6. Install a Web Application Firewall and Intrusion Detection Systems

Your website hosting should include a Web Application Firewall (WAF) and Intrusion Detection System (IDS) to mitigate harmful traffic and potential threats.

These tools filter and monitor traffic between your web applications and server. WAF acts as a protective barrier, filtering out unauthorized login attempts.

IDS monitors and alerts you to suspicious activities. They both help to prevent unauthorized data access, block malicious requests, and detect and filter IP addresses being used for DDoS attacks.

Additionally, you can have an IT engineer create a web traffic routing protocol to identify and divert DDoS attacks to a ‘black hole’ so it doesn’t reach your website.

7. Keep Software Updated

Having outdated software can be an open invitation for attacks. Hackers can exploit outdated software’s vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to your website and steal sensitive information.

Regular software updates help to ensure that your website runs on the latest and most secure versions, to address any weak points as quickly as possible.

8. Remove Unused Applications

Like outdated software, unused applications can be a security risk because they also may contain weaknesses that can be taken advantage of. By removing them, you may reduce the attack surface of your web hosting account.

9. Update Passwords Periodically

Updating your passwords can help protect your web hosting account from unwanted access. Ideally, you should change your password every 60 to 90 days.

Ensure your new password contains a mix of special characters, numbers, upper- and lower-case letters. This helps prevent attackers from cracking and using them to gain access to your accounts.

10. Restrict Unauthorized User Access

Locking user accounts after a certain number of failed logins and implementing multi-factor authentication will help keep unwanted users from gaining access to your accounts.

11. Regularly Backup Data

Regular backups are an essential part of web hosting security. In the case of an attack, data theft or malware infection they can allow you to easily restore your website to a previous version.

What Security Features Should a Web Host Provide?

What Security Features Should a Web Host Provide?

A good web hosting provider should provide a suite of security features to maintain the health and safety of your website while ensuring it stays up and running smoothly. Here are the features that they should offer:

SSL Certificates

As mentioned earlier, having an SSL Certificate is essential for web hosting security. All Hosted.com Hosting Plans include a free SSL Certificate* so you and your visitors can have peace of mind knowing your data is encrypted and safe to view.

Software Security

Your hosting provider should offer the necessary software security to keep your hosting account as secure as possible. At Hosted.com we have sourced some of the top providers of online server security to ensure our clients’ hosting safety. Our Hosting Plans use multiple layers of safety measures, scanning and monitoring tools to assist in protecting your website hosting from threats.

Anti-virus software such as ImmunifyAV, is included with Hosted.com’s packages, and helps in the protection of infections by scanning files and directories for harmful code. It can also help detect and remove any existing malware on your web hosting account.

A reliable hosting plan should offer DDoS protection, which mitigates the impact of such attacks and keeps your website accessible and functioning.

We also provide ModSecurity which helps keep your site secure, by monitoring, attack surface reduction, and controlling access. It does this by analyzing incoming traffic and scans for suspicious behavior.

One of our preferred providers for malware and vulnerability patching and detection is Patchman. It can detect and safely fix vulnerabilities caused by outdated software and automatically apply the updated software patches.

If you opt for Shared cPanel Hosting, CageFS is a virtual, per-user file system for cPanel that encapsulates each user, preventing them from viewing sensitive information.

Backups and Restorations

Your hosting plan should include daily backups so that you can recover your website in case the worst happens.

All our Hosting Plans come with daily Acronis backups, which enable you to restore your website’s data instantly if needed.

24/7 Monitoring

Having your chosen web host monitor their servers continuously to prevent security breaches before they cause damage is essential.

All Hosted.com’s server infrastructure is monitored 24/7, ensuring that any issues are detected and resolved as soon as possible and keeping your sites uptime at 99.9%.

Regular Updates

Choose a web hosting provider that regularly updates your server security protocols to stay ahead of potential threats and loopholes.

Customer Support

There may be times when a security problem needs expert assistance. Your web hosting provider should offer fast, effective customer support to help you with any issues and get them resolved quickly.

Hosted.com’s Support Team can help resolve any issues you may have, as quickly as possible.

At Hosted.com we have sourced some of the top providers of online server security to ensure our clients’ hosting safety. Our Hosting Plans use multiple layers of safety measures, scanning and monitoring tools to assist in protecting you and your users from threats.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. Having web hosting security is essential for protecting data and preventing damage to websites and servers.
  2. Malware and hackers can steal data, infect systems, and impact your reputation.
  3. The most common security threats include malware, phishing, ransomware, DDoS, viruses, and spyware, which can damage computers, websites, and servers.
  4. Follow our 12 Web Hosting Security best practices and keep your hosting account and website safe from attacks, data loss and theft.
  5. Make sure you choose a web hosting provider that meets and provides all the required security infrastructure to safeguard your website, sensitive information, and server accounts.

FAQs

How can I tell if my web hosting is secure?

Ensure that your provider offers an SSL Certificate to protect data transferred between your server and a user’s browser. They should also offer malware scanning and removal, IDS, firewalls, and regular backups and updates to help protect your web hosting from potential threats.

What can I do to protect my web hosting?

You should use strong passwords and update them periodically. Make sure to update your software and applications regularly along with backing up your files and data. Get your hosting with a provider that has solid security protocols in place and utilizes the best, most secure software for their infrastructure and hosting platforms, as well as having SSL Certificates, email SSL Certificates and robust anti-malware tools.

How can I monitor and respond to security threats?

The best way to monitor and respond to security threats is to have a system in place that will notify you when a threat is detected. Your hosting provider should have software installed that monitors your account for any suspicious activity and automatically notifies them and yourself should anything be detected. Your anti-malware software should do the same. Once an alert is received, it is important to respond as quickly as possible to prevent theft or damage by either isolating, repairing, or removing the cause of the alert.

Why is a hosting provider important for web hosting security?

A hosting provider plays a crucial role in ensuring web hosting security as they handle all the security for the servers your website is hosted on. A secure hosting provider should also provide features that can help protect your website; such as security software, SSL Certificates, backups and restorations, DDoS protection, 24/7 monitoring, and customer support.

How can I find a secure hosting provider?

A secure hosting provider should always use the best security features and software available and provide information about same, so check their website to see what they offer and speak to their Sales Team. It’s also a good idea to read customer reviews to see what people say about them.

How secure is managed web hosting?

Managed web hosting has a high level of security, as it offers essential security features including server monitoring, IDS and firewalls, malware protection, recovery, and backups. These features can help maintain the security of your web hosting.

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