In today’s digital world, having a website or online presence is crucial for businesses and organizations of all sizes. However, with the benefits of having an online presence come various cybersecurity risks that need to be addressed. Web hosting services provide the infrastructure that allows websites to be accessed on the internet. As such, web hosts play a critical role in protecting their clients’ sites from cyber threats. This article will provide an overview of common web hosting cyber threats, best practices for securing your website, and how to choose a web host that prioritizes security.
Common Web Hosting Security Threats
There are several common security threats that websites face when hosted online. Being aware of these threats is the first step in protecting your site. Some of the most prevalent risks include:
Malware infections – Malicious software like viruses, worms, and Trojans can infect websites and web servers. Malware can be used to steal data, deface sites, install hidden backdoors, and infect site visitors.
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks – DDoS attacks aim to overload websites and web hosting servers with fake traffic to take them offline. This prevents legitimate users from accessing the site.
Web application attacks – Vulnerabilities in web apps like CMS platforms, shopping carts, forums can be exploited to compromise sites. Attackers use exploits like SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and cross-site request forgery.
Insecure web platforms – Outdated, misconfigured, or inherently insecure web software like CMS platforms and ecommerce applications can create vulnerabilities. Keeping platforms updated and properly configured is key.
Inadequate patching – Not patching known security issues in web apps, browsers, and operating systems can allow cybercriminals to gain access. Applying the latest software updates and patches is essential.
Weak passwords – Using weak or default passwords for admin consoles, FTP, databases, etc. can let attackers easily breach your site. Having strong unique passwords is a must.
Missing backups – Lack of adequate backups of your site can mean permanent data and file loss if your site is compromised. Regular automated backups are a best practice.
Shared hosting vulnerabilities – With shared hosting, lax security measures of neighboring sites could compromise your own site on the same server. Vet hosts carefully.
Insufficient server hardening – Poorly configured web and database servers can contain vulnerabilities. Strong security hardening is needed.
Insecure web host access – Some hosts may allow unauthorized remote access to your servers, which can seriously jeopardize security. Restrict access to essential personnel only.
Being aware of these common threats facing hosted websites can help you better protect your own site by addressing these risks head on.
Web Hosting Security Best Practices
Fortifying your website’s security requires implementing these essential best practices:
Choose the right web host – Your host’s security measures directly impact your site. Only use hosts with robust security like regular patching, strong firewalls, DDoS protection, and hardened servers. Avoid cheap low-security shared hosting.
Use secure protocols – Ensure your site uses HTTPS with SSL certificates to encrypt connections. Enable HTTP Strict Transport Security and disable insecure protocols like FTP and Telnet.
Install a web application firewall – WAFs filter out malicious traffic and protect against web app attacks. Your host should offer this as an option.
Harden web platforms – Platforms like WordPress and Drupal need to be kept updated and configured securely to prevent vulnerabilities.
Backup regularly – Automated daily backups to both local and off-site locations ensures quick recovery from malware, outages, and data loss.
Monitor for threats – Use server and website monitoring tools to detect issues early before they cause major damage. Watch server logs for anomalies.
Limit user access – Give the least amount of access required to personnel handling your site. Review permissions regularly.
Use strong passwords – Require strong randomly generated passwords that are long and complex for all user accounts and logins. Enable two-factor authentication where possible.
Install security plugins – CMS platforms have security-focused plugins and extensions to improve protections. Examples include Wordfence for WordPress.
Restrict server access – Only allow your web host to access servers when essential. Disable remote access entirely if possible.
Scan for malware – Regularly scan your site with malware tools to detect infections early before major damage is done.
Making these critical security best practices part of your normal web hosting routine can help bolster your defenses against the growing threat of cyber attacks targeting websites.
Choosing a Secure Web Hosting Provider
Choosing the right web hosting provider is key when it comes to securing your website. With hosts managing your servers, they play a big role in your site’s security posture. When selecting a web host, keep these security considerations in mind:
Server security – Ensure they keep servers patched, use firewalls, and engage in strong server hardening. Shared servers should be isolated.
Technical expertise – Their technical staff should have adequate cybersecurity training to properly configure and monitor your servers.
Protecting against DDoS – Ask about their DDoS mitigation capabilities to ensure your site stays online when under DDoS attack.
Backups and redundancy – They should offer automated backups to both local and off-site locations for all servers.
Uptime and reliability – Check their historical uptime rates to confirm reliability. Look for redundant servers, power, and internet.
Breach response plan – They should have an incident response plan to handle malware infections and security breaches.
Security focused options – Find hosts offering extra security options like web application firewalls, SSL certificates, security monitoring, VPN access, IP whitelisting, etc.
Regulatory compliance – If your business operates in regulated industries like healthcare or finance, ensure they comply with regulations like HIPAA and PCI DSS.
Reputation and company size – Generally larger, more established hosting providers offer superior security over smaller companies. Brand reputation matters.
Taking the initiative to choose a hosting provider with security in mind will pay dividends through better protection, reliability, and peace of mind for your website. Avoid hosts that are vague about their security provisions or only offer bare minimum protections.
Securing Your Website – Getting Started
Bolstering the security of your website may seem daunting at first. Here are some initial practical steps you can take to get your site on the right track:
Use HTTPS – Implement HTTPS using SSL certificates to encrypt all connections and traffic to your site. This protects user information.
Strong passwords – Change any default passwords for everything related to your site. Create new long, unique passwords that are hard to crack.
Update software – Ensure all web apps, CMS platforms, operating systems, plugins, themes and other software are fully updated to close vulnerabilities. Sign up for update notifications.
Remove unnecessary apps – Uninstall unused and unnecessary apps and software that could pose security risks if compromised. Minimize potential attack surfaces.
Backups – Set up automated daily backups of your entire site to both a local device and secure off-site location to aid recovery.
Web application firewall – Install a WAF through your hosting provider to filter incoming web traffic for malicious requests and abnormal activity indicating attacks.
DDoS protection – Work with your host to implement DDoS mitigation solutions. This will keep your site online in the event of a DDoS attack.
Monitor – Use free or paid monitoring tools to watch for problems with malware, performance, blacklisting, broken links, uptime and other issues.
Access controls – Limit admin and access rights on your site to only essential personnel. Disable unused admin accounts, SMTP, FTP and other access points.
Getting these initial website security fundamentals in place will significantly improve your site’s security posture. You can then build upon these measures over time with more advanced protections.
Websites face an array of cybersecurity threats given their public online presence. However, taking the right steps to lock down your web hosting environment and utilize best practices can help mitigate the risks. Choosing a web hosting provider with security as a top priority is a key decision. Hardening your web applications, implementing robust access controls and backups, and monitoring for threats are also essential steps. With cyberattacks on the rise, websites must make security a priority now more than ever. Utilizing the guidance in this article will help protect your site as you grow your online presence.