Thinking about web hosting security best practices means thinking about your business’ safety proactively. Data leaks, hacks, or exposed credit card and login information could mean facing substantial financial damage from which you might hardly recover. And don’t be fooled by how small your company might be.
When we think about cybercrimes, we imagine multimillion-dollar data leaks happening only to giant corporation. However, nearly half of all cyberattacks occurring every year target small-to-medium businesses, so establishing a secure perimeter when hosting a website is absolutely vital, especially if you are monetizing it. Here is a short list of robust web hosting security best practices that can truly make the difference.
Choose the right hosting platform for your website
That’s kinda obvious, doesn’t it? Well, as simple as it may sound, finding a good hosting service that is secure, reliable, and not too expensive at the same it is often a challenging feat. Start by comparing reviews of the top hosting providers in your country to identify the details and differences that set them apart. A reputable one will make sure to maintain the security of your website, and hackers will tend to avoid it. Check only those whose hosting plans include advanced security features such as Remote Backup, Spam Filter, Virus and DDoS Protection, and Network Monitoring.
Never go without an SSL certificate
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates are a necessity rather than a luxury nowadays. Without an SSL certificate, most browsers will identify your website as insecure, and likely warn any visitor before access. Not only this will damage your SEO, but it might harm your brand reputation as well. Encryption is the first line of the defense against unauthorized users to access your website, and will make sure that all information shared by your visitors will stay safe. Most web hosting services offer SSL certificates that you can buy for a small amount of money.
Keep everything updated
Just like any other device or tool, keeping your website plugins and software updated is a simple yet always effective best practice. Many hackers will try gaining access to your site by exploiting any known software weakness. Don’t keep the easy route open for them, it takes just a few mins to update everything once in a while.
Secure your login access
Employing some basic best practices to secure your login access can make a lot of difference. First thing first, make sure you only use strong passwords (e.g. long passwords with digits, special characters and uppercase letters) on login accesses, since any botnet can easily brute-force a 6 characters password in less than four hours. Then, do not keep any login valid for more than two weeks (even one week should suffice in most cases) regardless of its activity. Lastly, change the URL of the page where you log in to your website. Especially on websites like WordPress, most bots automatically target the /wp-admin pages.
Secure your email accounts as well
What’s the purpose of a secure website, if your email could be easily hacked? If your password can be stolen from your email, any security measure taken will be nullified. Once they got access to your email, malicious actors can simply login to your website as admin and do all the harm they want. Apply all strong password best practices to your email as well. On top of that, always make sure to use two authentication (2FA) system to access your emails to avoid snooping and data thefts.
Would you ever leave your own personal computer without active antivirus protection? The answer is obviously no, so why shouldn’t you use a malware defense for your website as well? Most hosting plans include malware scanning as a default option, usually carried out by specific web security brands. Check which seal of protection is showcased by your provider to make sure the brand they employ is reputable enough. You can also install your own software to do your personalized scans and check whether any dangerous malware has been detected and removed to assess your threat level.
Use a Content Distribution Network (CDN)
Many web hosts provide Content Distribution Network (CDN) services, which are particularly important to increase the overall speed of your website. A CDN hosts caches of your website pages at different servers across the planet. Whenever a visitor from any location requests access to your website, the CDN will serve the cached page from the closest server. This means that the page is loaded much more quickly, but it is useful for security purposes as well.
A CDN will offer you load-balancing, meaning that instead of forcing a single server to host all your visitors, the CDN will distribute the effort among several ones around the world. This is particularly useful to actively prevent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Instead of eating up all the resources of a single server in the case of a DDoS attack, the CDN is able to spread the requests across the entire network.
There’s no guaranteed way to ensure your website security. However, as you can see, there are many best practices that could make much more difficult for hacker and cyberthieves to steal your precious data. More often than not, your security efforts will be more than enough to cause all but the most determined cybercriminal to lose interest in your site and seek an easier target.
Cyber Security Researcher. Information security specialist, currently working as risk infrastructure specialist & investigator. He is a cyber-security researcher with over 25 years of experience. He has served with the Intelligence Agency as a Senior Intelligence Officer. He has also worked with Google and Citrix in development of cyber security solutions. He has aided the government and many federal agencies in thwarting many cyber crimes. He has been writing for us in his free time since last 5 years.