If you have been following recent happenings online, you may have read that security breaches are on the increase. Almost every day, one website or another fall victim to unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of security loopholes to steal users’ personal information, sabotage the growth efforts of the affected websites, and damage their reputation.
Events like these underscore the importance of web hosting security. It doesn’t matter if you run a small blog dedicated to your hobby or a big eCommerce operation when it comes to the security of your website, you should take nothing for granted.
Web hosting plays a vital role in the security situation of your website because if your web host provides poor security, any other efforts you make to secure your website will be ineffective.
You need a secure web hosting provider that will not only set you up and running with minimum downtime but also protect your data from viruses, intrusions, and security breaches.
In this article, we will be looking at some of the top security features you should look out for when considering a web host for your website needs.
Here are the Top 8 Security Features to Look for in a Web Host:
1. Backup and Restore
When most people consider essential web hosting security features, they tend to overlook backup and restore options. But this is actually one of the most important features a web host should provide.
Even though it is your responsibility to ensure that the content of your website is backed up regularly, a responsible web host will also provide safe data protection and restoration service to complement your own backup efforts. Some web hosts also make it easy for you to manage this yourself by placing a backup button somewhere in the control panel where you can access it easily.
Backup and restore are very vital as it gives you a way to recover your business from the most recent backup you made, should your website suffer any disaster. Backing up your website regularly gives you peace of mind that you have a safe copy of your files in case you are a victim of a security breach, or if you lose your site due to a wrong update or coding error.
2. SSL and firewall
SSL provides encryption between your users’ browser and your web server. This ensures that any data passing through these two points are encrypted and secure so that no one but the intended recipient can decrypt and use them.
These days, SSL is a vital requirement if you want your website to gain the trust of your target audience and own points with search engines.
The absence of SSL in your eCommerce website will make it easy for hackers and thieves to gain access to the credit cards and personal information of your customers. Your web hosting company should offer SSL services on their website, and if they don’t, they should be able to help you obtain one, and get it set up and running.
A firewall or web application firewall (WAP) is also necessary to monitor web traffic and protect your website from outside threats. It prevents unauthorized access to your web server by hackers. Be sure to check that your hosting provider has the necessary firewalls for your website security. This is your first line of defense.
3. DDoS Prevention
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is one of the most common ways hackers carry out cyberattacks against popular websites. A DDoS attack works by overwhelming the target website with heavy traffic which if not managed immediately will cause the site to crash. Hackers typically use corrupted computers, bots, or viruses to carry out this attack.
DDoS prevention is the precautions a web host puts in place to prevent a DDoS attack from happening. A reliable and secure web host will also have a set of tools or procedures for handling DDoS attacks when they happen.
Your hosting provider should offer antispam features that detect and protect your account from the menace of spam.
While spam does not directly affect the functionality of your website, it can cause you to lose valuable time as you will spend too much time sorting through your email communication looking for the important ones.
Spam can also carry spyware and other malicious applications that can harm your computer and corrupt the files on your website. Be sure to look out for this feature when choosing your hosting partner.
5. Antivirus and Malware Scanning
You should also be interested in finding out the protective actions your hosting provider will take to secure your website from viruses and malware.
- Does the web hosting provider run regular file scanning to detect and prevent viruses?
- If your website gets infected, will there be support in place to help identify and remove the viruses and malware?
Antivirus and antimalware feature is an essential security feature that should be provided by your web hosting provider.
6. Software updates
Keeping your website up to date is also vital to the security of your website. A huge number of security breaches happened because the affected website failed to patch security loopholes by applying the necessary patches and updates. This exposed the affected site to huge vulnerabilities that hackers took advantage of.
Of course, you can make the necessary updates by yourself, but your website will not be fully secure until automatic updates are available, because, by the time you are aware of the necessary patches, your site may already have been compromised.
Most web hosting providers offer an automatic update for a wide range of content management systems, including the core files and plugins, so it is important you confirm that a hosting company offers such a feature before signing up with one.
7. Secure access and user permissions
Your web hosting provider should be able to provide and guarantee secure access to your website and limited user permissions for nonadministrators.
One of the most popular secure access tools is SSH or secure socket shell. Secure socket shell provides a way for administrators and site owners to access a remote computer or web server and carry out needed changes.
When you use SSH to log in to your remote server and upload files, security threats are greatly reduced because the server and client make use of digital signature to verify users’ identity. All communication between both systems is also encrypted. This makes it a good feature to have in your hosting account.
8. Proper server maintenance
Your web host should ensure that their server is adequately maintained in order to protect against attacks. When the servers are not well maintained, they become open to vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers.
You can always chat with your Webhosting company to find out their security protocol. This will guarantee you that they are on top of upgrades and patches game. You can also go online to read reviews left by past and current customers of the web hosting company to gain an insight into the effectiveness of their security policies and practices.
9. Operating system
When choosing web hosting, you have a choice to pick between a windows based operating system and a Linux based operating system. These two operating systems each have their pros and cons, and the option you choose could also determine how secure your website will be.
Windows-based operating system limits server access by default. Users are typically logged in with standard access and will need to request additional permission and enter a password before they can have access to the privileges of a root administrator. This feature can be very helpful in preventing and limiting unauthorized access.
Linux-based operating systems, on the other hand, are known for their little or no susceptibility to threats since the Linux operating system is not as widely used as its Windows counterpart. This means that websites hosted on a Linux-based server will to a large extent be safe from malware that would hurt a windows based application.
In any event, Linux has a very vibrant open source community with members that are quick to detect and respond to threats, making the platform very safe for web applications.
Your web hosting provider should offer these two server options, but you should take time to study the pros and cons of both options, and how each one will fit your site requirements before choosing one over the other.
The security of your website should be your first priority. Failure to secure your website can cause you to lose your website, your business, your brand reputation, and may also put you under legal fire, where users’ data is compromised and used for negative purposes. So, Take Cyber Security Course from Simplilearn and become an efficient cybersecurity professional.
Therefore, you should never choose a web hosting provider at a whim. Do your due diligence to discover if the web hosting provider you have in mind follows the current security best practices, and if they have the resources to offer the necessary support, should you need it.
If you choose not to concern yourself with the security features your hosting provider offers, you will find yourself spending a lot of money to repair the damage your choice might cause you. Looking out for the features covered above will save you a lot of time, money, and despair.