Web Hosting And Hacking: Important Credentials
Nowadays there’s no shortage of hosting providers to choose from when you’re setting up your website. However, it’s important to be aware that not all hosts are made equal. And while it’s fair to say that the overall security of the web has improved since its mass adoption by the mainstream in the 1990s, hackers are still discovering new vulnerabilities every day.
Consequently, security should be one of your primary concerns if you’re selecting a host for your first website, or you’re looking to migrate an existing site. Below, we’ve compiled some of the most important digital security features to keep in mind when selecting your next web host. Keep reading as we go through some website hosting and hacking important credentials.
Selective Access Restriction
It might sound obvious, but only trained and authorized technicians should have access to any of the machines included in a web host's infrastructure. When logging into the server, SSH (Secure Socket Shell) should always be used. To increase your level of defense one step further, a password-protected RSA key can be used, along with 2-factor authentication, too.
A fully featured hosting provider should also provide you with the option of whitelisting authorized IP addresses if needed. However, to prevent potential hackers from gaining access, logins from the user root should always be disabled to prevent exploitation. These permissions should be dealt out sparingly to trusted users only, and this is one of the first features you should be careful about when dealing with web hosting and hacking.
Firewall and SSL
It’s true that an SSL certificate won’t provide much protection against a malicious attack on its own, but it will ensure any communication between your site and its users remains private — this is key if you want to keep your visitor’s data safe. Some hosting providers (like Cloudways) offer SSL certificates for free as part of their services, but these certificates can just as easily be purchased separately.
WAFs (Web Application Firewalls) monitor HTTP traffic flowing through web applications. WAFs provide more focused security than a standard network firewall because they’re designed to fulfill the specific needs of web applications. With some configuration, a WAF can prevent SQL injections, cross-site scripting, vulnerability probing, and other malicious techniques commonly deployed by hackers.
DDoS Attack Prevention
A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) assault is a simple yet powerful cyber attack that can affect any website big or small. This assault works by inundating a website's servers with so much traffic that legitimate visitors cannot access it. Many institutions have been affected by DDoS attacks, from Sony to the government of Estonia.
Because DDoS attacks happen immediately, the best defense is for a web host to prevent them beforehand. Make sure that the web host you select has an adequate protection set up to protect against these attacks, or you may find that your website is unceremoniously taken offline by have-a-go hackers.
When you’re selecting your web host, you may be given the choice of selecting the OS of your web server — usually either Windows or Linux.
Servers running on Windows limit access by default. Standard users are logged in and must request permission and enter a password before they can enjoy the privileges granted by the main administrator. If a malicious program or an employee is trying to do any real damage, this, in theory, can prevent them from doing so.
Only authorized Microsoft personnel will be given access to your web server in the event that a security flaw is detected. This is beneficial in two ways: you’re receiving assistance from well-trained Microsoft programmers and preventing dishonest people from exploiting these flaws.
Your other option is Linux. Linux isn’t as widely-used as Windows, but don’t let that put you off — technically this is advantageous, as hackers are less likely to target Linux-based machines due to fewer known vulnerabilities On top of this, Linux has a passionate and knowledgeable open-source community — if any security flaws are identified, they’re usually pretty quick to patch things up.
Account Authentication And Authorization
Strong passwords are a must. Try to create a password with a good mix of numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and special symbols (‘!’,‘£’,‘%’ etc). If you’re worried about forgetting your login credentials, it might be worth using a password management system, such as LastPass.
Third-Party Software Updates
Installing plugins on your website? Look at how long ago they were published, how many people have downloaded them, and how frequently they’ve been updated. If anything raises your suspicions, stay well away.
Inactive software may be full of security issues. Only ever use trusted sources to install software if you want to avoid potential malware infections. Check for updates regularly once the software is installed, as these are usually released to fix vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.
Data Backups And Disaster Recovery
Like it or not, the sad truth is that even the most robust servers are still prone to failure. In the event that something does go wrong, you’ll want to make sure that your precious data is backed up. Automatic backups ensure that your data isn’t dependent on the fallible memory of a team of human engineers. For an extra layer of security, this data can also be encrypted, ensuring that any sensitive information is useless in the wrong hands.
It’s also worth mentioning that disaster recovery is considerably more complicated in a traditional hosting setup, given that there is only one server hosting all of your data. Cloud hosting solutions run on a multi-server configuration, making data recovery relatively simple in the event of a system failure.
We hope that we've helped you better understand website hosting and hacking, and why it is so important to take the necessary precautions.