Too often, when experts are discussing protecting a website, the focus is on preventing hacking, hijacking, or malicious codes, while overlooking other important aspects of website security, such as application, server, scripts, and database. There is also is the need to incorporate plans for disaster response, recovery, and continuous operation in order to ensure a holistic approach to Web security.
This piece takes a holistic look at web security in order to ensure the continuous operation of your website.
The Hosting Environment
The kind of hosting server you subscribe to affects your web security. Among dedicated server, shared hosting, and VPS, shared web hosting is the most unsecured. This is because once any website sharing the server is compromised, other websites on the server become susceptible too.
In addition, all the customer sharing the server also share one database, causing all the websites to be susceptible to database-associated vulnerabilities.
Other than the Web hosting environment, another factor that plays an important role is how well the web host protects your operating system.
Your web host should be able to protect your website against Denial of Service attack. They should also have the capacity to detect system intrusion in their server or network.
Webmasters operating dynamic websites that make use of server website languages, including PHP, Python and Perl should protect against the well-known susceptibilities associated with those languages.
A lot of Web hosting services now offer email application as part of their hosting package. Before making use of such application, however, the webmaster should inquire and ensure that the application is hosted on a separate server in order to minimize the risk to the website security.
For those trying to decide which hosting service is best for them, you can inquire about the web host server, application, and network security. Specifically, you can inquire about:
- If the Web host can defend against Server and network Denial of Service attacks
- If the server has application layer firewall
- If they can detect and prevent intrusions in their system
The reliability of your hosting server is vital, especially if you attract millions of users monthly or weekly. Irrespective of whether your server hardware is enterprise-class grade or PC grade, hardware are susceptible to failure and it can happen at any time.
To prevent your website from going out of operation, you may require hot or standby hosting servers.
Cloud hosting and colocation is deemed to be the best in terms of reliability and cost-effectiveness but it also has data privacy limitation. You can study about cloud security to educate yourself more about cloud hosting limitations.
Furthermore, to avoid website outage during a large traffic spike, you need to ensure your server is capable of sharing the load. Your website has to have sufficient resources to deal with thousands of user requests per second during traffic spikes so ask your web host about their load-balancing plan.
If your primary concern is about load sharing and data security is not a priority, then you should consider cloud hosting because it excels at dealing with traffic surge and is cost-effective.
Malicious Attack Protection
Find out your web host’s plan on defending your web server from malicious codes, virus, and other sophisticated hacking techniques before choosing the Web hosting solution. Also, inquire about their action plan in case your website becomes compromised.
A good Web host, will normally carry out security audits regularly. You may ask to ensure they do.
How does the web host guarantee that unauthorized persons don’t gain access to their web servers?
Is there backup power in case of natural disasters such as flood or hurricane?
Those are questions you should ask a web host before signing on.
You need to make sure you backup your website as part of your disaster management strategy. You may choose to backup your website on a cloud server, off-site server, on-site server, or a combination all.
If your website is only a few 100 megabytes, you can easily keep a local copy of your database and website. However, when your website is several gigabytes or terabytes large, keeping a local copy becomes difficult.
An efficient solution is to have a separate backup server in your web hosting service provider premises. The only drawback is that you won’t be able to restore your website if a natural disaster affects your web host. Having a backup of your website in several different geographical locations is recommended.
The truth is that no Web host solution will protect your website 100%, but these suggestions will help you minimize the risk of a website security breach.