Skip to main content

How your web hosting impacts security

web hosting security
(Image credit: Shutterstock / NicoElNino)

Although you may not realize it, the web hosting you use can have a large impact on your website and its performance. The wrong hosting can leave you exposed to downtime and exploitation by various malicious parties. In this article, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about security and web hosting, including why you should seriously reconsider using shared hosting.  

Shared hosting becomes a shared responsibility 

Low-cost shared hosting is a common choice among businesses looking to stay within a tight budget, but there are a few important security considerations you should be aware of. Since shared hosting involves numerous websites stored on the same physical server, problems can occur. For example, it’s possible for your site to be compromised as a result of issues with another site, especially if permissions for file and directory access are weak. 

Essentially, this means you can be directly affected by another party’s problems. You could suffer various consequences, including downtime, poor performance, and injected code and attack files if another site on your server doesn’t implement the correct security fail safes. Because of this, you can be forced offline or have sensitive data compromised, even if you do everything right.

Exploited sites could mean offline suspension 

In some cases, hosting providers choose to suspend exploited sites until malicious content is removed. This is due to the fact that other people sharing the same server could be affected if action isn’t taken. 

If you’re using a reliable, security-conscious host, your site could be taken down with little to no warning. They will often take rapid action to close sites before malware or attack files spread to other users or even to your viewers. In short, your site will be put into quarantine to prevent harm to the provider’s reputation, and this can result in your online presence being eliminated completely. If your site is a major part of your business, you could experience a significant amount of lost income.

Don’t get suspended 

When a site is suspended, it could be offline for some time—or at least until you spend some time removing harmful files or code. And unfortunately, this does become your responsibility. Unless you’re using managed hosting, you will have to look after your own security and deal with problems on your own. This can be time consuming and can lead to extended downtime. 

If you use managed private server hosting, all security features are usually taken care of by your host. This means that it would be their responsibility to deal with problems and get you back online. 

Having to deal with an exploited server can mean a lot of work for you, which leads to the next section. 

Your hosting provider dictates how time consuming security is for you 

The amount of time and energy you have to put into security generally depends on two things: the type of hosting you sign up for and the host you’re using. 

Security can be an absolute nightmare with low-quality providers, but the opposite is true if you use a reliable host. Most providers sit somewhere in the middle, so it’s important to do your research. 

How to find the right hosting provider 

If you find the right host, you will often be able to assign your in-house employees to different tasks and use their time more efficiently. It’s therefore very important to think carefully about your website’s security. If you do decide to go for shared hosting, make sure you spend some time identifying the best plan for your needs. 

Try and find a reliable provider with a focus on security to reduce the amount of time you have to spend on menial management tasks. Consider asking the following questions to potential hosts: 

  • Is there an uptime guarantee?
  • Are there any DOS protection tools? 
  • What happens if my site is dead?
  • What security integrations are included?
  • How are backups handled and what does the restoration process involve?   

Finding out the answers to these questions will help you understand how different hosts look after security considerations, allowing you to choose a reliable option that’s suited to your needs.  

Security best practices 

Finding the right host is a good start, but understand that you will still need to actively manage your site’s security. A good host will provide a solid security base, but it’s up to you to use the tools at your disposal to protect your site.  

Consider doing the following to make sure your site is safe and secure at all times.  

  • Use an SSL certificate to encrypt data transmissions.  
  • Give different users different levels of access.
  • Make sure security updates are installed ASAP.
  • Rotate passwords regularly.
  • Use a secure SFTP as opposed to normal FTP. 
  • Store backups offline.
  • Use an automatic malware detection and removal tool.
  • Ensure all plugins and extensions are safe and from a trustworthy source. 
  • Monitor your site for suspicious activity and/or traffic.