What Makes a Secure Web Host Secure?
, , , , , , , , Jan 24, 2012

What Makes a Secure Web Host Secure?

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Web hosting security is a concept that is often misunderstood and neglected, especially by website owners who lack technological expertise. A surprisingly high percentage of website owners fail to acknowledge the importance of using a secure hosting solution, and even worse, many fail to apply the most basic precautionary measures, such using complex, non-default passwords or patching applications on a regular basis. We say “surprisingly” because few of us leave our car unlocked overnight or neglect to install locks on our front door. So why do we leave our online properties, and sometimes our livelihoods, at the mercy of hackers and fraudsters? Once you realize how important it is to protect your website and data, it’s time to take measures to protect your hosting infrastructure against attacks, intrusions, data theft, phishing, and spamming. As with anything, it’s easier to prevent problems than to repair them, so your best course of action in this case is to start right from the beginning with a secure web host. This way, you have the peace of mind that your websites are protected from day one. In addition, it’s much easier to create a secure web hosting environment when you first deploy or move your websites than it is to patch a vulnerability-ridden production web server. Seeing beyond marketing and unsupported claims It’s not always easy to identify a genuine, secure web hosting plan over a vulnerable solution that puts your work at risk. Some hosting providers exploit the fact that people actively look for secure web server hosting, and market their hosting plans as “secure,” even when they’re not. Unfortunately, unsuspecting buyers regularly fall into their trap. So how can a layman know if a secure hosting service is actually secure? Because the concept of security is relative (what’s safe in one scenario may prove precarious for other applications), we’ll only provide a list of features that are absolutely essential for a basic, secure web hosting solution. 1. SSL No matter how well-protected your server is, if the connection with visitors is vulnerable, you are in severe danger of being hacked. The SSL (secure socket layers) protocol is first on our list of essential secure hosting features because it provides a safe means of connecting the web host with your visitors. Ensure that you can use SSL encryption on your website – most personal/low-cost hosting solutions do not support SSL or support it for an additional fee. In any case, you will also need to acquire an SSL certificate, which is, essentially, the ID of your website. Using an SSL certificate and SSL encryption is hugely important for ecommerce and for any website that processes confidential data such as credit card numbers or SSNs. 2. Secure FTP No matter what type of website you have, you will need to securely transfer files between your PC or Mac and the secure web host. This is done via the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), using applications such as Filezilla or WinSCP. The problem with FTP connections is that sensitive information such as passwords is sent in clear text, which makes it susceptible to being stolen. The gold standard in secure hosting data transfer is Secure FTP (SFTP), an encrypted version of FTP. With SFTP, you can safely connect to your server and transfer files. Not all hosting providers offer SFTP with every hosting account. If you need a truly secure web hosting service, do not settle for any solution that doesn’t offer SFTP right out of the box. 3.  Maintenance Depending on what type of hosting solution you choose, you may be required to do regular server maintenance yourself, or, if you choose a managed service, an employee of the secure hosting company will do it for you. Keeping a hosting solution protected is a 24-hour-a-day job. Because new threats and vulnerabilities appear every day, you must make sure that your hosting environment (hardware drivers, operating system, antivirus software, applications, and development frameworks) is updated and patched as regularly as possible. Note which operations are included in the SLA (if available) and which tasks fall under your responsibility. If you’re not confident that you can properly maintain your server, choose a managed service pack that includes updates and patches for all important software components. 4. Backup No secure web hosting solution is worth its salt without a comprehensive backup plan in place. Backup is, unfortunately, an afterthought for many website owners. But sooner or later, a good fallback plan will prove its importance. For online stores and other business-critical applications, you should, at the very least, look for daily backups, although we recommend choosing a continuous (or near continuous) backup solution that saves data on a remote storage unit every time it is changed on the production server (or every few minutes). Proper backup solutions are important not only for secure web server hosting plans, but for any sort of hosting solution where it’s important to ensure data integrity. If your website’s defenses are breached and your databases are compromised, the only form of damage control at your disposal is to restore from backup. Our advice: don’t skimp on good backup. 5. Defenses: firewall, antivirus, antispam, and IPSs The software used by your secure hosting company can make the difference between years of incident-free functioning and an utter disaster. You probably know about firewalls and antivirus software, but a good, secure web hosting provider uses a variety of other defensive applications and hardware, all meant to prevent attacks, virus contagions, and data theft. Intrusion prevention systems (IPS), intrusion detection systems (IDS), DoS (Denial of Service) protection applications, load balancers, and intelligent routers are just a few of the components that comprise the infrastructure of a truly secure web hosting company. Creating and maintaining a safe hosting environment is not easy or cheap. When you opt for an ultra-low cost plan, you will probably get a hosting solution with subpar protection systems. Keep this in mind when choosing a hosting plan. JaguarPC: secure web hosting without compromise At JaguarPC, we take security seriously, both online and in the physical world. We understand the importance of keeping private data for your eyes only and we know that you invested too much in your website to risk it in an unprotected environment. This is why we provide truly secure hosting solutions – and have the track record to prove it. For private customers, SMBs, and enterprises, we provide secure hosting plans with adequate defense measures against all forms of threats. Our infrastructure is protected with multiple layers of software and hardware security appliances. We also work with a best in class continuous data backup system from industry leader R1Soft. In a sentence, your data is in good hands with us. Learn more about our secure hosting services or order your own plan in just a few minutes by calling 1-888-338-5261 or visiting jaguarpc.com today.
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