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The hosting company you choose for your website may be just as important to your online success as the quality of the content you publish. With over 1.5 billion websites globally, you should understand that hosting companies are easy to find, but not all of them are providing the same services at the same prices.
While maximum uptime and fast page loads are important, cyber security is also vital. Your site could be exposed to hackers or viruses a hundred times a day.
Protecting your own intellectual property and the personal information of your customers and visitors should be a priority from the start. Here are the security measures you should look for from your web host.
1. A Secure Datacenter
What happens at your physical web server is just as important as what happens online. Intruders can compromise hundreds of websites at once if they get access to the computers that carry them. Be sure your hosting company protects their servers with monitoring systems such as intruder alarms and surveillance cameras, restricted access, and preferably live personnel on hand in case something goes wrong.
You may be familiar with FTP (File Transfer Protocol), which allows you access to your website to quickly upload or download files. Most hosting companies offer some FTP tools, but frequently changing files on a large and complex website can also increase your exposure to cyber threats. Check to see whether your host is offering SFTP, or Secure File Transfer Protocol, an updated version that minimizes this vulnerability.
3. SSL Protection
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, a mechanism for providing encryption between any client browser and your website server. As a site owner, you can often purchase SSL in the form of SSL Certificates for protecting single or multiple domains specifically. A secure host will offer SSL encryption and hopefully give you access to certificates issued by recognized sources.
This is the acronym for Secure Shell, a network protocol that lets you issue commands to your server over an encrypted channel. SSH is especially useful if you have your own leased server and need to make changes to the root system. It's often used with UNIX machines to allow secure, remote access from almost any internet connection.
Part of a complete security plan is having a system to provide business continuity in case something does go wrong. Your system or data files could be lost or ruined not just by viruses and malicious hackers, but by things like user error, fire, or natural disasters. Look for a web host that provides daily back-up and restore services for your web files, which could be either manual or automated.
This is also important to business continuity. RAID stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks, which essentially means several computer disks controlled by software to function as a single disk. This redundancy allows files to be both copied and "striped" across multiple disks so that if one drive goes down, the server can immediately switch over to a copy, and missing data can be reconstructed from what's on the other disks.
7. Manual Reboots
Though this service is limited to hosting plans where you have an independent server, it can be a life saver. If you want your own virtual or dedicated server for a large or very busy website, you may occasionally need to make changes to the system to get the configuration you want or resolve issues. The ability to do this on-demand can save you a lot of headaches, and, with back-ups ready, restore the system if it's been compromised.
8. Firewalls and Anti-Spam Filters
Firewalls protect your site by limiting outside access to your server from distrusted sources. Anti-spam protection allows your system to identify and isolate incoming emails that may contain risky content, such as harmful links or hidden malware. Often you can set up and customize your own anti-spam filters.
9. Anti-Virus Software
This is often your primary tool in reducing vulnerability to online threats, and is essential to stop malware that could increase hacker opportunities for data or identity theft. Anti-virus software can detect and often make repairs when your files have been compromised through malicious code. Verify that your hosting company provides up-to-date anti-virus protection, as well as promptly applying updates as they become available to handle new threats.
10. DDoS Safeguards
One threat that can be even worse than data theft is Distributed Denial of Service attacks. This is when a cybercriminal is able to overwhelm your server by bombarding it with thousands of phony user requests, effectively shutting it down. Check through your host's listed security measures and ascertain whether they can protect your site against DDoS problems.
Cyberattacks are expected to reach losses of $6 trillion annually by 2021. When you start checking around for a suitable web hosting company for your own site, never settle for the most affordable or the one making the most promises. Do your research and read the fine print to learn exactly how they can protect your website from the many threats that you could encounter online.