Website security is a big subject these days, in great part because it’s getting easier and easier for hackers to slip past conventional web security measures. Even having an SSL security certificate is no guarantee of safety: SSLs were first developed in 1994, giving enterprising hackers more than 20 years to develop swift and effective methods to get around encryption layers.
The foundation of any website’s data security starts with its bedrock: its hosting plan. Though most website owners head for the cheapest hosting plan they can find, there are many convincing security-related arguments to opt for premium hosting plans. Below, we’ll give you the top 5 ways your hosting affects your data security, and instructions on how to protect your website even if your hosting plan doesn’t offer them.
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Backups And Redundancies
Backups are the least thrilling element of security, often the most overlooked, and absolutely the most important. A little like keeping a stocked first-aid kit or fire extinguisher in a home, it’s something that everyone recommends but only a small percentage of people do. Luckily, some hosting packages have your back covered, and automatically create and store backups just in case you need them.
If your hosting plan doesn’t do this, it puts the onus on creating monthly or quarterly backups of your website and its databases all on you. For tech novices, that can be a daunting and time-consuming prospect. And while it might be boring and tedious to do, you’ll appreciate doing it if you ever need to restore your website. And the likelihood of needing to is statistically pretty high, whether it’s to recover from a hack, replace accidentally overwritten files, or revert back after a malfunctioned update.
Requiring Common Sense Safety Procedures
Does your hosting plan require that you create super-secure passwords and usernames for all functions? Does it have alerts which prompt you to modify default settings to improve security? Sure, it’s a slight hassle and can be slightly irritating to develop methods to remember and store complex authentication credentials, but they keep your website and your data substantially safer than those which do not. For example, a password that is comprised only of eight lower-case letters can generally be hacked in about 2 seconds. But if you, for example, grow that password to 11 characters, and include a number, an uppercase letter, and a special character, it would take an estimated 2 years to hack.
If your hosting provider doesn’t give these things right off the bat, give yourself (and all your staff) a security checklist. Strong passwords, two-factor authentications, and a scheme for never using the default out-of-the-box settings for databases.
Automatic Software Upgrades
Most software updates include security patches alongside product enhancements and bug corrections, and they’re important to deploy quickly. And some hosting providers quietly deploy software upgrades to servers, databases, and other hosting elements in the background, so that you as the end user don’t need to lift a finger.
Often, installing these upgrades to your hosting doesn’t take much time: but the vast majority of database managers and website owners forget to make them, leaving their data vulnerable for lengthy periods of time. If your hosting provider doesn’t automatically install software upgrades, pick a recurring monthly date to check for and install any upgrades on your hosting backend.
Server Exploit Updates
Most website owners use shared hosting for their websites and data; only a few utilize dedicated servers for their hosting. But either way, it’s possible for a hacker to pry into your server and exploit it to launch attacks from.
Bottom-of-the-barrel web hosts won’t do much to warn you about suspected exploits or hacking attempts on your server. The best you can do in that case is constantly monitor your hosting and website to check for issues. But better web hosts will automatically update you about suspicious activity, and even provide a list of suggested actions.
Your data can represent traffic, visitors, customers, transactions… all kinds of sensitive and valuable material. And if your hosting plan isn’t safe, your data isn’t, either. Where possible, always select a hosting provider that puts your data security front and center.