When you rent an apartment, it provides you with space to store all your belongings, arrange your furniture, and a parking lot to park your car (if applicable). In the same manner, Web Hosting allows you to publish your website or web application on the internet. When you sign up for a web hosting service, you’re essentially renting some space on a server to store all the data and files needed for your website to work appropriately.
A Web Host is a web hosting provider that is saddled with the responsibility of keeping the hosting server(s) up and running so that your website can maintain accessibility on the internet. Your web host stores all your website files and database on the server so whenever someone types your website address into their browser, your web host transfers all the necessary files to provide that request.
Your website remains published as long as you keep paying your rent to your web host. There are different hosting plans peculiar to different web hosts; you get to choose a hosting plan that best fits your need.
How Web Hosting Works
A website is made up of several collections of files. These files help the functionality of the website and help to deliver the website contents to web browsers. When you create a website, you need a location to store all these files, that location is your hosting provider’s server.
Your website’s media, files, database, and any other resources associated with your website are stored on this server. The server then delivers all the necessary resources of your website to your clients on request.
When you sign up for a web hosting service, you’ll get access to the hosting server via a feature called cPanel. This feature enables you to upload your website media, files, and resources to the server and also makes it easier for you to manage your website resources on the server.
To have a fully functional website, you will need to register a website address called domain name that will point towards the server where your website files live. It is what enables web browsers to locate where your website resides and be able to access the website contents.
Secure Web Hosting
Simply hosting your website is without concern for security is like opening the lead door to your apartment with no concern for intrusion. Your website is an asset that resides on the internet and as long as it remains on the internet, it is open to cyber attacks. One way to prevent these attacks is to host your website on a secure web hosting platform.
Secure Web Hosting means your web hosting platform sustains certain security features that consistently keep your website safe and protect your website from cyber attacks. Cyber criminals don’t necessarily target specific enterprise or business websites, they often use scripts that vastly search websites for common vulnerabilities to exploit. Hence, hosting your website with a secure web hosting platform or provider will protect your website from such malicious actors.
Common Web Hosting Security Features
1. SSL Certificate and Support
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a protocol that controls the encryption of the connection between the web server and web browser. An SSL certificate allows your website to work in HTTPS mode; this means when users enter sensitive information on your website, this information is encrypted which makes it remain confidential, such that the credentials of your users used on your website will not be seen in plain-text but as encrypted text.
On the web browser, there is an icon (a padlock) that signifies whether or not your website is secured in HTTPS mode. This icon is visible to everyone that visits your website and it shows the presence of an SSL certificate. This should be the first security feature you look out for on any web hosting platform you are considering for your website.
2. Firewall Protection
A web host can increase website security by using firewalls. Firewalls filter activities before they reach the web server, and block requests from blacklisted IP addresses and known criminals platforms.
Some hosting companies provide a solution called Dedicated Firewall as a Service which allows specific rules to be made such as choosing who is or isn’t blocked from accessing your website.
Another firewall solution that some web hosts use is the Web Application Firewall. These are specialized firewalls that monitor and control web traffic that is being directed towards specific web applications. This is anotherkey security feature to look out for before deciding on a web host for your website.
3. DDoS Protection
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is an attack where multiple requests are sent to a web server at once in order to overload its processing ability and shut down the server. This attack is usually automated and the request comes from a large network of infected computers or devices called zombies. One of the tactics used by web hosts to protect websites from DDoS attacks is partnering with Content Delivery Networks (CDN) such as CloudFlare to help analyze DDoS activities. This ensures suspected DDoS requests are blocked, while legitimate traffic gets through.
4. Malware Scanning
Malware is malicious software that is harmful to a digital device. The effects of malware can range from data loss, data theft, to system crashes. Servers are physical computers and they can be affected by malware and when that happens, your website is at stake.
Web Hosts should have endpoint security such as antivirus software that scan for viruses on their servers, or other malware scanning applications that scan for malware on a daily basis. This will help protect your website data, files, and database from being infected with malware that will crash your website or steal your website’s sensitive data.
5. Domain Name Privacy
A Domain Name is the registered website address pointing to your website on a web server. When you purchase a domain name, your information such as name, address, and other contact information becomes publicly available unless you purchase domain name privacy. Your web host offers this type of protection in order to keep your information confidential. This is more about you, the website owner, than your website. Data is a key factor when it comes to cyber attacks, and your personal information can be used in several ways by cyber criminals.
Conclusively, secure web hosting is very important to the health and vitality of your website. It is certainly not all there is to web security, but it will definitely protect your website from common vulnerabilities and exploits. Websites are a major income or revenue generation source for many businesses, hence, the security of their abode should be of great concern.
HostPapa. (2018, September 20). How do you keep your website secure? HostPapa Blog. https://www.hostpapa.com/blog/security/website-security-care/
Shim, T. (2019, May 6). 7 Security Factors to Consider When Choosing A Web Host. Hashed out by the SSL StoreTM. https://www.thesslstore.com/blog/7-security-factors-to-consider-when-choosing-a-web-host/
Wood, K. (2018, December 6). Web Hosting Basics: How Web Hosting Works. HostGator Blog. https://www.hostgator.com/blog/web-hosting-basics-how-web-hosting-works/
Wood, K. (2020, August 6). The Best Secure Hosting: Who’s The Best For Your Site? [Updated: 2020]. https://www.whoishostingthis.com/compare/secure/