Finding secure web hosting can be a challenge for beginners and those who don’t understand what it takes to protect a website from all the online attacks happening across the internet. Fortunately, many top providers will do all the heavy lifting to protect you from intruders and costly downtime.
In the hosting industry, hacked websites, bots, malware, DDoS attacks, and various other forms of security vulnerabilities are all very commonplace. In fact, there is an online attack every 39 seconds. When you sign on to owning a website, you should expect one or several of these threats to rear their ugly heads over the course of your site’s lifespan — but you don’t have to expect your destiny to be domed.
We’ll cover some of the top threats to web security, the most secure hosting companies to partner with, and how to prevent such assaults on your site.
5 Most Secure Web Hosting Services
Whether you are receiving customers’ payment information or may be hosting other personal data, you’ll need to make sure that no one else can see that information. You typically find the most secure web hosting services at the VPS and dedicated server levels, but shared hosting providers do a great job protecting their customers.
Be on the lookout for free SSL certificates, content delivery networks, web application firewalls, and protection against brute force and DDoS attacks — all of which you can find with these hosts below:
- Known for high-performance, low-cost hosting
- FREE website builder with 1,000s of templates
- Endorsed by the WordPress.org team as a top WP host
- FREE SSL certificate and CDN acceleration
- Usually $7.99/month, but our visitors pay $2.95/month
- Get started on Bluehost now.
- An industry-leading shared host with competitive pricing
- Attract visitors with a complimentary marketing suite
- Lots of extras like Google AdWords & SiteLock security
- Start selling in minutes with FREE ecommerce tools
- Get more than 75% off today! (usually $7.99/month)
- Get started on iPage now.
- A favorite for shared hosting (and dedicated or cloud)
- FREE SSD storage packs 20x the performance
- FREE SSL certificate and 24/7 support
- 1-click installs for WordPress and popular CMSes
- Get started with FREE website transfer service
- Get started on InMotion Hosting now.
- Fast, reliable shared hosting for business or blogging
- FREE website migration and website builder
- Easily install popular apps such as WordPress
- Unlimited domains and email accounts
- 99.9% uptime and 24/7 expert support
- Get started on GreenGeeks now.
- Get 62% off monthly pricing by buying 36 months up front
- A balance of price and performance in a shared host
- Includes intuitive control panel with 1-click CMS installs
- Unlimited everything — from domains to databases
- Around-the-clock expert support
- Get started on HostGator now.
2020’s Top Web Hosting Security Issues
Today’s modern hosting landscape is fraught with dangers — from both self-inflicted human error and third parties with malicious intent. Here, we’re listing the most common attack vectors or vulnerabilities, and linking them to information on how to protect yourself:
Next, we’ll cover his advice to shield your site from harm. If a certain security risk has caught your eye, feel free to jump ahead to its tip using the links above.
Tip #1: Avoid Untrustworthy 3rd-Party Apps & Sanitize Input Data
If your site uses a database backend, it is important to know and trust the code behind your website, according to Erik Soroka, a Tier 3 Operations Manager at InMotion Hosting. Verifying your code works and verifying it’s secure and stable are two very different beasts to wrangle.
You’ll want to validate your code coming into your CMS or application (input data) and confirm it matches what’s presented to the end user on the frontend (output data). If you’re using WordPress, the Codex gives an excellent rundown on input and output data validation here.
“Avoid using untrusted third-party applications that haven’t undergone a thorough security audit. And always be sure to sanitize input data,” Erik added.
Tip #3: Ensure Request Validity with Random Challenge Tokens
Developers should always append random challenge tokens to each request that are associated with the user’s session. By including a challenge token, you can ensure the request is valid and not coming from a source other than the intended user.
Tip #4: Enforce Password Complexity and Implement Request Throttling
“Brute forcing is one of the simplest yet common ways hackers can compromise your website or your hosting account,” Erik said. Always have automatic account lockouts, enforce password complexity, and implement some form of request throttling.”
Additional tips to creating a secure password:
- Avoid common words (e.g., “Caligirl,” “doglover,” or *shudder* “password”).
- Avoid obvious personal details (e.g., your birthday, pet names, a guessable anniversary).
- Make it longer than six characters — some say, the longer the better.
- Include a mix of capital and lowercase letters.
- Include numbers and symbols, too.
- Note: Starting with a capital letter and ending with a number is predictable these days.
- Don’t be predictable. A strong password is memorable only to you — without hints!
Whether you’re a site manager, developer, or web user, you should rotate through a series of complex, strong passwords known by you alone. Google suggests creating a unique password for each individual account you own and operate. For an added layer of security, try enabling two-step verification.
Tip #5: Update Any and All Software Regularly
If you use a content management system (CMS) or another application to power your website(s), you have to stay on top of the latest updates and patches to the software.
“This includes any third-party plugins or scripts you may be running,” Erik said, noting that (most) developers release new updates regularly to patch insecurities and bugs discovered within their apps, plugins, and frameworks.
“By not always updating to the latest version, you could potentially leave your website vulnerable to further attacks or compromises.”
Tip #6: Be Mindful of Error Reporting
If you’re not developing or debugging your website, Erik recommends turning off error reporting wherever possible.
“In cases where errors are necessary, be sure the error messages do not reveal any critical information that may be helpful to an attacker. Additionally, for sites with a login page, always return a consistent error message for failed attempts,” he said.
For example, if your site returns “Incorrect Password” when “johndoe” fails to authenticate but then returns “No such user” when “janedoe” fails, you have just disclosed the existence of a valid username to the attacker which can then be used for further exploits.
Tip #7: Use the Most Secure Web Hosting Provider You Can Find
If you have a website, regardless of the site’s popularity or content, you can expect it will be the target of an attempted attack or intrusion at some point. While it’s important that the website’s owner or developer take the necessary security precautions to protect themselves, it is equally important that you are hosting with a provider that takes security seriously.
“Even the most secure websites in the world can easily become victims if the server or network it’s hosted on is lacking in security,” Erik said. “At InMotion Hosting, we have a dedicated team of system administrators working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to safeguard our infrastructure by performing regular audits and proactively applying patches to our servers. In addition, we are one of the only hosting providers that will try to patch popular content management systems (e.g., WordPress, Joomla, etc.) for our customers’ sites immediately following a vulnerability disclosure.”
More on the security measures InMotion has in place and the rock-solid commitment to quality of service Erik and his team deliver can be found in our experts’ review below:
- FREE SSD drives included with all hosting plans
- Zero-downtime website transfers and migrations
- FREE data backups, SSL certificate, and DDoS protection
- Choice of East Coast or West Coast datacenter
- Multi-language support, including PHP, Ruby, and Perl
- Get started on InMotion now.
Web Hosting Security is Made Simple by the Most Secure Hosts
As the owners of the servers, routers, and switches powering your hosting web network, your host is naturally your first and most important line of defense against unexpected downtime or compromised data. However, that doesn’t mean that you can kick back and relax. Be sure to keep up with WordPress and plugin updates, user accounts and passwords, and other best practices you can control.
From SQL injections to assailable hosting services, security vulnerabilities abound in the hosting industry. It’s imperative that you partner with a hosting provider to withstand attacks on your network, follow best-practice coding procedures, and stay up-to-date with the latest software updates and security trends.