Measures to Ensure Website Security in Shared Hosting

Each and every website that we visit is hosted on the server of some web hosting company. It is the process of web hosting provided by web hosting companies that makes websites accessible over the Internet. In web hosting, server space is made available at prices based on various plans, for storing the files of websites. Subsequently, these files are delivered from the server over the Internet to the devices of users (laptops, personal computers, mobile phones etc.) for rendering websites accessible.  Web hosting service also provides all the necessary technologies and services that are needed for hosting websites and for keeping websites up and running seamlessly. There are various types of web hosting services, which include shared hosting, dedicated hosting, cloud hosting, reseller hosting, WordPress hosting, VPS etc. Each type of hosting, which is provided through a plan of web hosting by a web hosting company, caters to certain specific website requirements. The most popular web hosts are usually referred to as the “Best Website Hosting Company”, the “Best Windows Hosting Company”, the “Best Cloud Hosting Company” etc.

In this blog, information shall be provided on shared hosting and the main ways to ensure website security when availing the service of shared hosting.

Shared Hosting, its Main Security Risks and Issues

Shared hosting is a type of web hosting service in which multiple websites are hosted on a single server. It is one of the most economical options for web hosting. In it, multiple websites utilize the resources of a single server on which these are hosted. Each user has a limit on the server resources he/she can use which is specified in his/her shared hosting plan. Shared hosting is an ideal web hosting solution for those that have low budget for hosting services. It is an effective hosting option for such websites that are simple and/or receive very less traffic. Moreover, bloggers and small to medium-sized businesses usually opt for shared hosting.

When choosing a shared hosting plan or any hosting plan, it is important to opt for a plan that offers high uptime, SSD storage, the latest security measures to keep one’s website and its data safe, data backup facility, round the clock technical support etc. to ensure the best performance of one’s website and deliver a good user experience for those that visit the site. A website that experiences substantial downtime or has slow page loading or is not secure will not only make a website lose its traffic to other better performing and more secure sites but also might cause financial losses, data theft and data loss and in extreme cases have legal consequences if the site’s safety is not ensured adequately. Hence, it is extremely important to implement measures for website security in not only shared hosting but also in every type of hosting.

Ensuring proper website security in shared hosting is of paramount importance because many websites are hosted on the same server in shared hosting and if any one of these websites gets hacked or gets maliciously targeted by cybercriminals, then the other websites that are on the same server become vulnerable to it as well.

In shared hosting there is one shared directory that contains multiple websites’ folders. Even if a website in shared hosting has its own separate domain and content, it gets linked to the other websites that are hosted on the same server by sharing the directory. This often causes security issues in shared hosting as hackers are known to take advantage of it by running such programs that try to identify vulnerabilities in the sites that are in the shared directory. Upon finding any vulnerability, such as an outdated plugin on a site, it is exploited to hack the site. Once a hacker gains access to the main directory; all the sites on the same server can easily be targeted by the hacker. This is a major security issue in shared hosting. Another stumbling block with regard to having a hacked website on one’s shared server is that a hacked website can and usually does use more than its share of server resources, which significantly slows down the other websites hosted on the same server. Many a time, this can result in a site that is hosted on such a shared server, becoming inaccessible to visitors or unresponsive.

Another issue in shared hosting is caused by shared IP address. An IP (Internet Protocol) address refers to a unique numerical label, which is assigned to a network connected device using the Internet Protocol in order to communicate. It aids in the identification of host or network interface and provides the function of location addressing. Servers have their own IP addresses assigned to them because they are also devices that use the Internet. Since every individual server has a specific IP address, in shared web hosting all the websites that are hosted on a single server will share the same IP address. This can cause a problem if one of the websites hosted on a shared server carries out any illegal or impermissible activity or spams its customers, which results in the server’s IP address being blacklisted or marked as malicious. In its aftermath, firewalls can identify the websites hosted on that particular server as malicious and will not allow users to access such websites. Moreover, email providers can blacklist such an IP address and this will result in the sent emails being diverted to the recipient’s spam inbox. Additionally, search engines can blacklist sites that are hosted on such a server and mark those sites as insecure.

Website Security in Shared Hosting

Since shared hosting is an economical web hosting option that is used by many website owners, it is important to take all the necessary steps to ensure website security in shared hosting. Security measures need to be implemented and strictly followed by both, the hosting service provider and the website owner, in order to keep websites secure.

Shared hosting service users’ input (text, any uploaded file etc.) should be verified to ensure that malicious scripts are not being uploaded. Hosting service providers must apply the relevant security patches to servers. Additionally, the identity of new clients must be verified with the aid of proper identity proofs. Such software should be installed that averts malicious attacks and constant monitoring should be carried out to ensure server security.

On the part of the website owners, they must go through the reviews of various hosting service providers and ensure that their chosen web host follows the essential security practices, before finalizing their web hosting service provider. It is essential to install security plugins on one’s site regardless of the type of hosting service one is using. Moreover, the owners of websites must set the right file permissions to ensure their sites’ safety.  Another security measure that can be used by site owners is blocking PHP execution in unknown folders. Blocking PHP execution in unknown folders helps to prevent hackers from carrying out their malicious activities.

When security protocols and the best practices are followed by both, the service provider and the website owner, then it increases the security of websites using shared hosting significantly.

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