4 ways your web host can help secure your website
Choosing the right host for your website is important, and not just for performance. A quality host will bring benefits to your site in several ways, such as by assisting with safeguarding it from external threats. Consequently, a bad host can indirectly harm your business through lack of care and attention.
While you can install plugins and make tweaks to help stop malicious attacks, a good host will also pull their weight. For example, by providing a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate and performing regular backups of your site.
In this article, we’ll explain four key things your web host can do to help you secure your site. However, let’s start by discussing why security is so important!
The importance of site security
You’re probably already au fait with concepts surrounding security, but for the uninitiated, let’s briefly discuss them.
WordPress is the most targeted content management system (CMS) on the planet. Because the platform is so popular, there’s a huge target on its back. Of course, the WordPress development community understands this, which is why they have worked hard to make the platform inherently secure.
Even so, no site can be 100 percent impenetrable. As such, it’s vital that you take steps to either stop hackers gaining access to your server and site, or deter them from being able to breach your defences. At the very least, you should carry out a few vital steps to secure your site.
How you can help to secure your WordPress website
Protecting your WordPress website usually starts by tinkering within the back end by installing plugins or making small changes to your .htaccess file. This is called the ‘application level’, and is the opposite of ‘server level’ – in other words, the area your host can assist you with.
Rather than retread old ground and discuss suitable plugins, we can simply direct you to some great articles on the subject. Our friends at GoDaddy have written plenty on securing your site, and the following two pieces will likely be all you need to shore up your site:
- How to improve WordPress security in 11 steps — even if you’re non-technical.
- How to secure your WordPress website.
However, that’s not all. Your host has a part to play in security, and a good one will do so as a matter of course. Let’s discuss this now.
4 ways your web host can help secure your website
Although there’s a lot you can do to enhance your site’s security, your host can also give you a helping hand. Let’s take a look at four ways, beginning with extra ‘perimeter defences’.
1. Offering a web application firewall (or access to one)
Earlier, we talked about server versus application-level security. A web application firewall (WAF) represents the former. In a nutshell, it sits on your server in front of your site, and essentially blocks ‘bad’ traffic from even gaining access.
As you can imagine, this has numerous benefits, such as knocking back any potential threats, but there’s more. That decrease in traffic (which is good in this instance) will save your bandwidth and resources for genuine site visitors. This means a faster and more efficient site all around.
Surprisingly, there are very few server-side WAFs on the market. Plugins such as Wordfence work on an application level only, and this isn’t enough to completely secure your site. We recommend Sucuri, as in addition to offering a quality WAF, they provide a full suite of security tools at your fingertips.
2. Providing regular server backups
Backups are an important way of protecting yourself from slipups when it comes to editing WordPress’ files, or making other changes. However, while it isn’t a preventative technique for securing your site, it’s invaluable for righting the ship after the worst has happened.
For example, without a clean and full site backup, a successful hack could see your site and all its contents potentially lost forever. The best case scenario is that you’ll lose more recent work. However, with a good backup, your site could be up and running in a matter of minutes, with the bare minimum of disruptions.
Fortunately, a quality host will have your back by carrying out daily backups of your server. This means that if you also have a solution in place, you’re doubly protected in case an attack or error damages your site.
3. Enabling you to install an SSL certificate
Of course, your data is not the only thing at risk. If you process personal information from visitors, such as credit card details, letting them fall into the hands of hackers is absolutely disastrous. You may even face legal consequences for doing so.
The simplest – and also recommended – way of securing this type of data is through an SSL certificate. This encrypts data as it’s transferred across the internet, making it almost ‘unhackable’. What’s more, you also get visual cues as to how secure your site is, which make it easier for your visitors to trust your site, and in turn boosts your search engine ranking.
While implementing this technology was previously a tall order, plenty of companies now recognize the need for encrypted data. For example, we offer a number of solutions to install an SSL certificate, charged yearly. For ultimate piece of mind, it’s a no-brainer!
4. Making sure your server and software is optimized and updated
Finally, a host will usually provide you with the tools you need to secure your website, but it’s down to you to use them optimally. However, when it comes to your actual server, your host is the one that needs to ensure your site’s safety.
To do this, they’ll often implement plenty of software, tools, and technology that will probably go over your head. Essentially, your server will be configured to stop malicious intrusions, have the maximum possible ‘uptime’ available, and provide state-of-the-art software to power the server itself.
For example, our WordPress hosting has a tough-to-crack security provision. This consists of sophisticated monitoring, as well as custom access rules. We also have multiple firewalls to help stop attacks early.
We don’t want to sound like a broken record when it comes to talking about site security. However, it is and always will be vital.
In this post, we’ve looked at four ways a quality host can help stem the tide of unwanted visitors. These include:
- Offering – or giving access to – a suitable web application firewall.
- Providing regular backups of your server, sometimes daily.
- Giving you the opportunity to install an SSL certificate.
- Constantly making sure your server is running optimally, and the software is up to date.
Article written by Tom Rankin, staff writer at WordCandy.