Best Practices to Secure Your Website Hosted on a Shared Server

Did you know that over 70% of websites are hosted on shared servers? That’s right! Whether you’re running a personal blog, an e-commerce site, or a small business website, chances are you’re sharing server resources with other websites. While shared hosting is cost-effective and convenient, it also comes with security risks. In this blog post, we’ll explore the best practices to secure your website when it’s hosted on a shared server.

Now, Let’s understand the shared hosting landscape. When you sign up for shared hosting, your website resides on a server alongside other websites. It’s like living in an apartment building where you share common resources like water, electricity, and parking space. While this setup keeps costs down, it also means that your website’s security is intertwined with that of your neighbors.

The Security Challenge

Shared hosting poses unique security challenges. Here’s why:

  1. Neighboring Websites: Your website shares the same server environment with other websites. If one of your neighbors has a vulnerable script or poorly configured application, it could potentially impact your site’s security.
  2. Resource Limitations: Shared servers allocate resources (CPU, memory, bandwidth) among all hosted websites. If a single site experiences a sudden spike in traffic or a security breach, it can affect the performance of other sites on the same server.
  3. Limited Control: As a shared hosting user, you have limited control over server settings. You can’t modify server-level configurations or install custom security software directly.

Best Practices for Shared Hosting Security

1. Choose a Reputable Hosting Provider

Start by selecting a reliable hosting provider. Look for companies with a track record of security excellence. Read reviews, check their uptime guarantees, and inquire about their security protocols. A reputable host will actively monitor server security, apply patches, and keep their infrastructure up-to-date.

2. Keep Software Updated

Outdated software is a welcome mat for hackers. Regularly update your content management system (CMS), plugins, themes, and any other applications running on your website. Vulnerabilities in older versions can be exploited by malicious actors.

3. Isolate Your Account

Many shared hosting providers offer account isolation. This means that your website runs in its own virtual environment, separate from other users. Isolation prevents cross-site contamination. If your host provides this feature, enable it.

4. Use Strong Authentication

Secure your website’s admin area with strong passwords. Avoid using default usernames like “admin.” Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible. 2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification method (such as a text message or an authentication app).

5. Regular Backups

Back up your website regularly. In case of a security breach or accidental data loss, backups are a lifesaver. Store backups off-site (not on the same server) to prevent them from being compromised.

6. Implement Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A WAF filters incoming traffic and blocks malicious requests. Some hosting providers include WAFs as part of their services. If not, consider using a third-party WAF solution.

7. Monitor Suspicious Activity

Keep an eye on your website’s logs. Look for unusual patterns, failed login attempts, or unexpected file changes. Use security plugins or tools to automate this process.

8. Limit File Permissions

Set strict file permissions. Avoid giving unnecessary write access to files and directories. Most CMS platforms allow you to configure permissions at the folder level.

9. Educate Yourself

Stay informed about security best practices. Read blogs, attend webinars, and participate in online forums. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to protect your website.

Conclusion

Securing a website on a shared server requires diligence and proactive measures. By following these best practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of security breaches. Remember, your website’s security is a shared responsibility—just like living in that apartment building. So, lock your virtual doors, keep an eye on the hallway, and stay safe in the digital neighborhood!