Is your website hosted on a shared server?
Do you fear the risks involved in sharing the server resources with the other accounts?
With the advancement of hardware power, it is possible to host thousands of websites simultaneously on one server. That’s why the users of the server do not have to prepare an individual server or dedicated server to publish their websites and there is no need to have lots of knowledge and experience to manage the server. These are the benefits of shared hosting plans for new entrants.
Nevertheless, shared hosting is prone to performance and security issues as compared to dedicated hosting or cloud hosting. In a typical shared hosting configuration, all the website’s scripts are executed under the web server’s user account irrespective of their owners. There might be a lack of proper separation between different websites hosted on the same server and this might involve some risks.
In this article, the top 3 methods for handling security threats to shared hosting have been examined. Read on to find out:
What Is Shared Hosting?
In shared hosting, multiple websites are hosted on one single server. The shared hosting is like a public transport system, which is less expensive to use and involves sharing resources with other users of that server. Shared hosting is an excellent solution for personal websites and small businesses, as they do not require high configuration or higher bandwidth. The low cost of shared hosting is the main reason for its popularity.
The maintenance cost of that server is distributed among its users. The users have the option to pay a little more to access some more resources. Shared servers have cPanel or Plesk to manage the websites. Due to this, users with less technical skill and in-depth knowledge of servers can handle shared servers efficiently.
Some regular tasks like backing up the server data, adding DDoS protection, and installing updates are carried out with the help of the IT team of hosting providers. A big disadvantage of shared hosting is the possibility of a ‘bad neighbour effect’, where other websites can use more resources to slow down your website, this might result in a higher downtime and loss of customers.
Although cheap and easy to handle, shared hosting has some built-in drawbacks leading to a good deal of risks.
Here is an insight on the top 3 risks of shared hosting along with their remedies.
Every website has its folders containing the content, files, and other data. This folder resides inside the directory on the web server. The dedicated and the private servers do not face this problem as every website doesn’t need to share a directory to store the website files.
One directory of the shared hosting will have multiple folders with the core files of all the websites hosted in the shared hosting. With a shared directory, the websites will be linked at their core to all the sites on the server. The shared directories create the risk. There is a chance that the hackers can run programs to identify the loopholes on each website in the main directory.
Install & Update The Security Plugins
The risk factor from the shared directory can be avoided by installing a good WordPress security plugin. A security plugin creates a strong shield against any type of malicious activity from hackers. If by any chance the hackers gain access to your website, the security plugin can stop them and ping you.
Slow Loading Time
The slow loading time of websites hosted on a shared server can cause higher downtime and performance issues to your website. It can be caused by hacking another site to your shared server. If any of the websites are compromised, hackers can perform illegal activities, like uploading illegal folders and files, sending spam emails, and launching malicious attacks on the rest of the websites. Hence, the affected site uses more resources from the shared server; the result is the slow loading of the website. Sometimes it also can be unresponsive.
Some common malicious activities include:
- Uploading illegal files and folders.
- Sending spam emails to the customers.
- Launching DDoS attacks on other hosted websites.
- Making the websites slow to load and hard to access for visitors.
If the problem grows gradually, it can be due to the growing demand for your website. However, if the problem is almost sudden, you can guess something is not right.
Limit Access To The Files
Hackers always try to get access to certain important files in your directory. Set necessary permissions on the file to prevent this. This will allow only you and the website administrator to access those files. In this case, you must have cPanel access to change file permissions.
Hackers Might Be Neighbours
Like public transport, the shared hosting environment can also be compared with a shared apartment where many people share common spaces like lobby, stairwell, and lifts. Now, if one person, any of your neighbours, don’t follow the rules like keeping the windows of the lobby open, thieves can enter through that opened windows and break into other rooms. The neighbours of your shared hosting can do the same.
A hacker disguised as an IT professional can procure a shared hosting plan and become your neighbour. After some time, they can start spamming and phishing activities to steal data from your websites. In that event, it is always a threat to share the hosting environment with other neighbours.
Restrict PHP Executions In Unknown Folders
If the hackers in the camouflage of honest neighbors find any vulnerable position, they can utilize that to create their spammy files. Then they can redirect the website visitors or flood the customers with unnecessary content. In most cases, the hackers run the code in a typical programming language named PHP. This PHP execution can be done on your website in particular folders. To prevent the hackers to perform this evil task, block PHP execution in unknown folders.
Another way to stay safe is to choose a web hosting company that has a lot of reputation and must have a proven milestone of offering reliable shared hosting solutions. MilesWeb is one such web host that offers complete security, data protection, and SSL with all its shared hosting plans. They also offer free malware scanning and removal because of which no website is vulnerable to hacking attempts.
Shared hosting is considered a great solution for sharing resources of the server among various websites; at the same time, this hosting solution has some security weaknesses and drawbacks. The top risks of shared hosting can be lessened to enjoy the benefits of shared hosting. To beat the security problem several practical methods have been mentioned in this article.
One point always should be kept in mind that any single tool or application can’t offer ultimate security, rather achieving the security is a consistent strategy. Using proper tools, and choosing a reputed web hosting company offering reliability and better performance at the same time will help keep the malicious activities at bay.