Modsecurity, SSL Certificates, Hardware Firewalls, DDoS Protection: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Web Hosting Server Security

Modsecurity, SSL Certificates, Hardware Firewalls, DDoS Protection: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Web Hosting Server Security

Web hosting Gold Coast

Web hosting servers are like the guardians of valuable data, handling massive amounts of information. Whether you’re a savvy business owner or a passionate hobbyist, you depend on web hosting providers to safeguard your digital assets. But hold on tight! The online realm can be a treacherous place, with all sorts of shady characters lurking around.

Web hosts have donned their virtual capes and embarked on a mission to thwart hackers and miscreants. They employ an array of cutting-edge security tools and crafty tactics to shield their servers from harm. 

This article outlines some of the main security tools and tactics that web hosts use to protect their servers from harm.

CXS

CXS stands for Configserver eXploit Scanner. It is responsible for scanning all files on the server for malicious content or if they can be used for malicious purposes. CXS scans files as they enter the server, and periodically scans all existing files on the server if they have changed. When it finds a vulnerable file, it stores it in the quarantine directory so that malicious attackers cannot execute it.

Mod Security

ModSecurity (aka ModSec) is an open-source web application firewall commonly referred to as WAF. It monitors HTTP traffic and is actively responsible for detecting and blocking requests that match certain malicious patterns. This can include SQL or JavaScript injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and various other types of attacks.

When editing a website or application, it may be blocked by false positives in ModSecurity rules. This will result in a 403 (forbidden) error as it will not be possible to run anything that is considered potentially malicious by the ModSecurity rules. You can usually contact your web host, and ask them to whitelist your false positive action so that it will not be blocked in the future.

SSL Certificate

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates encrypt data sent between clients, and servers, which helps prevent man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. It also prevents any compromise of user data. SSL certificates are usually most important for e-commerce websites, and websites that process credit card transactions. 

The way different browsers (like Chrome, Safari, and others) deal with websites without SSL certificates has undergone some exciting changes lately. Having an SSL certificate is now an absolute must for all websites, especially if you’re into processing transactions. 

Why, you ask? Well, without that SSL certificate, your website visitors are in for a not-so-fun surprise – browser warnings screaming at them that your site is not secure. And let’s face it, that’s a major trust killer and engagement destroyer. 

But wait, there’s more! Search engines are getting in on the SSL action too. They’re super into websites that take security seriously and flaunt their SSL 

Thankfully, getting an SSL certificate for your website has never been easier, thanks to free SSL certificates offered by certificate authorities like Let’s Encrypt and Sectigo. 

Hardware Firewall

A hardware firewall provides an additional layer of external security that is placed in front of your servers. Its main function is to scan all traffic sent to its servers and identify potentially malicious ones before they reach your website. You can also block the IP address on your hardware firewall. 

An external hardware firewall is particularly beneficial as it means that the server’s internal software firewall (CSF/iptables, etc.) doesn’t have to do as much work. 

A less busy server means that the server can focus its resources on its main function. But, it is very important to ensure layered security. This means having a properly configured software firewall alongside a hardware firewall. 

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) Protection

In a DDoS attack, a group of usually compromised systems is deployed together to attack another server, flooding it with traffic to overload the target server and disrupt normal operations. This can be a problem, especially for the website hosting provider

Someone who doesn’t like a particular website using one of their web hosting servers could try to bring down the website with a DDoS attack. Since this is a web hosting server serving many customers, it can cause problems for all other accounts on the same server.

DDoS Protection can detect attacks, and filter out targeted DDoS attacks at the network level before they reach the target server. If it works well, the end user should be unaware that an attack is taking place.

CloudLinux

CloudLinux has many incredibly useful features, but where it shines is shared web hosting. For security reasons, it includes software called CageFS. It is responsible for locking each hosting account into its virtual environment so that other users, their accounts, and data cannot be viewed or manipulated. This helps solve many of the security problems of traditional shared hosting, such as malicious scripts on one account infecting an entire server. 

CloudLinux is also responsible for ensuring that users can’t use more server resources than they have been allocated. For example, CloudLinux can force an account to use only 100% of its CPU and 2GB of memory. This means that even if there is heavy traffic or malicious activity on that particular hosting account, all resources of the server won’t be blocked, and won’t affect other hosting accounts sharing the same server.

Web Hosting Security Practices

In addition to being a secure hosting provider, it is important to practice web security yourself to keep your website safe from security issues. 

Here are things to consider if you wish to keep your web hosting secure.

Back Up Your Data Regularly

A backup allows you to quickly restore a website that has been hacked or has problems. Manually back up your data regularly or schedule automatic backups.

It is recommended that you also keep additional backups on your local computer or hard drive. This is especially important if your web host only keeps backups for a limited period.

Use SSL Encryption

SSL is important for ensuring secure access to and from your website. It also aids in protecting sensitive customer data. If your web host doesn’t offer free SSL certificates, you can purchase one from an SSL certificate authority. If the website has an SSL certificate, the browser will show a padlock icon next to the website URL — visitors can then click on it to view certificate details. 

Remove Unused Applications

Web application vulnerabilities such as coding issues, web server misconfigurations, design flaws, and lack of form validation could allow criminals to access the website. So, it is important to monitor applications regularly and remove unused or compromised applications. Deleting outdated unused themes, and plugins also makes WordPress more secure.

Change Your Password Regularly

Weak passwords can easily be compromised by attackers, putting your website, and confidential information at risk. We recommend changing your password at least every 3-6 months. To simplify the process, use a password manager to generate, and store all your passwords. This also helps avoid password fatigue, and reusing the same password across multiple accounts.

Install and Configure A Web Application Firewall

A web application firewall (WAF) filters, and monitors traffic between your web app, and the internet, blocking suspicious or malicious requests and generating alerts for further investigation. It helps to protect web apps from cyber-attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection. 

Not all web hosting companies integrate a web application firewall into their service, so you may need to purchase one separately. In addition to the security benefits, it is easy to activate and comes with a free plan.

Conclusion 

Improving your web host’s security is essential to protecting your company’s reputation, and confidential data. 

Finding a web hosting company with security protocols such as software security, SSL certificates, backups, and DDoS protection is the first step. Also, it is important to follow web hosting security best practices. These include backing up website data, removing unused applications, changing passwords regularly, scanning for malware, and updating software regularly.

We hope this article helps you secure the website for your company, and also the websites of your customers.