Hosting is the most vital aspect of running a successful business. The possibilities are endless when a business goes online, but there are also potential threats that might be faced. This is especially true with the growing popularity of cloud based hosting and storage. While virtually every hosting environment can face these threats, it is important to have proper security measures in place to combat them.
Web Application and Database
The consensus around the IT industry is that most security breaches happen at the web application level. This can happen because of poor coding, outdated practices and even vulnerabilities of popular scripting libraries. No matter how well an application is programmed, there might be easily overlooked vulnerabilities present. A common threat, which is prevalent among older applications, is SQL injections. If this type of vulnerability exists, it is possible for someone to retrieve confidential information from a database. All web applications, custom made or widely used, should be tested against: injection, XSS, buffer overflow and fragmentation attacks. These attacks are common intrusion points and should be considered before software is deployed.
Web Server Infrastructure
While web applications and databases are common access points for vulnerabilities, so is a server's setup and infrastructure. If security measures are not in place to combat threats such as brute force hacking, distributed denial of service attacks, port scanning or vulnerabilities of unpatched software, a server can be accessed. Fortunately, most of these are known issues that are readily combated when a server is being prepared for hosting. However, there are various vulnerability scanning programs available which are often used to find such vulnerabilities quickly. This allows intruders to scan many different servers quickly. When there is an easy vulnerability present, they will attempt to access the server. Every hosting environment should adhere to the less is more concept: any unneeded software applications should be removed and only programs vital to hosting should be left. This reduces potential threats and is quite easy to do.
Importance of a Disaster Recovery Plan
Without a proper disaster recovery plan in place, these threats can escalate into a business losing all of their data. Although a restored server or website would still have the vulnerability, it would allow an IT expert to fix the point of intrusion and restore functionality to the server swiftly. If unwanted access is gained, data might be deleted or tampered with. This would cause all data that was not backed up to be irretrievable or unreliable. A plan for disaster recovery is just as vital as the security aspect of a host.
Hosting providers are very accommodating when utilizing a shared or managed hosting environment. While they will not be able to correct any custom web application security issues, they will be expected to maintain the highest level of security for the web server infrastructure. This would include having proper firewall access in place, software updates, and monitoring. Even the most diligent host can have a security break. Ensuring that a foolproof disaster recovery plan is in place will help to reduce any downtime a site would encounter any security issues that arise.