In my last post I talked about Google’s free SEO tools that included a report on successful SEO methods over the past year. A recurring argument in that report was that branding is playing a continuingly enhanced role in search rankings as opposed to the more technical aspects of site building. With so many options available for IaaS and SaaS the major factor in online branding has become security. Should your online business take extra steps to ensure privacy and if so is your website duly trusted by search engines as well as clients?
One way to be able to boast security is through customized or private hosting. Privately hosted servers are dedicated to your business alone and are as secure as your front end. If your business collects private information from customers then it is your responsibility to safeguard that information through enhanced security. Shared servers suffer the vulnerabilities of their weakest sites and after the numerous recent hacks of both governmental and private services like the recent break into dating website Ashley Madison not to mention the breach of the U.S. IRS database many online users have become more concerned about the safety of information kept in large stores.
If your website is not dedicated to collecting the world’s secrets then the problems that face shared hosting should not concern you too greatly. There are enough steps that you can take on your own to reduce risk.
- Using secure and trusted themes or hiring a trustworthy and capable web designer can prevent front end attacks like SQL injections
- Limit access to your website by third parties (e.g. file uploads, editing rights etc.)
- Convert to HTTPS and employ other SSL certificates for you and your clients
- Encrypt any user data stored on the server
- Inquire about your host’s security measures like the implementation of protocols like server name identification that separate your website from others on the server
- Minimize the use of PHP, Flash, and Java in your website
- Update passwords and applications regularly to keep security services current
Pragmatic thinking along with the included security services that come with most hosting plans (firewalls and encryption) should be more than enough if you are not responsible for too much sensitive information.
Security aside, there are other factors to consider when selecting a hosting plan. It is up to you to weigh the value of server reliability and the cost of down time as well as speed. Large websites with lots of traffic benefit from private hosting whereas smaller ones will function perfectly on a shared server. In the end security and functionality start with your choices and practices and end with the services that you outsource to a hosting provider.