Your relationship with your web hosting provider should involve trust and cooperation. You should go into the relationship having full confidence that your data and your privacy will be safe. The only way to have that type of confidence is to thoroughly evaluate your your provider. You can start by asking them these 5 basic security questions.
- What are your security policies? – It is very easy to latch on to the promise of good security, but what are the actual policies and procedures that your host has in place? How do they prevent attacks and malware? How do they handle threats? How do they mitigate actual attacks?
- What is under hood? – Most hosting companies list features of their hosting plans, but some do not tell you what hardware, operating systems and low-level software they are running. You need to know what type of web server your host is running and if it is up-to-date. You need to know how much system RAM will be allocated for hosting.
- Software installation/maintenance – Many hosts offer script and web application installation. They may call them 1-click script installers or something along those lines. You need to find out if they will maintain those apps once installed or if it will ultimately be up to you to keep them updated. What might start out like something easy could turn into more than you can handle.
- What security measures are in place? – This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised to find some hosts have very little security in place. Does your host monitor for suspicious activity? What types of attacks do they have software installed to protect against?
- Secure transactions – Uploading, downloading, and web transactions should be secure. For that, you will need a secure transfer method, such as SFTP, and the ability to secure web purchases or information submission, such as SSL. While nearly all hosts offer some form of SSL support, it may cost extra. Many, however, do not offer SFTP and still rely on the unsecured FTP.
The more you know about your web host, the better prepared you will be for whatever challenges lie ahead. If you ask the right questions, you will know exactly what to expect once your website is up and running.