Why are shared hosting environments more susceptible to more security concerns?

As different clients with different websites share the resources of a single server in a shared hosting environment, chances are that it becomes more and more difficult to protect it against security concerns, both from outside and from the other websites themselves. Any server interacting with the any running website puts itself open to the risks of potential threats. Increasing the number of sites interacting with the server in a shared hosting environment multiplies the security risks that the server faces. No matter how you try to institute security measures with a shared hosting environment, the fact is that, it is plainly not possible to ensure a 100 percent airtight protection to it.

What are the typical security concerns in shared hosting?

Even though websites in a shared hosting environment has separated domains and separate content, still they are intrinsically linked to one another via the single server they share. Having shared the resources of a single server means that you also share with the expenses which makes shared hosting so affordable especially for small and medium sized websites. This same advantage also brings along with it issues and security concerns. These are the most typical security concerns in shared hosting:

  • Clients often have access to Perl, PHP and shell accounts which makes it easy for a client to DoS or Denial of Service all the other clients with a badly written program.
  • External DoS on the whole hosting service, which means that if an IP is experiencing a DoS attack, you also suffer the same problem with the others.
  • Most often than not, clients of shared hosting solutions also share an IP address with other clients. This arrangement often works out fine but it is important to know that whatever happens to your neighbours sharing the same IP with you will also get to you. If your neighbour using the same IP will be placed on a spam blacklist, everybody else using the IP will also share the same fate.
  • It is very vulnerable to malware attacks.
  • Other harmful data can be uploaded in the other sites easily, putting your site at risk. These can be introduced to the server through vulnerabilities of a legitimate clients’ website and can be used steal data.
  • DDoS attacks launched by software loaded into the server allow hackers to control an entire hosting server and then attack other server, either from the same network or from other networks.

What possible precautions can be taken to protect sites in shared hosting environments?

Though it is impossible to put up an impregnable security solution to a hosting environment, especially shared hosting solutions, some precautions and measures can be instituted to strengthen and fortify it against security concerns. Some of these precautions are the following:

  • Hosting companies should carefully screen the identity of new clients by requiring proof of identity.
  • Install a reliable firewall to block threat from outside the network.
  • Install software that prevents DDoS attack on servers. This should be a must to all hosting solutions.
  • Limit use of executable commands as these can be used to access files throughout the server network.
  • Constant monitoring against malicious code uploads.
  • Suspend sites where threat is found and will only be allowed to function when threat is removed.
  • If possible, encrypt data being uploaded so as not to compromise it during the upload, with the use of SFTP.

Who is responsible to keep shared hosting safe, the host or the client?

Although the host has the major responsibility of keeping the network safe and clean, the client should also share the same burden of responsibility. In the simplest level, both should make it a habit to change their access passwords periodically.