Shared Hosting Security Risks And Ways To Mitigate Them

As the technological advancements and website blogging flood the digital era, it becomes an expensive task to maintain individual hosting for each and every website. Thus, website owners/bloggers accept Shared Web Hosting as the most economical solution to carry forward their business. But little do they know that this compromise in hosting may lead to some major security concerns and pose a serious threat to their websites. In order to understand better the shared hosting security risks, let us first start with what is shared hosting. It would be much easier for you to understand why you should keep away with shared hosting. Finally, I will also discuss some solutions to mitigate shared hosting security risks, if you are compelled to use one.

Shared Web Hosting: An Illustration
Shared Web Hosting: An Illustration

Let’s go!

What is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is a technique where multiple websites are hosted over a single server. Small business units, bloggers, new websites with limited funds find shared web hosting as their quick and ideal solution. The working of shared web hosting is like – each website has a hosting plan which enables limited sharing of resources on the server. The option of the online presence of a business unit is what attracts the businessmen more towards shared web hosting.

The two types of web hosting solutions are:

  • Linux Shared Hosting
  • Windows Shared Hosting

A website owner can choose between the two. In simpler words, shared web hosting is like sharing an Uber instead of calling your own.

Shared Hosting Security Risks

We, till now, talked about shared hosting being the less pricey solution. But every coin has two sides, so, shared web hosting also has its own security concerns. Just like you have no idea with whom you will be sharing your Uber, similarly you have no idea about who or which websites your website will share the resources. Every client will have a limit on the total volume of the server resources they can use.

Following are a few disadvantages of shared web hosting which may also pose as a threat to your website:

Shared Hosting Security Issues – Slow load time on servers

As websites share their resources with other websites, hence the performance of the website may get hampered. In the eventuality of an external DoS on the whole hosting service, all the websites sharing that common IP feel the heat of DoS.

Shared Hosting Security Issues – Lack of customization

Since the hosting is shared, hence there will be fewer customization options available. By customization, I mean not only design and UI but also plans for DDoS mitigation and website data backup.

Shared Hosting Security Issues – Trust of the hosting provider

Even though your hosting provider may claim that they have hosted websites of renowned companies, they won’t disclose it to you as to what all websites your website will be sharing resources. Although it’s rare, the other websites might pose a threat to your website.

Shared Hosting Security Issues – All the websites are in the same directory

As hosting is shared, hence if the web server is compromised, then the adversary would find all the websites from the single directory which is being used by the other shared websites. Breach on one website would give the hacker access to other websites present on the server. The attacker may find an upload section in any of the shared websites, upload a PHP Reverse Shell or Perl Script and then access the whole directory. Based on the type of website, s/he may also analyze the CMS (Content Management System) and run either Joomla Scan or WP Scan (for WordPress websites).

Shared Hosting Security Issues – Reverse IP Lookup

During the reconnaissance phase of a web hacking, an attacker would target a website which is running on shared hosting. With the help of reverse IP lookup, the hacker can enumerate other websites that are also running on the server and gain access to those. The reverse IP lookup can be done through:

Shared Hosting Security Issues – A bad neighbor on a shared hosting server

A cracker may also purchase hosting from the hosting provider by providing authentic details, become your neighbor and then start accessing the server and disrupt the service of the server. S/he may also host malicious data on their own account and use it to cause harm to other hosted websites.

Shared Hosting Security Issues – Shared Hosting Security Risks Mitigation

Shared hosting may be economical but as mentioned above, there are some serious security flaws in the design. But those attacks can be mitigated if the hosting provider and the website owner work in synergy by taking the following precautionary measures:

  1. Enable verification of user’s input in the form of text or any document upload in order to ensure that they are not uploading malicious scripts through the upload section.
  2. A hacker would usually follow a Symlink route and bypass server authentication in case of Apache servers. Hence, it is the duty of the hosting provider to apply certain security patches to the server like Rack911 Patch, Bluehost Patch, etc.
  3. Hosting providers must scrutinize the identity of new clients through various forms of proofs.
  4. Install software like Astra Website Security that prevents malicious traffic, DDoS attack vectors, etc.
  5. Constantly monitor the websites against malicious code uploads.
  6. Check for hosting service providers’ reviews. Ensure that they follow decent security practices for hosting.

Conclusion

Websites on shared hosting is easy prey to cross-site contamination, malicious traffic, DDoS attack vectors, etc. A real-time, comprehensive monitoring system is what you need to ensure your website is well protected. Astra Firewall is known to block these attacks in addition to 100+ more threats. Our on-demand malware scanner takes only 10 minutes to scan a website and even lesser time for the subsequent scans.

How Astra Firewall protects your website
How Astra Firewall protects your website

In the end, shared hosting is an economical solution for people with lesser budgets however, they must be aware of the shared hosting security risks that are associated with it. Also, security comes as a paid service. Hence, the more you pay, the better you get services that address security concerns on shared web hosting. Together, the hosting provider and the client can ensure the safety and security of shared hosting.

Get an Astra demo now!

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About The Author

Sourish Das

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