Hosting a website that can withstand various malicious attacks and unauthorised access attempts is not an easy task. There are several approaches to mitigating digital threats and reducing your site's vulnerabilities. There is no one-fits-all solution however and the site's owners or administrators should plan for various contingencies well in advance, in lieu of their financial situation and technical expertise. This guide attempts to describe several scenarios and various approaches for secure hosting.
Step 1: Decide on your level of technical expertise
A lot of choices made within this guide will depend on your level of technical expertise dealing with server configuration and maintenance. You should evaluate your situation honestly and try not to exceed this level. We will use the following key to differentiate the difficulty associated with each type of activity.
- High Technical - multiple experiences of server administration, can confidently install/update server software; apache, mysql, mail server OR access to a consultant with these skills. Do not attempt to learn as you go!
- Intermediate Technical - some experience of server administration, can install and manage web services software via guides, can use ssh and commandline interface
- Basic Technical - no experience with server management. Can use software management interfaces such as CPanel
Required - basic knowledge about Internet infrastructure and addressing is required should you want to maintain anything on the Internet (Facebook, twitter, other social networks exempted) that is bound to last the test of time. Please read through HOW DOES THE INTERNET ACTUALLY WORK? to get the basics and go on from there. You need to know a little bit about architecture before building your house.
Step1: What are you planning to host?
- Website - standalone website, blog, forum
Step 2: What are your hosting options
Each category will include details of hosting options for additional reference we include here core hosting types and a methodology for choosing a hosting provider:
Step 3: Plan for contingency and threat mitigation
For each form of system use relevant threats and strategies to mitigate them are include. These approaches are ordered in terms of technical ability requirements. The following topics are relevant to all setups: