Daily Archives: February 21, 2016

How to Secure Your Cloud Hosting Account

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Cloud hosting is the next big thing in web hosting industry. There are so much cloud hosting services can achieve that conventional hosting can’t. You can, for example, have more web hosting space for less by going for cloud hosting instead of a more conventional physical server. One thing that hasn’t changed is the need for good security practice in order to keep your cloud hosting account as secured as possible. Here are a few tips you can follow.

A Strong Password & Two-Factor Authentication

Depending on the cloud hosting service you use, you can now activate two-factor authentication to further protect your account. Whenever you need to sign in, the server will send a temporary authentication password or code to your smartphone or via other supported methods.

Two-factor authentication means no unauthorized parties can access your account without your permission. Even when someone tries to hack into your cloud hosting account, you will get the authentication request and quickly prevent that person from accessing the account further.

If two-factor authentication is not supported, on the other hand, you can choose a strong password instead. It is not difficult to set up a strong password, especially with apps such as 1-Password now come equipped with password generators. Don’t forget to change the password at least once every 6 months to keep your account secured.

Security Certificate and SSH Keys

This next tip is for those of you who use cloud VPS service to host your websites or web apps. Instead of allowing administrators to log in via SSH using standard passwords, create SSH keys for each individual administrator. Once the keys are installed, you can then disable password logins to protect your cloud VPS entirely.

Key-based authentication is much more secured than password-based logins simply because they can only come from authorized machines. Since passwords are disabled, you don’t have to worry about other people trying to brute-force their way into your cloud hosting account.

For front-end users, set up SSL security with a valid security certificate to prevent data theft and unauthorized access. SSL is great for online stores and websites who need to gather users’ information as well, since the presence of a valid security certificate will help increase users’ confidence level when submitting their details.

Backups Stored Remotely

One of the key benefits of using cloud hosting is its immense reliability. Instead of using just a single physical server, a cloud server is constructed from several servers bound together into a cluster. Even when one – or several – of the servers stops working, your data remains safe and the site will continue to be accessible.

Even with the extra layer of security, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have proper backups. Luckily, the best cloud hosting services usually come with built-in automated backup creation tool. The only thing you need to do, except from letting the system back up your entire server, is move the backup files to a remote location.

For this, you can choose one of two methods. You can download the backup files and store them offline. This is the most cost-effective way of backing up your server and doesn’t require extra backup services at all. However, in the event of a disaster – or when you need to move to a new cloud service – you will have to upload everything; this is not always practical or easy to do.
The second approach is to set up a cloud backup account on a remote server and then automatically copy the backup files to that new account. The entire process can be fully automated too, thanks to the best web apps and cloud management tools available today. You can even use free services such as Dropbox or Google Drive to store your backup files.

Private Networking

Again, this one is for cloud VPS users. Most cloud VPS services now allow users to create private VPS. Digital Ocean, for instance, offers private networking for select droplets. When used correctly, private networking can actually be used to secure different parts of your server.

You can, for example, set up a separate MySQL or database server for your hosting setup. Activate private networking on the database server and whitelist only the main web server’s IP address. The database server will be safe from external access and you no longer have to worry about information theft or hacking.

The same setup can be used with server-side caching. Varnish or Nginx can now be used as a reverse proxy for your site, protecting the rest of the server from external access altogether. Now that important parts of the server is hidden behind a layer of a public server or proxy, securing your cloud hosting account will be much easier to do.
Have more cloud security tips to share? Be sure to leave them in the Comments section below!