Security and Shared Hosting: Beginner’s Guide

Shared hosting is a popular option for website owners who want to keep costs low or prefer not to maintain a physical server. However, shared hosting also presents some potential security risks that website owners need to be aware of. In this article, I will share my personal experience with security and shared hosting and provide valuable tips to help website owners safeguard their sites against possible attacks.

Shared Hosting Security Overview

When you opt for shared hosting, your website shares server resources with other websites. This shared environment creates its own set of challenges in terms of security. Since multiple websites share the same server, a security breach on one of the sites can potentially impact all of the sites on the server.

One of the biggest risks associated with shared hosting is cross-site contamination. This can occur when one website on the server is compromised, and the malware or virus finds its way into other websites hosted on the same server. Another potential risk is a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. These types of attacks overload the server with traffic, causing it to crash or become unavailable.

In order to minimize these risks, it is important to choose a reputable web hosting provider that takes security seriously. Look for a provider that offers proactive security measures such as firewalls, malware scans, and intrusion detection systems. It is also recommended to keep your website software up to date and use strong, unique passwords for all accounts associated with your website.

Shared Hosting Vulnerabilities

One of the greatest vulnerabilities of shared hosting is the sharing of resources. Multiple websites on a single server means that they all have access to the same resources, which makes it easier for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities in any one of the hosted sites.

Another vulnerability is the lack of control over the server environment. With shared hosting, you are limited in your ability to modify server settings or install custom software, which can limit your ability to secure your site in the way you see fit.

In addition, shared hosting can be susceptible to attacks that exploit weaknesses in the underlying server software or operating system. This is why it is important to choose a web hosting provider that is committed to keeping their infrastructure up to date with the latest security patches and updates.

Finally, the actions of other users on the shared hosting server can also pose a risk. If one of the other websites on the server is engaging in malicious behavior, it can negatively affect the server’s reputation and result in all hosted websites being treated as potentially dangerous by search engines and other security tools.

Choosing a Secure Shared Hosting Provider

Selecting a secure shared hosting provider is critical for the safety and success of your website. Consider the following factors when choosing a provider:

  • Security Features: Look for a provider that offers advanced security features such as firewalls, malware scanning, and intrusion detection systems. Make sure they offer robust backup and disaster recovery services.
  • Reputation: Choose a provider with a good reputation in the industry. Check online reviews and ask for personal references. Avoid providers with a history of frequent security breaches or poor customer service.
  • Uptime Guarantee: Ensure that your provider has a strong uptime guarantee. Choose a provider that can guarantee 99.9% uptime or better.
  • Support: Choose a provider that offers 24/7 customer support. Be sure to read reviews or ask for references to ensure they provide prompt and helpful support.
  • Security Updates: Choose a provider that is committed to keeping their infrastructure up to date with the latest security patches and updates.

Keep in mind that the cheapest option may not always be the best one in terms of security. If you prioritize the safety of your website, consider investing a little more in a reputable provider with comprehensive security features. A secure shared hosting provider will provide a foundation for your website’s online success.

Strong Password Policy

Passwords are a critical component of website security, and a strong password policy is essential for shared hosting security. Adopting a strong password policy and enforcing it consistently can go a long way in protecting your website from hacking attempts.

Here are some tips for creating a strong password policy:

  • Length: Make sure passwords are at least eight characters in length. Longer passwords are more difficult to crack.
  • Complexity: Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters in your passwords. Avoid using common phrases, words found in the dictionary, or personal information.
  • Change Frequency: Change your passwords at least every three to six months to minimize the potential damage that could occur from compromised passwords.
  • Secure Storage: Store passwords securely using a password manager. Avoid storing them in plain text files orusing the same password across multiple accounts.

By creating a strong password policy, you will significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your shared hosting account. It is also recommended to educate your team about password best practices and to enable two-factor authentication wherever possible.

Enabling Two-Factor Authentication

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security for your website login, it adds an additional step to the login process which can make it harder for attackers to gain access to your website.

Enabling 2FA is a simple and effective way to add an additional layer of security to your shared hosting account. Once enabled, 2FA requires a second form of authentication in addition to your password. This second layer of authentication can be a text message or call to your phone, an app on your smartphone, or a physical security key (like Yubikey).

By enabling Two-Factor Authentication, you can significantly increase the security of your shared hosting account. It is recommended to use 2FA for all of your web hosting accounts as well as for any other important online accounts.

When setting up 2FA, make sure to store extra authentication methods in a secure location in case you lose access to your primary method of 2FA. Additionally, make it a regular practice to review the activity logs of any 2FA-enabled accounts to identify any unusual logins or access attempts.

Updating and Backing Up Your Website

Security vulnerabilities can exist in relation to the software powering your website. This is why it is important to stay up to date with the latest patches and security updates for your website software.

Installing updates can be done through a control panel provided by your web hosting provider or by logging into the backend of your website. Keep in mind that even small updates can also have security benefits.

Another important step to protect your website from security risks is to back it up regularly. Creating frequent backups of your website ensures that you can quickly restore your site in case of a security breach or a server failure.

Backups can be scheduled to occur automatically, depending on the web hosting provider. It is recommended to keep at least a weekly backup of your entire site (keep in mind that long retention periods can be costly though).

Make sure that the backups you create are stored in a secure location, outside of the server environment. Regular backups give you a valuable recovery option if your website is hit with a security-related issue.

Updating your website software and creating regular backups are two simple yet very effective ways to reduce the risk of security breaches and improve shared hosting security.

Securing Your Email Accounts

Email accounts can pose a significant security risk if not properly secured. Hackers may hijack your email account and use it to gain access to your website and other sensitive information. Here are some tips to improve the security of your email account:

  1. Use Strong Passwords: Use a strong password and change it regularly. Utilize upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters in your password. Avoid obvious information such as birthdates, names, or pets that can be found with social media clues.
  2. Two-Factor Authentication: Turn on two-factor authentication for your email account. Automatic sign-in and password saving options should be avoided.
  3. SSL Encryption: Make sure that your email account uses SSL encryption to increase the security of your email communications. This means the communications between the email server and your device are secure.
  4. Avoid Phishing Scams: Be cautious of phishing scams. Do not open suspicious emails or click on suspicious links that ask for you to enter personal information.

By implementing these strategies, you can greatly reduce the risk of a security breach to your email accounts. It is also essential that you keep your email account updated with the latest security measures, including the use of the latest anti-virus and anti-spam software.

Configuring Firewall and Access Controls

Firewalls and access controls are critical components of shared hosting security. Here are some tips to secure your shared hosting environment:

  1. Access Controls: Secure login credentials for every user who has access to your hosting account. Restrict permissions as required for each user, and revoke permissions whenever needed.
  2. Firewall: Ensure that the web hosting provider has a reliable firewall set up to protect against DDoS attacks and other common breaches. It is essential to protect your site against malicious traffic.
  3. Anti-Virus Measures: Install up-to-date anti-virus software on all devices used to access the web hosting account, as well as connected applications such as local FTP clients.
  4. Updates: Ensure that all software, including the Operating System and the website software, are up-to-date with security patches and software updates.

By configuring firewall and access controls, you can fortify your shared hosting security. Enforce strong passwords, use auto-lockout features at login after a certain number of wrong attempts, and audit the activity of all your hosting accounts. These best practices will undoubtedly give you greater control over your environment and help you maintain a heightened level of security.

Dealing with Security Breaches

Despite your best efforts to secure your shared hosting environment, there is always a possibility that a security breach could occur. It is essential to have a plan in place for responding to and mitigating security incidents.

Here are some steps to take if a security breach has occurred:

  1. Isolate the Compromised Site: Immediately isolate the hacked site to prevent further damage. Notify your hosting provider and ask them to disable the account or secure the server where the hack occurred.
  2. Collect Information: Collect as much information as possible on the type of attack, the damage that has been done, and any security vulnerabilities that may have been exploited.
  3. Restore from Backups: Once you have isolated the site, restore it from the most recent backup. This step can help you restore your website to a previously uncompromised state.
  4. Investigate the Issue: Data including server logs and access reports, can be useful in finding the cause and source of the breach. There might be recurring issues that need to be addressed.
  5. Improve Security: After the website has been restored, security measures should be reviewed and strengthened. The changes may include more robust passwords, two-factor authentication, or stronger access control measures.

When a security breach occurs, swift and decisive actions can help mitigate damage and prevent further compromises. Make sure that you have a plan in place and that all stakeholders are aware of the protocol for responding to security incidents.


Maintaining security in shared hosting can be a difficult challenge, but it is not impossible. By implementing strong password policies, enabling two-factor authentication, updating and backing up your website regularly, and working with a reputable web hosting provider with advanced security measures, you can safeguard your website and its data.

It is imperative to have a plan in place for responding to security breaches to prevent further damages. Be cautious of phishing and always improve on security measures. With these best practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of security breaches and minimize the impact of any potential security incidents.


David Cross

David is the chief editor at WebHostingMedia right from the beginning. He has a great passion for building and managing websites and creating helpful content. He is also interested in programming - currently learning python.