The secret to rock solid shared server security and uptime!

Written by Jo Stonehouse 0 Comments
Two of the most important issues faced by a shared web host are server security and uptime. Everyone in the industry advertises that their servers are secure, and that they provide 99.9% uptime - but the fact is when it comes to dealing with a compromised account affecting the whole server or a single user overloading the server and long service downtimes, this advertising just becomes gibberish. We want to differentiate Kualo from other web hosts by having truly phenomenal uptime, and we can happily say that our shared hosting environment really does deliver on that goal.

So what's our secret sauce?

It all started with a chance meeting at the cPanel conference two years back (queue the video, you'll see me riding a bucking bronco 1 min 42 seconds in, then promptly falling off around 20 seconds later!). Amongst many of the great people we met, who may or may not have been better than me on the bronco, we came across a great bunch of guys from a company called 1H. Honestly, these people really are great - even down to sending Craig, our Ops Director, a special message on his birthday:

But more than just being nice people to hang out with and good at remembering birthdays, these guys have a killer product. Seriously, it's really, really good.

Through a unique set of technologies, 1H Hive isolates accounts on the server from each other and thus creates something similar to an isolated VPS environment. Separating all accounts in their own environment practically brings the chances of a single account compromising the whole server down to zero. Unlike on standard shared hosting, where each account can easily be used to provide read-and-write access to all other accounts hosted on the server, with Hive, all accounts are tightly locked down to their own home directories. Even if another website on the server is hacked, through let’s say a WordPress vulnerability, the attacker cannot get outside the account. In short, this technology prevents a single vulnerable website on a shared server from being used to take down other websites on the same server or compromise the whole machine. You might not think this happens - but trust me, this is a major problem with many hosts who claim to be 'secure'.

What about uptime? Monitoring is the key word here. If you want to ensure a reliable and stable server uptime, you have to monitor. And by monitoring we do not mean checking the server load every 5 minutes - in 5 minutes the whole server might have gone down and the ticketing system flooded by customers’ inquiries. Trust me, learning about a server side problem from a customer is the last thing we want. So, 1H kicked in here as well - and our shared servers are now monitored by Guardian. Guardian checks all the vital services running on our servers every 0.5 seconds (yes, that's twice a second folks!). What's more, it doesn't just tell us when there's a problem - it also automatically starts to apply remedies to fix problems before they become serious. Most of the time, with Guardian installed, we don't even get alerts because it reacts faster than any normal server monitoring system ever could (or even any human for that matter!). Within a second of the load being elevated, Guardian is already busy working on ensuring that the system remains stable, and load reduces. At the end of the day, this means that web sites we host just stay up, our sysadmins have less firefighting to do fixing server issues, and our customers are happy. This is what I call a win-win-win situation.

To sum it up, 1H software helped us:

-- provide more efficient and stable servers
-- reduce the risk of having a whole server compromised through a single vulnerable application
-- increase uptime and reduce the impact of load spikes that can take down or slow down a server

What's more... this isn't where the story ends. 1H does even more, and I'll be talking about it in my next post, so stay tuned!

If you're looking for really stable hosting backed by the 1H software, why not order one of our web hosting or reseller hosting plans. If you have your own server - talk to us about getting 1H installed on it. Trust me, you will not look back.

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About the Author

Jo Stonehouse is the Founder and Managing Director at Kualo. He loves helping businesses succeed online, and is based in London were he lives with his wife, Sali, daughter Seren, son Griff and dog, Milo.