Computer Viruses and Hosting Companies
Once again there’s been a lot of focus on computer viruses lately. It always seems something requires attention. The names change but how to effectively deal with them does not. So what is your best line of defense? Make sure you have some decent antivirus software and always stay up to date with the latest virus definitions for your software. There are plenty of antivirus companies and most have 30 day demo software available for download, so you can make an informed decision before you decide which is right for you. Whether you’re computer savvy or just a beginner, a good antivirus program is a must, sooner or later you will need one.
Of course this just covers your home or workstation machine. What about your professional web site? What about the computer where your site is hosted? Good hosting companies will have some kind of policy regarding viruses as part of their regular service guarantee, but what would their policy be exactly? A web server should be dedicated to just that, serving web pages and running programs which support that purpose…Almost nothing else. If someone is using a jazzed up Windows 2000 Advanced Server as a workstation and hosting multiple web sites on it as well, you should definitely stay away. Most hosting companies will have separate servers that handle e-mail, database connectivity, and other specialized services.
Something called “shell access” is also a no-no, nobody should be allowed shell access to web servers except for the technical staff of the hosting company. You don’t want some computer whiz kid with a mean streak hacking away on the machine that hosts your site. Regularly applying service patches and operating system updates is also something your hosting company should do as part of a standard services policy. So ask your hosting company about the above and then decide whether you think your site is in safe hands. If your hosting company doesn’t have an antivirus policy you should definitely move your site to one that does.
The nature of the Internet does not allow for 100% protection, but if you own a web site you should always make sure you have a complete, up to date, backup copy of the entire site stored on a floppy or CD. This just makes good common sense. When it comes to your web site there are far worse things than a computer virus infecting your hosting companies server, but we’ll save those topics for another article.