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An Insight into Online Security

Thu Sep 27, 2018

Categories: Technology

An Insight into Online Security

One of the most stressful parts of supplying online services like we do is the constant threat of being hacked. We currently have three web servers as well as email hosting infrastructure that's available online and can be seen by anyone all over the world, and this is all under constant threat of attack.

Web servers have to be openly accessible in order to display websites. When you go visit a website using your web browser you are sending a request to a web server, which is a physical computer somewhere in the world to ask for that web page. That web server or computer then returns the requested informaiton to allow you to view the web page. This is a fundamental part of how the Internet works, and is something we sometimes take for granted.

Unfortunately this openness also means web servers are vulnerable to attack from hackers. Every minute of every day we face the potential of someone getting into somewhere they shouldn't get to. We take regular backups and upgrade our websites and server software to help minimise the risk, but it just takes one missed upgrade, or one old script still on the server somewhere to cause damage.

We have multiple monitoring systems in place, and a team of engineers available 24/7 to react to any issues and get things resolved quickly. However that's a situation we really don't want to find ourselves in and so we work hard to maximise security.

I currently have email notifications set up on our main web server to tell me when an IP address has been blocked due to too many login attempts. This tells me the end user IP address and their country of origin. It's quite interesting to see where these threats come from as they originate from all over the world. There's a new email notification on average every 20 minutes or so. This isn't all the threats the server faces, it is just the ones that have got through our firewall, the first line of defense, and made attempts to log into the server or mail server.

I have counted the login attempts from each country from the previous 24 hours, and it looks like this:

  • China: 22
  • USA: 10
  • Thailand: 9
  • France: 8
  • Indonesia: 7
  • Russia: 7
  • Saudi Arabia: 2
  • UK: 2
  • Italy: 2
  • Ireland: 1
  • Mexico: 1

These numbers are fairly typical and serves to highlight the importance of keeping our software up to date and our network as secure as possible.

All websites hosted on our web servers are also monitored for new security upgrades, and these are applied by us at no additional cost, included in our annual web hosting fee.


Written by John Pottinger


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