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People who do business on the Internet need secure hosting services. They must remember that viruses can destroy hosting systems and hackers can steal confidential data. Security is even more important in a shared or virtual web hosting environment where other customers can intrude into each other's services.

A customer needs to ask a host whether a cage structure has been implemented. A cage structure provides each customer complete privacy from all other websites. No one can interfere with the core operations of the host machine, or associated services.

Customers need to ask the host if any unproven binary code is permitted in the hosting environment. A good host will prohibit the use of unsolicited binary code on a shared hosting service, to avoid compromising the security of the sites of other customers.

A good web host will ensure that the operating system and hosting automation software deployments are maintained properly. This will ensure that all the known or reported loopholes in the code, which may be accessed by intruders, are eliminated. The host should apply the latest service packs and fixes. He should also implement security advisories on a daily basis to ensure that the system is protected.

A hosting company must constantly audit its security. Specific action should be taken to ensure that all network services are secure, that all the hardware is physically secure, that the file system is coded to prevent unauthorized access and that passwords are changed frequently.

All this should be guarded by firewalls to block hackers from accessing your hosting environment. A firewall, which has been configured properly, makes it difficult for hackers to locate your system, enter it, or attack it. A firewall also ensures that an attack is not launched from within the hosting environment. This may happen if the system is hacked, or if a worm or virus enters.

Customers also need to take their own steps to ensure their online security. Use passwords with at least eight characters, which have a combination of alphabets, numbers and symbols. You should avoid common words, and most certainly avoid your name, adjacent keys on the keyboard, or your personal information as passwords.

You must use anti-virus software and ensure that it is updated regularly. A UNIX-based hosting environment is immune to Windows viruses, though it can transmit them to other Windows systems. Customers need to take measures to ensure that the websites they build are not infected.