Secure WordPress Hosting

Security is high on people's agenda when choosing a host to take care of their website. Poor security can result in malicious attacks and damaging code injections. In the worst case, a hack renders your website as nonfunctional.

At Pressidium we’d like to ease your WordPress security frustrations. We’ve scoured hundreds of WordPress security related articles. Combine them with our expert experience, and you have a fountain of security knowledge. Today you’ll learn how each of our features, effectively secures your WordPress website.


Understanding Your Environment

To understand your site's security, it’s important to look at Pressidium’s Enterprise environment setup.

Pressidium® Pinnacle Platform Enterprise Architecture

DMZ Firewall Layer

This Network Based Firewall layer is the first line of defence against malicious activity and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. It is a low level deep packet inspection layer that filters and inspects each incoming & outgoing packet for malformed requests and monitors the sanity of connections. If something isn't right, it will immediately take countermeasures to protect your site.

Web Application Firewall Layer

The WAF (Web Application Firewall) Layer is a high-level application layer firewall which inspects actual http requests and filters web content to and from your WordPress site. It will, for example, pick up SQL-Injection attacks, bad-bots, brute-force attacks or malicious cross-site scripting activity. If something is detected as out-of-order, the malicious attempt is stopped here, protecting your website from any further penetration. This is also where SSL termination & acceleration takes place.

Dynamic Load Balancing Layer

This layer performs intra-datacenter dispatching and load-distribution of requests to your site. This is where real-time and dynamically responsive Load Balancing of web and network traffic is performed. The layer ensures that delivery of your site’s content is accelerated, as each request is intelligently dispatched to the least busy server. If traffic on your site peaks, our Total Traffic Management solution will evenly distribute load across our server farms eliminating the pitfalls of slashdot effects, while further enhancing security by abstracting inner-layers of the internal private network.

Multilayer Adaptive Caching

We've built on the best. We've taken Varnish as a building block for our http cache and have created our unique multilayer adaptive caching platform. In the Web-Cache tier, a farm of dedicated caching servers simultaneously perform 2 layers of caching. The Hot-Cache layer which stores all frequently accessed content in dedicated RAM, and the Warm-Cache layer which uses SSD disk-arrays for less frequently accessed 'cold' content. This increases overall cache-hit ratios and results in your site performing significantly better over standard caching. Finally we have taken it one step further, we have created our own adaptive caching mechanism which will profile your site's traffic to enforce the most efficient caching rules for your site.

WordPress Application Layer

This tier consists of a farm of servers running the latest WordPress version & PHP 7. This is where your site's code resides, a copy of which is located on each server in the farm so your site is delivered simultaneously by all servers. Combined with our php object cache and php opcode cache which are all stored in RAM, this tier performs all the magic required in-order to dynamically render your website into beautiful html pages. This layer is the 'brains' of your site and it is where most of your site's processing is carried out while data is moved between tiers.

Database Cluster Layer

The database layer consists of synchronously replicated and clustered triplets of Master-Master databases which are based on Percona XtraDB Cluster. Percona XtraDB is a Galera MySQL cluster and is an active/active high availability and high scalability open source solution for MySQL® clustering. We use a three node per cluster topology for maximum parallel write-performance and efficiency. Combine this with the huge amounts of RAM we dedicate to the db query cache and your site's performance is accelerated to the highest possible levels.

File Storage Layer

HA web-scale SSD-based storage for simultaneous parallel access to files from multiple application nodes. Our file-system utilizes a hybrid mixture of synchronous and asynchronous replication. This results in read operations at local SSD based access speeds, incredibly faster in comparison to conventional network attached file systems. The file system automatically replicates content across all servers in a 2N+1 mirrored design and allows simultaneous read & write access for any node. We also asynchronously replicate all content to off-site storage, and offer continuous point-in-time recovery coverage, in-case disaster strikes.

Operations Layer

This layer is where our OSS & BSS systems reside. It's built upon Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and we have developed our own Enterprise-Service-Bus with BPM workflow orchestration, asynchronous messaging (+ queuing) and Web-Service APIs for all operations. Provisioning, billing, monitoring & alerting are all performed in this layer. For around the clock health & performance monitoring we also use NewRelic and Nagios/Icinga to monitor every component of our platform, from low-level infrastructure up-to each and every PHP process. We also constantly monitor the latency of each website and check it's overall performance score, in-case of any deviation or drop, an alarm is instantly raised.

Customer Portal

The Customer Portal provides customers full management via out-of-band and abstracted access to the Ops-Layer. Through its clearly designed web interface, traditionally complex and technically demanding management tasks have been made fast and simple. The portal takes full advantage of Pressidium® Pinnacle Platform’s extremely high level of automation and built-in intelligence and gives full control of an enterprise-grade platform without requiring any technical know-how.

Click on the diagram above to see a detailed description of each layer

An Enterprise hosting environment such as this forms the basis by which your website can function. But how is all this kept secure? Today we will shed some light on this often confusing topic and try to demystify it a little.


How Is WordPress Kept Secure?

At Pressidium we focus on Managed WordPress hosting. We know WordPress inside and out, so it made sense to pool our knowledge into this area. Yet secure WordPress hosting and protecting our customers installations, is something we’re always evaluating. As sophisticated malicious activities increase, so too must we stay ahead of the game.

To do this we’ve implemented many layers of security based on industry best practices. An example of this is Managed WordPress Updates. This ensures you’re always using the most stable version of WordPress there is.

For plugin and theme updates, these will occur only if they pose a security threat. We won’t update them out of the blue either. We’ll only do this with your express permission.

If you need to keep hold of that out-of-date plugin but don’t want your site hacked, we can help. We use what’s known as ‘Virtual Patching’ in our Web App Firewall (WAF). The WAF intercepts incoming attacks due to a known vulnerability. This allows us to protect your site, even if it's outdated.

To scan for exploits, malware and known security issues, we also implement server side scanning with Maldet and WPVulnDB. Maldet is software designed to detect malware specifically for hosting environments. This is different to other anti-virus programs. They only search for Operating System level trojans and traditional file-infecting viruses. Instead we scan against known vulnerabilities, the sources of which are from maintained databases.


If you need to keep hold of that out-of-date plugin but don’t want your site hacked, we can help.

We even go as far as protecting you against brute-force attacks too. This is where a hacker throws sequences of key combinations at your website, to find the right password. The Pressidium® Pinnacle Platform detects these attacks and blocks the IP address from our firewall layer.

Our Web Application Firewall has a design built around the Varnish Security Firewall concept. Using OWASP rules and filters, the firewall prevents attack vectors from reaching your installation. Should a (D)DoS attack occur, the attacking IP will receive a throttling measure. This counter measure slows down new connections from the malicious IP. It then overloads their CPU and resource usage. This makes it difficult to carry on with their attack.

With the ability to identify common attack trends we can protect customers from them. Should attacks persist, we can block the IP and use our geo-blocking features. This prevents entire countries from accessing a website if needed.

There is of course a disadvantage to all the above network filtering. We lose 50ms-100ms from our speed. We think it’s a fair compromise to make when it comes to secure WordPress hosting, as we’re sure you’ll agree.


Connecting To Our Servers

When connecting to our servers, you do so in a chroot-ed OS environment. This means your account's isolated and partitioned from other accounts. Your account’s php processes exist in a logical silo or partition. Here they have access only to your files and your resources. Your environment can’t “see” the resources of other accounts and other accounts can’t “see” yours. This is important to understand. If someone else's account becomes compromised they'll never have access to your data.

You can also access your files via our Secure FTP service. Only your personal account is given access in this instance. Since we provide your server management, there’s also no root access. All this is contained within an SSL enabled Control Panel. We call this your customer portal and it provides an overview of your account.


Do I need a Systems Administrator?

In conventional hosting environments you’re likely used to setting up everything on your own. Configuring and administering your install is likely your task too. This can be a lengthy and time-consuming job. This is especially true if your knowledge is limited.


With our managed WordPress hosting, all upkeep is managed by our team of DevOps engineers.

On conventional VPS or Dedicated Servers you'll also need to administer your operating system. Knowing your way around Linux, MySql, Apache & Nginx, PHP-FPM is a must. This is all too often overwhelming for most. It usually leads to your site going down or being hacked due to the lack of technical skill. Not to mention the time and effort required to keep everything in tip-top shape.

With our managed hosting, all upkeep is managed by our team of DevOps engineers. This includes patches, upgrades and updates, while keeping possible compatibility issues in mind.


N-Tier Enterprise Architecture: Security By Design

By design Pressidium’s Enterprise Architecture, increases the level of security on our platform. This is because each component is hidden behind a separated layer of servers. Each of these server layers are behind yet another separate layer of internal firewalls. In essence all our application and database servers are difficult to compromise. This is because they're not being directly exposed to the internet.

This architecture makes it difficult for attackers to create network footprints and discover vulnerabilities. All critical components are hidden inside secured internal private networks. These in turn are monitored closely for malicious traffic.


What If My Site Gets Hacked?

In the unlikely event that your site does become hacked, we’ll fix it for you, free of charge. We’ll identify the exploited resource and fix that too. We'll try to understand how the exploit came to occur, to prevent it in the future.

But we’d like to stress that this is unlikely to happen. Our entire enterprise WordPress hosting platform has a design with security at it's heart. Utilizing security best practices it's also made with the best technology on the market. Without this level of attention to detail, we’d just be yet another wordpress host.

We bring to the table all this and so much more. Your security is our security. As engineers we create elegant solutions for some of the most complex tasks. That’s what you get with Pressidium. All the complexities of a secure hosting environment, combined into a single, elegant solution.


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Categories: Security

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