Hosting Service Providers And Identity Theft

My Hosting Service, My Security Service: How much protection does your web host give you from identity theft...and how much can they?

There are laws now that protect us from identity thieves, sure, but oftentimes, by the time the law gets involved, the damage is already done. Your website may be defaced. Your name may be sullied. Your hosting service may have locked you out. You lose customers. You lose money. To recover, you have to regain lost ground, which also takes time and money. But what can you do to protect yourself? And can your web hosting service help?

In two words: they'd better. At the very least a hosting service in the age of spammers, hijackers, and hackers (oh my!) should at the very least have one or more firewalls protecting your data. They should also be able to offer you protection from Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks, a common outcome of internet identity theft. Some hosting services may offer you a Virtual Private Network (at relevant expense, of course) for additional protection.

Your payment area should be completely secure, at the bare minimum promising SSL digital encryption of all incoming and outgoing data. You should also make sure the shopping cart your hosting service provides is compatible with the major online payment processing gateways, such as PayPal, NETeller, Citadel, FirePay Click2Pay, UseMyBank, and others.

Identity thieves will often try to access your hosting service account using the "fruits" of their thieving. Once inside, they can hijack your domain away from you or delete important files from your hosting service. If this happens to you, one thing to do is check the server logs of your hosting service to figure out the exact date and time that the theft occurred. Note the IP addresses involved in the action and contact the associated ISP. This alone won't resolve the problem. But it's a start.

If your email address is stolen, you may find you start receiving returned messages that you appear to have sent but which you know for certain you did not. Print each and every one of those messages out immediately and make copies -- they're evidence. Not only may they come in handy in tracing the source of the theft, but they may be the very things that keep your hosting service from terminating your account (if, for one hypothetical example, a thief uses your email address to send X-rated material).

The other immediate action to take if you ever suspect yourself of being a victim of internet identity theft is notify your hosting service, your ISP, and your domain name registrar. Any instructions they give you, follow. You could also file a police report (and probably should, at least to get the crime on record), but as it's unlikely anything will come of it (at least not immediately), this should really only be done after you've first contacted your hosting service, ISP, and registrar.

Want to learn more?

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