Future of Web Hosting Providers


Web hosters are always concerned about sustainability, continuity, and business growth as business needs continuous up-gradation and updates to keep pace with continuously changing technology. Big companies take over the small companies, and those who want to run their companies struggle to cope with big brands’ sophisticated, long-term hosting models. The big brands have money & human resource to plan, create strategies, and appropriately implement their processes. They apply various methods to interact with multiple stakeholders, especially their customers. The support team interacts with the technical or back-end team to help customers solve problems or issues related to their managed applications or infrastructure.

I’ve found some small hosting businesses are also managing smartly, with a limited number of customers. Runs their hosting services on public cloud VPS servers, cPanel Control Panel, Cloud Linux, and Immunify365. Their clients are individuals or small businesses with limited resource requirements. They also keep their support systems always manned to provide the best connectivity.

Most hosting businesses are emerging as Software As A Service Providers, where they have hosted applications on AWS, Vultr, or Google Cloud Computing Server. Their client needs minimal functionality, as they are more concerned with hosted applications. The hosters are termed differently, like e-commerce platform providers, educational platform providers, and health platforms. These platforms provide all the sector-related operations. SaaS providers are emerging quickly in the market and can gain a customer base by offering complete solutions.

Thus, the hosting industry seems to be divided into Public & Private Cloud Providers, Data Centers, and SaaS Providers.

Salacious, Messy Anonymous Hacking


It has become the old story now; cybercriminals steal users’ information, and customers or members are notified by hosting or social media websites. The customer’s situation is a complete mess; they shared the details with complete trust, and how such big websites get compromised. Wasn’t their security enough to stop hackers? The situation becomes salacious when they know that the hacker’s group is anonymous.

The companies claim the complete security of their user’s data and promise that they won’t be sharing or selling with 3-party companies without the user’s consent. But what if hackers breach the data? Why don’t companies take security as the topmost priority to stop such breaches? After the data gets compromised, news often comes out from such companies that the cyber security team has taken remedial action and then starts assuring customers with high priority security and privacy. The worst is when companies don’t know about such leaks for even months.

The mysterious online hacker community Anonymous always remains in news headlines. In February, a Twitter account with 7.9 million followers named “Anonymous” declared a “cyberwar” against Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. The group claimed responsibility for cyberattacks that disabled websites and leaked Russian government agencies, state-run news outlets, and corporations’ data.

The Anonymous hacktivists employ coordinated cyberattacks against various world governments, corporations, or other groups, often in the name of social or political causes. On March 6, 2022, Anonymous claims to have hacked into the Russian streaming services Wink and Ivi (like Netflix) and live TV channels Russia 24, Channel One, and Moscow 24 to broadcast war footage from Ukraine. But that doesn’t make them heroes. Let’s have a look at their past deeds.

On November 17, 2021, Godaddy, an Internet domain and web hosting company based in New York, revealed a hack on September 6, 2021, which exposed its 1.2 million customers’ emails and numbers, putting them at risk of phishing attacks. An attacker sends a fraudulent message designed to trick the victim into giving them sensitive information. The company filed an incident report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) stating that it had identified ‘suspicious activity in its Managed WordPress hosting environment by an unauthorized third party. They immediately began an investigation with the help of an IT forensics firm and contacted law enforcement. SSH File Transfer Protocol, a network protocol that provides file access, transfer, and management over a data stream, and database usernames and passwords got exposed for active customers. The company immediately blocked the unauthorized third party and reset both passwords.

The company spokesperson said: ‘We, GoDaddy leadership and employees, take our responsibility to protect our customers’ data very seriously and never want to let them down. We will learn from this incident and are already taking steps to strengthen our provisioning system with additional layers of protection.’

Why are hackers so high? Can they impact thousands of websites and bring down businesses? Even with so many protections, firewalls, anti-malware, anti-viruses, and best security, how the hosting accounts get compromised still is beyond one’s thinking.

It’s not only Godaddy; almost every big company is the target of hackers. Amazon’s Twitch, a video streaming service, suffered a data leak after an anonymous hacker posted a computer file containing a vast amount of data for the public to access. Users Called ‘Disgusting Toxic Cesspool’ in a post on 4chan by a hacker. CNBC reported that the data leak included details on payments to content creators and an unreleased product from Amazon Game Studios.

Most companies use two-factor authentication (2FA), but not all their customers or members use the same. The companies always recommend changing passwords periodically. It’s time for users to know the difference between public and private information, ‘what to be shared and what not to be.’ Undoubtedly, the threats of cybercriminals will remain in the future also, but it’s the company’s and user alertness that can minimize hacking possibilities.

Importance of Website Security


Security researchers claim that hackers and cybercriminals attack big web hosting companies and domain registrars. There is an increase in backdoor payload attacks against the big hosting providers. Wordfence, a popular security service, analyzes that the WordPress hosting providers and resellers gets the most affected.

The hackers exploit the vulnerabilities, gain access to configuration wp-config.php, and modify parameters to have complete control. They get a template that refers users to pharmaceutical sector spam links and injects malicious pages into search engines results. The spam templates intend to incite victims to purchase fake products, exposing money and payment details to the threat actors. The hackers with complete control alter or modify website content like links, titles, menus, or images; thus, the site appears compromised instead of the original one.

Cybercriminals steal data, passwords, and users’ personal information. The hosting customers prioritize protection and want absolute and higher standards of security measures for their websites, emails, and other resources they host on servers. Thus, the website’s reputation is maintained. The user experiences get impacted, leading to a negative experience and losing trust with website downtime or affected vulnerabilities. The website security threat leads to potential financial losses; thus, hosting consumers want to strengthen digital presence security and take a longer-term view on protecting the investment.

Over 90% of GoDaddy APAC customers participating in its 2021 Global Website Security Survey consider cyber security important for small businesses. Nearly 80% of respondents agreed that small businesses are at risk of cyberattacks. At the same time, half said they had already experienced a security breach, and a third described themselves as unsure of how to deal with a cyberattack.

The hosting providers always advise their customers to keep everything updated and upgraded. Wordfence strongly recommends that users scan the wp-config.php file immediately to detect potential backdoor injections.

Last year in November 2021, up to 1.2 million users of Godaddy’s WordPress websites got affected by an unauthorized attack. GoDaddy In. empowers millions of entrepreneurs worldwide looking to expand their online presence. The hosting provider offers tools for domains, website creation, e-commerce, content creation, and online security capabilities like Firewall and malware protections, site cleanups, and secure backups to help safeguard your customers’ and business information.

Free Speech Social Media Platform Parler


Parler is based in Nashville, TN, founded in 2018, and has over 16 million growing global community of content creators. The site is an American alt-tech alternative to Twitter, a microblogging and viewpoint-neutral free speech social media platform to connect like-minded people or individuals. The users have chosen Parler, as it uses the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as a guide and welcomes everyone to the civil debate around diverse topics, emphasizes free speech, and promotes open dialogue, political views, and honest discussions without worrying.

The site allows people to speak freely without fear of being suspended or labeled ‘dangerous’ and banned. The users feel protected against the authoritarian powers of Big Tech, Big Government, and cancel culture. The site includes users banned from mainstream social networks or who oppose their moderation policies.

“We believe in more speech at Parler, not censorship, and empowering people to think and share freely. Parler is proud to help mark monumental moments in American history and Free Speech, bring attention to injustice, and bring timely and timeless art to our growing NFT and social communities,” added Parler CEO George Farmer. “This collection is perfectly aligned with our marketplace and our values and mission, something Twitter sadly doesn’t share.”

“Parler values free expression, transparency and data privacy. While our new premium NFT marketplace is working to redefine the opportunities and experiences for both collectors and creators, we are doing so with the same approach to accessibility and security found at Parler.”

It’s associated with Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, conspiracy theorists, and far-right extremists. The site has a bold vision to make freedom of expression, security, and privacy a reality through social media and Solana blockchain technology. Posts on the service often contain far-right content, antisemitism, and conspiracy theories such as QAnon. 

The site does not allow users to violate its Terms of Service and bans them if they engage in spam or abusive behavior or are reported by other users. The website does not allow creating multiple accounts, posting pornographic content, engaging in illegal activity, sending unsolicited messages, posting repetitive content, or harassing or abusive behavior towards other users.

Parler filed a subpoena requesting documents regarding Twitter’s alleged collusion with Amazon Web Services resulting in Parler’s deplatforming and removal from APP stores on January 10, 2021.

“Parler will continue to fight against Big Tech companies like Amazon Web Services and Twitter that attempt to stifle innovation and free speech through anticompetitive practices. We will continue to stand against cancel culture and the mob mentality,” said George Farmer, CEO of Parler.

People questioned the social media platform’s role in the Capitol riots on January 06, 2021, leading to the removal from the Apple App Store, and the ceasing of its web availability from Amazon Web Services. The founder and previous CEO of Parler, John Matze, was fired. George Farmer is the current CEO of Parler, and he has been working to revive the platform. The app rejoined the Apple App store.

Whois Hosting Syrian Websites


No web hosting company is willing to host the Syrian website, as the country is under U.S. sanctions. The American government prohibits web hosting companies from hosting sites and other services of the Syrian government. Furthermore, it also ensures that their sanctions are respected enormously by their allies. Syria faces a complete Internet and telecommunication blackout, and few Syrian government websites hosted by Western providers are available to the public.

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), an office of the U.S. Treasury Department‘s Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, enforces U.S. economic trade sanctions against targeted foreign countries, including Syria. Under a series of executive orders, U.S. businesses are prohibited from selling goods and services in Syria. The hosting providers cooperate with law enforcement and regulators to prevent illegal activity online and take the necessary steps to comply with applicable laws and regulations. The sanctions have the inadvertent effect of cutting the Syrian people off from the rest of the world.

The U.S. Treasury Department makes the hosting providers and domain registrars aware of civil enforcement actions. They impose potential hefty fines if a hosting company gets associated with the Syrian government or regime.

.sy is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Syrian websites.

A2 Hosting currently cannot provide any hosting services to individuals in the following countries and regions:

Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, & Region of Crimea

Treasury regulations prohibit hosting providers from registering domains or hosting websites that use the TLDs associated with the countries and regions listed above. The specific prohibited TLDs are:

.ir, .kp, .ss, .sy, .cu & .crimea.ru

Remembering The Internet icon GeoCities


A web hosting service started in 1994 by David Bohnett and John Rezner, and it was the third most visited website on the world wide web. Earlier named Beverly Hills Internet (BHI), a small Web hosting and development company in Southern California, later renamed GeoCities. It allowed registered users called ‘Homesteaders’ to create and publish home pages and e-mail addresses, chat, bulletin boards, and community elements with neighborhoods they wanted to belong to with 2 M.B. of space provided. The neighborhood was part of the member’s Web address along with a sequentially assigned “street address” number to make the URL unique (for example, “www.geocities.com/RodeoDrive/number”). 

According to their content, the users select cities or regions to list hyperlinks to their web pages like computer-related were placed in ‘SiliconValley, and entertainment placed with ‘Hollywood.’ GeoCities included GeoCities Marketplace, a commercial website, which sold GeoCities-branded merchandise.

The users need to provide personally-identifying and demographic information when they register for the website. In the privacy statement on its New Member Application Form, the website promises not to give anyone personally-identifying information without the user’s permission. The visitors can browse user-created websites by their theme or interest. They enjoyed the user-created websites and built a profound community.

In 1999, FTC received a complaint against GeoCities that it violated provisions of (the Federal Trade Commission Act, precisely 15 USC & 45. The act states, “Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are hereby declared unlawful.” The agency found GeoCities engaged in deceptive acts and practices in contravention of their stated privacy act. The website sold personal information to third parties who used the information for purposes other than those for which members gave permission. The website illegally permitted third-party advertisers to promote products targeted to GeoCities’ 1.8 million users by using personally identifiable information obtained in the registration process. Subsequently, a consent order was entered into, which prohibits GeoCities from misrepresenting the purpose for which it collects uses personal identifying information from consumers. 

On January 28, 1999. Yahoo Inc. acquired the GeoCities hosting service for $3.57 billion in stock and abandoned this practice to favor Yahoo member names in the URLs.

In July 1999, Yahoo! switched from the neighborhood and street addresses Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) for homesteaders to “vanity” URLs through members’ registration names Yahoo! (“www.geocities.com/membername”). This service was offered previously only as a premium.

 Later in October 2009, the United States GeoCities services came to an end. Yahoo terminated the most user-written website with at least 38 million pages – The vintage personal web hosting site got farewell on October 26, 2009. Yahoo asked and encouraged users to download content to computers if they want to rebuild them on another site, as they won’t be archiving user pages. Yahoo urged users to try the company’s pay Web-hosting service. The company introduced a for-fee premium hosting service at GeoCities. It reduced the accessibility of free and low-price hosting accounts by limiting their data transfer rate for Web page visitors.

By 2008, the domain geocities.com attracted at least 177 million visitors annually and had 18.9 million unique visitors from the U.S. during March 2006. Later in March 2008, it decreased to 15.1 million unique U.S visitors and in March 2009 had 11.5 million unique visitors.

GeoCities Joined a long list of other services, including Yahoo! 360, My Web, Yahoo! Briefcase Farechase, LAUNCHcast, My Web, Audio Search, Pets, Photos, Live, Kickstart, etc. Web messenger and teachers prioritize their products and services to deliver the best products to consumers. The visitors looking for GeoCities won’t find flashing banner ads, questionable color schemes, guest books, streaming HTML marquee tags, and omnipresent “Under Construction” signs. The site touched the hearts of millions of users that “RIP GeoCities” was a trending topic on Twitter. The website where millions first tried their hands at coding and designing before Yahoo scrubbed it.

Choosing Windows Web Hosting Services Over Linux


The web hosting business can thrive only when it can retain existing customers and keep adding new ones. The web hosting platforms like cPanel & Plesk have provided ease of integration and migration. Still, the web hosting providers are categorized as Windows & Linux web hosting service providers. Each has its allegiance, revenue, and marketplace, as web development goes in all these languages Laravel, ASP, Microsoft’s .Net.

Microsoft offers and is continuously developing tools for the web service provider industry & hosters with products such as Site Server and Commerce Server to gauge the application management, integration, and packaged value-add delivery nuances of Web services and .Net. Microsoft makes it easy at work to integrate and build responsive websites for handsets and PDAs. The company has remained a solid contender for the Linux web services space and has continuously improved and overcome shortcomings.

Linux is open-source, accessible, and cheap to deploy back-end services. Thus, it’s gaining much popularity & accounts as a leading platform for the web. While being economically viable, the hosting platform provides the best security, stability, and transaction support. Most hosting providers offer Linux hosting solutions with plan customization.

The choice of Linux or Windows platform largely depends on the web programming language as ASP, Visual Studio .Net, and .NET run only on Windows and its excellent reliability. Web developers still use these languages as the toolsets and resources make it easier to modify applications, customize them faster, integrate changes, and the ability to deliver them with the best functionality. Thus, bringing dynamism to customer applications as per needs. The customers didn’t need to wait around to get results. Furthermore, .Net applications are considered secure compared to others magnified by ten and hence dominate the web development market. With the best engineering, full support, and Microsoft build products, the Windows web hosting services will stay for long in the web hosting business and keep drawing the attention and momentum.

Microsoft upgrades and enhances the web host’s capability of deploying Microsoft Microsoft architecture in their data centers. Furthermore, it supports the development of an internal service-level management application built entirely using .Net. Most hosting providers endorse ‘.Net’-based web hosting services to small and midsize businesses to use a shared hosting environment and when applications outgrow the use of windows dedicated servers.

The web hosting services market is growing fast, as the amount of application-to-application or server-to-server traffic will explode.

Multi-Vendor Marketplace


Most businesses list their products on top marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Etsy, and others to increase sales. While focusing on their e-commerce portals, SMEs list products on branded marketplaces that helped increase revenues by 80 per cent. The global marketing websites allow listing men’s and women’s clothing, fragrances, skin-care products, cosmetics, and much more. Their product pages look like brochures. With managed services, these marketplaces make buying, selling, and sophisticated transactions easier.

Most businesses start their e-commerce portals, but one in thousands begin getting traffic. Thus, these businesses find it comfortable to list products on marketplaces where traffic is already there. The e-commerce marketplace provides fully managed services, responding to the complex needs of SMEs and large businesses. Hence they are gaining popularity as more businesses go online. The company gets the liberty to sell products worldwide with hosted applications and even don’t need employees scattered across those selling destinations. The standard, the preconfigured platform, enables companies to list products instantly after signup to get customers.

The marketplace provider installs base e-commerce software, apps, round-the-clock monitoring, caching, 100% uptime, periodic backups, and other plugins on standardized hardware and server infrastructure and configurations. The technical team takes care of performance, complex needs, and speed deployments, and manages the application, content distribution, network, storage capability, and service-level agreements and licensing. Furthermore, it makes data accessible anytime and anywhere, with real-time access to billing information, trouble tickets, and other data associated with their accounts.

The businesses find the cost of listing or launching products on marketplaces much lower than implementing and maintaining e-commerce portals themselves. Thus, they decided to go with branded marketplace instead of making a significant investment in bringing up sites, thus capitalizing on the marketplace’s extensive infrastructure.

Most companies don’t have the skills, technical staff, & technologies for those pieces. Marketplaces like DownTown.us do much more marketing stuff like offering streaming media services, social media sharing, & business listing apart from providing the platform, thus making the companies profitable by increasing the visibility and demand of their products. Therefore, most small and midsize companies are moving into the managed services arena.

Listing Web Hosting Services


After this CORONA pandemic, online businesses have taken a significant stake. Almost every company has come online with substantial investment and started an e-commerce website to facilitate sales, ordering, and other online transactions. Businesses have started relying on online sales much compared to their physical stores. The factory outlets started their online e-commerce portals to provide products or services at lower prices, eliminating intermediaries. Thus, online business has become highly competitive; hence, it requires quality websites and the best web hosting services. No company would like to risk its online presence to host its website on a notorious web hosting provider who has server downtime, provides no security and backups, and have frequent technical gaffes.

Online e-commerce businesses need fast servers, security, backups, and the best look-n-feel to attract potential customers.

The hosting providers set up high-performance criteria with cloud hosting living consistently with their claims. Ananova.com reviews all such web hosting providers to ensure they continuously meet standards and then list them on its top Web hosting providers list.

The web hosting providers ranking in the list depends on the customer/visitors reviews and ratings, professional hosting ethics, customers support and services, and brand acknowledgement in the web hosting market. Most website visitors rate hosting providers and consider these criteria necessary to meet website requirements, including a money-back guarantee, 24×7 technical support, payment options, hosting prices, hosting resources, usage, and access logs. Business Hosting Journal (BHJ) considers Ananova criteria can strengthen the web hosting industry as s whole.

HOSTING COMPANIES BANS HATE SITES


No hosting company allows hate sites, and the latest example is Godaddy cancelling the website registration for the white supremacist and neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer. The website posted an extremely misogynistic post mocking Heather Heyer, the young 32-year woman murdered at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, by a neo-Nazi. It certainly appears that he deliberately drove his car into her and numerous other counter-demonstrators.

In this case, a GoDaddy spokeswoman said The Daily Stormer crossed the line and “encouraged and promoted violence. In instances where a site goes beyond the mere exercise of these freedoms, however, and crosses over to promoting, encouraging, or otherwise engaging in violence against any person, we will take action.”

Under the GoDaddy ToS, GoDaddy had the power to terminate a domain registration based on the user’s “morally objectionable activities,” including “[a]ctivities designed to encourage unlawful behaviour by others, such as hate crimes.”

After that, the website didn’t get any hosting platform, and they tried on Google and then Russian servers but quickly withdrew the registration. The hate content violates the web hosting company’s contractual Terms of Service (ToS), and now the website has a hard time finding a place on the web. No primary web hosting provider is willing to register the Daily Stermer domain and provide hosting.

The Daily Stormer is an American far-right, neo-Nazi, white supremacist, misogynist, Islamophobic, and Holocaust denial commentary and message board website that advocates for the second genocide of Jews. It is part of the alt-right movement. Wikipedia

The First Amendment protects freedom of speech and expression from government censorship and government punishment. Also, Internet neutrality claims to transmit any content, but the land laws of all the countries ban and restrict such objectionable hate content. Legally drew a line and held web hosting companies responsible for not allowing any such website. Furthermore, even the website hosting companies have the policy not to host such websites. It’s within the web hosting company’s rights to decide whom they conduct business with, and they don’t allow the expression of hate, racism, and bigotry on their platforms.