In light of the big scale hacking incidents in recent history, data security has never been more relevant.
And it pays to be paranoid for anything internet-related. Every bit of information that you send and store online is always at risk of getting stolen or compromised.
This is the reason why data security and privacy are such a huge responsibility for web hosts. People entrust hosting companies with essential data and information necessary for keeping their websites afloat, and it’s up to these companies to not break the trust given to them.
TVCNet Web Hosting is one of those rare breed of web hosting providers that places a strong emphasis on security. We’re here today with Jim Walker, who has graciously granted us this interview to provide our readers an insider’s look at TVCNet.
Hi, Jim. First, we’d like to know more about TVCNet as a company. Can you tell us a brief overview of TVCNet? (its origins and the people behind it) plus the various services that it provides?
We started back in the late ‘90’s. At the time, I worked for one of the pioneers in the web hosting business, who were later bought out by a competing company. Morale at the company had plummeted and fear of layoffs led me and a few like minded engineers to build out our own hosting business. Our focus was unique at the time. We chose not to focus on profits and cold call sales, but on providing customers a unique customer service experience, with an emphasis on exceeding security standards. That was over 17 years ago, and our focus hasn’t changed.
TVCNet has been in business since 1997- it’s even older than Google! Our question is this: in your nearly two decades of experience in the web hosting industry, what do you think are the most important qualities and/or features that people look for in a web host?
Well, that’s an easy answer: Price, tends to be the predominant focus for most people.
And sadly, that is the reason why so many well known web hosting companies have such poor reputations. When you lead the pack with the lowest cost, you have to make tradeoffs in service and security.
Because we chose a different path, quality customer service and an emphasis on security over offering unlimited everything for a few dollars, our brand recognition has suffered. It’s hard to compete with the cut rates of Super Bowl Advertised web hosts.
That said, with so many high profile websites being compromised nearly every day, and a new cybercrime story hitting the front page news nearly every week, I believe proactive website security will become “the feature” new businesses will be looking for in choosing their web hosts in the future.
Great insights there, Jim.
It’s obvious that TVCNet takes pride in the way it handles data security. Your company even created a name for this kind of philosophy called “TVCNet’s WebTight™ Security.”
But why place such a huge emphasis on security in the first place? Most of your security features even go above and beyond what other hosting companies offer. Can you explain the core philosophy behind WebTight™ Security in simple terms?
It has become commonplace in the industry for web hosts to “sell” an outsourced security service separate from their main hosting service. While I can appreciate the earnings potential of outsourcing security I think it’s an inherently flawed approach.
Our WebTight™ Security philosophy is tied into our core belief that security should be the core of all services, and not just some 3rd party service one sells to earn additional revenue. When a customer contacts us, they aren’t waiting hours for a 3rd party service to respond. We’re on the case in minutes.
Impressive also is the fact that you offer daily root-level malware scans for your customers. What type of software do you use to sniff out the malware? And what happens if you find that a customer’s website has been compromised?
Over the years we’ve developed our own internal monitoring service, which monitors our customers files daily and notifies us accordingly. When we observe malicious activity within a client’s account we do our best to communicate the details of the incident to our clients, often within minutes of the intrusion. And because our support staff are well trained in website security best practices, we are often able to work with and resolve website malware incidents same day.
Our first reaction to a website being hacked starts with communication and ends with resolution; where most every other host out there will shut off a customer’s website at the first sign of malware.
In connection with the question above, what is the importance of PCI compliance in the field of data security? Your website states that you’re one of the few web hosting companies who offer free PCI compliance with shared server hosting, but please do explain for the benefit of our non tech-savvy readers what PCI compliance means and how important it is in web hosting.
PCI compliance is a standard proposed by the credit card industry to curtail theft of credit card and sensitive customer data. For the web hosting industry, these standards mostly relate to locking down unnecessary ports and services; patching server software against known exploits; and most importantly, being flexible in complying with new security standards. This includes working with customers to find solutions to their PCI compliance issues that they can live with, whether they are a shared customer, or have multiple dedicated servers.
While PCI compliance is not required for most websites, hosting a website on a web server which meets or exceeds PCI compliance standards is just smart business.
Aside from hosting services, TVCNet also offers a hacked website cleaning service, which is something we rarely see in other web hosting companies. How exactly do you “clean” a hacked website?
You are referring to our HackRepair.com service. That’s a fun story. Years ago, one of our engineers asked me why we were not offering a paid web site clean up service. Many of the new accounts moving in at the time were hacked websites, which we would summarily clean up for new clients, as a courtesy, free of charge.
No one else in the industry was talking about or offering website security or malware cleanup back in 2009. So it never really dawned on me until they mentioned that fixing hacked websites could be a business opportunity.
The concept was so new that I literally logged into my domain name registrar and bought the HackRepair.com domain that same day for just a few dollars. Things have changed a bit since then – But I digress…
“How do we clean up websites?”
Cleaning hacked websites is as much an art as it is a science. Sure, you need tools to do mass review of files, but it takes an individual with a variety of talents to do the job well.
Most websites are built with a content management system, like WordPress or Joomla. So an expertise in both is mandatory. And since hackers are mostly using PHP exploits to inject code into files in order to serve their malware campaigns, some expertise in reading and writing PHP code is required as well. Suffice it to say, one doesn’t just graduate from computer science class and know how to clean hacked websites. It has to come naturally. It’s what we do.
In answer to your question, “How exactly do you clean a hacked website?”
Well, that’s about as easy to answer as the question, “how does one take apart, then put an automobile back together?” It’s complicated.
Since we’re already talking about security here, do you have any tips for website owners on how they can keep their websites safe and secure?
Absolutely. I wrote an article on the subject recently, called, “BUMMS – Website Security Preparation for Today.” In my article, I describe the key areas you should focus on in better securing your website using the acronym, B U M M S, which stands for Backups, Updates, Maintenance, Monitoring, and Segregation. Read more at https://hackrepair.com/articles/bumms
Those are some really helpful tips, Jim.
Can you tell us more about the technology that you use in your servers and data centers?
We are a Linux shop, so our technology is mostly derived from products that support the Linux operating system. We fully own all of our equipment. And our decision to purchase only commercial grade equipment, with the sometimes painful higher up front costs, have given us an edge over our competition.
Unlike most of our competitors, we do not cram thousands of customers onto a single server. Most of our servers have no more than 500 customers sharing the same high end Linux server. For this reason, our customers often comment about how much faster our servers are compared to where they hosted previously. That’s a major pride of ours – providing super fast hosting at reasonable rates.
As for our data center. All of our equipment is managed by our staff at one of the best known Network Operations Center providers in California, Hurricane Electric. We’ve been partnering with them for our network infrastructure for over 10 years. Their stellar service and infrastructure has allowed our business to grow as they’ve solidified their presence as a major backbone provider the world over.
TVCNet promises a support response time of under 10 minutes. How do you manage to provide such a robust support feedback system when your customers come from all over the globe, from vastly different time zones?
The art of customer service. Again, that’s a tough question to answer. Choosing the right people and promoting a sense of family has been a key to our success customer service wise. You don’t have to hire an army of support people to get the job done right. Well orchestrated staff scheduling, a solid infrastructure and flexible customer communication options are key.
I believe we’ve truly turned the customer service experience into an art form. It’s what we do.
As a parting question, do you have any discount codes that our customers can use should they want to try out TVCNet Web Hosting?
At checkout, enter WELOVETVCNET for a $10 discount on all services we offer. With hosting as low as $3 a month, $10 can go along way at TVC. Net.
And that’s a wrap folks! We thank you Jim for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you and TVCNet the best of luck.
Comments and suggestions about our interview today? Post them below and let’s get the conversation rolling.