Hardening Your Website with CloudFlare
The Internet is full of articles on how to protect your website from malicious attacks. We know, we’ve written a few of them. There are critical things like keeping your website up to date, using security plugins, forcing secure passwords, and keeping admin directories hidden.
There is an additional step you can take that not only increases security, but will also speed up your site - CloudFlare. It’s a content delivery network (CDN) service that provides an intelligent and scalable layer of web security that stops attacks before they even hit your server.
Cloudflare starts at around $25/month and increases depending on your traffic volume and the additional services you require. Usually the base package is more than enough.
CloudFlare works as a proxy between your users and your server. It delivers a cached version of your site from its closest server (they have servers all over the planet). This makes your website much faster and stops attacks before they reach your site. It offers additional Firewalls, DNS security, encryption, caching and a wide array of useful features.
Sites that target an international audience struggle to deliver quick load times globally because there will always be delays in getting information from the other side of the world. CloudFlare solves this by delivering your site from a server that’s relatively close to the user.
We’ve found CloudFlare to be very effective at Brute Force and Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks. These sorts of attacks can hammer your site with excessive traffic and drastically slow it down or take it offline all together. They don’t gain access to your site necessarily, but stop other from seeing it.
CloudFlare is an excellent deterrent. It’s like a guard dog outside your gate. Hackers will keep trying to access your site until they get in because you are usually unaware of their activity. They have time on their side, but with CloudFlare, they will often move on to easier targets.
Cloudflare Security Reporting
The reporting on Cloudflare is pretty good too. You can see live reports based on any date range. Reports include unique visitors and where they came from, total requests, caching levels, the number of mitigated attacks and what type of attack.
Some data doubles up with Google Analytics, but it’s not a bad idea to get a second opinion. We’ve always found the Google stats to be a bit off.
So, if you need more serious security or better website speed, CloudFlare is an excellent option. It’s a very big stick for only $25/month.