Understanding Your Site’s IP Address Reputation

As a website owner you may not think about the fact that your website IP address has a reputation or that it matters. The idea of a website IP having a reputation is not something that is discussed much among hosting providers and website firewall providers. But it is something we frequently think about at Wordfence and managing your website IP reputation is something we’ve built into Wordfence.

Here’s what we mean by the reputation of your website IP address:

If your website IP has been blacklisted by a spam database like the SpamHaus project, then your reputation has been harmed. Impact: Emails that originate from your website will likely not be delivered to the recipient. For example, new WordPress members who sign up will probably not receive any passwords or welcome email you send if it originates from your blacklisted website IP address.

As another example: If your website public IP address has been banned by a country’s firewall or by a network – for example the Great Firewall of China, then your IP address reputation has been damaged. Cloud providers have been battling the country censors for several years now because, when providing a cloud firewall or content delivery network, they aggregate thousands of websites behind a single IP address. A website controversial in a particular country hides behind a content delivery network and if the Chinese want to block their citizen’s access to that website, they may prevent them from accessing that IP address. The result is that every other website behind that IP is also blocked. The Wall Street Journal covered this problem in March of this year.

At Wordfence we think about how to protect your website IP address. Here are a few things you need to be aware of and that you can monitor to help protect your website IP reputation:

Know if you’re sharing an IP address with other websites

If you are using a shared hosting provider, know that you are sharing an IP with hundreds or possibly thousands of other websites. If one of them engages in spam or is blocked by a country or a large network, you may be affected.

You can manage this risk by installing Wordfence, upgrading to Premium and enabling the feature on our options page titled “Check if this website IP is generating spam”. (Visit our home page to find out more about upgrading) This checks the reputation of your IP address with spam monitors and will alert you if your IP reputation has been harmed. You can also check if your website domain is being “Spamvertized” (included in spam emails) and you can enable our advanced comment spam filter.

Pay attention to user feedback from other countries about access to your site

If you are on a shared public IP because you are using a content distribution network (CDN), pay attention to what arrives in your inbox. If your, for example, Chinese visitors start complaining about not being able to access your site, either have your cloud provider move you to another shared IP, or temporarily disconnect from them by changing your DNS to point back to your own website instead of their servers.

If you are on shared hosting and users are receiving a message that appears to be from a censor when they try to access your site, contact your shared host and have them move your server to another shared IP address.

Know who else is on your IP address:

You can find out who else is on your website’s public IP address by doing a reverse IP domain lookup. This site provides the service for free, simply type in your website hostname e.g. www.example.com, and hit the button to find out who else is on your IP address.

If you do see sites that you don’t like very much, don’t panic. It’s common to have hundreds of sites on a single IP address and as long as that IP isn’t being blocked by censors or spam monitors, you won’t have any problems. That is why it’s important to monitor your IP reputation using Wordfence.

Now that you understand why the reputation of your IP address matters and you have a few tools to monitor your reputation and find out who you are sharing it with, you’re better equipped to ensure your website stays well-regarded and available for your customers. If you’d like to upgrade to Wordfence premium and gain access to our advanced IP monitoring, first install the free version of Wordfence (if you haven’t already) and then visit our home page to find out more about upgrading to Wordfence Premium.

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