Hackings have increased in recent years - by one count, 161% last year. In that kind of environment, website hosting can be a sore topic for small business people.\u00a0 If a website gets hacked, your hosting company typically says 'we'll help you fix it.'\u00a0 But if it happens again, the hosting company may think your account has become too much work for too little money. You could be asked to pack up your website and find another hosting company. So on top of the inconvenience and shock of getting hacked, you're suddenly "out on the street." As a business owner you may not even have thought much about security, assuming your hosting company takes care of it.\u00a0 Ah, but you're probably wrong. You must pay extra for proactive security monitoring and protection.\u00a0 At most hosting companies that's \u00a0expensive. But it doesn't have to be that way, says Chris Drake, the CEO of Firehost.\u00a0 Firehost is a Plano, Texas hosting company whose difference is that they provide security monitoring and protection to ALL their managed accounts - standard.\u00a0 Not just to the big corporate accounts that pay many thousands of dollars a month, but also to their small business accounts. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month here in the United States.\u00a0 In honor of that, I would thought it would be fitting to profile a company this month that is proactively looking out for its customers' website security.\u00a0 So I had a long interview with Chris Drake on why his company is different - and what that means for small businesses. The key takeaway from my interview is that Firehost actively blocks hackers to prevent intrusions on the websites that Firehost hosts. Drake explained that there are two ports that a website gets visited on:\u00a0 port 80 and 443.\u00a0\u00a0 Firewalls have to leave those ports open for a website to be viewable.\u00a0 Firehost provides a web application firewall that monitors all traffic over port 80 and 443.\u00a0 Firehost actually blocks traffic that meets certain activity signatures.\u00a0 This cartoon illustrates it: "In our opinion, proactive security should be part of the managed hosting mix," he says. The company does continual research to stay ahead of hackers.\u00a0 One of the ways they do that is by luring in hackers, so that FireHost can watch and learn how to prevent attacks. Per Drake, "We put out a honey pot -- a computer that is outside our network -- and we let hackers go after it.\u00a0 We see what they are doing.\u00a0 That way we sharpen our knives.\u00a0 That honey pot allows us to catch bees. We're on the bleeding edge on knowing what the attack scenarios are." Drake says secure hosting was a stumbled-upon business for them, "arising out of our roots as a Web application development company. Sixty percent (60%) of attacks are at the application level [i.e., they break in through your software].\u00a0 Our first website we hosted was Qualcomm - we've been providing enterprise hosting as a development firm for a while. That's how we learned about hosting security.\u00a0 Then we looked at how we could take security and provide it\u00a0to small businesses." I asked how Firehost could afford to provide this security for small businesses, and what their business model was.\u00a0 According to Drake, providing secure hosting reduces customer turnover.\u00a0 "We've been pleasantly surprised to learn that security is very sticky." Still, as he says, "Security engineers and equipment do not come cheap. But the model of most high-end secure hosts is that the equipment is yours.\u00a0 We share the equipment and security level among customers," gaining economies of scale.\u00a0 "We also save time and costs on support by not having to deal with customers who have been hacked." Firehost is so confident of their ability to keep out hackers, that they actually welcome high profile websites that are targets for hackers.\u00a0 One such website is that of Kevin Mitnick - once the most wanted computer hacker in the U.S. Mitnick -- now a public speaker, author and security consultant who tests the security of business information to find vulnerabilities --\u00a0 originally hosted his website with a friend's company.\u00a0 But after multiple hackings, his friend could not afford to keep dealing with the aftermath.\u00a0 It was costing his company too much money.\u00a0 So Mitnick was asked to leave. That's when he went to Firehost. Mitnick's site is a target for hackers - but it's a misplaced target, he says. "I don't host my own servers.\u00a0I want an air gap between public servers and my internal network.\u00a0 That is why I decided to use a third party Web server.\u00a0I don't have anything confidential on the Web server.\u00a0 A lot of people want to prove they can hack my site, but they are not breaking into my computer \u00a0 it is really a hosting company's computer." Hosting with a third party, he goes on, "is a cheaper alternative for my business than managing it in-house. Still, I want to ensure that the hosting company managing my Web server is secure -- for myself, and because that is the business I am now in."