With adversaries devising increasingly sophisticated ways to attack, strong server security is critical in protecting your business. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be complicated. In this article, we’ll define what server security is, explain why it’s so important, and show you exactly how to set up a fully secured server.
What is server security? Why is it important?
As the server interconnects computers, they are the hub of a lot of valuable information that can be accessed. Protection of these accessible information assets from a Web Server is known as Server Security. A security rupture can harmfully affect the goodwill as well as the monetary status of an organization. Web server security becomes highly important when it is connected to the internet. The Websites facing the customers are really in need of layered security.
Some Common Server Security Issues Faced
The most harmful mistakes which can cause the server less security are as follows:
- Open Network Ports
- Old Software Version
- Poor Physical Security
- Insufficient security of CGIs
- Old and Unnecessary Accounts
How to secure your server
Looking for guidance on how to secure a server can pull up an overwhelming array of technical information. In this section, we’ve made it simple by breaking down the main web-server security best practices that you should follow for effective protection.
Use a secure connection
Passwords are vulnerable to brute-force attacks in which cybercriminals use advanced algorithms to test vast combinations of letters and numbers in an attempt to crack passwords. A more secure alternative to password-based authentication is using SSH (Secure Shell) to establish a secure connection with your server. SSH keys consist of a pair of cryptographically secure keys containing public and a private key. The public key can be shared freely but the private key must be kept strictly secret by the user. Using SSH encrypts all data that is exchanged.
A proxy server can also be used as a further security measure. Proxy servers hide all users on your network behind the proxy’s IP address, making it harder for hackers to target specific devices to gain access.
Use Private Networks and VPNs
Another way to ensure secure communication is to use private and virtual private networks (VPNs), and software such as OpenVPN (see our guide on installing and configuring OpenVPN on CentOS). Unlike open networks which are accessible to the outside world and therefore susceptible to attacks from malicious users, private and virtual private networks restrict access to selected users.
Private networks use a private IP to establish isolated communication channels between servers within the same range. This allows multiple servers under the same account to exchange information and data without exposure to a public space.
When you want to connect to a remote server as if doing it locally through a private network, use a VPN. It enables an entirely secure and private connection and can encompass multiple remote servers. For the servers to communicate under the same VPN, they must share security and configuration data.
Server security certificates are another effective safeguard. Server security certificates are cryptographic protocols – SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and its successor TLS (Transport Layer Security) – that are used for authentication and encryption. In simple terms, they safeguard network communications by scrambling sensitive data sent via the internet, such as passwords, usernames, and credit card details, allowing servers to validate entities.
Regularly update your operating system
A key step in securing your server is ensuring that you are always running the most recent version of your operating system. Hackers routinely expose weaknesses in software that developers then work to shore up. Updates are released as security patches and should be installed immediately, ideally automatically. Failing to keep your operating system, or any other software running on your server, up to date, effectively leaves it open to known vulnerabilities.
Configure the OS based on best practice guidelines
For the greatest protection, ensure that your operating system is configured according to server security best practices. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Changing the default passwords on any installed third-party software
- Setting user privileges to the minimum necessary for the individual to do their job
- Deleting or disabling any unnecessary accounts
- Creating stringent guidelines for passwords and ensuring all system passwords comply
- Disabling any unnecessary services or applications.
Server security checklist
Discover the server security checklist and implement it while deploying a new server or doing a security audit of the existing servers.
- Server identification: Initially, identify the server properly
- Record basic details: Record the basic details of the server set up and the person handling it
- Physical security: Ensure the physical security of the server
- Ensure the server location is secure: Some of the top tips for ensuring the server location are:
+ Ensure the keys to the server room are kept secure
+ Keep a record of everyone who has access to the server room
+Test the server room and locker keys
+ Be sure that as few people as functionally possible have copies of these keys
- Patching and server maintenance: Update service packs and patches in Ubuntu, it is as simple as running a command-line application.
- Event logs: Check whether the event log monitoring is properly configured, Check the event log monitoring process, Check remote access logs, and Investigate remote access activity.
- System Integrity Control: Evaluate server configuration control process, Revise server configuration control process, Limit changes to start-up processes, Remove unused software and services.
- Remove unused software and services: Run a full system anti-virus scan, Configure server firewall
- Authentication and access control: Enforce strong authentication for all admins, Send a reminder to activate strong authentication, Remove inactive user accounts, Review administrator access
- Backups and restore points: Check server data is being routinely backed up, Perform a test recovery from a backup image, Review your backup process.
- Risk management: Check for hardware replacement and retirement
Maintaining secure servers is, in various ways, simply limiting the opportunities for access — by staff, strangers, viruses, and malware. Keeping strict limits can go a long way to keeping a secure computing environment. Without a combined effort, strengthening IT security isn’t just difficult, it’s virtually impossible.