What is Server Security? How to Secure Your Server 

What is Server Security? How to Secure Your Server 

Consider your server as the backbone of your online presence. Server security is a way to safeguard your server against cyber threats.  

Cybercriminals constantly seek opportunities to infiltrate systems, potentially leading to data theft, website disruption, or complete system shutdown. Therefore, implementing robust security measures is imperative to protect your server and maintain the integrity of your online operations. 

A server attack can lead to data loss, financial damage, operational disruption, and harm your reputation and business relationships. However, strong server security measures can greatly reduce the risk of a costly attack. 

What is server security? 

Server security refers to protecting servers from various threats like malware, unauthorized access, and data breaches. It’s about maintaining the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of server resources and services.  

To achieve this, a mix of technical measures, such as cybersecurity software, strong passwords, and disabling unnecessary services, is used. Additionally, administrative actions like security assessments and policies help identify and address vulnerabilities.  

Monitoring and logging tools are also crucial for detecting and responding to security threats. Overall, server security requires a combination of tools and practices to ensure the safety of server environments. 

Why server security is important? 

Server security is crucial for several reasons: 

1. Operational Integrity:

A cyber-attack on your organization’s servers can disrupt operations and revenue generation. Depending on the attack’s nature and the server type, it could lead to downtime of web pages and applications, malfunctioning email systems, and corrupted files and data. 

2. Protection of Confidential Data:

Servers often store sensitive information such as personal, financial, or business data. Unauthorized access to this information can compromise your organization’s security and privacy. 

3. Regulatory Compliance:

A security breach that affects your servers can also impact your ability to comply with regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), leading to serious legal and financial consequences. 

4. Maintaining Trust:

A server attack can erode the trust of employees, clients, and investors in your organization, damaging your reputation and potentially leading to loss of business. 

What is server security hardening? 

Server security hardening is the process of enhancing the security of a server by implementing various measures and configurations to reduce its vulnerability to cyber threats. This involves a series of steps to tighten the security of the server’s operating system, applications, and network connections. The goal is to minimize the attack surface, making it more difficult for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access. 

Server security hardening is a continuous process that requires regular assessment and updates to your security measures. Implementing updated policies can help minimize your server’s attack surface as new threats and vulnerabilities emerge. 

What are the common server security problems  

Here’s a more detailed explanation of common server security problems: 

1. Outdated Software:  

Software vulnerabilities are often discovered over time, and cybercriminals exploit these weaknesses to launch attacks on servers. Regularly updating and patching software is crucial to close these security gaps. Additionally, outdated software may have compatibility issues with newer technologies, leading to additional security vulnerabilities. It’s also important to note that software no longer supported by the vendor won’t receive security updates, making it non-compliant with industry regulations and more susceptible to attacks. 

2. Weak or Repetitive Passwords:  

Weak passwords are easy for hackers to crack using methods like brute force or dictionary attacks. Using the same password for multiple accounts can also increase the risk of a security breach. Using long, complex passwords and a password manager can help reduce these risks. 

3. Old or Unnecessary Accounts:  

Accounts that are no longer in use but still have active credentials can serve as a backdoor for attackers. It’s essential to regularly audit user accounts and deactivate those that are no longer needed. For active accounts, implementing strong password policies and multi-factor authentication (MFA) can enhance security. 

4. Patch Management:  

Managing patches means not just installing updates, but also checking them before use to make sure they don’t cause new problems or conflicts. It’s crucial to make sure patches come from a safe source to avoid harmful software pretending to be a real update. Using a patch management service can make this process easier and more efficient. 

5. Network Ports:  

Hackers can use open network ports to access a server without permission. They can find weak spots by scanning these ports. To reduce this risk, divide the network into sections, close unused ports, and use firewalls to safeguard necessary open ports. Also, keep an eye on the server for any unusual activity to spot and deal with threats. 

6. Old Hardware:  

Old hardware can have security weaknesses and may not work well with new technology. This can make your server less secure. It’s important to regularly check and update your hardware to keep your server safe. 

Common server security threats  

1. Malware  

Malware, including viruses, Trojans, spyware, bots, and rootkits can infect your server and steal data, damage files, or even take control of your server.  

2. Open Relay  

This is a misconfigured mail server that allows anyone on the internet to send email through it, regardless of whether they are authorized users or not. This can be a serious security issue because spammers can exploit it to send large volumes of unsolicited emails, known as spam. Spamming through open relays can lead to the blacklisting of the server’s IP address, making it difficult for legitimate emails from that server to be delivered. 

3. Denial of Service (DoS)  

A DoS attack floods a server with so much traffic that it can’t handle legitimate requests, causing it to become slow or unavailable. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are worse than regular DoS attacks because they’re like a team effort. Instead of just one computer flooding a server with traffic, a DDoS attack uses many computers all at once. 

These computers, called botnets, work together to overwhelm the target server or network. This coordinated attack makes it harder to stop the flood of traffic and can cause more damage than a single attacker. 

4. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) 

Hackers use XSS attacks to inject malicious code into web applications, exploiting vulnerabilities to attack servers. These attacks are preventable with the right tools to identify and patch vulnerabilities. 

 5. SQL Injection  

Similar to XSS attacks, SQL injection attacks exploit database vulnerabilities to insert malicious code or steal data. Regular vulnerability scans and patching can help reduce the risk of such attacks. 

 6. Brute Force Attacks  

Attackers use tools to guess passwords until they find the correct one, known as a brute force attack. Detection tools can alert you to these attacks. Using complex passwords, robust lockout policies, limiting login attempts, and employing multi-factor authentication (MFA) can help mitigate such attacks. 

How to improve your server security 

Improving server security involves implementing various measures to protect your server from unauthorized access, data breaches, and other security threats.  

Here is a guide on how to secure a server: 

Use Firewalls 

Ensuring your firewall is active is vital for security, as it prevents unauthorized access. You can manually block suspicious IP addresses and only permit access from trusted ones. Attackers can target open ports, so close any that are unnecessary. Firewalls are crucial in blocking unwanted traffic and safeguarding against DDoS attacks. 

Keep Your Server Updated 

Regularly checking for server updates is crucial. Keeping your server up to date ensures it has the latest security patches and fixes for any security vulnerabilities found in older versions. Failure to update can leave your server vulnerable to compromise. If you’d rather not worry about maintenance, you can enable automatic updates to keep your server current. 

Create Strong Passwords 

Securing your server starts with using strong passwords. Experts typically advise using passwords that are at least 12 characters long and include numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and special characters like exclamation points and ampersands. It’s also important not to use the same password for different systems and to regularly change all of your passwords. 

Use VPN 

Using a virtual private network (VPN) is important for securing your server’s communication. Hackers can easily attack open networks, but VPNs restrict access to authorized users, making your server more secure. 

Use a Multi-Server Environment 

Separating web applications and database servers enhances server security. By isolating database servers, you protect sensitive data even if one server is compromised. Total isolation requires a fully dedicated server that doesn’t share resources with other servers. 

Find a Reliable Hosting Provider 

Server security is closely linked to your hosting provider. Your hosting provider should have strong security measures to protect their data centres from unauthorized access and threats. 

BigRock offers services like DDoS protection to keep your server safe from external attacks. We keep servers up to date to protect against known vulnerabilities, offer 24/7 customer support and respond to security issues quickly. 

Whether you are a small business or a blog owner, your site will only be protected if you take care of your server security.  

You must possess a secured server to maintain your online reputation, gain new visitors, and retain existing customers. If your server is not secure, it poses a threat to both you and your customers. You could even lose crucial data and see a decrease in your search engine ranking.  

Follow the steps mentioned above to ensure your server is secure. 

WRITTEN BY:

Web hosting specialist with a knack for creativity and a passion for baking, serving up tech solutions with a side of sweetness.

LEAVE A COMMENT