Every week, there seems to be a new horror story broadcast on the news about unsecured server breaches. It is critical that you know how to secure your dedicated server and take precautions to avoid exposing sensitive and confidential data. Take the initiative to protect yourself from hackers who may use your dedicated server for illegal purposes or infect you with malware or ransomware.
These days, dedicated server security is not an option; it is required to protect your business data and ensure smooth operation. With the growing number of cybersecurity threats, more and more businesses are looking for the best ways to secure dedicated servers.
All About Dedicated Servers
A dedicated server is one that is not shared by multiple users. Shared hosting, also known as Virtual Private Servers (VPS), is a type of server that divides server resources among multiple users and sites.
A dedicated server’s resources are all dedicated (hence the name) to a single user. A dedicated server can host multiple websites, but they are all managed by the same person or company.
There are several types of hosting for dedicated servers, but they are divided into two groups: managed and unmanaged. When you use a managed dedicated server, the hosting company handles maintenance, updates, and—in most cases—server security.
The user is responsible for maintenance and security on an unmanaged dedicated server. You’re basically given an empty server and it’s up to you to figure out how to use it.
Security Risks for Dedicated Servers
Before we get into the best security hacks for your dedicated server, let’s talk about what we’re trying to protect ourselves from. The following are some of the most common dedicated server security risks:
- Website security
- DoS Attack
- Password Breach
If you use or are considering using dedicated server hosting, you are already aware of the importance of security. A dedicated server, as opposed to shared hosting, provides complete control and enhanced security. However, if you do not implement the proper security measures, you may be vulnerable to a security breach.
Importance of Securing Your Server
Before we get into the dedicated server security tips, keep in mind that there are numerous ways to gain access to a dedicated server. You must be concerned not only with root server access, but also with the security of your firewall, web server, web applications, database server, email server, DNS, and FTP.
Each service that runs on the machine has its own set of security concerns. A flaw in one service jeopardizes them all.
If you don’t have the time or resources to devote to dedicated server security, consider secure server hosting or a managed server. A managed dedicated server will almost always cost more than an unmanaged server. However, with a managed server, you are paying for the expertise of professionals who deal with security issues on a daily basis.
Tips for Securing Your Dedicated Server
A secure server safeguards your company’s critical data against cyber theft, hacking, and other types of cybercrime. As an online business, you collect a lot of sensitive and important data that allows you to run and scale your business efficiently. Here are the top dedicated server security tips you should definitely take note of and apply:
1. Keep it up to date.
Technology is constantly evolving, and technologists must adapt to it. This means that you will need to bring in regular updates to your dedicated server. We frequently skip or postpone updates; however, to ensure your dedicated server’s security, check for and schedule regular updates. You may not need to install every update, but you should ensure that your current software does not become obsolete.
Almost every service or software package you install on a dedicated server will eventually be updated. Some more frequently than others. It’s easy to overlook or skip updates. However, it’s a good idea to set aside some time on a regular basis to check for updates. You can then decide whether or not to install them.
You probably won’t need to install every update issued for every service, but you do want to avoid falling behind or relying on out-of-date services. The older the version of a service, the more vulnerable it becomes to exploits.
2. Limit access with restricted permissions.
Every operating system creates a root user with administrative privileges over everything. Obviously, the root credentials should be changed to a secure password or passphrase. It’s also best to avoid using the root user for regular server access.
Create a user with limited permissions instead, and log in as that user. If you need root access to do something on the server, use the “su root” command and enter the root password.
If you regularly log in as a restricted user, you can prevent the root user from logging in via SSH. This will prevent hackers from attempting to brute force a root login.
It’s also a good idea to limit the number of users who have access to the server and to enforce password changes on a regular basis. Nobody likes changing their passwords, but the longer a password is used, the more likely it is to be compromised.
Finally, if you do grant multiple users access to the server, ensure that they do so through trusted networks whenever possible.
Do not use default passwords when purchasing or configuring a new dedicated server hosting plan. You should always change your password, keeping the following tips in mind to create a strong one:
- Use a mix of upper and lower case letters as well as special symbols.
- Use no words or dates associated with your personal identity.
- Make a habit of changing your password every 2–3 months.
- Checks and scans should be performed.
Conduct regular checks and scans to detect any vulnerabilities that may be causing harm or posing a security risk. Professional hosting services should be able to provide you with the necessary software and tools for performing security checks and scans.
The security of your server is only as good as its weakest link. Furthermore, if a user logs in from a coffee shop using an unsecured wifi connection, their credentials may be exposed.
The best way to secure dedicated servers is to ensure that the server users follow good security practices.
3. Back up your data.
Data is valuable; that’s why you must do everything to not let it go to waste. No matter how secure and protected your dedicated server is, you should always perform regular data backups to ensure that you do not lose any critical data. While it is critical to protect yourself from malicious attacks and cyber threats, it is also prudent to plan for the worst and keep regular backups so that you can recover or restore your data in the event of a possible attack.
Many users back up their entire servers, including the operating system, or OS. Backups like these serve a purpose. However, if the OS is compromised, it appears that the backup is also compromised. As a result, reinstalling the OS and services may be preferable.
However, your data tells a different story. Make as many backups as you can. Furthermore, your backups should not be stored on your servers. Always back up to a separate location or to the cloud.
4. Keep your databases secure.
Databases hold vital information. Because cybercriminals are aware of this, they target vulnerable databases. To avoid a database breach, ensure that it can withstand SQL injections. An SQL injection attack inserts malicious SQL statements into your database, allowing them to manipulate the data.
To ensure maximum security, limit everyone’s access to your databases as much as possible. Keeping user privileges to a minimum will assist you in accomplishing this. Furthermore, delete any unused files and services because astute hackers may find a way to exploit them. Unused features and services can expose users and various communication links if they are left running.
5. Make use of DDoS protection.
A distributed denial of service attack is used to bring down entire servers or websites. A large amount of traffic is sent to your server, causing it to buckle and crash. The intention behind them is frequently to cause financial loss to the targeted business. DDoS attacks render your website or web apps inaccessible, so preventing them is critical.
The only way to protect yourself from these attacks is to use a dedicated DDoS-protected server. Such a server would include a built-in DDoS shield that monitors all incoming traffic. Connection requests are diverted from your server when malicious traffic is detected. At the same time, legitimate traffic is permitted to pass, ensuring that your website visitors are not inconvenienced.
6. Choose professional and dependable services.
When selecting a web hosting plan, always work with professional and dependable service providers to get the best assistance and resources. A professional service provider will be able to provide you with the best solutions for dedicated server security as well as other requirements. A reputable provider will be able to maximize your server security while also keeping you up to date on the latest security measures.
Ensuring Your Dedicated Server’s Security
The first step toward a safe and successful business is security. Reliable dedicated server hosting includes the best security measures to keep your website, business, and data safe.
Your customers rely on you and trust you with their personal information; it is your responsibility to maintain that trust and ensure complete security. Every day, new cases of cyber theft and attack are reported. That is why you must optimize your security measures before it’s too late.
Your online business, like your home, requires the best security!