Server security is vital in today̵
Back up your server and protect valuable data
Protecting user and work data is an endless task. As hackers advance and new exploits are found every day, securing sensitive information becomes more difficult and important than ever.
Whether your important data is in a database on your server, in the server-side code of a website, or in a file somewhere on your server, protecting this information is important to you as a company and as a user. Even if you run a personal server, your data is important, and today if you don’t take steps to protect it, you must give it away.
Let’s look at 5 ways you can protect your sensitive data and secure databases, accounts, and files all at the same time using these security policies.
1. Configure hardware and software firewalls
Configuring firewalls is an important step in protecting the data on your server. Locking down your network and blocking unnecessary access can prevent attackers from looking for targets and weak policies on your server, and it goes a long way in keeping your sensitive data safe.
By setting up hardware and software firewalls at the edge of your network that contain your servers, workstations, and other devices in your office or organization, you can prevent and allow outside connections to enter your network (as well as prevent connections and allow) to go out).
Your goal should be to configure your firewalls to be as exclusive as possible and to block all incoming connections unless absolutely necessary. By whitelisting incoming and outgoing connections only, you can prevent hackers from even gaining access to your server and workstations.
By blocking pretty much everything outside of port 80 and specific ports for services that you need public remote access to, you can prevent attackers from accessing weak services and unintentionally opened ports. You can then whitelist entries for specific remote addresses that need access to services like VPN, FTP, SMTP, and more.
2. Implementing encrypted VPN for remote access
VPNs can be used to secure connections to important servers. Instead of connecting directly to your server through an open SSH port, you are connecting to the VPN, which will make your home PC act as if it were connected to the private network where your servers are located. This allows you to keep ports and services private and still access them over the internet when you are on the VPN.
An encrypted VPN can create an extra layer of security between your remote user and your server, helping to subdue hackers who may be trying to crack passwords or exploit open ports accessible over the Internet.
VPNs are a great way to secure the attack vector on open ports. For more information, see our guide on setting up OpenVPN.
3. Enforce strong password policies and MFA
Creating strong password policies is an essential part of securing your server. Whether you are using administrative, SQL, or application logins, securing these credentials with unique passwords and usernames protects your data and can counter a variety of different attacks based on weak and guesswork passwords.
If the passwords are weak, most security measures will not protect your server. If you have an administrator account or a SQL database with a simple password, hackers might just be able to log into your server.
Passwords should be at least 12 characters long and contain a mixture of letters, numbers, punctuation, and capitalization. However, it is now recommended that instead of a complicated password like Th1sIsMyP @ ssw0rd! 321, which is hard to remember, security experts now recommend long, multi-word phrases like MyDogsNameIsBobAndHesGreat84, which are easier to remember and evenly safer with the added length.
In addition, the implementation of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), which protects credentials by integrating a second or third authentication method, helps protect valuable logins and confirms user activity with an additional text message or email.
4. Install SSL certificates to protect data transmission
Adding SSL certificates to websites and control panels can encrypt and hide the traffic between your users and your website. Secure logins, payment information and other sensitive data on your server. They are free or very cheap and can be implemented quickly.
SSL certificates use private and public keys when issued by a trusted certification authority or certification authority. These keys protect encrypted data and packets transmitted between users and your server, giving end users the confidence that their data is safe and cannot be easily intercepted. Private keys authenticate your server as the true owner of the website’s certificate and automatically create secured connections.
For more information, see our guide on setting up free LetsEncrypt certificates.
5. Monitor logs and keep track of registrations and events
Monitoring and recording logs can help protect your server by giving you valuable insight into traffic patterns, application errors, and failed login attempts. This information can help you incorporate better security policies, identify and block attackers, and give you a better understanding of how your server is being attacked and how attacks are being used against you.
Setting up event logs, extended error logs, and monitoring for failed login attempts is critical to security today. While browsing logs does not inherently protect your server, this information can help you understand how potential attack vectors are being exploited. You will quickly find that failed admin and IP login attempts make many requests. With this data, you can set up scripts to automatically block IPs that have failed login attempts, find automated programs that brutally enforce your websites or databases, and identify violations and their origin.
For more information, see our guide on Setting Up a Log Management Tool.
What do we do now?
These 5 guidelines for protecting your data go a long way towards securing information and blocking your server security. However, these aren’t the only steps you need to take.
Security never stops, and when you take steps to stay up to date with the latest threat landscape, test and incorporate new security policies, and take an active role in server security, you or your business can be protected and time-consuming Money to be saved when a compromise happens.
Most companies believe they are safe until they have a problem. Even small companies are attacked or exploited in wide networks of automated attacks. Following these first 5 steps will give you the security you need as a system administrator. Integrate them today and be on the lookout for the next security policy to implement!