A server can be defined as a device or computer program that provides services or functionalities to other programs or their clients present in the same or other computers. Servers provide different functionalities including:
Data/Resource sharing among multiple clients
Multiple servers can be used by a single client and a single server can serve multiple clients. A system designated as “server class hardware” indicates that it has a specialization for running servers.
Servers are classified according to their purpose. Eg. Web server, application server, proxy server, virtual server, etc. A secure server is a computer system dedicated to or designed for performing secure online transactions over a network which includes the internet as well. Secure servers make use of protocols like secure electronic transaction (SET), secure socket layer (SSL) to provide this service. Since the server is open to the outside world it is liable to a variety of attacks and ensuring the server security is of utmost importance.
The best server security practices are discussed below:
1. Set strong passwords
Ensure strong passwords are set with a combination of numbers, symbols, and punctuation along with characters. Test your password with a secure password tool. The primary defense for most of the services run on your server is your password strength.
2. Limit website access
A regular review of the website access logs helps to find out unwanted activities and to block the unwanted users if any. Continuous monitoring of server usage, Find out and resolve the malicious activities, and keep a record of them for a bookmark and further reviews also help in enhancing server security.
3. Limit Server access
Make only the ports which your server needs to communicate with the outside world. This could be done by closing the open ports present in the server’s firewall.
Enable a cPHulk brute force protection for blocking users with invalid credentials attempting repeated logins.
Install Advanced policy firewall on the server by default which allows easy management of iptables like the opening of ports.
Config server firewall is more robust and recent than APF which allows temporary blocking of IPs and has an in-built LFD which deals with protection of brute-force logins.
4. Secure login to server
Add your IP to server firewall and use SSH (encrypts the data and no outside IP is allowed) that you are able to connect to the server directly.
Securely manage your files by enabling an encrypted connection which requires a root access on the dedicated server paired with the FTP protocol.
Make your application logins secure by proper encryption and transmission of the credentials.
Ensure all the server applications is locked with a username and password and attempt to access the server applications through a secure login form.
5. Follow PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) guidelines for server security
This enables your server to accept credit card data and store the information directly on the server, securely.
Be vigilant on the third-party applications which may exploit server security. Keep up with the application security updates, themes or any plugins and stay away from the risk of being hacked since they are present on the internet and can be accessed from anywhere.
7. Public Key Infrastructure and SSL/TLS Encryption
Public key infrastructure refers to a system designed for creation, management, and validation of certificates for identifying individuals and encrypting communication. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard communication encryption technique between a web browser and server. TLS (Transport Layer Security) is the successor of SSL, and both are in general referred to as SSL. The transaction of information is limited between the user and the web host which helps the website to keep the data private. For the implementation of an SSL encryption into a website, an SSL certificate is attained from an authorized Certificate Authority (CA) that configures the server to trust every certificate signed by that CA.
8. Isolated execution
Here, the server is isolated from external access and run in its own dedicated space. This provides a contained environment which enables users to confine any damage caused by malware through sandboxing. The level of isolation depends on application requirements and infrastructure realities. This limits the access of an intruder to the infrastructure.
Updating the OS and control panel regularly, disabling the unused services, remote and local security scans, and using root accounts only when required also help in enhancing server security.