For any modern business, the security of its website and web server is of paramount importance. In modern times, a digital presence has become such an important part of business that if compromised, much irreparable damage can be done to any business. Therefore, you must take all necessary measures to ensure the security of your web server. How? ‘Or’ What? This is precisely what we will explore in this article.
In this article, we will look at 9 steps that can be taken to keep your web server safe. Let’s start:
# 1. Enforce strong passwords
This one is basic – you and all of your employees should NEVER use a simple password for your account which is used to access the backend of the server. If your password is weak, it can be easily cracked by guessing, forcing it hard, or even looking at one of your employees. To prevent this from happening, always use a password of at least 8 characters, using both upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Also, make these passwords mandatory throughout your organization for employees who access the server.
# 2. Secure your FTP
FTP refers to the file transfer protocol, which is used to upload files to your server. If your FTP path is not secure, anyone can steal your files while they are uploaded to the server. Now you can imagine what can be done by stealing the files that need to be uploaded to your server – pretty much anything a cybercriminal wants to do.
Fortunately, there is a way to prevent it from happening. Use FTPS instead of the default FTP protocol – where “S” stands for secure. Just as there is HTTPS for the secure loading of web pages, there is FTPS for the secure uploading of files to your server.
# 3. Install an SSL certificate
The SSL certificate protects your web server and the user data stored on it by encrypting the data before sending it to your visitors. They also ask your visitors’ web browsers to encrypt data (i.e. usernames, passwords, etc.) before it is sent to your server on their end, so that no one can steal the data by capturing the data packets in transit.
It also protects your visitors from other types of attacks like phishing, where a hacker can upload a copy of your webpage to a similar domain name and then order your visitors to log in through their version of your. site on this domain (thus sending the user credentials instead of you) by sending emails. It does this by adding a unique identifier in the form of a green padlock before your URL in the address bar so that your visitors can make sure they are dealing with your official site and not that of an impostor. . Therefore, you need to install a cheap SSL certificate on your web server.
# 4. Using a VPN
Open Internet connections are accessible to many third parties. The data sent through them can be viewed by the government, Internet service provider (ISP) and all other users who are on the same network. VPN software, however, routes your data over a private connection using a private IP address, thus isolating your traffic from public space. This helps to ensure the security of your data sent to the server by governments, ISPs, and other intermediaries.
# 5. Use application analyzers
Application scanners scan all internal applications installed on your server for malicious code or activity. Using in-house developed application scanners can really help you overcome the threat of your server being compromised. If you don’t have in-house developed app scanners, there are also several free and paid options available in the market that can get the job done. However, a limitation with such tools is that most of them are not as up to date as the programming languages ââin which the applications are coded. That is why we suggest that you get an in-house developed application scanner for your server. But if that’s not an option now, get yourself a free / paid tool in the market.
# 6. Audit regularly
Regular auditing of your web server is also necessary to ensure its security. You should continue to regularly check activity logs, new added / deleted files, and the status of any security tools you have installed. It may seem like a boring task, but it is necessary because it can help you detect hack attempts before they are executed successfully so that you can protect yourself against them. Cyber ââattacks almost never succeed the first time – there are many ways an attacker tries to get into your server, and you can usually detect this by carefully auditing your server activity.
# 7. Separate your development and testing activities
Often websites are hacked because there is no clear separation between their development, test and production environments. If your site is actively developed, you should make sure that development and testing work is not done on the core server. Many vulnerabilities are ignored when developing a site, and if the development is done in your back-end environment, there is no reason why your site should not be hacked using these vulnerabilities. Therefore, you should ensure that no development work is done on your back-end server and that features under development are only brought online after they have been tested for vulnerabilities.
# 8. Remove unwanted software and extensions
Many times the servers are also hacked because several unwanted applications / programs are running on them. If your server is also loaded with software and add-ons that you no longer need, it will be a good idea to get rid of them as soon as possible. You never know which software installed on your site becomes a flaw allowing your server to be hacked. Also, the more programs and scripts you have on your site, the more effort you have to put into analyzing and auditing applications. Hence, it is a good idea to get rid of all the apps and extensions that you no longer need.
# 9. Manage your users with care
It is also important to pay attention to the number of users who have access to your server’s Control Panel and what type of access they have. Each server comes with a root user who can access everything on the server, which is why most cybercriminals focus on compromising that user. If you turn it off completely, you can make their job much more difficult. In addition to that, if you need to provide limited access for your employees to perform various server related tasks depending on the nature of the work they need to do.
Following these nine steps can go a long way in protecting your web server from being hacked. Many of these steps should be followed when setting up your server for the first time, but if you haven’t been able to do so, now is a good time to implement all of these steps to keep your web server secure. So, implement them today and live with peace of mind! And if you still have questions, please share them in the comments.