When it comes to any modern business, the security of its website and web server is of paramount importance. In modern times a digital presence has become so important part of business that if it is compromised a lot of irreparable damage can be done to any business. Therefore, you must take every step to ensure the security of your web server. How? That is precisely what we are going to explore in this article.
In this article we willlook at 9 steps that can be taken to ensure the security of your web server. Let us get started:
#1. Enforce strong passwords
This one is basic – you and all your employees should NEVER use an easy password for your account that is used to access the server backend. If your password is weak, it can be easily cracked through guessing, brute forcing or even a gaze of any of your employees. To avoid it from happening always use a password that is at least 8 characters long, uses both upper as well as lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Also make such passwords mandatory across your organization for employees who access the server.
#2. Secure your FTP
FTP refers to File Transfer Protocol, which is used to upload the files to your server. If your FTP path is not secure, anyone can steal your files while they are being uploaded to the server. Now you can imagine what can be done by stealing the files that are to be uploaded to your server – pretty much everything that 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’s HTTPS for secure loading of web pages, there’s FTPS for secure uploading of files to your server.
#3. Install an SSL Certificate
SSL certificate protects your web server and user data stored in it by encrypting the data before sending it to your visitors. They also instruct the web browsers of your visitors to encrypt data (i.e. usernames, passwords etc.) before it’s sent to your server from their side, so no one can steal the data by capturing the data packets that are in transit.
It also protects your visitors from other types of attacks like phishing, where a hacker can put online a copy of your webpage on a similar looking domain name and then direct your visitors to login through his version of your site on that domain (thus sending the user credentials to him instead of you) by sending emails. It does so by adding a unique identifier in the form of a green padlock before your URL in the address bar so your visitors can ensure that they are dealing with your official website and not that of an imposter. Therefore, you should install a cheap SSL certificate on your web server.
#4. Use VPN
Open internet connections are accessible to a lot of 3rd parties. The data being sent through them can be accessed by the government, internet service provider (ISP), and all other users who are on the same network. A VPN software, however, routes your data through a private connection using a private IP address, thus isolating your traffic from the public space. That helps in ensuring the security of your data being sent to the server from governments, ISPs, and other interme
#5. Use Application Scanners
Application scanners scan all internal applications installed on your server for malicious code or activity. Using internally developed application scanners can really help you overcome the threat of your server being compromised. In case you do not have any internally developed app scanners, there are several free and paid options available in the market too that can do the job. However, a limitation with such tools is that most of them are not as up to date as the programming languages in which applications are coded. That is why we would suggest you get an application scanner developed internally for your server. But if that is not an option now, get a free/paid tool from the market.
#6. Audit regularly
Regular audit of your web server is also necessary to keep it secure. You should keep checking the activity logs, new files added/removed, and the status of security tools installed by you on a regular basis. This may sound like a boring task, but it is necessary because it can help you detect hacking attempts before they are executed successfully so you can protect yourself against them. Cyberattacks are almost never successful in a first attempt – an attacker tries numerous ways to get into your server, and usually you can detect it by carefully auditing your server activity.
#7. Separate your development and testing activities separate
A lot of times websites get hacked because there’s not clear separation between their development, testing, and live environments. If your site is being developed actively, you should ensure that the development and testing work is not being done on the main server. A lot of vulnerabilities get ignored while developing a site, and if the development is being done in your main server environment then there is no reason why your site may not be hacked by utilizing those vulnerabilities. Therefore, you should ensure that none of the development work is being done on your main server, and the features being developed are brought live only after they have been tested for vulnerabilities.
#8. Delete unwanted software and extensions
Many times, servers also get hacked because there are several unwanted applications/programs running on them. If your server is also loaded with software and extensions you no longer need, it will be wise to get rid of them as soon as possible. You never know which piece of software installed on your site becomes a loophole allowing the hacking of your server. Moreover, the larger the number of programs and scripts on your site the more effort you need to put for application scanning and audits. Therefore, it is a wise idea to get rid of all applications and extensions you no longer need.
#9. Manage your users carefully
It is also important to pay attention to the number of users who are having access to your server’s Control Panel, and the kind of access that they are having. Every 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 disable it altogether, you can make their work a lot more difficult. Besides that, if you need to provide limited access to your employees for performing various server related tasks depending on the nature of work they need to do.
Following these nine steps can go a long way to protect your web server from being hacked. Many of these steps should be taken during the initial setup of your server, but if you’ve not been able to do so it’s still the right time to implement all these steps to ensure the security of your web server. So, implement them today and live with total peace of mind! And if you still have any questions, share them in the comments.