The idea of going online to start a business is one of the hot topics nowadays. The internet is an easy-to-access platform for the business-to-be and the users of the products this business has to offer. However, it should always be kept in mind that the internet is also a very easy-to-access platform for anyone meaning to harm your business. Cyberattacks are as common nowadays as a business going online and are a potential threat to the security of both the business and its customers. Thus you must use a secure server for all kinds of business transactions both for your and the customers’ benefits.
A question that plagues the mind of any new enterprise going online is how to create a secure website? Is it an extraordinarily difficult task to do so or can it be dealt with more easily? Does it require exceptional technical expertise to secure a server or a website? The purpose of the following paragraphs is to understand what are the different kinds of threats and how best can one protect their business against it.
An understanding of the different kinds of threats that you are likely to face is the first step to understanding the best ways to prevent them. There are majorly 3 types of threats that any online business platform may face- DoS Attack, Code Injection, and Cross-Site Scripting. Let us first understand these attacks before we move on to measures taken for server security.
DoS stands for Denial-of-Service. This is a kind of cyber-attack wherein your website is flooded with odd junk requests. As is the nature of a website, it will try to authenticate these requests but the sheer volume of requests flowing into your website becomes difficult to handle. This in turn leads to malfunction of website or downtime and hence potential loss of profits, or worse, customers!
A website has a base of codes as its foundation and oftentimes there may lie a vulnerability in these codes that may get overlooked by the web developer. The purpose of code injection is to modify these vulnerabilities in such a manner that it serves the purpose of the attacker. The biggest threat in such situations is to your clients, who unknowingly enter personal data and the attacker gets benefitted from that.
There is a chance that an attacker could send a misleading request or a malicious one to your website that may cause loss of data, profit, or personal information from your end or your customers. This comprises cross-site scripting which also goes by the name XSS.
Here are some of the ways that you could adopt to ensure that your web server and hence, your website remains secure and free of such kinds of attacks.
- Encrypted Information
The use of encrypted information to and from your website is one of the most effective ways for great web server security. Secure protocols such as sFTP, https, ssh, etc. ensure that your data is always encrypted. Additional security layers such as VPN and IPSec are also instrumental in enhancing the security of your server and your website.
- Complex Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication
You should do away with passwords such as “abcdefgh”, “password”, “admin123”, and the likes of it. Such password options are the easiest to crack and hence puts all your data at risk. The password should be an alphanumeric combination with some complexity that cannot be easily guessed by an individual or a machine. Dictionary words and known combinations should be avoided while creating passwords. Multi-factor authentication such as an OTP followed by a password, or a pin to be entered after entering the password makes way for a secure server login. The password should also be changed regularly, say, after 60 days of use, and such information should not be divulged into others.
- Secure Your Hardware and Your Software
Using a VPN and a firewall goes a long way in securing your website. If you are sharing the server or work environment with another company, then this is a must to ensure a properly secure server. Antivirus software is also a prerequisite for enhanced security options. This implies the use of a paid antivirus software and not the free applications which are so readily available over the internet.
- Regularly Update and Regularly Backup!
These are two key points if you are thinking of creating a server with proper security options. The former, regular updates, ensure that your website is dynamic and keeps modifying all the loopholes from time to time making it difficult for an attacker to enter and attack your business. The latter is a secondary security measure that will come in handy if you are ever attacked. If you are doing regular, real-time updates then the chances of losing data even during an attack are very low, and you can be back on your feet in no time.
- Dedicated Servers
There are different kinds of servers available out there at various price ranges. You will be spending the most if you go for a dedicated server but you will also be opting for the most secure server. Dedicated servers are entirely your own to use and you can update it, reform it, or use it in any way you think fit. The dedicated servers already come with a high level of security and you can further upgrade by following different processes as mentioned here. Thus, when you are using a dedicated server, you not only tap into high-end physical security, but you can also customize your security options and use them to the fullest potential. This is one of the most full-proof ways to ensure high-end data security.
- Restricted Access
Restriction of access to the directories, databases, and servers is an important step to secure your server from attacks. When you are restricting access, you are protecting the data from prying eyes. Only those who need direct access to such data should be given access! Restricting the physical access to data is a small step but quite a crucial one if you are planning to up your security measures. This is a small but quite effective step on how to set up a secure server.
- Root Level Access
Root-level access will give any user full access to control all kinds of programs used to run the website. It will give one full access to all kinds of data stored within your system. This is too much power for a single person, especially one who has bad intent. You mustn’t trust just about anyone with root-level access. Your company’s safety, as well as the safety of your clients’ data, rests on your hand and thus you should consider carefully before giving anyone root-level access to your systems. Thus, this point should be a must in your web server security checklist.
- Linux OS
It is easy to tread upon paths that you know. This is true when you are taking a walk through a known route in the countryside. However, this is also true about cyberattacks, operating systems, and coding platforms. Most of the world uses Windows operating systems and hence it is also very easy to bypass the security measures and attack the users. However, if you were to use a different operating system such as Linux, it is going to up your security by a huge margin. Linux is also open source- this means that you can upgrade it to your liking and need. This further notches up the security because you can mold this OS to behave in a manner you deem fit. Thus Linux based operating systems such as Ubuntu and Debian is a much better platform to set up your server than Windows.
The first conclusion that can be drawn is that a secure server is not a matter of joke and should be taken very seriously. Secondly, it should be understood that it is not an overwhelmingly difficult task to do so. Few preventive measures are the key to making way for the most secure web server. All you need for enhanced server security is a group of experts and they can handle most of the attacks and prevent it from happening. The steps mentioned here are crucial for the proper safety of data. Some of them are small steps, some of them will work at a personal level, and some of the steps mentioned will require a team of experts. It is up to you to decide who you share your data with and that is going to impact your business in the long run. Security is an issue that should be carefully and strictly dealt with. And above all, the less the number of people who have access to your data, the more secure it becomes for you.
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