What is a secure server? Well, a web server that implements encryption and security protocols is called a Secure Server. It depends on what the web server is meant for. If you have a web server that hosts an e-commerce website, the checklist to turn that into a secure server is different from what a web server that hosts files/documents (like Google Drive). In either case, if you have a blog, the security standards that make up for a secure server are different.
Of course, some common security measures have to be taken irrelevant of what the web server is meant for.
In this article, we will get to the details of what a secure server is, the types of server, a checklist for a secure server, and also we will learn about how you could find whether your server has been compromised or not.
What is a Secure Server?
A web server with security protocols implemented makes it a secure server. The SSL certificate is mandatory for any kind of secure server. Well, there are different types of SSL certificates. But the easiest way to check for a secure connection to a server is the presence of HTTPS connection to the server. You can know more about various SSL certificates through GlobalSign’s resource page.
Apart from SSL certificates, if a web server has a firewall enabled, ModSecurity installed, intrusion detection system, malware protection, and is physically protected (usually a data center), then you could consider that a secure server.
Yes, physical protection is also considered as one of the most important factors that make a server secure. If anyone can have unauthorized access to your server physically, no matter what you implement for online security, it won’t be of any help.
Now that you have an idea of what a secure server is. You need to know about the different types of servers.
Types Of Servers (Most Common)
- FTP Server – The FTP server hosts files and enables file downloading/uploading. It only serves to let the users/admin download/upload files. That’s what FTP stands for – File Transfer Protocol. We have previously shared a list of best FTP clients. Most of them provide you the functionality for SFTP connection. You can know it is secure when you encounter an SFTP connection.
- Mail Server – Mail server handles the exchange of emails (sending and receiving). A secure mail server enables a safe path to exchange emails that are end-to-end encrypted. For example, Amazon mail servers.
- Application Server – Application servers act as the interface between two different connections (user and the back-end). It is where all the computing is done to generate a web page according to the instructions.
- Virtual Server – A virtual server acts a clone to a dedicated server. It is not the real deal, but it empowers you with all the facilities you get with a dedicated server. In reality, a single machine is divided into multiple virtual servers.
- Telnet Server – A Telnet server is what enables a user to be connected to a computer remotely.
- Web Server – A server which communicates with the web browser to fetch the resources instructed or requested via HTTP/HTTPS connection.
Checklist For A Secure Server
If you need to ensure a secure server, the following list of common practices would help you do the job.
- Physical Protection: You need to make sure that the server you are using resides at a proper data center. You can be sure of that just by choosing a big brand with its dedicated servers. If you are building your own server make sure everything is encrypted and cannot be easily accessed by anyone.
- SSL Certificate: With free SSL solutions, you can easily encrypt your server with Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates. You could also opt for premium certificates in case you have trust issues with the free SSL certificates.
- Database Security: No matter what type of server you have, securing your database is important. If you do not secure your database, the credentials and application configuration information may be compromised.
- Web Application Firewall: If you need to monitor your traffic, block IPs, and a lot more similar advanced stuff, you might want to implement a WAF. It is actually a crucial part of securing a server. The most popular WAF is ModSecurity – an open-source WAF.
- Remote Access Restriction: Allowing Remote access to any IP address is a bad practice. So, if remote access to the server is authorized, it should be restricted to individual IP addresses and should implement end-to-end encryption.
- Password Security: Well, we do all the necessary stuff. But, sometimes we miss generating a really strong password. Even if we set one, we forget to regularly change that! So, password security is a must! It’s even better when you implement a 2-factor authentication.
- Performing Backup: You need to have a backup schedule to keep the files and database safe.
- Perform Regular Patches: No matter what part or module of the server you have installed, it needs regular patch up to ensure no possible exploitation of any vulnerabilities. So, you would obviously need a professional to assess vulnerabilities on your server regularly.
- Data Classification: It is the data that you are securing. So, one needs to classify the data according to the level of risks (low-level, moderate, and high-level). If done correctly, you will be able to secure the server in a better way.
How Do You Know That A Secure Server Has Been Compromised?
There are a variety of ways by which you can know that the server has been compromised. Most of the stuff includes the back-end part. It is usually tough to check for the server for its security from the front-end. So, mixing them together, we have laid down a few points which would help you know to secure your server and monitor for unauthorized activities.
- Check the logs: It’s the only spot every server admin heads to when needed to check whether a problem occurred or not. We would advise you to manually check the logs regularly rather than checking it after a problem has occurred.
- Compare file states: You need to check the integrity of the files stored. To do that, the easiest way would be comparing the backup with the latest file states to check whether there was a new modification that shouldn’t be there.
- Check Cron Job: You would mostly notice something odd in your cron job. if someone’s the access to your server through a back-door.
- Permissions: Keep track of what permissions have been given to the user groups. If you find it to be modified, that’s a sign of intrusion.
- Database Records: If you have been compromised, chances are that a malicious code has been injected into your database, you need to check for the same and remove it.
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You now have the answer to your question – what is a secure server. Also, you know how you can keep a server secure. Even if compromised, you know a couple of tips to help check whether the server has been compromised or not.
If you have any further query on what a secure server is, let us know in the comments down below.
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