What is SOAR (Security, Orchestration, Automation, and Response)?
Our MDR service correlates your endpoint alerts with other sources of security data via our SOAR platform that allows our highly skilled MDR Analysts to decipher false positives from real alerts.
Best practices to server security software
Your organization’s servers play an essential role. These computer systems provide shared resources and services to employees in your network, who typically connect to servers through computers or devices. A server’s services can include web applications, databases, email systems, file storage, and more. Additionally, your servers may help with centralized management and the control of valuable files and sensitive assets such as proprietary data.
Cybercriminals are also aware of how important your servers are. Nowadays, a hacker can use increasingly sophisticated techniques, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), Remote Code Execution (RCE), or Man-in-the-Middle (MitM), to attack your servers. The probability of a successful attack grows when you make mistakes such as using inadequate antivirus tools, unpatched software, or poor passwords to protect your servers.
Further reading: What is Managed Detection and Response (MDR)? Learn how MDR analysts identify sophisticated adversary behavior, prevent breaches, and accelerate incident response activities.
The cost of a server attack can be high. Your organization may suffer a loss of data, finances, operational capacity, and reputation. Your carefully cultivated business relationships may also be impaired, depending on the gravity of the attack. Fortunately, robust server security protocols can significantly mitigate the risk of a costly attack on your servers.
Read this in-depth guide for information on:
- What is server security?
- What is VPN protection for servers?
- What makes a secure server?
- The advantages of cloud server security.
- How does a proxy server improve security?
What is server security?
Server security is the process of safeguarding your servers from malware, unauthorized access, data breaches, misuse, disruption, and other types of threats. The goal of server security is to optimize the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the resources your servers share and the services they provide.
Server security includes a combination of technical and administrative measures, such as using cybersecurity software, complex passwords, disabling unnecessary services and ports, and optimizing user privileges on a need-to-access basis. Learn more about password best practices and how to choose strong passwords. Monitoring and logging tools can also help detect and respond to security threats.
But server security is about more than technical measures. To achieve a secure server, modern organizations employ security assessments, risk assessments, and security policies that highlight and fix potential vulnerabilities. In short, a combination of top server security tools and practices helps optimize server security.
Why is server security important?
- Operational Capacity: An attack on your organization’s servers can hinder your operations and revenue generation capabilities. Depending on the nature of the attack and the type of server, your web pages and applications may go down, your email system may stop functioning, and your files and data may be corrupted.
- Confidential Data: Servers can host confidential information like personal, financial, or business data. Unauthorized access to this data can impact your organization’s security.
- Compliance: An attack on your servers that impacts your ability to comply with regulations such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) can have serious consequences.
- Trust: An attack on your servers can shake the confidence your employees, clients, and investors have in your organization.
Cloud server security
Organizations are rapidly shifting to the cloud because of its scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness in the era of digitization. Cloud server security is defined as the measures and protocols that shield data and information stored on cloud servers from unauthorized access, misuse, malware or online attacks. The main components of cloud server security are as follows:
- Access control sets up authentication and authorization protocols for cloud server access.
- Encryption procedures protect data on the cloud from unauthorized access.
- Network security leverages firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other security tools to protect the cloud network from external threats.
- Regular data backup and disaster recovery procedures mitigate the risk of data loss due to technical failures or threats like ransomware.
Read the related article: What is Cloud Security?
Understanding server security hardening
Server security hardening is the process of improving the security of a server by lessening its attack surface and minimizing the risk of security breaches while still maintaining its functionality. The attack surface of a server, of course, is the number of ways a threat actor could potentially gain access to the server and exploit security flaws.
To harden a server, security professionals can remove unnecessary services and protocols, implement robust authentication methods, apply encryption measures, and monitor server activity.
Server security hardening is an ongoing process. It’s necessary to regularly assess and update your security measures. As new threats and vulnerabilities emerge, fresh policies can reduce your server attack surface.
How to secure a server
You must adopt a holistic approach to protect your servers from unauthorized access, misuse, and disruption. Start with a checklist that ensures your organization’s security goals are aligned. If you want to know how to secure a server, start here:
- Security software: Invest in advanced server security software to stop malware and other menaces like ransomware. For example, our endpoint server security system is guaranteed to stop ransomware.
- Software updates: Regularly install security patches to plug vulnerabilities and improve security features.
- Login security: Enforce strong passwords and multi-factor authentication in your organization.
- Firewalls: A good firewall will block unauthorized access and control incoming and outgoing network traffic.
- Restrict access: Provide server access to only those who need it. Leverage permissions and access control to restrict what they can do.
- Event logging: Monitor server logs and security events to detect and respond to security incidents.
- Backups: Regularly back up server data to minimize disruptions from a cyber attack or disaster.
- Encryption: Encryption protects sensitive data, whether stored on a server or moving across a network.
- Risk assessments: The right risk assessment procedures will identify and address vulnerabilities and check the strength of your security measures.
- Use SSL/TLS certificates: For layered security, implement SSL/TLS certificates. Such certificates will encrypt data and shield it against eavesdropping and interception. And they help verify servers and clients to prevent unauthorized access.
- Use VPN for remote access: Enable remote access through a VPN server to enhance server security and protect your assets from threats.
- Prioritize endpoint management: In the age of remote working, more cybercriminals are targeting endpoints to attack organizations. Review your organization’s bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, invest in staff training, and invest in endpoint security.
- Physical security: With the focus on online server security threats, it’s easy to forget about physical security. However, physical security threats can be just as detrimental to server security. Regularly check your hardware for vulnerabilities and ensure access is restricted. Complete background checks and monitor activity to stop inadvertent or deliberate insider threats.
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Common server security problems and vulnerabilities
Outdated software can negatively impact server security in various ways:
- As software ages, threat actors discover vulnerabilities that they can exploit to steal data or attack a server. Patching software regularly can stop cybercriminals from exploiting known weaknesses.
- Unpatched software may be more vulnerable to emerging malware. .
- Outdated software may have compatibility issues with other software and hardware that results in security flaws.
- Outdated software may be slower and less reliable, resulting in instability and security challenges.
- Software that’s no longer supported by the vendor may not be compliant with industry regulations.
Ensure that your security team patches your software regularly. Upgrade software that’s no longer supported by the developer to avoid using any obsolete and potentially vulnerable software.
Weak or repetitive passwords
Weak passwords are highly problematic for server security. Hackers can use techniques such as brute force attacks and dictionary attacks to breach servers with weak or repetitive passwords. Hackers can also use weak passwords that were reused for multiple accounts to gain access to other accounts in an attack called credential stuffing. It’s also easier for hackers to utilize social engineering attack techniques to guess weak passwords.
Ensure that your organization uses long and sophisticated passwords. A password manager can help your team set complex passwords and keep track of them too.
Old or unnecessary accounts
Old accounts with active login credentials can be potentially used by a threat actor to access your organization’s server. A stolen password to an old account that was reused can also be exploited to breach server security.
Review your accounts and ensure that all old accounts are fully deactivated. Ensure that active accounts are secured with strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Organizations should properly test new code before installing it to update software. They should also ensure that the code is downloading from a trusted source and isn’t part of a Trojan horse attack. A patch management service can help optimize this process.
Threat actors often look for open network ports to gain unauthorized access to a server and steal or leak data. They use various port scanning techniques to find them. Vulnerable services on open ports are especially susceptible to hackers.
We recommend that you segment your network, close unnecessary ports to minimize your server’s attack surface, and use firewalls and other security tools to defend your open ports. Please also monitor your server for suspicious activity.
Old hardware can pose similar problems as outdated software. For example, old and unsupported hardware may be vulnerable to security flaws that are rectified in the latest version of the product. Old hardware may also suffer from performance or compatibility issues that negatively impact server security.
Improve your server security by reviewing your hardware. Upgrade hardware as necessary to more secure equipment.
Common server security threats
Malware, such as viruses, Trojans, spyware, bots, and rootkits, can infect a server and damage valuable data. Some kinds of malware, like ransomware, can exploit vulnerabilities to target servers. For example, ransomware is attacking vulnerable servers from Microsoft by using the ProxyLogon vulnerability.
Threat actors can use your SMTP server with an open relay to send spam and possibly get your server placed on a DNS denylist. Check your Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) documentation to learn how to close your open relay.
Denial of service (DoS)
Your adversaries can use a DoS attack to overwhelm your server with traffic and deny access to your site. A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is even more threatening because it is coordinated. You can mitigate the risk of such attacks by using firewalls, limiting the number of connections to your server per IP address, or investing in a cloud-based DDoS protection service.
Cross-site scripts (XSS)
Hackers attack servers by injecting malicious code to take advantage of flaws in web applications in an XSS attack. XSS attacks are preventable, though. The right tools can help you find vulnerabilities to patch them.
An SQL injection attack is similar to an XSS attack. Here, attackers exploit vulnerabilities in a server’s database to drop malicious code or steal data. Scanning for vulnerabilities and patching them is a common way to reduce the risk of an SQL injection attack.
Brute force attacks
Attackers use tools to guess different password combinations to your server until they find the correct password in a brute force attack. Brute force detection tools can alert you to such attacks. In addition, complex passwords, robust lockout policies, login attempt limitations, and multi-factor authentication (MFA) can mitigate a brute-force attack on a server.
Unpatched or poorly patched software
Outdated software can carry security vulnerabilities that threat actors may utilize to attack a server. Similarly, software that’s poorly configured during an update can be vulnerable to an attack too. Regularly download the latest patches for your software and install them correctly to prevent hackers from taking advantage of software flaws.
How to improve your server security
Create regular backups to improve recovery time in the event of an incident against your server. Keep one backup copy off-premises and two on-site on different mediums. Please test your backups. Consider investing in an additional air-gapped backup to have data that’s offline and inaccessible to threat actors through a network.
Update software & systems
As mentioned, you must regularly update your operating system and other key software. Install the latest security updates immediately and ensure that you’re downloading them directly from the source.
Limit server access
One of the best ways to reduce your attack surface is to limit server access to only those who need it. With fewer people accessing your server, the chances of unauthorized access reduce significantly.
Maintaining server logs can help improve traceability and accountability. Monitor your server logs frequently for red flags. Your server logs will also help investigate incidents and develop a more secure server.
Server security tools
Utilize server security tools such as anti-malware software, DDoS protection, and vulnerability monitoring systems to improve server security. We also recommend that you utilize the cloud-based Malwarebytes Nebula platform for top server endpoint protection.
Not only is Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection for Servers lightweight, but it uses Machine Learning to deliver accurate verdicts in an easy-to-use cloud-based dashboard.
Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can enhance server security by encrypting data in transit and shielding it against interception. A VPN can hide IP addresses, making it more challenging for an attacker to locate a target. A VPN can also add an extra layer of authentication between the client and the server. Try a private VPN download today to gain security and privacy benefits.
Reset passwords periodically
As mentioned, you must use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA) to protect your servers. Additionally, reset the passwords periodically to prevent stolen old credentials from being utilized by an attacker.
Only use secure connections
Utilize a cryptographic network protocol like SSH (Secure Shell) to establish a secure connection. SSH encrypts data, offers different authentication methods, provides secure file transfers, enables access control, and more. You can also use a proxy to hide your IP address, filter traffic and content, and log traffic for security.
Don’t rely on regular antivirus software to protect your servers. Use advanced antivirus technology that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to block threats proactively. For example, Malwarebytes users are protected from a backdoor specifically targeting Microsoft SQL servers, since our AI module wasted no time detecting this as Malware.AI.4207982868.
Consider investing in our AI-powered business endpoint security to gain real-time protection from malware, ransomware, zero-day exploits, phishing and other endpoint threats that can compromise your server security.
Create a security policy
Applying security procedures can ensure that the best security practices are followed and that everyone in your company is aware of their obligations. In addition, regular security assessments can detect weaknesses and risks to your server.
The future of server security for businesses
The ability to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data stored on a server will be impacted by evolving threats and new technologies in the future:
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will play an increasingly critical role in real-time monitoring and automated threat detection.
- Cloud security advancements will provide businesses with enhanced protection and greater flexibility for data on the cloud.
- The Zero Trust Security Model will become popular with larger organizations for better server security by assuming that all network traffic is untrusted until proven otherwise.
- Internet of Things (IoT) Security may become a more significant concern as more devices with unpatched vulnerabilities connect to servers.
- The rise of quantum computing will force businesses to adopt more sophisticated security measures to shield their servers from potential quantum-based attacks.
In the future, businesses must adopt more advanced server security measures, including better risk assessments, improved threat monitoring, and greater incident response planning, as server security risks rise.
Server Security FAQs
What is a security server?
How to establish a secure connection to a server
How do I know if my server is secure?
How does a proxy server improve security?
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