Protect Your Linux Server – Key Checkpoints for Improving Linux Server Security
Opting for VPS hosting is a big decision, but often the correct one. Your choices don’t end there though. Once decided on, it’s time to pick the primary operating system, and the options generally come down to Windows and Linux. While there are many different variables to consider, not least the cost, your website’s security is what is crucial for any responsible business.
If you’ve decided to use a Linux VPS for your web hosting, security is vital but does not need to be complicated.
What is Linux VPS?
For those still considering their options for web hosting, a Linux VPS is a fantastic choice. As noted, it often ends up being more cost-effective than its Windows equivalent as Linux is open-source software. Conversely, much as with using it on a PC or other device, Windows is licensed, commercial software that requires a license fee.
In terms of what a Linux VPS is, it’s a hosting platform suitable for websites and any other content a business wishes to deploy to users online. Linux is the operating system, and the VPS is a part of a physical server that stores files and data to ensure that a website is always available to visitors.
The Importance of Security on a Linux Virtual Private Server
Security considerations are vitally important on a Linux VPS, although the same applies to all hosting options. Most businesses face plenty of challenges, but online security is of paramount importance. Without even considering full-scale breaches, something as simple as data loss can result in a hit to a business’s reputation and potentially even legal issues if the company was found to be at fault.
While it’s an open-source platform, Linux benefits from plenty of support and backup from developers and other users. There’s no excuse not to make a Linux VPS as secure as possible, and we’ll share the best ways to ensure that this is the case.
Security Checkpoints for Your Linux VPS
Whether you have a brand-new Linux server, or you’ve never given the security on your current Linux hosting arrangement the attention it deserves, the following checkpoints will ensure that your server is highly protected and ready to serve your customers:
Change the Default Access Port
Many individuals that opt for Linux hosting have some level of technical ability. That means that they’re often comfortable directly accessing the server rather than relying on added software.
The most common means of direct access involves SSH. It works perfectly well, but most Linux server deployments also rely on default access ports. Hackers will scan for these ports, then turn to brute force for potential access. In changing this default port, you remove the obvious access point and ensure that attackers need to find more than a valid username and password to attack your servers.
Disable Ports You Don’t Use
Naturally, you require several ports to make the Linux VPS work. However, if you’re not doing anything extravagant, you’ll have unused ports that serve no purpose other than potentially providing access for malicious actors.
Once you’ve set up your Linux VPS to your liking, it makes sense to close any unused ports if they’re not needed any longer for updates or work on the server. Indeed, their only role is as a potentially insecure access point.
Ensure Your Linux Distro is Up to Date
Outdated software is one of the biggest culprits in security breaches. Many regular updates happen purely to tackle the latest threats and potential attacks. It makes perfect sense to deploy them on your server as soon as possible. From coding errors to zero-day exploits, software patches are rarely released for any reason other than to fix vulnerabilities.
Disable Anonymous FTP Access
One of the best things about Linux is that it’s easy to use, and another is that it’s easy to access. However, default installations can potentially make it too easy. For example, not every installation allows anonymous FTP access by default, but enough do that it makes sense to take a closer look.
Should you find that your server is indeed allowing such access, changing that to authorized users only is a perfect security fix.
Install Protective Software
When you get a new PC, you probably have a list of essential software to install right away. This potentially includes antivirus, firewall, and malware scanner. Never forget that a VPS is essentially a computer, and it can benefit from that same software if you want it to remain safe and secure.
It’s even more imperative when storing data online than on a local machine. Hackers don’t generally scan for home PCs they can access, as getting into a system is typically complex, and the payoff is small. However, every website, no matter the size, is a valid target. Fortunately, most software is designed and updated to automatically intercept the latest threats without any further intervention on the part of the site owner.
Set a Backup Schedule
Most people would jump at the opportunity to keep a second copy of anything valuable. However, websites are often overlooked, especially considering how easy it is to make such a copy.
Manual backups have a place, but the primary checkpoint involves adding backup software directly on the server. From there, it’s always best to create those backups somewhere other than on the server itself. After all, a server-wide attack could potentially take down the website and the backup in one fell swoop. So set them up to be sent to a separate cloud hosting site, emailed to you, or anywhere that keeps them out of reach of any potential attacker.
Disable Root User Login
Root access is every bit as flexible as it sounds. Anyone that can log in to a server in this way has complete control over the server, just as if they’d plugged in a monitor and were sat right in front of it. Critically, there’s absolutely no need to allow such access once your site is live.
Fortunately, the process to disable root access also includes the option to reenable it, so if it’s needed in the future, genuine users will have no issues with updating the site as needed.
Linux is an industry-standard VPS operating system, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s as secure as it can be when first installed. When a site is worth hosting, it’s worth protecting, and the checkpoints outlined above will ensure that your website not only reaches its potential but stays online in the face of a growing number of online threats. Visit us to find out more! We are here to help.