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Securing a Dedicated or VPS Server

Overview

This article discusses some measures you can take to secure a Dedicated or VPS server.

Tasks Involved

Click on any of the tasks to jump to that point in the guide.



Use a Firewall to Limit Access

Firewalls prevent external access to software on your server that might otherwise be exposed. With firewalls you can limit the type of traffic, ports, and IP addresses that are allowed to communicate with your server.

IPTables

Dedicated and VPS servers come with IP Tables. To learn more about IP Tables please see Manage Ports On Dedicated Or VPS Servers

Other Firewalls

Besides IP Tables, there are other firewalls you can use on your server

  • UFW (Uncomplicated Firewall)
  • NFTables

Brute Force Protection

Some services must be exposed to the internet so that you can connect to your server. In such cases, you still need to protect these access points. A common type of attack called "Brute Force Attack" occurs when an attacker attempts to login to your server by guessing the username and password. The attacker typically has methods and computers that are capable of trying guesses very quickly and given enough time can accurately determine a working user name and password.

A way to defend against these types of attacks is to have a system that monitors login attempts. If too many failed attempts occur from the same IP address within a short period of time, that IP address is blocked.

cPHulk

cPHulk is included on Dedicated and VPS servers, to learn how to configure it please see cPHulk Brute Force Protection

Connecting Securely

When you connect to your server, it's important to secure the connection. Insecure connections are more likely to have data stolen by anyone who might monitor the connection.

SSH

When connecting using SSH, it's a good idea to use keys instead of a traditional user name and password. See Generating a Public/Private Key

SFTP

When making FTP connections, use SFTP instead of normal FTP. FTP setup using Secure FTP explains how to use SFTP

Using Trustworthy Software

A key component to security is making sure you only install trustworthy software on your server. Software from the distribution repositories that your server is already setup to use has been vetted and seen as trustworthy. Be careful when installing 3rd party software from untrusted services, you may be unknowingly installing malware.

Updates

You should also strive to keep your software up to date. The longer you keep out of date software the more likely you are to have known vulnerabilities in that software exploited.

Check for Malware Often

Even with strong security measures its still possible for your server to become compromised. A prudent server administrator will often check for malware on a server even if things seems to be running fine. To learn more about scanning for malware please see Antivirus on Dedicated or VPS servers

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