Hardening the Defenses of Linux Servers for Secured Business Operations

Jul 27,2021 by Manoj Yadav

Significance of the server’s security must be understood by everyone who is associated with hosting any business website. Although, the developer community has in-depth knowledge about multiple aspects of security, the customers of web hosting services may not be fully aware of its importance.

If your website is being run by a dedicated or VPS server, then you must know some of the most useful tips that can be easily implemented for improving the overall security of your business critical web server that is run by Linux Operating System.

Importance of firewall protection

There are many aspects of server’s security, which may sound slightly old-fashioned and use of a firewall is one such factor. However, one should never underestimate importance of a firewall such as csf or iptables for guaranteed and automated blocking of suspicious IPs that may harm your data. 

This is the reason why firewall is considered to be one of the most vital aspects of server configuration. In many situations, firewalls can offer an added security layer in addition to the existing security features. 

Firewalls can be in the form of hardware or software and are aimed at controlling different services that may be associated with your servers. These defenses are commonly used for preventing suspicious intrusions within the server environment. 

Firewalls are used for blocking private, public, and internal services according to their security credentials. Your web server is the best example of publically available services since it grants access to any visitor from any location.

Similarly, a database control panel is associated with private services because it permits select users to access such services. If you need to block certain services to outside environment, then you can also setup firewall to protect these internal services. 

Similarly, you must follow the basic rule of keeping your server free from any unwanted files since such file has the potential of adding to the overall vulnerability of your site apart from occupying valuable disk space.  

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Keep it up to date

Keeping your server up to date is one of the easiest and the simplest tips to be implemented for enhancement of security quotient of your site. 

It is observed that business sites need to be supported by plugins and themes and software applications including Drupal, WordPress, Magento, or Joomla for seamless operation of multiple business processes.

Since a myriad of applications, software, and server packages are being installed on the web server, this need to be updated frequently with help of regular patches and updates. These updates are aimed at fixing flaws and weaknesses to improve immunity against possible attacks.

Using SSH keys

You should take all necessary precautions to protect your server before setting up of applications. Using SSH keys that consist of a pair of keys is one of the surest security practices. Before user authentication, one has to create a private and public key and the private key is not to be shared by user with anyone.

SSH client will allow access only on submission of private key. This will also allow the authorized user to access server without using any password. SSH is used for authenticating passwords and is totally encrypted. 

Thanks to the development of technologies, there are multiple ways by which hackers can gain access to servers with help of cutting edge computing methods that generate millions of password combinations to break open security barriers.

SSH has a unique attribute that makes it much superior to password based authentication. SSH keys are made by using multiple data bits instead of passwords. Most of the advanced computing technologies are not able to decipher algorithms of SSH keys. No wonder, majority of algorithms of SSH keys are known to be un-decipherable by using any method. 

Protect your SSH connections

This is the foremost requirement for securing your server since most of the cyber criminals are aware of the fact that port 22 is the default port. One must change this to another port before restarting SSH. In order to change the default port, you need to find Config file and then change the same to different port. 

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As far as user names are concerned, you can certainly add more users if you are using AllowUsers username. The authorized users can even be made to sign in from a specific IP for added security. 

One more secure way to restrict access to SSH is by use of rsakeys. This will make sure that the password authentication is entirely disabled. However, you must never lose your private key. Loss of private key will prevent you from accessing your server. In such situation, users need to report to hosting provider’s technical support team. 

There is an additional method of protecting SSH is restriction of default root user. In order to achieve this functionality, please make sure that setting up and generation of a key pair is properly done. 

If your web server is based on Linux operating system, then you can easily setup SSH keys to help you harden your server’s defenses. 

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