How to Make Your Virtual Private Server More Secure

How to Make Your Virtual Private Server More Secure

Virtual Private Servers are a great way to host your game or site at an affordable price.  They offer a much more unique and personalized experience than shared hosting while simultaneously avoiding the hefty cost of a dedicated server. The middle ground of VPS is certainly an appealing one for hosting, but if you choose VPS it’s important that you do so securely. Knowing how to make your Virtual Private Server more secure can help improve your overall performance and put your mind at ease

Step 1: Stay Up to Date

The cyber-world is ever-changing, and to live even a few years in the past can be detrimental to your well-being. The older the software version, the more vulnerable your VPS will become. Fortunately staying up to date doesn’t involve any heavy lifting. You’re already just a few clicks away from running the necessary updates to make sure your OS is ready to handle newly revealed threats and bugs.

This rule of thumb extends well beyond operating systems though. All your applications should be up to date as well. You can get into the alpha and beta versions of applications if you’re really looking for the newest edge on things, but in general, you should aim for the newest stable version of each app. It’s also possible to automate some of your update procedures to ensure you never fall behind.

Step 2: Monitor Your Logs

It’s hard to tell if you have a security threat without looking for one. And if you find one before you start looking then odds are it’s too late to nip in the bud.  Monitoring your server logs is a surefire way to raise any red flags that you need to see.  Whether it’s better understanding your traffic levels, user activity, or resource usage, knowledge is power.

Knowing more about events taking place on your server is always a good thing (unless there are too many alerts for you to efficiently view). Logs can help you know the exact time something goes wrong with your server, or they can help you catch unusual behavior before it gets out of hand. Perhaps some malicious hacker has been testing your system to see how it holds up against different kinds of infiltration.  If your logs are monitoring the kinds of behaviors they are partaking in, you could put a stop to it before things get out of control.  Cybersecurity is a never-ending game of cat and mouse, so it always pays to be one step ahead of things.

Step 3: Set Up Your Firewall

Unwanted traffic is bad. The more maliciousness you can keep away from your server the better, and that’s where a firewall comes in.  Most Linux-based OS will have a pre-installed firewall, but there are always other options you can consider for best protecting your VPS. You can also add additional protections to help limit and monitor your traffic, making rules to tarpit or altogether block those requests that you think may be malicious.

Step 4: Control User Access:

Access is entirely up to you as the server owner, but a general rule of thumb is to separate responsibilities when possible. If there are a large number of users using your VPS, limiting their access to certain resources and data can be beneficial two-fold. It can help protect sensitive data, but it can also help prevent unwanted impacts on your resource and server usage. You’ll want to establish rules for different file permissions, but on top of that, you’ll want to choose a hosting provider that helps you establish clear user permissions. There are other tools you can use to help control your access and processes, but if you have well-structured control these may not even be necessary for you.

Step 5: Backup to Avoid Setbacks

Even the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Backups are by no means a course of action for only VPS hosting. Regardless of your hosting plan, making sure that a disaster recovery plan is available is crucial to long term success. If disaster ever does strike, you’ll want peace of mind knowing things are not entirely lost.

Furthermore, the costs you might incur otherwise make it well worth taking the time to do things properly the first time. If you’re shopping around for a VPS host, look for one that offers a disaster recovery plan to minimize your future headaches.

Step 6: Use SSL For Everything

SSL certificates are a must in this day and age. They help create an encrypted channel between your server and a user and ensure that your connections are both secure and authentic.  Without using SSL, a whole slew of issues is introduced. Managing certs can take some expertise though, so make sure you either know what you’re doing, have a plan that takes care of SSL for you, or else become particularly good friends with a system administrator.

In summary, there are many different things you can do to increase your VPS server security, and these are by no means mutually exclusive. The more of these steps that you take the heart the better off your server will be. Reading about these won’t protect your info, but as mentioned above knowledge is power.  The next step is just putting it to use to make sure your users are safe, secure, and keep coming back.

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