In the age of heightened server security concerns, here’s how organisations can protect themselves
As servers and the workloads of enterprise data centres have drastically increased, so too have the security requirements around them.
The implications of server security breaches can be directly financial, result in the loss of valuable data and can harm the reputation of the organisation impacted.
As such, firms need to ensure they have taken the appropriate measures to reduce the risk of a security issue. A good place to start for firms and the channel organisations advising them are these five vital security measures for servers.
SSH key authentication
While a normal server login will require a username and password for access, that process can be enhanced with the use of SSH key authentication.
SSH, or Secure Socket Shell, is an encrypted protocol which is used to administer and communicate with servers.
SSH key authentication uses a key-based authentication system where a pair of cryptographic keys are created – a private key and a public key. The user has their own private key they keep secret while the public key can theoretically be shared with anyone. This ‘key pair’ is needed for server access.
This approach is more secure because malicious users can utilise software to discover a straight-forward username and password login. However, SSH key authentication creates significantly more potential combinations. It becomes nearly impossible to run through all the conceivable matches to gain server access.
A firewall monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on certain security rules. It is a quick and easy security option which can be established as a new server is set-up.
Firewalls are also a flexible way to secure servers. As custom security setting can be established, the servers remain available to those who still need access.
Firewall rules will offer access restriction to everything except a limited number of services. This reduces the exposure of a server, limiting vulnerably.
Backup (and secure the backup!)
Data backup is the safety net that all organisations need to utilise. It must also form part of all server security plans, as recovery is a vital cog in the larger security machine.
It is important to maintain all backups regularly and also to test all backups to ensure the process works. Offsite storage is vital, as physical damage from events such as fires and floods can render backups pointless if stored in the same location.
However, backups can be breached too, so security measures needs to be in place for that eventuality. Some of the other security measures in this article should also be applied to the security of backups. They too need to be encrypted and password protected.
Patches are a vital way to fix security vulnerabilities and other bugs, while they can also boost usability and performance.
Cyber attacks have often been linked to attacking fault-lines in technology where patches have not been kept up-to-date. Failure to patch can be the security gap malicious users want to expose.
There is also an additional onus on the person or team managing the technology to stay informed of the latest security threats and prepare accordingly.
Use secure products
It can be better to buy an already secured product, than an attempt to improve a product’s security after it has been purchased and installed. This notion has been taken up by server vendors and there is now a wide array of increasingly secure servers available.
This process often takes place as servers are replaced, but the security issues around servers have forced the hand of many organisations to refresh on already functional technology.
A major advantage of this approach is that the security measures are already efficiently built into the server technology, reducing concerns over how future security measures will interact with the server technology.
Secure processors are also important, such as the Intel Xeon Scalable processors, where the protection extends up from the silicon, through the platform hardware and firmware, ensuring protection from evolving security threats across physical and virtual infrastructures.
These five security measures for servers provide a vital foundation on the issue but providing server security today is an exercise in lifecycle management.
Security needs to be embedded in each stage of the server being designed, produced, provisioned and updated, right through to it eventually being retired. As it has done with its PowerEdge servers range, Dell EMC terms this approach as “cyber-resilient architecture”, which extends across every aspect of the server, including the embedded server firmware, the data stored in the system, the operating system, peripheral devices, and the management operations within it.
For further details on secure servers, please contact the Ingram Dell ISG team at DellEnterpriseUK@ingrammicro.com