Securing Your Cyber Infrastructure: The Importance of IT Server Protection

Over the last few years, the frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks have increased significantly. A much wider range of organisations have also been victims, with operations of varying sizes and focuses now being targeted.

This has made it even more crucial for every business to have robust IT server protection measures in place.

Acknowledging this, we want to take a closer look at what IT server protection is and the benefits it can provide for your business.

As part of this, we will explore how these measures differ from other IT security efforts, and how they support the overall health of your network. We will also share our advice on the best ways to secure your servers and minimise the risk of serious attacks.

Why does my server need protection?

An unprotected server is like the Holy Grail to cybercriminals, who will actively look for this weakness and exploit it to:

  • Access sensitive data, like client contact details and financial information
  • Infect your server with malware, which can be used to cause serious damage to your systems or steal sensitive information
  • Hijack your website and other key administrative systems, and potentially demand a ransom be paid before they restore access

Having proper server protection in place helps minimise this risk, keeping your business, and your client’s data, safe.

As recent events have shown, failing to do this can cause serious damage to your business’s reputation. It can also create legal problems, as Australian businesses are now required to keep client information safe through strict data management and protection measures.

The role of IT server protection

For most businesses, a secure server is an essential component of a healthy IT landscape. It means you are protected against malware, data breaches, unauthorised access, and other serious threats. It can also help you to optimise the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of your key systems.

It is worth noting here that there is a subtle, but important, difference between server security and cybersecurity.

While these terms are often used interchangeably, cybersecurity is a broader term that covers any measures designed to help prevent cyberattacks. IT server protections are a subset of these activities, specifically focused on keeping your server infrastructure secure.

It is also important to acknowledge that IT server protections must be supported by a range of other critical security measures. These include:

  • Sufficient email protections, to help strengthen and defend the primary entry point for most hackers and cybercriminals.
  • Comprehensive cybersecurity training, to help make sure your team members are aware of the biggest threats to your business and how to avoid them.
  • Robust business continuity plans, to help identify and mitigate key risks and provide a structured, strategic approach to responding to emergencies.

This list is far from exhaustive, and the exact protections you require will depend on the nature and scope of your business. The Australian Signals Directorate’s Essential Eight Maturity Model provides a more comprehensive approach to improving your business’s overall cybersecurity.

8 measures to keep your servers secure

If you are worried about the security of your servers or would like to implement additional protections, there are a few simple measures you should consider.

1. Keeping your networks private

Open networks have limited restrictions on who can access them, leaving them susceptible to all kinds of attacks.

By contrast, a private network creates an isolated environment that can only be accessed by those directly connected to it. Similarly, a virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure connection that allows you to safely access remote servers.

2. Disabling your admin user

Every server is set up with a root user role that has unrestricted access and can execute any command. These are a key target for cybercriminals as, if they can hack this role, they will have complete control over the server. To negate this, it is widely recommended that you disable this role when setting up your server.

3. Tightening your password requirements

Depending on their quality, passwords can be either your greatest protection against unauthorised access or one of your business’s biggest vulnerabilities. Where passwords are required, make sure they have to:

  • Be a minimum length (e.g. 8+ characters)
  • Include a range of different character types (numbers, upper and lower case letters, etc.)
  • Be updated regularly (e.g. they expire after 1 month)
  • Use a password manager

4. Implementing two-factor authentication

To further minimise the risk of unauthorised access, make sure your user verification process has at least two steps. This reinforces password controls by also requiring the entry of a security key or completion of a biometric scan (e.g. fingerprint) as part of the login process.

5. Setting up a firewall

A firewall adds another layer of protection against unauthorised access by limiting the systems and services a user can connect to or access. There are several different types of firewalls, which vary in structure and filtering method.

The right one for your business will depend on your budget and operating requirements.

6. Regularly updating your software

To keep your systems running as efficiently as possible, make sure you implement new updates as they become available.

These usually include patches and fixes for known issues or weaknesses, as well as operational improvements and new functionality. While updates can usually be automated, depending on the specific software, testing may be required before implementation to ensure usability will not be impacted.

Exploiting known vulnerabilities in software is one of the most common ways hackers infiltrate systems, so this is an incredibly simple measure to take that has a huge impact on your security.

7. Ensuring you have a back-up

While the above measures should help you prevent an attack, you still need to be prepared for the worst. Having a comprehensive backup of your systems and data will help minimise the impact of a successful attack and speed up recovery if something does go wrong.

This should be updated regularly and stored securely, either off-site or in the cloud.

8. Regular compliance checks

Regular compliance checks are like the health checkups for your server security. Imagine having a fancy security system, but never testing if it actually works!

In the ever-evolving digital world, your security needs to remain adept enough to combat the ever-growing capabilities of cybercriminals.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to protect your IT server

For information or assistance on improving your IT server protection, as well as meeting all your other cybersecurity needs, contact OneCloud IT Solutions today.