With cyberthreats lurking on the web, keeping your server secure should be your top priority when managing a VPS. This sentiment particularly applies to users who run unmanaged servers containing sensitive personal information.
In this article, we will uncover eight security measures you should perform to protect your VPS. Additionally, we will also explore the difference between unmanaged and managed VPS as well as the reasons why each type of VPS requires different security approaches.
Unmanaged VS Managed VPS
Depending on the size of your site, you may need to invest in a VPS hosting plan to get more server resources. If you’re interested in moving to this hosting, you should know that most hosting providers offer two types of VPS plans — unmanaged and managed VPS.
For experienced users, unmanaged VPS may seem more appealing due to its flexibility in managing the servers. Despite this, the freedom to manage your server comes with the responsibility to do system configuration, server maintenance, and security checkup on your own. Since the hosting provider provides minimum support, unmanaged VPS tends to be less costly than managed VPS.
If you don’t want any hassles with the technicalities behind VPS hosting, managed VPS is what you’re looking for. Your hosting provider’s experts will maintain the server for you, thus making it ideal for users with little to no technical knowledge. While the extra support means higher pricing plans, it can save you plenty of time to focus on your site instead.
To get a glimpse of what most VPS hosting providers have to offer, you can browse through some examples of VPS hosting plans that you can find here.
Considering that you need to conduct a security check on unmanaged VPS yourself, it’s essential to know all the preventive measures you can put in place to improve its safety.
Here are the eight best security practices to keep your VPS servers secure:
1. Keep Your Software Updated
Keeping your software up to date is the easiest security measure you can put in place to protect your VPS against cyberthreats. Despite sounding simple, many users neglect to update their software, thus exposing their data to cybercriminals.
By updating the software regularly, you get the newest security patches to fix bugs and vulnerabilities that may endanger the server. Thus, you’re less likely to fall victim to hackers.
Fortunately, most of today’s operating systems provide automatic update features to ease the process. If you’re using the Debian or Ubuntu operating system, you can enable unattended-upgrades to get automatic updates. CentOs users can do the same thing using yum-cron.
Regardless of your operating system, make sure to keep track of the changes made in the system to avoid errors caused by patch incompatibility.
2. Backup Your Data Regularly
Making sure your data is safe is just as important as protecting your server from cyberattacks. By backing up your data regularly, you can quickly restore the lost data and avoid losing years of hard work.
As an extra precaution, we suggest you conduct regular off-site data backups to get an extra layer of security. This backup method is deemed more reliable as it has lower risk caused by human error.
There are plenty of cloud storage services like Google Cloud Storage you can use to store your backup data. Alternatively, you can use server backup services like R1Soft and let them do the work for you.
3. Disable Root Login
Having direct root login enabled makes it easier for cybercriminals to hack into your VPS. For this reason, you shouldn’t log into your server as the root user. Instead, you can use the sudo commands to execute any root-level commands.
Before disabling root login, you need to create a dedicated SSH user first. Without losing root user privilege, the dedicated administrative user role gives you an extra layer of security by enforcing password security.
This article provides a thorough tutorial on how to disable direct root login and create a dedicated SSH user.
4. Change Your SSH port
Bridging communication between devices across the web, SSH allows you to send data and execute commands remotely. The remote access to the SSH server is established through the standard SSH port 22. Since this default port is predictable, it’s highly prone to brute force attacks. Therefore, you should change it at the earliest opportunity.
Before moving into a new port, be sure to check whether or not it’s blocked or used for another service beforehand. This article provides the steps of changing the default SSH port on VPS.
5. Configure Firewall
A firewall offers defensive measures against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and other malicious scripts that threaten server security. By enabling your firewall, you can block unwanted traffic, vulnerable ports, and IP addresses from connecting to your server.
6. Brute-Force Protection
A brute-force attack is a cyberthreat that relies on password guessing to bypass the login system. It’s still one of the most popular password cracking methods to date as it’s effective, albeit old school.
Luckily, intrusion prevention systems like Fail2Ban and Splunk are effective in fending off this type of attack. These security systems scan unsuccessful login attempts on your server and ban the IP addresses at fault.
7. Use a Strong Password
Using a strong password is the least you can do as a server administrator to secure your server. You can easily create one using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols to add complexity to it.
The password length also contributes to its strength — the longer it is, the harder it gets to crack it. Password strength checker tools like How Secure is My Password? and Kaspersky Password Check can give you insights into the strength of your password.
Additionally, it’s wise to change your password now and then to give better protection against brute-force attacks. You can also set up two-factor authentication to provide an extra layer of security.
8. Set Up Antivirus Protection
While a firewall prevents bad network protocols and unwanted traffic from accessing the system, an antivirus blocks malware and corrupted files from entering the server. Therefore, using both security software grants your server better security against cyberthreats.
Keeping your servers secure is the number one priority of the server administrator. With the ever-presence of cyberthreats, you must continuously improve your server and system’s security.
You have learned eight security measures to protect your VPS. We hope this article helps you create a better server security plan for future improvement.