For most businesses in today’s world, data security is one of the company’s top priorities. With critical business information, client data, and intellectual property all stored on computer servers, it’s easy to see why businesses are so concerned with data security. You certainly wouldn’t leave this precious information just sitting out on your desk or unlocked in a drawer, so you shouldn’t leave it stored on your servers either without proper security measures in place.
According to a nationwide 2012 survey of small businesses by Symantec and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), 83 percent of small businesses have no formal cyber security plan, and 69 percent lack an informal plan as well. Of those companies surveyed, 71 percent are dependent on the Internet for daily operations. Almost half believe data hacks are isolated incidents that wouldn’t impact their business.
Chances are individual computers are protected with firewalls and anti-virus software, but many people are unsure of how to sufficiently protect their servers. Take a look at a few ideas that will help you know where to start to protect your corporate servers.
Focus on Server Ports
Each port on your server is an open invitation for an unwanted intrusion. This is why it’s so important to turn off all unused ports. This should be your first step in protecting your server.
Just like you do with your desktop, you’ll want to protect your server with a firewall. Most servers have built-in firewalls, so check to make sure your server’s firewall is working correctly. In addition, you’ll want to add a network firewall to connect to a network. A network firewall can enforce security policies between networks and control traffic.
Encrypt Your Data
Whenever you deal with sensitive customer data, such as bank routing digits, credit card accounts, or social security numbers, you need to encrypt the data, especially if this data is transported over the Internet.
Properly Configure Your Server’s Security
A tiered permission structure is a great way to give the people who need access to critical information, and block those who don’t need access. You don’t want every employee to have access to information like social security numbers, financial records, salary information, credit card numbers, or social media passwords. A tiered permission structure can keep you safe from both internal and external breaches.
Download and Install Updates
Install updates on your server as soon as they are released. Every update will help your server work more efficiently. Delaying installing updates will leave your server vulnerable to attacks. Regular updates will save you time (not having to download and install a bunch of updates at once), but it’s also a simple way to protect the security of your server.
Get Rid of Unneeded Software
Delete unnecessary programs and you’ll reduce the ways in which your server can be attacked. For example, if you’re running a Web server, delete unneeded office and entertainment software so you aren’t vulnerable to any attacks from those applications.
Get Rid of the Wireless
Wired networks might be less versatile, but they are more secure. That’s because users have to access a wired network by either plugging into physical outlets or hacking modem ports. If you insist on using a wireless network, be sure to disable the service set identifier (SSID) broadcasting function on the wireless router. This makes your network hidden and invisible.
Don’t Forget the Printers
Many people forget about the printers when they think about server and network security. Printers can pose a big security risk. Printers store document contents in their own on-board memories. A hacker can steal the printer and access the memory to make copies of recently printed documents. Printers, like servers and workstations, should be located in secure places and bolted down so nobody can walk away with them.
Check for Vulnerabilities
After you’ve taken the steps to make sure your server is secure, use an auditing tool to check for any areas you may have missed. The Center for Internet Security is a great resource where you can find dozens of free auditing tools for network devices, applications, and operating systems. These tools will scan your system to find vulnerabilities you may have missed.
Last Words of Advice
Other tips to protect your server include:
- Not allowing anonymous users onto your network
- Insisting on stronger passwords
- Blocking extensions to problematic scripts
- Quarantining clients until you can scan their system attributes
Talk to your IT professionals about these measures that will help strengthen your server’s security.