5 Security Server Best Practices

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Server Best Practices

In today's digital age, data has become one of the most valuable assets for organizations and individuals, earning corporations billions. 

Unfortunately, they aren’t the only people who have figured out how to monetize data; cybercrime is now the most lucrative criminal activity, set to account for $8 trillion in 2023. That’s more than the GDP of Japan

We shouldn’t be surprised that cyberthreats continually evolve, from sophisticated hacking attempts to intricate malware exploits. Still, that doesn’t mean you are powerless. Adhering to security server best practices offers the first line of defense against potential breaches or data security risks

From headless Drupal development and least privilege to Ruby applications and data encryption, we'll look as some key trends in the server space and detail 5 security server best practices. 

Perform updates and patches

It can be easy to think of updates as performance enhancements – a nice benefit, but not crucial. However, this can be a dangerous mistake. Cyber threats continuously evolve, and cybercriminals strive to discover and attack system weaknesses. 


Server operating system updates, for example, often contain fixes for known vulnerabilities discovered since the last version. Similarly, many patches include up-to-date fixes designed to combat prevalent malware the software developer identifies as a threat to your server's OS. 


Users of a dedicated server should be especially vigilant, as these can be attractive targets due to their important roles in hosting websites and applications.


Not only that, but specific software running on your server may be especially vulnerable to particular attacks, such as Database Management Systems (DBMS) like Microsoft SQL or Oracle. In contrast, the nature of Extract Transform Load processes means most would define ETL as vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks unless adequately maintained and secured.  


However, it’s understandable if you find yourself reluctant to perform updates, especially if your server is running large-scale projects. Incompatibility issues, software bugs, and dependency breakages can all cause significant downtimes. 


Some things can significantly help, however, such as using a repository. GitOps tracks changes using the version control system, which allows you to track and revert any changes in the control files, allowing you to roll back at any time. 


Of course, GitOps can be a significant headache by itself, but with automated services like Platform.sh GitOps, you can outsource having to build and maintain a complicated and GitOps Pipeline. 


Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)

The Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) is a foundation concept in cybersecurity. Essentially, it says that any user, system, or process should only be granted the minimum level of access or permissions necessary to perform its function. Ensuring you set your permissions based on the PoLP has several benefits regarding your server’s security.  


Reduced attack surface


Research by IBM shows that human error causes a staggering 95% of all infection vectors. 


It makes sense then to limit access to your network, thereby minimizing the potential points of exploitation. That way, if an attacker does compromise a user account, they are restricted to that user’s permissions, preventing them from gaining full system access. 


Controlling malware impact


Another significant benefit of PoLP is in the way it limits the spread of malware. This is critical, especially given the number of remote employees nowadays, many of whom may be tempted to use their personal computers to log in to your network. 


Another option to help you maintain granular access control is to use device remote access software to ensure those logging in to your network only use safe connections and, importantly, on secure, approved devices. 


Regiment your monitoring, logging, and backups

When it comes to keeping your server safe, monitoring, logging, and backups are indispensable, so implement a strict routine to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. 




Continuous monitoring provides real-time oversight of server activities, promptly detecting and alerting administrators to suspicious or unauthorized actions; timely detection can be the difference between a minor incident and a full-blown breach. 


Real-time continuous monitoring needn’t be as arduous or time-consuming as it sounds, either. Implementing Security Information and Events Management (SIEM) software, such as Splunk or ArcSite, can help you collect and analyze server security in real time. You could also implement specific real-time monitoring systems, such as checking SPF validation errors to help spot email spoofing on your server. 




Maintaining a detailed record of server transactions, user accesses, and system events serves as a forensic tool, tracing the origins of security incidents and understanding their impact. 


In the old days, this involved time and the command line interface. So if you're thinking, “What is log forwarding?”, it’s not surprising if you’re feeling a little apprehensive. However, log forwarding involves transmitting log entries from various systems to one centralized logging platform, so taking a detailed look at your server activity needn’t be as time-consuming as it once was. 




Finally, while you might like to hope that the worst will never happen, it always pays to play it safe. In a full-scale cyber attack, it is possible to lose or have held to ransom all of your server's data. 


Encryption is a fundamental step towards enhancing cybersecurity. Some of the most typical ways of backing up your data include:




This method involves backing up all files and data in the system every time a backup is initiated. It's the most comprehensive method but can be resource-intensive and inconvenient if done frequently.




Only the changes made since the last backup are stored after an initial full backup. This method is faster and uses less storage but requires more steps during restoration.




Mainly used for databases, this method takes a ‘snapshot’ at a point in time. For Redis databases often used for caching, Redis persistence allows you to take permanent data stores rather than throwing it out when memory runs out. 


Remote or offsite


Backing up data to a remote location or data center is crucial for disaster recovery, ensuring data is available even if the primary location is compromised.


In the cloud


Many smaller company servers use cloud storage, such as Google Cloud Storage or Azure Blob Storage, because of the ease of use and scalability. 


Whatever type you choose, be vigilant. Failed backups can be very expensive.


Encrypt sensitive data

In the digital world, data is a sought-after commodity. Google and Facebook have made multi-billion dollar industries harvesting data nobody cared about 20 years ago. Unsurprisingly, cybercriminals spend a lot of time figuring out how to get yours. 


Encryption is, simply put, the best way to ensure data is safe. Indecipherable code isn’t of much use to cybercriminals. If you’ve been following our advice and backing up data, they won’t even be able to hold it to ransom. 


Data encryption techniques can range from full disk encryption with tools like BitLocker to Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) on databases and implementing VPNs to encrypt network data between the machine and the server. 


It's equally important to consider comprehensive email security to protect against evolving cyber threats. For a more comprehensive understanding of email security, including protection against email viruses, refer to this Complete Guide to Email Viruses & Best Practices to Avoid Infections in 2023.


Network segmentation

We have already touched upon the importance of limiting the spread of malware and cyberattacks by ensuring that users, systems, and processes don’t have full access to your data. Another way of determining the spread of such attacks is to segment your network, for example, by keeping database servers separate from web servers.


This segregation helps bolster your security, much like how choosing the right proxy type—such as socks vs http proxy—can provide specific advantages depending on your needs. Just as network segmentation limits the potential impact of cyberattacks by isolating critical components, the choice between socks and http proxy offers tailored solutions for routing and securing your online traffic, ensuring optimal protection against evolving threats.

Another benefit of such segmentation is that it allows you to work on different parts of your server when downtime is least critical. For example, a Vonage VoIP cloud phone system is likely to be highly active during the day and unable to cope with downtime. In contrast, banks typically accumulate transactions during the day and demand several resources overnight for batch processing.