Regardless of how you’re using your virtual server, you’ll want to ensure that it’s safe from hackers.
When it comes to your Virtual Server, every precaution must be taken, not only because it can have security bugs everywhere but also because it is being constantly monitored by robots, spyware and hackers that will try to look for any failure in its security protocol to gain unauthorized access or privileges on your computer system to use it in their favor, or what is the same: against you.
You don’t necessarily need to have a hosting company to take these precautions. You may have decided to rent a Virtual Server for your own purposes because you need a lot of space for your projects, you want to resell hosting services to your customers, or you just like the big thing and instead of hiring a Dedicated Server you have decided to hire a Virtual Server, which is cheaper and it has almost the same benefits as the previous one.
What is Virtualization 101
This designation seems very technical, it is, but you know that in computer jargon everything is very protocolized and full of strange nomenclatures. But then when translated into a flatter, lax language and explained otherwise, any mortal understands it.
To understand what a Virtual Server is, you have to understand what Virtualization 101 is and it is nothing more than the process of creating a virtual (rather than physical) version of something, in this case, a server and its engine.
The problem we have today is the limitation of x86 servers that cannot run more than a single operating system and a single application at the same time, leaving most machines vastly underutilized. This limitation has been overcome by implementing many servers (ahhh now I understand those photos of bunkers full of computers, or Data Centers), yes Sir, that is, it is very impressive but it requires a lot of space, energy (cooling) and money. The downside is that each of these individual servers actually only uses between 5% and 15% of its actual capacity, which implies a real waste of money and capacity. Mmmm this sounds like something to me, man uses only 5% percent of his brain potential … do we have to virtualize ourselves? Let’s continue with our subject…
When virtualizing a server, through software, you can simulate the existence of several hardware equipment’s in one. Virtualization lets you run multiple virtual machines on a single physical machine, with each virtual machine sharing the resources of that one physical computer across multiple environments. This allows you to run different operating systems and multiple applications on a single server, optimizing the real server improving its benefits, its scalability and its efficiency.
What is left for us at the end? A partition that runs multiple operating systems on the same physical machine and distributes the resources of the same. It provides hardware-level security bug isolation, protects performance by monitoring software more effectively, and saves the complete state of a virtual machine to files that can be moved and copied from one drive to another. And finally, an entire virtual server can be migrated “almost” as if it was a copy and pasted to a physical server.
The benefit of virtualization is that commodity hardware or less-expensive storage can be used to provide enterprise-class functionality. Storage virtualization also helps the storage administrator perform the tasks of backup, archiving, and recovery more easily — and in less time — by disguising the actual complexity of a storage area network (SAN).
But beware, virtual servers are not “cloud” storage. One thing is storage and the other is a server. Having clarified this, let’s move on to how to improve the security of our Virtual Server.
Next, we move on to list 5 recommendations to achieve optimal protection of our Virtual Server. We must take into account that these recommendations that are totally valid to this day and that tomorrow they might change radically, but up to now, they work perfectly… and you know that prevention is better than cure.
1. Keep your server updated and up to date
Keeping your server constantly updated and up to date is essential. Having an old version of the Operating System, implies giving advantage to any hacker to gain access to your system, since hackers know the old versions better than anyone and they will take advantage of that, regardless of whether the system is Linux or Microsoft. Above all, care must be taken if we adopt a Beta server, since there patches for security breaches do not necessarily have to be published and the company providing the hosting services can literally “wash their hands” if something happens. So, check the latest version and install all the security patches that the manufacturer indicates.
2. Purchase and Install anti Malware software
For sure, your hosting provider already includes an anti malware protection system, but it’s never enough and you can further prevent your server security, as there is anti malware software specifically created to attack only virtual systems. This software has been purposely designed not to be detected by the host system, they are like spies camouflaged within the system itself.
This way if you install a good anti malware software you will also be avoiding not only that it infects your own virtual server but also the host system’s one.
And it is a totally true fact since if a hacker gets access through the virtual server’s host, what is known as “guest-to-host attack” or “guest attacks”, he will have access to each one of the Virtual machines that run under the server.
3. Install Firewalls on your Virtual Server and Back It Up
With a firewall for Virtual Servers you will be able to monitor and control the incoming and outgoing network traffic. Besides you can keep a record of all the activities and identify advanced vulnerabilities before they can be exploited to damage your web presence. In case of a greater evil, you could even perform an autopsy to find out what happened and so avoid that they happen again in the future.
Obviously for this you should always make electronic copies of important files (backups) to protect yourself against data loss and thus ensure a quick restoration of the system in case something serious happens.
4. Limit Server Access and Remove Unnecessary Applications
The Virtual Server is just like any other tool. You have to be careful who has access to it and pay special attention to the passwords and who has had access to them and change them often.
Another thing to keep in mind is that our Virtual Server is not an Iphone or a Samsung Galaxy where we download any type of application, NO. Downloading unnecessary applications and leaving them active on the server can lead to several things over time: slow the system down or worse open the door to a hacker who gains access to that application remotely without you being aware of this. This can especially happen if that App has been installed by someone who has had access to your server (that’s the reason of our insistence for you to know who has access to the server apart from you, change the passwords and remove expired users). You must constantly monitor all the applications and remove those unnecessary. This way you will avoid unexpected surprises.
5. Monitor the Speed and Bandwidth
If you suddenly notice that there is a significant increase in traffic without an apparent reason and a drastic slowdown of your system, beware, you may be under a DoS and DDoS attack or denial of service attack. It would be interesting to even download an application to your Smartphone that allows you monitor these actions remotely and create a series of alarms in case you are not close to your server. You have to think that the early detection of these types of attacks is the very survival of our server.
Although Inventia Hosting already takes care of these solutions when you hire Virtual Server with us, to know all this is most useful in case you want to create your own Virtual Server. If you follow these recommendations, you will have your server controlled and secured.