Ensuring web server security is one of the primary concerns when you want to give the public a legitimate access and at the same time want to keep suspicious persons out.
You may consider the execution of two-factor authentication like RSA Secure Id to get maximum proficiency in your authentication system; but practically, it would be impossible to implement since you cannot give tokens to all your website users.
Here is a list of practical tips to secure your web server.
1. Use separate servers for internal and external applications
Mostly, organizations have two classes of web applications; one of them serves the external users while the other one serves the internal users. And, if you want security, you can place both applications on different servers. This reduces the risk of some malicious person – who tries to access the external application in order to get internal information, which is sensitive and confidential.
If you think you are unable to afford this implementation, then you should at least use process isolation, which will stop your external applications and internal applications interacting with one another.
2. Use Separate Development Server for Testing and Debugging Apps
It sounds like common sense to test applications on a stand-alone web server, but most companies allow developers to tweak code and, in many cases, allow developing new applications on a production server.
It can cause many problems. It is not reliable and also not secure. On the one hand, these testing codes can make users experience malfunctions – sometimes it can be a complete outage – and on the other, these codes can invite security vulnerabilities.
The latter is because these codes are unchecked, and it is possible that these codes will be vulnerable to attack.
3. Audit Website activity and store logs in a secure location
It is certain that every professional knows how important server activity logs are. The audit trails help you to discern the attacks, and you can react in an efficient manner. These trails will also help you to troubleshoot many problems.
If you want a high security, then make sure that your logs are at a device, which is virtually and physically secure. You can use digital ways like the encryption with digital signatures, which will prevent any scam modification.
4. Education of developers on sound security coding practices
Many developers who work for software corporations and develop many types of software usually forget that information security is a pre-requisite for business success.
It is the responsibility of companies to educate the developers on critical issues regarding web server safety. The organizations should educate the developers about the security mechanisms and make sure they aren’t circumventing those mechanisms.
They should also be educated about overflow attacks and process isolation, which will result in the web server security in the longer run.
5. Patching Your Operating System and Web Server
It is such a simple thing and entails common sense that most administrators even forget it because they are burdened with other heavy tasks.
Software vendors often release patches for security vulnerabilities, and the administrators should patch their web servers with the latest security fixes. If someone finds a flaw in your web server, he is surely going to exploit it.
6. Use of Application Scanners
Application scanners are also best to secure your web server from security vulnerabilities because tools like Watchfire, SUCURI ensure that no exploitable code slips through the crack into the production environment. It all depends if you can afford application scanners which can validate your internally developed codes.
These are the basic tips that can ensure the safety of your web application server but you should always keep in mind that the security is always a state of mind.
One should also consider the fundamental things like the architecture of web servers should be well designed, and it should be based on sound security principles. All these factors – if implemented – will ensure the safety of your web server.
This guest post is written by Kyle Ward, he works at Rebateszone.