When you are building your infrastructure, your primary concern is to ensure that your applications are up and running. To make your applications always perform correctly, you need to make sure that the security needs of your server are sufficiently addressed. Not doing so is bound to get you into devastating situations down the road.
In this article, we have mentioned the best practices that will secure your server or set up applications on the server.
PKI and SSL Encryption
PKI aka Public Key Infrastructure is a kind of framework of cybersecurity and encryption. PKI depends upon certificate authority, component of a registration authority and based on these two components PKI can safeguard the identities required in digital security. PKI allows distribution, cancelation and authentication of public keys.
PKI does encryption with generated private and public key for encryption and decryption. A secure connection between two parties are made via PKI because SSL certificates verifies the identity of two parties. SSL certificate can be obtained by third party issuer naming certificate authority.
Multi-Domain SSL certificates which are also known as Subject Alternative Names (SANs). They are mainly designed to provide solo protection to multiple websites that may have different domain names. Multi-domain SSL certificates provide protection to 250 domains and subdomains (depends upon provider) using a single server.
How Do You take Benefit From?
Creating a certificate authority and handling certificates corresponding to your servers helps all entities in validating the identity of other members and in encrypting their traffic. It avoids man-in-the-middle attacks where someone perform as a server in the setup for capturing traffic.
It means that any certificate that is signed by that authority can be trusted. If your applications and protocols make use of SSL encryption, this can be a very effective way of proving encryption to your system without incurring the overhead of VPN tunnels.
Use of SSH keys
SSH keys consider cryptographic keys to validate SSL server. Public and private key pair is generated before authentication. The private key will remain hide from the public while the public key is shared among intended users.
To set up SSH key-based authentication, you need to place the public key of the user in a location on the server. When the user wants to connect to the server, the server asks for proof to ensure that the user has the corresponding private key. The SSH client uses private key to prove that the client has ownership of the private key. The client can then connect to the server without needing a password.
How it is beneficial?
When you make use of SSH, all kinds of authentication, including password-based authentication, is fully encrypted. Malicious clients can try to access the server if there is password-based login set. With loads of computing power at your disposal, it is feasible to get connected to a server by attempting and trying multiple combinations until you find the right password.
You can disable authentication based on passwords by setting up SSH key-based authentication. SSH keys usually carry more bits worth of data compared to a password. It means that there are a lot more combinations possible, and this makes it hard for the attacker to crack them. A lot of algorithms used for SSH key generation are uncrackable even by using the latest computing systems. Because it would require a lot of time to go through all the possible matches.
Usage of Firewalls
A firewall is a firmware that sets rules about the data packets that decides entry into a network. It means limiting or blocking access to all ports except the ones that need to be available to the public.
By default, a bunch of services may be running on a typical server. They can be grouped as such:
- Public services which are available to anyone. For example, a web server that provides access to your website.
- Private services that allow access to authorized clients or selected location like database control panel.
- Internal services which should be accessible only by getting on to the server, without proving access to the outside clients. For example, a database that is limited to accepting local connections only.
Firewalls can make sure that your software can be accessed in a restricted manner as per the above categories. While anyone can reach public services, while private services can have some restrictions placed on them based on appropriate criteria. Internal services can be blocked from the outside world completely. In most configurations, access to ports not being used is completely blocked.
How does it help?
Firewalls is a crucial part of server configuration. Even though your services may themselves have some security features implemented with restricted access using a few interfaces, a firewall acts as another layer of defence.
A Firewall limits the access of services to the public that are already allowed, and the rest services are not accessed. By exposing just a few parts of server/components, you reduce the amount of your server’s surface exposed to attacks. It also restricts components that is exposed to attacks.
Apart from these well-known defences, there are other ways of ensuring the safety of your server. These include:
- Making use of private networking and VPNs for creating secure connections among remote machines and project the connection like a private network. This provides a mechanism for configuring your services like they were available on a private network and connecting your remote servers using secure connections.
- Making use of isolated execution environments wherein individual components run within dedicated spaces.
The above steps are related to increase security of your server. It is worth noting that the longer you take in implementing security strategies, the more you decrease the effectiveness of your measures. You cannot afford to leave security for the last and should implement security measures from the very start when you start providing applications and services to your clients.