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Server Security Best Practices In Colocation And Cloud Environments

Server Security Best Practices In Colocation And Cloud Environments

All businesses must implement robust security measures to protect servers hosted in colocation and cloud environments within hybrid IT setups. With that in mind, here is some actionable guidance on server security best practices. Implementing them will do a lot to safeguard your servers, your data, and your business.

Understanding hybrid IT setups

Hybrid IT setups are setups that combine real-world (private) infrastructure with virtual infrastructure (private and/or public). These different environments are connected by networking infrastructure that may be private or public. It is usually a mixture of both.

In the early days of hybrid IT, the real-world infrastructure was usually an in-house data center. Now, it is more likely to be a colocation data center facility, potentially supplemented by edge computing. The edge computing system may be an on-premises system or may be deployed through edge colocation.

Similarly, the cloud environments used to be just a private cloud and/or a public cloud. Now it’s more likely to be a private cloud and multiple public clouds. Again, the private cloud is likely to be hosted in a colocation facility. Alternatively, it may be hosted on a dedicated managed server.

Understanding colocation

Colocation is essentially the provision of managed data center infrastructure on an as-a-service basis. The colocation vendor leases/rents space in the facility where businesses can host their own equipment.

This space is entirely private to them. Other clients will be physically prevented from accessing it. The colocation vendor’s own staff will only access it if they are required to do so (or if the client requests them to do so).

Originally, colocation vendors focused on centralized data centers. This is still the core of their business. Many colocation vendors are, however, now expanding into edge colocation services.

Understanding cloud environments

Cloud environments are environments where users can access resources over a network. Private clouds are usually accessed over an internal network. Public clouds may be accessed through direct connections or through the internet. Most businesses use a combination of both.

At a high level, all cloud environments operate in much the same way. The only difference is whether they are managed internally (private clouds) or externally (public clouds). At a more in-depth level, all cloud environments will have their individual specificities. This needs to be reflected in how they are managed. In particular, it needs to be reflected in how their security is managed.

Understanding the role of servers

A server exists to provide services. For practical purposes that means it sends, receives, stores, and/or processes data. Effectively, therefore, when people talk about server security best practices what they actually mean is data security best practices in the context of servers.

Moreover, while the general principles of server security best practices apply to all environments, their practical application often depends on the specific environment. For example, in colocation and private cloud environments, the client will have full control of the server. This means that they will have full control over its security.

By contrast, in public cloud environments, the vendor will manage the security of the actual server. The client will only manage their own data and user accesses.

Key server security best practices

Here are five key server security best practices that will help to protect your server, your data, and your business.

Access control

Give users the minimum level of server permissions necessary to perform their designated tasks. By limiting access rights to the minimum necessary for functionality, the potential impact of a security breach is significantly reduced. Regularly reviewing and auditing user access privileges helps identify and rectify any unnecessary permissions, minimizing the attack surface and enhancing overall server security.

Strong authentication mechanisms

Enforcing strong authentication mechanisms, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), significantly strengthens the authentication process. It therefore helps to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access, even if login credentials are compromised. Implementing strong password policies and regularly updating authentication protocols also contribute to a robust defense against unauthorized server access.

Network security

Properly configuring firewalls to restrict unnecessary ports and services minimizes the server’s exposure to potential vulnerabilities. Regular network monitoring and analysis are essential for identifying and responding to any suspicious or anomalous behavior, enhancing overall server security.

Data encryption

Encrypting data at rest, in transit, and during processing helps to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of data, even if unauthorized parties gain access to the server infrastructure. For encryption to be effective, however, businesses must always use the most robust encryption protocols available for any given task. They must also implement rigorous key-management protocols.

Regular security audits and monitoring

Regular security audits involve assessing server configurations, reviewing access logs, and analyzing system vulnerabilities. Monitoring tools provide real-time visibility into server activities, enabling rapid detection of abnormal behavior or security incidents.

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