VPS Security: 12 Ways to Protect Your Server 

Your virtual private server (VPS) serves as your secure online abode, safeguarding your data and applications. Yet, just like a physical house, it needs constant protection against intruders and security breaches.  

Surprisingly, in the second quarter of 2023, there was an alarming 8%  surge in global weekly cyberattacks. Organizations, on average, faced a staggering 1258 attacks per week during this timeframe. Vigilance is crucial in this digital landscape to fortify your VPS against evolving threats.

With cyber threats evolving at breakneck speed, neglecting VPS security isn't just risky but disastrous. A single breach can mean stolen data, financial losses, and reputational damage.  

But don't worry! Adopting essential security measures can help transform your VPS into a digital fortress, impenetrable to even the most sophisticated hackers.  

In this blog, we’ll discuss 12 such VPS security measures. 


How to secure the VPS Server? 

Here are some ways on how to secure VPS: 


1.Pick a Secure Host to Protect VPS 

Finding the right VPS hosting provider goes beyond speed and performance. Robust security features should be your top priority - they form the foundation for a safe and reliable website.  

While you can implement additional security measures, your choice of provider sets the stage for your defense. Look for a host with a multi-layered security infrastructure built-in, such as:  


  • Firewalls - analyze and filter incoming traffic to keep your server safe from malicious requests. 
  • Malware scanning - continuously scans your server, eliminating malware and suspicious activity before they cause damage. 
  • DDoS protection - neutralizes denial-of-service attacks that try to overwhelm your server with fake traffic. 
  • Secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates - encrypt communication between your website and visitors to protect sensitive data.  
  • Automated backups - ensure you can recover your data quickly when accidents and attacks happen.  


READ: SSL Certificates: Understanding the Importance, Working and Types 


2.Alter the default SSH port 

If you're still using the default SSH port 22, you're putting your virtual server on hackers' radar. Think of it like keeping your house key under the welcome mat. Hackers can scan open ports and brute-force their way in, gaining unauthorized access. To secure your data, consider changing the default SSH listening port to a less predictable option and locking out unwanted visitors. 


READ: SSH vs. SSL: Understanding Key Differences 


3.Disable root login 

The built-in "root" user in Linux VPS has unparalleled authority over the operating system - it can modify any server aspect. This makes it a prime target for attackers to gain unauthorized entry. To defend yourself against brute-force attempts, disable the direct root login account.  

However, you can create an alternative, dedicated account to run server management commands at the root level. This way, you minimize the attack surface without compromising essential configurations. 


4.Fortify Passwords 

Weak passwords, like those including personal details or basic phrases, are easily guessable. Instead, create robust passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. You can even consider secure password management tools like NordPass for easily creating and storing strong passwords.  

Remember, uniqueness is essential. So, avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and update them regularly, ideally every three months. Lastly, never share root login credentials to prevent unauthorized access. 


5.Avoid passwords and use SSH keys 

Sticking to the password to log into your SSH account exposes you to sniffing attacks. Opt for SSH keys instead - a pair of cryptographic credentials to protect your VPS access. These computer-generated keys, often much longer than passwords (up to 4096 bits), are difficult to decipher.  

SSH keys consist of public and private sets. The server stores the public key, while the private key remains on the user's device. During login attempts, the server generates a random string encrypted with the public key, and only the matching private key can decrypt it, granting access. 


6.Build internal firewall 

HTTP traffic comes from diverse sources, making it crucial to build a VPS firewall. It acts as a filter, letting only authorized visitors in and keeping malicious actors and potential DDoS attacks at bay.  

Linux distributions offer a built-in firewall service called iptables. This powerful tool uses rule-based "chains" to monitor and filter incoming and outgoing data packets, allowing you to tailor your firewall to your specific needs. 


READ: What is a Firewall? Understanding Its Technology and Types 


7.Opt for SFTP over FTP 

Though file transfer protocol (FTP) is popular, its lack of encryption makes it a security nightmare. Hackers can sniff your login details and intercept file transfers. To mitigate this risk, ditch FTP and switch to the secure file transfer protocol (SFTP) - the secure version. SFTP encrypts everything, from passwords to transferred files. Moreover, it offers protection against man-in-the-middle attacks by asking client authentication before accessing the system. 


8.Implement Fail2Ban 

Worried that hackers might break through your VPS door? Don't worry! Fail2Ban is your trusted VPS security guard, keeping them at bay. This software keeps an eye on system logs and bans hackers after multiple failed entry attempts, protecting you from DoS, DDoS, and brute-force attacks. Additionally, Fail2Ban uses a firewall to kick out suspicious IP addresses and ensure your server stays safe and operational.  


9.Install antivirus software 

Securing your VPS goes beyond just a firewall. While filtering incoming traffic is vital, monitoring files within your server is equally important. Virus attacks are a major server threat, putting your data at risk. Therefore, installing an antivirus is essential to strengthen your VPS security. 

While various options exist, ClamAV is one the most popular open-source antivirus software. It scans your files for malicious activity and safeguards your data by quarantining infected files. 


10.Employ a malware scanner 

While antivirus tools protect VPS against threats like trojans and worms, they may fall short in detecting newer exploits like zero-day malware. Double-layer your VPS security with both an antivirus and a malware scanner. This specialized software updates detection rules quickly, spotting and neutralizing these emerging threats. 


11.Configure a VPN in VPS 

Imagine your VPS as a car. You wouldn't leave it unlocked on a busy street, right? The internet is no different. Public connections are like open doors, exposing your data to anyone who wants to peek. Set up a VPN to avoid this. It encrypts your traffic and routes it through a secure tunnel, hiding your IP address and location from intruders' eyes. This ensures your IP address is untraceable and anonymous while browsing the internet. 


12.Update applications regularly 

Outdated software is an open invitation for a cyberattack. Stay ahead by regularly updating your VPS applications. Developers release updates and security patches often, so make sure to check for the latest versions of your software and install them quickly to keep your virtual fortress secure. 


Take away 

Your VPS serves as your digital fortress, and fortifying it is paramount. By adopting the above 12 VPS security measures, you can transform your online home into an impenetrable stronghold, shielding your data and reputation from even the most advanced threats. 

So, stay vigilant with regular monitoring, and proactive updates, and embrace the peace of mind that comes with a secure online environment. 

If you still have queries or suggestions, feel free to send an email to [email protected]. We’ll be happy to help. 


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