If it is your first time using a Virtual Private Server (VPS) you are probably itching to get started, but before you jump right in, there are a few things you should know to make sure your VPS is secured. Most people rely on their shared hosting provider to handle security but if you’re using a VPS, that responsibility is yours alone, so make sure you know what you’re doing!
Secure logins and other access – Having a strong, secure password is very important for your protection all over the place, VPS included. You should also limit SSH access to the bare minimum of users who really need it, and do not allow root logins – anyone who gets in with a root account can control your entire server, so this is a huge safety risk, especially considering that a hacker can get in via brute force if you do not disallow this type of login.
Always update software – Patches and fixes stop vulnerabilities in applications, services and scripts from being wide open for malicious intent. The fixed versions of software, however, only work when they are installed. Do not delay updates, as they are one of the most important and easy ways for you to secure your VPS.
Focus on protection – By installing network firewalls, application firewalls, brute force detection and other preventative measures for your operating system, you are making it much more difficult for any unwanted individuals to gain access.
Use system monitors – As a VPS administrator you have to be ready to address problems before it is too late. Use system monitors to keep a watchful eye on your VPS, to find and flush out issues quickly.
Make frequent backups – Always back up your server and make sure the backups will actually restore your files and settings. In the event that something goes wrong, a robust, functioning backup can get you back up and running quickly without losing important information.
Shut down unnecessary services – When you start up your server you are likely running a lot of services and daemons that are not necessary for your purposes. As the number of services running on your server increases, so do the opportunities for unwanted access through open ports.
Cut down on unneeded services and you will increase protection as well as performance.
Try executing # chkconfig –list to see what the startup status is of services on your server. To stop a service at startup time, execute # chkconfig –levels off. This should help you narrow your services down to the essentials.