Protecting Your Dedicated or Virtual Private Server

There are two key factors in protecting a dedicated server: firewall and antivirus protection. It used to be that a server on the Internet was only vulnerable to malicious attacks that were intended specifically for one destination. That is not the case any longer. Hundreds, if not thousands, of servers today are under the control of hackers or other negative influences. These servers are randomly scanning the internet for vulnerabilities on weak servers and computers. They are using methods like port scanning, Windows and other software loopholes and vulnerabilities.

Firewall protection gives you the ability to set open and closed ports to incoming traffic on your server. There are two options for a firewall at Newtek, and it is recommended that at least one of them should be used. These two options do not include third party firewall and security programs that could be purchased and used on the server instead.

The first option for Windows 2003 Dedicated Plans is included with Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 and will protect against most random port scans. This can be turned on by going to the Control Panel and opening up the Windows Firewall settings and clicking on the ON option button. For Windows 2008 Dedicated or Virtual Private Servers, go to the Control Panel and open Windows Firewall then click Change Settings. This will bring up the Windows Firewall settings, then click the ON option button. The next step is very important, as you will need to click on the Exceptions tab and check the Remote Desktop option. Click on the OK button. This will enable the remote desktop connection to work through the firewall. Without this option, you may not be able to connect to the server. There may be other programs that need to be unblocked that cease to work with the firewall setting turned on. If this is the case, from the Exceptions tab, click on the Programs button at the bottom and select the corresponding program.

The second option for all Dedicated Plans is the hardware firewall solution. This is an enterprise level solution that will protect against port vulnerabilities without using resources on your server. The hardware firewall is a backbone grade shared firewall that can hold settings for all servers on the network. This option requires setting requests through the support team and has a monthly cost associated with it. Costs can be seen under High Value Options here for Windows/Linux Dedicated Server Plans and here for Cloud Virtual Private Server (VPS)
Windows/Linux Server Plans.

There are many ways in which viruses can be spread, two of which are most common.

In some cases, viruses are spread from a colleague’s infected computer to yours. What happens when a computer becomes infected is that the virus will send itself in an email message attachment to everyone in the infected computer’s address book, so it looks like it was sent by the recipient when in reality, the recipient had no idea that it was sent.

In other cases, viruses are spread from an infected server that is faking or spoofing email addresses. These viruses look like they come from a colleague’s email address but did not originate from the recipient or recipient’s email service. You can view the actual originating server’s IP address and other information by looking at the header of the message. You can view the header of the message in Outlook by opening up OPTIONS in the reading window. This can be useful in case a server block needs to be used in content filtering.

For these reasons, viruses can be very easily spread to your server. Therefore, it should be protected at all costs.

There is software available that provide antivirus solutions for servers that use SmarterMail. Recommendations can be found in the following SmarterTools link:

An antivirus solution that works with your email software and utilizes real time protection and scheduled scanning is very highly recommended. Real time protection is a necessity if you are going to browse the Internet from the server itself. A separate and additional schedule that provides a daily antivirus scan is also an effective method to protect your server.

Another option for the Windows Dedicated or Virtual Private Server Plans is the McAfee/Diskeeper Bundle solution. This option will provide you with an Enterprise level Anti-virus solution that comes with Real-time virus protection, Email protection and other protections against malicious threats. This option has a monthly cost associated with it and can be seen here for Dedicated Server Plans and here for Virtual Private Server Plans

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