One of the advantages of virtualization is that it is secure in the fact that a virtual private server (VPS) would not be able to harm its physical host server even if its security were compromised. The catch is, if you are the owner of that VPS, you do not want it to be compromised in the first place. That means you still need to be security conscious, even if you are running a very temporary virtual machine.
The following are 5 basic VPS security tips:
- Disable remote root logins – Although your service provider will probably give you a root account at start, you do not need to login as root every time you access your server. Instead, you should create a separate user account that can escalate to root when necessary. Disable root logins in your SSH settings to add security.
- Enforce secure passwords – Passwords are often the weakest links in server security. You should require any users to use secure passwords and change them regularly.
- Use a secure file transfer method – FTP is not secure. If you have sensitive data or even if you just want to protect your password, you should use your encrypted SSH login. SFTP is one method you can use.
- Keep it updated – Your VPS is still your responsibility, and unless your service provider tells you that they will perform updates on your behalf, you need to keep your server updated. Most updates will provide security fixes, some of them critical, so keeping your VPS up to date is a must.
- Backup Everything – If there is any chance that you will need something, you should have a backup for it. Routine, off-site, automated backups will ensure that if something ever goes wrong with your VPS, you can easily recover.
Although a VPS is not exactly the same as a dedicated server, the administrative work it requires is very similar. You need to give it your full attention, keep it secure, and then you can enjoy all of the benefits.