Security Audit

Using a Web Server? Here’s What You Should Know About Web Server Security

Updated on: May 4, 2022

Using a Web Server? Here’s What You Should Know About Web Server Security

Web servers are the unseen heroes behind the internet, delivering your favorite website to you every time you want them to. But their work doesn’t stop there. Web servers also serve many other functions, such as providing documents to developers via their API. To do all this, web servers need to be secure.

When you use a web server, you need to ensure that you have taken proper measures to secure your web server. This blog is about these lesser-known aspects of web servers, which are very important but often overlooked: web server security.

What is a Web Server?

The web server software is the program that delivers websites to visitors’ browsers. If a website is hosted on a web server, the web server software serves the site files to the visitor’s browser. 

The web server is the computer that contains the website files and delivers those files to the user’s browser when they visit the site. A web server is simply a computer that provides access to a website. Web servers are tasked with requesting web pages from web servers and delivering them to web browsers.

Understanding Web Server Security

Web Server Security refers to the tools, technologies, and processes that enable a web server’s information security (IS). Web Server Security encompasses two major areas: 

  • The security of the data on the web server 
  • The security of the services running on the web server

The data on a web server is protected by an operating system security and access controls. Firewalls and anti-virus software protect the services running on a web server. The data on the server may be the most valuable asset and hence is the target of the most attacks. Data protection is achieved by encrypting the information on the disk and using intrusion detection software to detect and respond to intrusion attempts.

When a user is surfing the internet, he’s not just interested in getting to his destination quickly. He also wants to know that he can get there safely. This is why Web server security is so important. Information technology (IT) professionals can use several methods to protect a Web server from malicious attacks. 

One of the most basic methods is to use a firewall, which is a program that checks all Internet traffic coming into and going out of the Web server, blocking any traffic that seems suspicious or otherwise dangerous.

Web server security refers to the tools, technologies, and processes that enable information security (IS) on a Web server. There are three main types of Web server security: physical, network and host. All network connections are protected by a firewall, a hardware or software component that prevents unauthorized access to or from a network.

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Importance of Web Server Security

Security is an integral part of your website, especially when it comes to your web server. Unsecured servers can be easily attacked, and their information can be stolen. That is why Web server security is critical to have. 

Web servers store, process, and deliver Web pages and other online content. Web servers can also host and serve different data types, such as audio and video files, database records, and executable programs. 

To ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information, Web servers must be protected from unwanted access, improper use, modification, destruction, and disclosure.

Common Vulnerabilities in Web Server

Web servers are the backbone of the internet, but there are still a lot of vulnerabilities that plague these servers and affect their users. Standard web server vulnerabilities include SQL Injection, Command Injection, DoS Attacks, and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS). Some of these vulnerabilities can be easily exploited, and others require additional details to be exploited. Let’s understand these security risks in depth.

1. SQL Injection Attacks

SQL injection is a prevalent and dangerous attack used to take over a database. When an attacker enters malicious payloads in the user inputs and the application does not sanitize the input. Thus the name SQL injection — you are injecting an SQL statement (malicious payloads) into the database. 

Why is this so dangerous? 

Imagine that a user has a table in a database called ‘users.’ The ‘username’ field is supposed to contain the username of the user, but instead, the user enters the following SQL statement: SELECT * FROM users LIMIT 0,1;

Understanding SQL Injection Attacks
Image: Understanding SQL Injection Attacks

2. DoS Attacks

A denial of service (DoS) attack attempts to make a server or network resource unavailable to its intended users. DoS attacks target either a server or a network resource and flood traffic until it becomes unreachable to engaged users. 

The aim is to cause a DoS condition. The attack is often made via malicious tools such as bots or viruses that consume the victim’s network bandwidth or CPU resources. The attack may also be made using a computer or network that a virus or other malicious software has infected.

3. Cross-Site Scripting

Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of vulnerability used to attack a user’s interaction with a website by injecting code executed by the user’s browser. This code is performed in the user’s session, which is usually obtained by sending the user’s cookies to the server. Attackers generally use XSS to perform actions on the user’s behalf, such as to gain access to the user’s session.

3 Best Practices for Web Server Security

Web server security is an important topic, without which no business can survive these days. With the increase in cybercriminal activities, the importance of keeping your web server secure has grown more than ever. 

You must keep your web server secure from cybercriminals, who can do a lot of damage to your business. So let’s discuss some of the most common best practices for web server security.

1. Use Strong Passwords

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you choose strong passwords. If you are using your default password, change it immediately. Or, if you are using a password that is easy for you to guess or something publicly available, change it. Also, make sure you change your password regularly, at least once in a quarter.

2. Use secure protocols and ciphers

Always use TLS v1.2 and AES ciphers to encrypt communication with web servers. Enable HTTPS protocol (SSL/TLS) to encrypt the information of the users that they send to your website and make sure that the certificate you use is valid.

3. Keep Software Updated

The most important thing you can do to secure your web server keep all software up to date. This includes both the operating system and web server software. If you manage your web server, you should regularly check the manufacturer’s website to apply security patches, especially if you are planning to use a web server that is several years old.

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5 Open Source Web Server Security Tools

The best way to secure your web server is to make sure that you are aware of all the possible dangers and prevent them from happening. The following are considered the best open source web server security tools to help you secure your server.

1. Snort: Snort is an open-source network intrusion prevention system that helps in real-time traffic analysis. The software uses a combination of protocol analysis and pattern matching to detect anomalies, misuse, and attacks in network traffic. 

2. Nmap: Network Mapper, or Nmap, is an open-source utility for network exploration, security auditing, and network discovery. It was designed to rapidly scan large networks, although it works fine against single hosts. 

3. OpenVAS: OpenVAS is a vulnerability scanner that can perform a complete vulnerability scan of the network infrastructure. OpenVAS is an international project that is used by many organizations all over the world. It is available for free and can be used with commercial products.

4. Metasploit: The Metasploit Project is a computer security project that provides information about security vulnerabilities and aids in penetration testing and IDS signature development. It is open-source, accessible, and available to the public. 

5. Sqlmap: Sqlmap is an open-source automated security testing tool that automates the process of detecting and exploiting SQL injection flaws and taking over databases. Internally it uses the same engine as the commercial tool sqlninja, but its features and syntax are slightly different.

Why Choose Astra for Web Server Security?

We at Astra help businesses and organizations secure and protect their web servers against cyber attacks. Our web server security solutions include: 

  • Website firewall
  • Malware protection
  • Botnet protection
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Security audits. 

We are a global leader in safeguarding online businesses and organizations from cyber attacks.

At Astra, we understand the sensitive nature of your web server. Our engineers possess the required expertise to test your web server security. We are a leading web server security firm with more than 10 years of experience in the field. 

Why Choose Astra for Web Server Security
Image: Why Choose Astra?

Have any questions or suggestions? Feel free to talk to us anytime!

We are also available on weekends 😊

Conclusion

The web server is the central component for any website. The computer hosts the main website files and provides them to the users who visit the site. Keeping the webserver secure is essential to prevent unauthorized access and data loss. We hope you’ve found this blog post helpful in learning more about web server security. If you have any questions or want to learn more about web server security, don’t hesitate to contact us anytime.. We’re happy to help!

FAQs

1. What is web server security?

Web server security refers to the protective measures applied to safeguard information assets accessible from a web server.

2. Which Web server is most secure?

There is no definitive answer to this. Some of the better secure web server hostings are SiteGround, Apache, and Cloud Flare.

3. Can a Web server be hacked?

Yes, web servers are vulnerable to network-level attacks and operating system attacks.

4. How do I secure my web server?

Run vulnerability scans to identify existing loopholes, install a firewall, keep patches updated, and remove unnecessary elements.

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Jinson Varghese

Jinson Varghese Behanan is an Information Security Analyst at Astra. Passionate about Cybersecurity from a young age, Jinson completed his Bachelor's degree in Computer Security from Northumbria University. When he isn’t glued to a computer screen, he spends his time reading InfoSec materials, playing basketball, learning French and traveling. You can follow him on Medium or visit his Website for more stories about the various Security Audits he does and the crazy vulnerabilities he finds.
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