How to Ensure Your Dedicated Server Hosting is Secure

Posted on by Michael McDonald | Updated:
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When it comes to running a business online it is absolutely critical that your data, and the data of your clients, remain safe and available. But what "safe" means can have many different interpretations:

  • Is the data online and accessible?
  • Is it stored somewhere for ease of retrieval and backup purposes?
  • Is the data restricted and locked down for protection purposes?

As a business you have a number of choices to make about your hosting environment and how you keep data safe. However, one choice is certain: dedicated servers provide the most protection for your data.

For the continuity of your business in the event of a catastrophe, or even the legal requirements put in place by HIPAA or PCI compliance, a dedicated server gives you the features and protection needed to keep data safe and your business running smoothly. This is accomplished through two primary methods:

  1. Physical security
  2. Security on the server itself
dedicated servers secure behind locked cabinets

Physical Security

Since a dedicated server is dedicated to a single client it allows for additional devices to be placed in-line with your connection that can provide security benefits. These devices, such as hardware firewalls or IDS/IPS (Intrusion Detection Systems/Intrusion Prevention Systems) are typically not allowed in front of any type of shared hosting environment (true shared hosting vs vps hosting) because of the risk that they might interfere with traffic for another customer.

Having a dedicated server allows you to use them without risk of affecting others while providing increased scrutiny of traffic and security for your server and the data you serve to your clients.

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Ability to Restrict Physical Access to Server

Shared environments, such as virtual private servers (VPS) are typically built together in web clusters. This restricts the ability to place a host within a locked cabinet. Restricting physical access to your dedicated server ensures that accidents don't happen with power or network cables and may even be a requirement for your business needs (in the event that you need to have HIPAA Compliant Hosting or PCI-DSS Compliance).

While all Liquid Web data centers have restricted physical access to employees (and even a subset of employees), having a locked cabinet for your dedicated server provides peace of mind that your machine is one more layer removed from being accessible. This layer helps protect your data from accidental interruption of service which could impact your business and clients accessing your sites.

Prevent Outages

Interruption or loss of your data can easily be prevented with dedicated servers by using multiple servers in multiple physical locations. Often the same type of product is kept in the same area within a data center (so if you have multiple virtual private servers they may all be on the same parent or on multiple parents very close to each other). This can create an issue if any type of outage occurs.

Dedicated servers allow for multiple servers to be located not only within different sections of a data center but completely different data centers entirely. This provides the maximum protection for your data against unplanned outages and accidents.

dedicated servers have more control over resources and less attack vectors than virtualized infrastructure

Server Security

Physical security is not the only way dedicated servers can keep your data safe. Because a virtual private server is a shared resource it is typically designed around common requests/configurations.

Custom Configurations

A dedicated server allows for a more customized approach that is data-centric. The most simple configuration change is a RAID 1 hard disk setup that protects your data (this is not a backup). But you can get even more creative with RAID 5 and RAID 6 for even more options of distributed data parity. This kind of customization would not be possible or feasible in a virtual server setup.

No More “Noisy Neighbors”

Also, the hardware itself is not the only benefit; you also protect your data by being the only client utilizing that hardware. The "noisy neighbor" problem inherent with shared hosting vs dedicated hosting, where another client over-utilizes the shared resources of a virtual server, is not a concern on a dedicated server.

This ensures that only your site will be utilizing the disk space, CPU, and memory of your server. This also allows you to tweak your site and applications to maximize your use of the hardware and leverage every bit of performance by knowing that no other user will be "stealing" resources from you and causing issues with your site.

Performance and peace of mind from not having to share resources are not the only way your site is protected by having a dedicated server. The isolation from other users extends into security protection as well.

Less Attack Vectors

Shared and virtual servers are a security risk due to the hypervisor layer running on top of the infrastructure that is potentially vulnerable to escalation attacks. This is compounded by the fact that multiple users, not all of whom may take security measures seriously, are on the same host.

Malware and viruses are given a potential avenue to your data when sharing a server with another client. The ability to lockdown your server with dedicated hardware is yet another reason that dedicated servers assist in protecting your data.

More Control with Root Level Access

Lastly, because a dedicated server is yours and yours alone, you get root level access on the machine. Though some virtual servers allow this as well, there is complete and total control on a dedicated machine for what is allowed, what is running, and what can even come into your machine through the network interface.

This ultimate control over your server is one of the best methods of protection for your data because you have the final say on what is or is not allowed on with your machine.

Control Your Data with Dedicated Servers

Dedicated servers provide a degree of customization that is unparalleled when compared to virtual servers and shared hosting environments. This customization allows you to tailor your server to be as secure as necessary to ensure your data is safe. Benefits such as locked cabinets and multiple physical locations are often only available to dedicated servers. Finally, the isolation of your data from other clients ensures that malware, viruses, and general performance issues have reduced the opportunity to cause issues and create downtime for your site.

To sum up: When you can control your data, you can ensure it is safe.

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About the Author

Michael McDonald

Michael has been a member of the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting for over six years. Starting down a path of education and teaching, Michael returned to his passion of working with technology and helping people around the world embrace the Internet. In his free time, Michael can be found in the northern parts of Michigan spending time on the great lakes or engrossed in a good book.

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