5 Steps to Improving Security of a Windows VPS Server

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Securing a computer is like hitting a moving target. As soon as the industry figures out how to stop one attack, hackers invent a new attack. Often, computer security is just a matter of making your server secure enough that hackers bypass it, looking for easier targets. Here are some steps that you can take toward securing a Windows VPS server from many forms of attack:

Set Up Administrator Account

It may seem elementary, but remember to set up the network administrator account. Or, more specifically, after your Windows VPS hosting service sets up your Windows VPS server, remember to change the default administrator username and password. Nothing would make your data, and your customers’ data, more vulnerable than a hacker with administrative access to your Windows server.

One of the most notorious hacks occurred when hackers allegedly sanctioned by the Iranian government stole an administrator’s credentials for accessing the corporate network of casino operator Las Vegas Sands. Using those credentials, the hackers not only stole employees’ names and social security numbers, but they also propagated malware that erased the hard drives of virtually all the computers connected to the network.

Customize Remote Desktop Service Settings

Remote desktop service (or RDS) is the service that you use to connect your laptop at home to your desktop at work. This allows you to access files from the office or even print to your office printer from home.

RDS uses a specific server port to allow remote access, which is port number 3389 by default. Intruders know this and look for this port to take control of your computer, and your network, remotely. However, you can, and should, change the port your VPS Windows device uses to accept RDS network traffic. By changing the incoming port address, you can frustrate would be hackers from attacking your network.

Set Up and Maintain User Accounts

Your users, whether they be employees, contractors, or trusted third parties, can be a weak link when it comes to your network. In addition to educating everyone with network access about security, particularly phishing attacks, you can help your users by setting up and maintaining user accounts on your Windows VPS server.

Rather than giving temporary employees or new employees access through an account with the username “guest” and password “password”, set up a user account for them. Every time you set up a new user account, think carefully about the level of access the new user needs, rather than mindlessly cloning another user’s access level. These user accounts not only define the access employees have to the network, they can also be used to log which user accounts were used to access which network resources.

When employees, contractors, or third parties end their business relationship with you, delete or disable their user account. Surveys suggest that as many as 20% of computer intrusions occur as a result of old user accounts.

Install and Use Antivirus Software

As mentioned above, new hacking techniques and new malware arise every day. Professionals at Microsoft and the antivirus software providers keep abreast of these developments so you do not need to. However, you do need to keep both the operating system and your antivirus software updated to take advantage of their patches and virus research.

Secure Sensitive Data

In addition to your own data, you are responsible for customer and client data. According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, nearly 50% of Americans chose not to engage in some online activities because of concerns about identity theft, privacy, or security.

Securing your data, such as by using Windows Bitlocker Drive Encryption, will provide a final line of defense against data breaches. Data secured by Bitlocker cannot be mined even when the server is powered down. One example where encryption thwarted hackers occurred in 2013 when hackers accessed data for three billion Yahoo! email accounts, but only a fraction were actually compromised because a large portion of the data was hashed (a form of one-way encryption).

Getting your Windows VPS server set up by your hosting service is a huge accomplishment. However, it is not the end of the journey. Securing the Windows VPS server requires policies and practices to set up and maintain your network from data theft, hacking, and malware.

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