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In-depth Guide to Web Server Security in 2024

Web server security is important because of the sensitive data typically hosted on web servers. Companies need to focus on web server security to reduce the risk of losing data due to hacks and breaches.

A breach of your corporate server can lead to many detrimental results, like ad injections on the website or loss of user data. Therefore, improving web server security is critical to preventing hackers and data breaches.

What is web server security?

Web server security is the safeguarding of information assets that are accessible via a Web server. It is vital for companies with a physical or virtual server linked to the Internet.

A secure web server (SWS) is a web server that supports security protocols such as the secure sockets layer (SSL), where sensitive information -that gets transferred from and to the server- is encrypted for the user’s safety. SWS can refer to a web server protected from external threats and only used by a small group of workers within a local network.

What security risks can a web server face?

Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks

DoS and DDoS are methods that aim to overload servers with traffic until they become unresponsive, making a corporate website or network inaccessible.

Structured Query Language (SQL) injection

These injections send structured query language requests via web forms to attack web applications and websites by creating, reading, updating, modifying, or deleting any stored data on a server.

Unpatched software

Software updates and security patches are intended to address flaws in older software versions. However, when an unprotected version gets released, it leaves room for cybercriminals to steal data. For this reason, it is necessary to implement reputable patch management services to ensure protection is always up to date.

Zero-day exploits

A zero-day exploit is a type of cyberattack that addresses software vulnerabilities that the software or antivirus vendors are unaware of. The hacker discovers the software vulnerability before anyone else quickly develops an exploit, and employs it in an attack.

Cross-site scripting (XSS) 

XSS is a method similar to SQL injection in that software is implanted into server-side scripts for the hacker to collect confidential information or execute scripts.

Human negligence (e.g., poor code, easy-to-guess passcodes, or a failure to install firewalls and other cybersecurity solutions) causes most server security risks.

How to secure your web server?

Get rid of unnecessary services:

Most servers contain numerous unused services which degrade performance and increase the attack surface. 

For example, each service can have different zero-day exploits. Therefore, with an increased number of services, attackers can be more likely to find zero-day exploits.

Reducing services also improves servers’ performance since each service requires some computing or memory resources.

Set up different environments for development, testing, and production:

Companies can reduce the risk of a breach by maintaining testing and development on servers that are not connected to databases or the public internet. Thoroughly tested code can then be deployed on production.

Configure permissions and privileges

Network service and file permissions are critical components of server security. Companies should give employees minimal permissions for web application files and databases to avoid private information flow or data breaches.

Frequent patch updates

Web page safety reports should be assessed continuously and stored in a secure spot. It’s critical to keep up with the ever-changing security landscape for a company to secure its web servers. 

Web server security tests should be performed regularly to spot possible cyberattacks, which are frequently caused by out-of-date server configurations, coding errors, or lack of patch management. Failing to maintain software up to date on the latest updates will permit hackers to reach sensitive data, thus, stealing or spying on companies’ most valuable assets.

Server logs should be separated and monitored.

Companies should store their server logs separately and examine them as part of their security testing routine.

If any strange logging to files appears, it means that the network is facing piracy threats and should be investigated as soon as possible.

Install a firewall

A firewall as a service is a cybersecurity solution that is simple to install and monitor, and it safeguards companies’ web servers from unpermitted interaction or suspicious activity.

Automate backups

Regular server backups ensure whether companies’ security protections are violated, and it is a great way to restore data.  Although automation increases efficiency, companies shall investigate any threat which affects the system.

Further reading

Please contact us if you have any additional information about cybersecurity solutions.

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Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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