Why is a firewall important for your dedicated server?

October 15th, 2012 by

There may come a point when your website or e-commerce shop powered by UK2 servers outgrows the capabilities and performance levels offered by shared hosting platforms.  At this juncture the small business owner has in important decision to make as to whether they should pursue a cloud computing platform based on a utility pricing model or leverage a high-powered dedicated server that’s geared entirely towards the SMB, with no other company sharing those resources.

In many instances a dedicated server is the preferred platform, especially for advanced administrators who enjoy getting their hands dirty, since it provides a high level of control over hardware and applications. Furthermore, you will generally be able to choose your operating system, including Windows or Linux.

However, one of the most critical considerations in electing to run a dedicated server is security, especially safeguarding a remote datacentre network (that’s connected to the Internet) from unauthorized access.

In this respect, an enterprise firewall acts as your network “security guard” or “barrier”, ensuring all messages entering or leaving your company intranet pass through the firewall. Each message coming in and out of the network is examined by the firewall, which automatically blocks suspect data packets if they do not meet the specified security policies set up by your hosting provider.

Quite a few firewall-screening methods are possible, including simple ones that screen requests to make sure they come from acceptable domain name and Internet Protocol addresses.

“For mobile users, firewalls allow remote access in to the private network by the use of secure logon procedures and authentication certificates,” said SearchSecurity.

“In protecting private information, a firewall is considered a first line of defense; it cannot, however, be considered the only such line,” said Indiana University Information Technology Services.

“Firewalls are generally designed to protect network traffic and connections, and therefore do not attempt to authenticate individual users when determining who can access a particular computer or network.”

There are several different types of firewalls available today, including hardware and software solutions, or ones that combine both. Customers can purchase these themselves, but UK2 also offers a managed firewall service that saves customers having to set up and maintain their firewalls.

A firewall is extremely effective in protecting your server against a number of network threats, but because your box resides in a hosted environment certain ports are exposed to the Internet including HTTP (80/TCP) and HTTPS (443/TCP), which means you still need to take further steps to protect your server.

Web application firewall (WAF) appliances, anti-virus (AV) software, content integrity-monitoring systems (CIMS) are just some of the mainstream tools that add further protection for your server (and may even be available as extra, or free services from your hosting provider).

Also remember that self-hosted software such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, may still be prone to virus or malware intrusions even with a remote enterprise firewall and AV software in place.

The reason for this is because users may inadvertently download infected software from the web, which eventually infiltrates the remote server.  Or, the user may not update CMS plugins or modules in a timely manner, which allows hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in older software.

In conclusion, an enterprise firewall is an accepted first line of defense that keeps unauthorized users off your private dedicated server network. However, the user should still take additional steps to protect software and files from further malware or virus infections.

Author Bio: Jason Stevens from jason-stevens.com / Freelance web developer, tech writer and follower of cloud computing trends. Follow him on Twitter: @_jason_stevens_.

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