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Server Security: What it is and How to Implement It

Your business runs on servers. Without your DNS server, your users wouldn’t be able to connect to online resources. Without your proxy servers, your local networks would be visible across the public internet. Without your database servers, your organization wouldn’t be able to execute the queries that enable them to make data-driven decisions. Since servers are critical to business operations, threat actors value them. Whether seeking to steal the sensitive data stored in database servers or disrupt operations by flooding your DNS server, malicious actors know that server attacks can help them achieve their objectives.


Knowing how to implement server security and monitor for suspicious activity is critical to your organization’s data protection and compliance goals.

What is server security?

Server security is the combination of hardware and software controls that protect servers and the sensitive data they store from unauthorized access, theft, or manipulation.


The three fundamental security requirements for servers are:


Why is securing servers important?

Since your servers store and manage critical data and applications, they are essential to business operations. Prioritizing server security is business critical for several reasons:


What are common server security issues?

Having a basic understanding of the common server security issues enables you to put risk mitigation controls in place.

Default admin passwords

Since most server manufacturers have their manuals online, malicious actors can easily know or guess the default administrative password.

Weak passwords

Threat actors often deploy credential-based attacks, like brute force or dictionary attacks, against servers to exploit poor password hygiene.

Known vulnerabilities

Malicious actors regularly exploit servers’ known vulnerabilities. For example, in January 2023, more than 60,000 Microsoft Exchange servers remained vulnerable to the ProxyNotShell vulnerability that attackers could use to escalate privileges on compromised servers.

Misconfigured access controls

Internal users with too much access can view or edit sensitive data, leading to a data breach.

Misconfigured firewalls

Misconfigurations can create gaps in network monitoring that fail to identify or block unauthorized traffic from outside your company’s network.

Malware and Viruses

Threat actors often deploy malware or viruses on servers for various reasons. Malware can be used to transmit sensitive data to the attackers’ command and control (C2) server. Malicious actors also deploy malware or viruses to use servers as part of botnets that enable them to facilitate distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.


Steps to securing the server

To mitigate security and privacy risks, you should implement controls that allow you to protect against the most common server security issues.

Secure the connection

To protect sensitive information, you need to create secure network connectivity that includes:

Configure the firewall

When configuring your firewall, you should make sure that you:

Establish patch management policy

Since attackers look for vulnerabilities to exploit, establishing and enforcing a patch management policy for servers is a critical security control. When establishing the patch management processes, you should:

Disable or remove unnecessary services

Each service running on the server expands your attack surface. For example, some system servers that you can disable on a Windows server include:

Logging and Monitoring Server Events

By logging and monitoring server events, you can maintain uptime and reduce security risks.


For example, logging and monitoring enables you to:


Some best practices for monitoring server security include:


Graylog Security: Monitoring Server Security

Built on the Graylog Platform, Graylog Security gives you the features and functionality of a SIEM while eliminating the complexity and reducing costs. With our easy to deploy and use solution, you get the combined power of centralized log management, data enrichment and normalization, correlation, threat detection, incident investigation, anomaly detection, and reporting. Our high-fidelity alerts enable you to reduce alert fatigue so that you can focus on the most meaningful activities in your environment, ultimately reducing data breach risks. Our lightning-fast search means that you can get the answers you need when you need them.


With Graylog Security’s prebuilt content, you don’t have to worry about choosing the server log data you want because we do it for you. Graylog Illuminate content packs automate the visualization, management, and correlation of your log data, eliminating the manual processes for building dashboards and setting a

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