Are you looking for some smart, actionable Windows server tips and tricks? If so, here is a quick rundown of the most effective ways to improve Windows server security, so your systems are at a lower risk of attack.
Nothing is ever completely secure, especially with today’s increasing cyber threats. But you can avoid server problems without much effort. You just need to know the best ways to increase your Windows server security.
Read on to find out more.
10 Simple Ways to Secure Your Windows Server
1. Build In Extra Security From The Start
Ensuring optimum server security means implementing robust safety protocols right from the start; the time when you install your servers. Make certain that new devices are separate from potential attacks, in an isolated network, until you have completed the hardening of the system. Pick NTFS over FAT when you are asked to set up. Make certain that you choose the latest service pack.
2. Only Install The Essential Components
Skip the full version installation of the OS. Instead, pick the minimal custom installation and leave out any of the non-required components. This not only keeps the servers more secure but also reduces the need for maintenance as there are fewer patches and updates.
Also, disable or remove any configurations that you do not need. For example, the HelpAssistant account and the Guest account are simple targets for anyone familiar with navigating around the server. Disable these accounts using the Control Panel. Check you have disabled them on the network in addition to locally. Disable your unnecessary open ports.
3. Secure Your Admin Account
Most attacks head in the direction of the default Admin account on the Windows server. The simplest and most effective way to increase the security on this user account is to rename it something else. This minimizes excess risk since the Admin account can never be locked out, unlike other user accounts.
4. Fortify the Remote Desktop
Another common way into the system is through RDP. Change your default RDP port to one that is between 10000-65535. You can also use advanced firewall options on a dedicated IP address so that you restrict RDP access to just that IP address.
5. Get Strict With Your Account Policies
If you have multiple users accessing your Windows server, make sure you have some robust user policies in place. For example, make sure all passwords are strong and complex. Use a lockout policy. Make sure there is a session timeout after a period of inactivity. And put two-factor authentication in place.
6. Enable Your Antivirus and Your Firewall
Make sure that the Windows firewall is enabled and set up properly. It may be difficult, initially, to set this up, but the effort will be repaid in terms of extra security. Your firewall is your best defense against suspicious network traffic.
7. Automate Your Windows Server Security
Take the hassle out of auditing user activity and detecting errors with an automated log management system and log viewer for Windows. Most of the time-consuming work involved in searching, log aggregation, and customizing views can be performed with an effective log management system. With automated log management, you get advanced search capacity plus a set of powerful analytics and alerts.
8. Keep Windows Updated
And finally, here’s something simple that will make a big difference to your server security. Always keep Windows updated. You can choose to have automatic updates applied to the server or get alerts notifying you when it is time to update.
9. Implement a Strong Logging and Auditing Policy
Your work is never done when it comes to Windows server security. You must ensure you continue to protect your systems from unwanted activity or unintended actions. Initialize an audit of all login attempts, failed and successful, as well as policy change, privilege use, and management attempts. Check logs and monitor for different event types: information, error, success audit, warning, and failure audit.
10. Install a Baseline Backup
Set up a full backup of your devices and a backup of the System State. You will need this kept securely in order to provide your baseline in the event of a security incident. Keep baselines maintained after you carry out any upgrades or updates.
Watch Out for More Windows Server Security Misconfigurations: Your Checklist
Surveys show that a high number of Windows servers have actually been misconfigured or are missing key elements in the update or configuration process. This ultimately affects the integrity of the server. Are you guilty of any of the following misconfigurations?
- Missing Patches: Systems are often missing Windows patches that haven’t been properly applied. In many cases, these patches have been missing for many months or even years. Check that there is a patch-management system in place to ascertain who is responsible for setting the relevant patches and organizing timely updates.
- Third-Party Software: Common security issues occur when a server is not configured correctly because third-party apps or software have not been updated. In many cases, this is due to insufficient knowledge of the software, or incompatibility issues that make it easier to leave the software dormant. Often, administrators do not give credit to the security risk involved in leaving third-party software out of date.
- Clear Text Passwords: Sometimes clear text passwords remain in logons, files from third-party apps, or database string files. As systems are usually accessed by many different users, sensitive information in these files could be used to provide unauthorized access. Check networks for these issues so your risk is automatically lowered.
- Outdated Virus Protection: Having outdated virus protection is just the same as not bothering to get antivirus protection at all. It is a bad practice not to run updates when necessary. This is rare in the professional environment, but it still occurs more frequently than you would expect.
By focusing your attention on these specific server security issues, you can improve the strength and capabilities of your servers to withstand attacks. Don’t forget to look at the softer targets since there are weak spots you can easily fix to bulk up your protection. With minimal effort, your Windows servers will be more secure, and it will be easier to spot any areas of weakness.