This weekend I ran into an old friend whom I worked with many years ago. Back then we both worked at GE Capital, he as a service manager and I ran GECITS, Northern California business. He mentioned that he still dabbles a little in IT consulting and was having a some security issues with a certain client. As we discussed the issue it became clear that his client was using their server as a workstation (desktop), this is never a good idea.
I understand that to be competitive today many small businesses have to squeeze every penny out of a dollar, especially in this economy. However there are many red flags you should seriously consider before you light that stick of dynamite. Before all else – consider the fact that you probably spent thousands of dollars for your server, software, installation and support. You should also consider the downtime and loss of productivity your company will experience when your server goes down.
What should you deliberate before you aimlessly jeopardize your business?
Your Server – it is exactly that, a server. It is designed to serve up data and resources to users. When you login to a server, you consume valuable resources that can no longer be served up to other users on your network. In turn your server and network get slower. Additionally – you open up many vulnerabilities to your server. You should not install desktop programs, such as Microsoft Office on the server, beside slowing down the server even more you also open the server up to viruses and malware that exploit Microsoft Office. The bottom line is it is never a good idea to use your server as your desktop.
Disable Web Browsing – on the server if you really want to guarantee security. Ninety percent (90%) of all viruses, malware, adware and trojan horses come from browsing the Internet and unsavory websites. In all actuality – these can come from legitimate websites that have also been infected themselves.
Disable Remote Access – for even stronger security. RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) is unsecure, at least by default. If you must use remote access, then at least make sure you only enable certain computers to access it. Doing this will greatly decrease the chance of inappropriate access.
Rename Administrator accounts – this will guard against many attacks. There is an ongoing debate on this topic, but the rationalism behind it is hackers cannot hack an account they can find. Almost every virus and other bad program out there go after built-in accounts. This means the Administrator and Guest accounts on Windows-based computers and servers. Once you rename the Administrator account, hackers are hard pressed to find a way in. As well – you should always disable the Guest account, I cannot think of one good reason you should ever enable this account.
There are many other steps that should be taken for the sake of securing your server, data and network. In today’s article I have strived to point out the less obvious and overlooked security breaches, while acquainting you with my weekend conversation with an old colleague.
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