Your mother probably once told you, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For many things, that is true, but if you think your dedicated server will always be running as smoothly as it might be right now, you are fooling yourself. When everything is going well, that is the time to take care of routine maintenance, increased monitoring, and generally house keeping.
The following are 4 things you can do even when your server is running just fine.
1. Run updates – If you have delayed running non-critical updates on your system, now might be a good time to do it. If you have critical security updates waiting, you should have performed them a long time ago anyway.
2. Find and remove remnants – What are remnants? That is a term I use to refer to the leftovers of former websites. When you remove a site from your server, you may have old configuration files, scripts, applications, databases, and other things you no longer need. If you think you might need to pour through them later for backup purposes, archive them, compress them, and send them to your backup device/server. Do not keep stuff just because you are a pack rat.
3. Increase monitoring – This moment of tranquility may just be the calm before the storm. Take this time to do some extra monitoring of system logs, network protocols, and web applications. You could find something potentially threatening to your security, just waiting to be exploited.
4. Run some tests – There are plenty of security tests you can run instead of sitting with your feet up on your desk playing Solitaire. Test all those fancy web applications for XSS (cross-site scripting). Search for rootkits. Check for weaknesses in every corner of your server from user passwords to databases.
By: Tavis J. Hampton