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May 23, 2017

Do VPS Make You WannaCry?

By Special Guest
Sophia Mixon, Contributing Writer

Technological improvements are great. Where would business be in this country if the personal computer had never been created? It was and has obviously been improved upon. The personal computing power of your smartphone would have been unbelievable science fiction even half a century ago.

There are some technologies, however, that may not live up to their hype as the years go by. Virtual reality has been a – so far – impossible dream for technology to create. We are getting closer and closer with each passing year, but there have been too many times in the recent past when companies have claimed that they have created virtual reality, only to see their results fall far short of our expectations.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS) have had a rocky start to their creation. Although the technology exists, the security concerns have kept VPS from having a wider acceptance. Recent computer security hacks, such as the WannaCry ransomware attack, have given small business operators pause.

Are VPS at higher risk than physical servers?

No. The risks are the same for both types. If there is an opening that can be exploited, neither type of server is any more secure than the other.

There is a caveat, however. With a managed VPS, the security upgrades and issues are in the hands of the VPS operators, not the users. These operators have a vested interest in keeping all their servers safe and secure.

How do hackers gain access to data?

 Although phishing attacks are the most common way that hackers gain entry into a server, the existence of zero day exploits make computer and server security a nightmare. Phishing relies on operators making mistakes, while zero day exploits target a problem with the software itself.

The worst part of zero day exploits is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to see them coming. These attacks use an unidentified problem with the program to attack or hijack the system. WannaCry was an exploit. Although it was known ahead of time, security updates were not installed on all the systems it targeted.

How can you defend against these attacks?

The best way to avoid phishing attacks is through net discipline within your organization. Common sense rules about opening suspicious email attachments and blocking harmful websites should be standard procedure for all business computer systems.

Zero-day exploits are more difficult to defend against, but keeping your antivirus software up-to-date is the best and easiest solution. Once a zero-day exploit has been discovered, the software company will fix the software and release an update as soon as they can.

What is the difference between managed and unmanaged VPS?

The biggest difference between the two types of virtual servers is the amount of control that the providing company retains on the server. Providing companies do all of the maintenance and security upkeep on managed servers and they are responsible for ensuring that malicious programs don’t get into the system.

You, as the customer, are responsible for unmanaged servers. Security and maintenance are your responsibility. A business will need to retain professionals who understand and can work on servers if they have an unmanaged server. They do, however, have more freedom when it comes to operating systems, security software and programs running on their VPS.

Determining the type of VPS you need for your business is a process. As the management of Accu Web Hosting put it, “Once you have decided on using VPS, then the hard part starts. Determining what your company needs and what level of control you want, is a tough decision that has to be made.”

Edited by Alicia Young

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