Knowing how to protect servers from malware is a constant concern for administrators. The threats posed by malicious software of all types have been around for decades, having been discussed back in 1949 in a theoretical scientific paper about self-replicating computer programs. Since the experimental viruses of the early 1970s, malware has remained a constantly evolving threat. And as we approach the 21st century’s third decade, it’s still something businesses can’t afford to ignore.
Easy steps to protect servers
Whatever their niche or industry, firms must be alive to the threat malware poses. But while installing anti-malware software on PCs and workstations is commonplace, many firms don’t realize they may also need to take steps to protect servers against malware as well.
You ‘ware it well
Malware is a catch-all phrase for a whole host of different types of software, whose unifying attribute is an intention to damage or disable computers or computer systems. This is malicious software or malware for short. A company’s server represents a focal point of vulnerability in a network, which malware can exploit even if PCs, workstations, and other devices on the network have anti-malware protection. Outdated software may also contain vulnerabilities that can be targeted by malware, which is why Microsoft’s imminent withdrawal of support for Windows 7 caused so much concern globally.
Even from within a network, users might unintentionally upload infected files to servers. If they do, the malware imbedded in those files is then able to spread to any other systems accessing these files – and even the server itself. Once this happens, a server may be infected with ransomware or a virus, or even malware capable of cutting an organization off from its server. That limits access for all network users to critical applications that rely on the server.
Prevention > cure
Recovering from a malware incursion takes a huge amount of time, money, and effort. If the issue spreads to a whole system, it can take weeks or even months to restore everything from backups. Note that we’re assuming that you efficiently backed up data and systems beforehand. So given how important it is to protect servers from malware, how can you ensure your own servers are defended well enough?
How to protect servers against malware
It’s important to guard against malware at an individual device and user level. This means ensuring each device with access to your network has up-to-date malware protection. Be vigilant. Have employees who work remotely use a virtual private network (VPN) to access your network via personal devices. If you don’t properly protect the devices, malware may find its way onto your server.
As we mentioned earlier, you can’t protect servers against malware solely at the PC or user level. Server-level malware protection comes in the shape of anti-malware software. It allows native malware scanning, monitoring a server without the need to use PC software. Scanning a server through a PC is a major security concern since this requires mapping a drive to the server. That, in turn, makes everything on the server vulnerable to hackers or malware. They would only need to compromise one PC to gain total access. Native server malware protection eliminates that vulnerability.
The most effective anti-malware protection for servers provides a similar set of capabilities. It supports regularly scheduled scans of your server to detect malware alongside unscheduled scans as and when an issue arises. If you find malware, anti-malware programs dispose of it, often after quarantining it to prevent malware from spreading. Once you remove any remnants, the program will fire automatic cleaning steps to minimize the risk of re-infection.
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