Home Web Servers, Part 2: Software and Maintenance - Security
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As Iíve mentioned before, a server is useful and fun, but it is also a responsibility. A Web server is by its nature exposed constantly to the most hostile network environment a computer can be, the open Internet. It must be connected directly to the Internet with at least some general Internet traffic getting through to it, otherwise it would be useless in its primary Web serving function. For this reason, security is of the utmost importance. Some possible consequences of having an insecure server are quite bad. A badly configured email server can relay and mask spam email. A badly configured or out of date Web server can become part of a Denial of Service attack, or allow a hacker to change files on your server without permission.
As Iíve said before, firewalls and such are very useful, but the most important task is keeping your software updated and configured correctly to allow Internet users the very least access necessary. You should check regularly with the software vendor who makes each of the server daemons you use, and download and install any updates promptly. This, combined with good configuration, will keep your server from falling victim to the plethora of people out to take advantage of the freedom allowed by the Internet.
Now we come to the end of this pair of articles regarding home Web serving. I hope that you gained some understanding of the process, planning, and setup required to run your own Web server from home. Let me just say that the knowledge and experience you will gain from this experience will greatly outweigh the time, effort, and responsibility required to set up your server. Once you have a running server, hosting your own domain, you will have truly entered into the Internet and can rightly say you have experience with all areas of Web hosting. You will have learned some networking, some system administration and installation, as well as system maintenance; and for those of you who are programmers, you will have a perfect platform for gaining experience with Web programming. Overall, a Web server is a rewarding and useful experience so I urge anyone interested to give it a try. Good luck!
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