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November 18, 2018

What is a server and how do you guarantee its security?

Group ICT manager Tom Musau.
Group ICT manager Tom Musau.

What is a server?


A server is a large computer in terms of processing power that is used to run large software that can be accessed by many people concurrently.  A computer has basic components like the RAM, processor and circuit board that work as a system to process client requests, which are managed through business applications. Since some systems require many users to access and still get fast responses in milliseconds, a server is used to provide that processing power.


How does it work?


A server is stationed either on the cloud or on the premises. If it’s stored on the premises, it is published using a web server to be accessed through the browser or even accessed locally within an organization’s local area network. If it is stored on the cloud, then a hosting company can provide a virtual or physical server on the cloud.


How do you guarantee security?


On premises servers can be protected from external attacks using a firewall. The server’s operating system should also have the latest updates and security patches. Additionally, physical security and role-based access control should be managed by the systems/security administrator.  A web server should be published with https to ensure secure connection with clients. Intrusion detection systems and intrusion prevention systems should also be deployed to enhance proactive security management.


Why are servers kept abroad, such as M-Pesa’s in Germany?


People have an illusion that if you keep a server on the cloud and far away from your country, then it is safe. The server can equally be attacked by a random hacker even while it’s hosted far away. Attacks are not always targetted, some attacks crawl the web for any servers that have vulnerability that can be exposed. Traditionally large multinationals in Kenya have hosted their systems abroad due to availability of stable infrastructure such as power, cheap Internet and affordable expandable storage. With high demands for processing transactions at high speeds, they have resorted to host the servers locally.


Can you have distributed networks?


Servers can be hosted in a distributed network; processing load is shared among all the servers in the distributed architecture. Furthermore, you can configure some nodes/servers to be read only just to mitigate spread of an attack that aims at data alteration. Distributed networks and servers enhance high availability for mission critical systems.


Musau is Group IT Manager, Radio Africa Group

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