Windows Cloud Server Security: 3 Useful Best Practices

More and more we are helping people get set up on  Windows cloud servers here at windows2008hosting.asphostportal.com .  While dedicated server solutions are the right choice for certain situations, clients are finding the benefits of cloud servers or, in many cases, a hybrid hosting solution to be the perfect fit for their hosting needs. With all this cloud talk, there are several technologies supported on Windows cloud servers that you may not have realized. These options can make the difference when configuring a cloud server solution that will best optimize your site or application.

Firewalls, VPN & SSL in the Cloud

The best practices of leveraging Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) and Firewalls to protect sensitive information on a Windows Cloud Server are recommend and also supported just as they would be with a physical dedicated server. If you’re unsure as to what any of these are and why they are necessary, the following will serve as a summary of each and their benefits.

What is VPN?

Virtual Private Networking is a secure and controlled method of connecting remote networks and users for the purpose of dealing with sensitive information. When using a VPN, all data is encrypted at the source, sent securely to the destination, then decrypted at the destination – assuring that only the previously approved source and destination people or systems can access the data. This is often a necessary element to incorporate in your hosting solution if you are an eCommerce company accessing sensitive back-end data like credit cards or orders, require PCI compliance, or simply need to securely work with remote clients or coworkers regarding sensitive information. A VPN connection allows you to guarantee identity through point-to-point connections and user authentication. While Windows cloud servers are virtual, they retain all the same VPN encrypting capabilities as a dedicated server, giving you complete control over security and privacy of your data. (For more information on Virtual Private Networking, get our free download: Introduction to Virtual Private Networking.

What is an SSL Connection?

The Secure Socket Layer protocol (SSL) ensures secure transactions between Windows cloud servers and browsers. This is particularly important anytime sensitive information must be transmitted over the open Internet. For example, any sign-up process where personal information is needed, (credit card information, personal data, etc.) would justify use of an SSL connection. You can recognize the use of an SSL connection when you see an “S” included in the URL (https://).
While the technical breakdown of an SSL can be somewhat complicated, it’s important to understand the basic concept of an SSL connection and how important it is in
maintaining security with sensitive information. 

What is a Firewall?

A firewall is a security solution designed to only allow safe and trusted connections to whatever it is set to protect. It does this by identifying several pieces of information for all incoming connections, thus blocking access to any unfamiliar or unauthorized sources looking to access that data. The difference between a firewall and an SSL connection is that SSL is used to ensure your sensitive information can be securely sent from a webpage to a server, while a firewall is designed to control direct access to the cloud server itself. A firewall can be used to lock down ports and allow only certain information to be accessible, while keeping other information secure.

Firewall in a Windows Cloud Server

In order to set up a firewall in a Windows cloud server configuration, various steps must be taken to optimize the firewall for the cloud – but depending on your hosting provider, these steps will be covered for you. Once these steps are taken, it is no different than a firewall configured for a dedicated physical server.
Note: In addition to base intrusion detection and firewall protection offered at our network core, our Windows Cloud Servers come with free built-in Windows Firewall service that can be used to lock down ports and restrict access with a focus on the specific needs of your server – assuring that only the ports needed are opened and only available to the users or systems that need the sensitive access.

Cloud Server Security Best Practices

The above security steps are important in and of themselves, but they also serve as a baseline for achieving PCI Compliance, something in which we at ASPHostPortal.com are well versed. So, whether you’re looking to sure up your security as a best practice, or find yourself needing to implement the above steps in accordance with the PCI Security Standard Council, Windows cloud server hosting offers all the tools available on a dedicated server configuration, but often with several added benefits.

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