Protecting your dedicated server from cyber-attacks is always a critical part of system security. You have, after all, invested time and money into protecting your websites and the websites of any clients you might have. Nevertheless, you should not assume that everything is fine with your server simply because it appears to be functioning. It may actually be an unwillingly participant in cyber-attacks.
The recent botnet sting initiated by Microsoft should serve as a reminder that all servers are potential targets for attacks but may also be used as platforms for the attackers. In a botnet attack, the cyber-criminals find vulnerabilities in “agent” servers that allow them to install their botnet software. Those servers may not exhibit the symptoms of being infiltrated, but they will still silently and unknowingly carry out attacks on other servers. Attackers can use this silent exploitation for sending spam, operating phishing schemes,distributing viruses, or even for executing a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
Although you may not be able to easily notice exploits like this on your server, the sometimes subtle effects on performance, bandwidth consumption, and system resources can add up over time, costing you money and reducing the quality of your server. Because of this, it is in your best interest to make sure your server is secure and not easy to exploit. Being reactionary in this case will not prevent cyber-criminals from using your server to attack others, but by being proactive and implementing preventative security measures, you can protect your server and do a public service for the web as a whole.