Almost regularly, we hear horror stories about gaming server breaches. Those game servers belong to big companies that lose huge amounts of user data. Breaches of smaller game servers are rarely even a topic in media, but we know for a fact that they are frequent.
How to Keep Your Dedicated Game Server Secure?
A web server that is not shared between multiple users is called a dedicated server. By default, all resources available on that server belong to only one user who has root access. Various apps, games, websites, or pieces of software can be hosted on one such server, but there can be only one client or a single hosting company that controls it.
Most of these servers fall in one of the two main categories: managed and unmanaged. Managed dedicated servers, as the name suggests, are governed by the company that owns them.
Then there are the unmanaged servers whose management and security belong strictly to the user. The user is given practically an empty server or multiple servers. Therefore, any security and protection from hacking is your problem, not the company that rents and owns the servers.
There are all sorts of ways to hack a dedicated game server, which is why it’s better to choose the best game server hosting. So it is not just the root access that you need to worry about. The safety of your email server, database server, FTP, web applications, DNS, and firewall also matters a lot.
Each service on your online game server is a safety concern on its own. If one of the services is vulnerable to hacking, all of them are at risk as well.
Those that lack the knowledge or the time to deal with the security of their servers should consider managed servers or secure server hosting. Managed servers cost more than unmanaged, but they are run by experts in online safety. In a way, you are paying the extra dollars for their expertise. They are professionals that are trained and can deal with various safety issues. Furthermore, they know how to apply the proper measures when needed.
Game Server Security Tips
Here are a set of tips that can only strengthen your existing safety measures.
Outdated software is often a big vulnerability issue for servers. Unfortunately, that is one of the most common safety issues that gets frequently overlooked by system administrators and IT experts. Scheduling a periodical check for updates can be quite a healthy habit, server-wise.
You should limit access to who can log on to the gaming servers. For example, if a team member logs in via a coffee shop with an unsecured Wi-Fi connection regularly, their credentials can be easily compromised. Additionally, all team members need to change their passwords regularly, whether they like that or not. The longer a password is used, the chances of it being compromised increase exponentially. The fewer the weakness, the better.
Back up your data as often as possible. Moreover, don’t let the backup reside on the same server. Instead, keep the backup on a different server or perhaps on the cloud.
Erase all the games that are installed on your server and out of use. There is nothing worse than a five-year-old version of COD sitting on your server unattended. That’s practically a magnet asking to get exploited. So, if you don’t use it, delete it.
How to Detect Cheating in Multiplayer Games?
An excellent first step in catching cheaters is to enable the system to recognize cheating automatically. Yes, many of those that would love to get their hands on your servers are actual players. They would love nothing more than your root access password and all the game data. Note that they are not the sharing type that would share that with other players. Instead, they all want to have complete control and win.
To beef up your game security, you can start recording all player logins and logouts, keep a record of all assets in the game, logs of important events, etc. It won’t be that hard to spot when something is off when you keep logs and data on these statistics and do regular reviews. For example, when unique items have multiple copies or when the money supply doubles or triples overnight.
Reaching out to your players is also advisable. They too can verify if something is not right in the game or some user suddenly, overnight receives godly powers. It is best to create an email to streamline the complaints, allowing genuine players to report possible hacks. User contributions can help you catch the perpetrators and ban them from playing multiplayer games on your Minecraft server. However, you should keep in mind that you don’t jump at any tips for security issues or strange behaviour in your multiplayer game. There is a pretty good chance that you will be looking at a pile of complaints. Before you take any security measures, it makes sense to wait for the issue to be reported at least several times.
Hacked online games can have dire consequences as one malicious player can jeopardize the integrity of the entire game. If you allow a hacker to roam free, this is pretty much a sure bet on losing users. You need to know that there are three super-vulnerable places in online games:
- The client executable
- Client/server protocol
- Data files
You can encrypt the files featuring sensitive information to protect data files. Limiting the client’s knowledge of the game is a method commonly used by IT experts to protect client/server protocols. But you should know that this is just one of the possible scenarios.
Server crashes can lead to losing users overnight, and that’s why you should take it seriously. Furthermore, you should be vigilant when it comes to client user data. That can be devastating to your user base. However, your cyber security concerns can be a thing of the past with adequate planning and continuous vigilance. Your servers can be perfectly out of the reach of malicious attacks.