FindItMore | As a technological advancement of the early 1990s, the world woke up to the magic of electronic mails popularly known as emails. It did not take time for emails to gain popularity as convenient and cost-effective means to keep track of information and exchange data between different users, across the globe. Exchange Server led to a user-friendly phenomenon prompting users to interact with their peers and customers quickly. They began to send out emails via mobiles and remote computers in addition to sending emails from their workstations. This remote data exchange led to the development of many enterprise-level solutions for Corporations and Businesses. One such improvement came in the form of the Microsoft Exchange Server. It was a noteworthy contribution from Microsoft in the direction of offering an indigenous and collaborative enterprise server application exclusively for emails.
However, the remote connections with which the Microsoft Exchange Server operates expose it to a host of vulnerabilities in the form of e-mail attacks. Phishing, spamming and spoofing compromise the security of the server. In an attempt to safeguard your Microsoft Exchange Server from online attacks, the following 10 best practices will help you protect the Microsoft Exchange Server from security breaches.
- Do Away with Outdated Software Versions and Keep Your Systems Updated At All Times
The first and the best practice that should be followed by all the users of Exchange Server is to update all the systems and peripherals connected to the Exchange environment with latest versions. Given the fact that most of the security breaches happen due to outdated software versions, you should update all the peripherals like routers, printers, load balancers, bridges and client-server systems to the latest versions. Only when you strengthen your operating system and patch it frequently will you be in a position to receive timely updates. Signing up for regular updates ensure enhanced security coupled with improved functionality.
- Install a Unified Communications (UC) SSL certificate on your MS Exchange Server
Another best practice to ensure the security of your Microsoft Exchange Server is to invest in trusted SSL certificates. With a SSL/HTTPS certificate in server, you have the authorized permission to exchange data online safely. In fact, CA issued SSL certificates come with high price tags, most of the organizations sign up either for self-signed certificates or a single certificate for every host name that they use.
However, both of these alternatives come with certain drawbacks. Operating with a single certificate, through a cost-effective option can protect multiple domain names. It is recommended to install UC Exchange Server SSL Certificate to secure all domain names and services used on any version of Exchange and Office Communications Server Environment. You can get Comodo UCC SSL certificate at cheapest price with up to 3 domains (max. 100 domains) protection license from CheapSSLShop.com.
Exchange Server (UCC) Multi Domain SSL certificate comes with a 99.9% browser recognition, Unlimited re-issuance, Server licenses feature along with a 30 days Money-back guarantee. You can also avail the round-the-clock live support provided by Comodo Certificate Authority for protecting an external services like Outlook Anywhere, ActiveSync or Outlook Web Access (OWA).
- Disable SSL 3.0 Which is Now Redundant
The new kind providing a network security is Transport Layer Security (TLS), a cryptographic protocol that secure all your communications between a web server and a web browser. TLS is the successor to the outdated Secure Sockets Layer 3.0 (SSL). Microsoft Exchange employs the advanced capabilities of TLS to secure all the connections. Hence it is another best practice to protect your Microsoft Exchange Server with the TLS/HTTPS. This move can promise some benefits coming from advanced encryption algorithms to secure your connections from security breaches or Man-in-the-middle attacks.
Therefore, it comes as a wise move to disable the redundant SSL 3.0 version in your system’s browser. That means you need to disable SSL 3.0 from both the client and server side of every connection and peripherally associated with it.
- Filter and Block Suspected E-Mail Attachments
You should be watchful over e-mails having attachments with malware. Almost all the spammed and phished emails come with unwarranted attachments with .zip, .bat, .rar and .exe extensions. Such malicious email attachments which negatively impact your organization’s goodwill should be blocked. You should also have a security policy in place that calls for remedial action that needs to be taken on the blocked attachments.
- Latest Ciphers Offer a Stronger Security Cover to Your Exchange Server
Given the malicious intelligence of online fraudsters taking new forms by the day, it is best for you to tread the path of safety by signing up with latest ciphers. However, the installation of most recent ciphers comes with a caveat. While it is not as simple as disabling the previous cipher and enabling the latest one, you should provide a list of ciphers that are compatible with your clients’ systems. The server then responds with a befitting cipher that can then be implemented.
For Ciphers to be fully functional, they should work in tandem with the certificates that are installed on the Exchange Server. Hence, the task does not end with the installation of the latest ciphers. You should update the certificates in the network to take advantage of these advanced ciphers. Here comes an essential piece of information that you should keep in mind. MD5 and MD2 certificates are outdated certificates that are not meant for the latest ciphers. Hence these certificates should never be hashed in the entire chain of Microsoft Exchange Server networks.
- Know Your Exchange Server System and Test It Periodically
Although you are operating with the advanced set of ciphers and reliable digital certificates, it is essential that you completely understand your Exchange Server. You should delve deep into checking whether your system can support these advanced protocols. Depending on the need, you can also initiate a complete recompilation process along with comprehensive testing so that you can extract the best out of the advanced security protocols. You should regularly test all the client systems along with SMTP, POP/IMAP, and HTTPS.
- Abstain From Placing a Client Access Server At The Network Perimeter
In an attempt to offer a stronger security cover to your Microsoft Exchange Server, another actionable tip is to avoid placing your client access server at the network perimeter. All thanks to Microsoft Exchange 2007 server, you can lodge all the client access servers in a private network while the network perimeter oversees the safety of your private network.
It is but natural for a client access server to be permitted to access the mailbox servers and the Active Directory. Thus, placing the client access server at the network perimeter can jeopardize the security of your Exchange Server. As a solution to this issue, Microsoft facilitates the placement of an ISA (Internet Security and Acceleration) Server. This ISA acts as a proxy to your client access server, distancing it from the network perimeter.
- Install A Firewall
Another common tip that paves the way for a secured Microsoft Exchange Server is to install a firewall, and you have two options to go with. The Windows operating system offers an inbuilt firewall, providing advanced security features. While you can use this one as the first option, more so because it is free to use, you may also sign up for a Forefront Protection for Exchange.
Microsoft offers an array of antivirus features tagged under the umbrella of Forefront Security. It is through this assembly of antivirus capabilities that business will be in a position to safeguard their Microsoft Exchange environments against spams, viruses and unwarranted content. You can get Microsoft security solution that gets rid of infected and malicious attachments even before they land in the user’s mailbox connected to the Windows mobile or the OWA.
- Unlock the Power of Digital Signatures and Encrypted Messages
Another promising means to provide end-to-end security to all the messages that are transmitted from your Microsoft Exchange Server is to tread the path of digital signatures and encrypted messages. All for the sake of countering data leaks and unwarranted access to your emails, you can employ the Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) technology, which is a standard cryptography technology to safeguard your emails by digitally signing your emails. This digital signature serves as authentication that you are a legitimate sender of the message. You can use this feature to nip off the phishing acts of online fraudsters.
- Make the Most of an Edge Transport Server
While some argue that the deployment of an edge transport server can be futile to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, it can be a worthwhile move to go ahead with this deployment. An edge transport server, in sharp contrast to some third-party enterprises that offer filtering products and services, is well-informed about the recipients who operate their mailboxes through your mailbox servers. This feature can eradicate the numerous Denial of Service (DoS) attacks that take place on your server.
Identified as a near fool-proof mechanism to ward off viruses and spams breaching the security of your Microsoft Exchange Server, it is an intelligent move to deploy an edge transport server while the hosted filtering service is still in operation. The hosted filtering service will help you weed away spam and viruses. After eradicating the significant chunk of spam, the edge transport server can step in to scrutinize the email messages.
It is a well-known fact that Microsoft Exchange Servers are making their strong presence felt in the global arena of email communication. Although tagged as the most reliable and secure mail servers, it takes a certain amount of forethought and preparedness to ensure a safe online platform to all the users. Since the internet is still the haven for some cyber-attacks and threats, the high ten does and don’ts will ensure the smooth and secure running of your Microsoft Exchange Server systems; at all times.