This post may contain affiliate links, please read our affiliate disclosure to learn more.
Web Server: How to Secure a Web Server?

Web Server: How to Secure a Web Server?

 By Charles Joseph | Cybersecurity Researcher
 Published on August 6th, 2023
This post was updated on November 25th, 2023

A web server is a computer system that hosts websites. It’s responsible for processing user requests for web pages and delivering them through the internet. When you type a URL into your browser, the web server retrieves the desired page and sends it back to your device. These servers handle not only the delivery but also the storage of web pages, making them crucial in the field of internet technology.

How to Secure a Web Server

Securing a web server involves several crucial steps.

Stay One Step Ahead of Cyber Threats

Want to Be the Smartest Guy in the Room? Get the Latest Cybersecurity News and Insights.
We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe anytime.

First, always ensure your server operating system and all related software are up-to-date to benefit from the latest security patches.

Second, install a robust firewall and configure it properly to shield your server from unwanted traffic.

Third, apply the principle of least privilege to all users and processes, granting only the minimal levels of access needed to perform their functions.

Fourth, use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) for web traffic to ensure data is encrypted during transmission.

Fifth, implement strong, unique passwords and consider using two-factor authentication.

Sixth, regularly audit and monitor server logs for any suspicious activity.

Finally, maintain frequent and secure backups of your server data to facilitate recovery in case of an attack.

Web Server Usage Statistics

According to Netcraft, the following table illustrates web server software as of January 2023:

RankWeb ServerJanuary 2023Percent (Jan 2023)
3Cloudflare: the company uses an internal web server called Pingora, which is written in Rust; it adopts a multithreading approach instead of the multi-process approach that NGINX follows112,159,3319.91%

Web Server Examples

1. Apache HTTP Server

The Apache HTTP Server, commonly referred to as Apache, is a highly revered web server software that is open-source and free to use. According to recent data, it’s estimated that Apache powers around 46% of all websites across the globe, making it the most used web server software.

One of the large contributing factors to Apache’s popularity is its power. Apache is able to handle and serve a large number of requests simultaneously, ensuring that even during high-traffic periods, websites do not see a fall in performance.

Apart from being powerful, Apache is known for its reliability. With its stability and robustness, it ensures that the websites it serves are always accessible to the users. It hardly crashes, making it a reliable choice for businesses that value continuous uptime.

What makes Apache stand out is its flexibility. It comes with a wide range of modules and allows for the addition of more features, making it highly adaptable to various needs.

It supports a variety of operating systems, including Unix, FreeBSD, Linux, Solaris, Novell NetWare, OS X, Microsoft Windows, and more, making it a versatile solution for diverse web hosting needs.

2. Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS)

Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS) is a compelling web server solution for those running Windows-based systems.

As a part of the Microsoft ecosystem, it’s a popular choice for many enterprises and businesses with Windows servers and applications.

One of the highlights of IIS is its intuitive graphical user interface (GUI). This user-friendly design simplifies server management tasks, reducing the need for deep technical knowledge to configure and manage the web server making it an efficient choice for different user levels.

Integration is another reason for the popularity of IIS among developers and system administrators. IIS offers integrated .NET compatibility, making it an unparalleled option for hosting ASP.NET applications. Such applications can be managed directly from the IIS console without the need for external tooling.

Although not free like Apache, the cost of IIS comes bundled with the Windows operating system, negating any additional expenses. It’s robust, secure, and supportive of many of the latest internet standards. These features make IIS an excellent fit for enterprise-level web hosting.

3. Nginx

Nginx is an open-source web server software known for its high performance and efficiency, which has gained substantial popularity since its launch. It is used by many large-scale websites, including Pinterest, Netflix, and NASA, to handle their high-traffic needs.

The standout feature of Nginx is its performance. It uses an event-driven architecture, which allows it to handle thousands of concurrent connections with minimal memory usage. This makes it a go-to solution for high-traffic websites and applications.

Aside from its performance, Nginx also shines in its flexibility. It’s not just a web server – it also works as a reverse proxy, load balancer, and HTTP cache, which further extends its functionality and use-case scenarios. These added features allow it to effectively distribute traffic and ensure seamless website performance.

Although it may require a bit more technical prowess to get the most out of Nginx’s features, its robust performance, low memory footprint, and ability to handle a large number of simultaneous connections make it a credible choice for businesses with high-traffic demands.


Choosing the right web server software is crucial for the seamless operation and performance of any website. Whether it’s Apache’s robustness and wide adoption, IIS’s tight integration with Microsoft’s offerings, or Nginx’s high efficiency and versatility, understanding these examples can help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs and environment.

Key Takeaways

  • Web servers are computer systems that host and deliver web pages in response to requests from users.
  • Apache HTTP Server is the most widely used web server software, known for its power, reliability, and flexibility.
  • Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS) is a compelling option for Windows-based systems, offering a graphical user interface and integrated .NET compatibility.
  • Nginx is notable for its high performance and low memory usage, making it suitable for high-traffic websites and applications.
  • The choice of web server software should align with your specific needs, traffic volume, and operating environment.

Related Questions

1. What is the role of a web server?

A web server’s role is to store, process, and deliver web pages to users. When a website visitor types in a URL or clicks on a link, the web server retrieves the requested webpage and sends it to the user’s browser.

2. Can you install more than one web server on a single machine?

Yes, it’s possible to install more than one web server on a machine. Each server must be configured to listen on a different port to prevent conflict between the servers.

3. Why is Apache popular despite being older than some web servers?

Apache remains popular due to its robust functionality, support for a multitude of platforms, comprehensive documentation, and a large community that contributes to its continual development and improvement.

4. How does Nginx handle high-traffic situations better?

Nginx uses an event-driven architecture, which allows it to handle many simultaneous connections with minimal memory usage. That’s why it excels in high-traffic situations.

5. What makes IIS ideal for ASP.NET applications?

IIS offers integrated .NET compatibility, making it an unparalleled option for hosting ASP.NET applications. These applications can be managed directly from the IIS console, simplifying the deployment and management process.

"Amateurs hack systems, professionals hack people."
-- Bruce Schneier, a renown computer security professional
Scroll to Top