October 21, 2008
| by Rebecca Day
You hit the alarm on your car when you get home from work. You lock all the doors before going to bed. Automatic scans check for viruses on your PC. You even bought a media server to protect all your digital music, pictures and files.
So what’s protecting your media server?
According to the folks at HP, the first company to introduce a Windows Home Server, the Home Server can pretty much take care of itself. Tough security and limited access to the outside world are two of the protections Microsoft built into the Home Server platform.
That’s one of the reasons you can’t connect a Windows Home Server to a monitor, even if you wanted to. It’s designed not to be a device that browses the Internet, where virus, malware and phishing dangers lurk. Instead, it works in the background, streaming content to PCs, backing up and storing data, and, if you want, serving up data stored on home PCs while you’re on the road.
If you want to access the content on that server, you have to go through stringent security measures. The information is encrypted so that anyone sniffing around your server’s URL would see the PC equivalent of a scrambled cable TV channel.
“For a person to get access to your server, they need a user name and password from you,” says Joel Sider, senior product manager at Microsoft. “We’ve put in a requirement for a strong password,” he says, which includes a capital letter, a mix of letters and numbers, some type of punctuation, and at least seven characters. “That makes it much tougher to crack a password.”
Still nervous? Check out antivirus software from avast!, BitDefender or SSecure, Sider says. However, it might be overkill. “I don’t run any antivirus software on my server,” he says. “It’s not used as a primary workstation, and I have control over who has access to it.”
He’s not the only one. Phil McKinney, VP and CTO of HP’s personal systems group, is comfortable with the security of his MediaSmart Server, too. “MediaSmart Server is a simplified version of the Microsoft server used for enterprises. So from that standpoint, all security models are available for the consumer version,” he says. “You can never say never, but you don’t have the same kind of concerns you have to apply to a PC.
“Let’s put it this way,” McKinney says. “I’ve had my server up and running for over a year and a half. I don’t do anything other than what’s out of the box, and I have 6 terabytes of my media on it.”