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Chapter 6. Sharing Servers

The remainder of this book describes methods for preventing people from compromising the Apache installation. In this chapter, I will discuss how to retain control and achieve reasonable security in spite of giving your potential adversaries access to the server. Rarely will you be able to keep the server to yourself. Even in the case of having your own private server, there will always be at least one friend who is in need of a web site. In most cases, you will share servers with fellow administrators, developers, and other users.

You can share server resources in many different ways:

  • Among a limited number of selected users (e.g., developers)

  • Among a large number of users (e.g., students)

  • Massive shared hosting, or sharing among a very large number of users

Though each of these cases has unique requirements, the problems and aims are always the same:

  • You cannot always trust other people.

  • You must protect system resources from users.

  • You must protect users from each other.

As the number of users increases, keeping the server secure becomes more difficult. There are three factors that are a cause for worry: error, malice, and incompetence. Anyone, including you and me, can make a mistake. The only approach that makes sense is to assume we will and to design our systems to fail gracefully.

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