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I've purchased a virtual server which I need to run some custom tools every once in a while. I actually don't use any server features of my virtual server, I really just need a Linux machine which is up 24/7 365 days a year to run my custom tools.

Now it occurred to me that I could use this virtual server as some sort of cloud storage to store my backups as well since I have 500 GB of HD space available on the server which I currently barely use.

The problem is: I don't really have any experience with server administration. The virtual server uses the default settings, I didn't change anything from the server defaults. I think it is completely unconfigured for server usage, i.e. port 80 is disabled, FTP is disabled, etc. All I can do is to log in via SSH and this is pretty much all I need. I also didn't install Plesk on the virtual server. It's really completely barebones, just Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, nothing else.

Now I thought that I could just use GnuPG to encrypt the tar files containing my backups and then just upload them to a directory on the virtual server using scp. Does that sound reasonably safe or could it happen that those files could be accessed from someone from the outside? Of course, they're already encrypted using GnuPG but still I'd like to prevent anybody from being able to access them...

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If you don't do anything wrong and don't lose your encryption key, then you should be reasonable safe that others won't be able to decrypt those files. However, somebody who is able to gain read access will probably have write access, too (and delete or destroy your backups).

Just a few suggestions:

Keep your encryption keys at a safe place. If you want to store them with your backup, protect them with a passphrase. If you can't recover those keys, your backup is useless.

You should have tested a recovery. Your scenario isn't that complicated so it's not a big deal.

Keep more than one version of your backups. Maybe you'll need a file that you deleted last week.

Think about automation.

Use a user account for your scp. On your server you can use the local root account to regularly move your files where your backup user can't delete them.

There's a lot more things you could do if you're really paranoid...

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  • Thanks. Do I need to worry about file permissions? Currently, after uploading the files using scp the permission is typically -rw-r--r--. Is that ok? I'm a little worried because "others" have read permission as well but normally I don't need to worry about this because there are no multiple users on my virtual server, there is only root. So I shouldn't have to worry about file permissions, right?
    – Andreas
    May 20, 2016 at 20:28
  • @Andreas - you can probably set the directory to rwx for user and no permissions for other users. That will protect the files. But the key here is to choose a strong encryption key and protect it well. Without that key, your backup files are just noise. May 20, 2016 at 22:10
  • "Others" means just people who can log in to your virtual server - not "everyone". Besides, as has already been said: Encryption - if done correctly - protects your files much better than file system permissions.
    – Thomas
    May 21, 2016 at 3:48

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