A hosting provider is giving us the option of setting up cPanel on our dedicated server. Although I definitely find it useful and convenient to use, is there a security risk in using it?
cPanel / WHM is merelly a tool weather there is security risk within it or not is up to your System Administrator to take care of it.
Over 50%+ of the linux hosting companies out there use cPanel or other similar tool and they all have their good and bad sides and what covers it is the System Administrator capabilities.
cPanel is merelly all the application you usually see such as apache, bind, exim, php, and so forth meaning that if they are not kept up to date and it is not correctly configured it may result in a hole on your system.
Let's make it simple think of cPanel as a newly brand linux installation, once it is done, there are still lots of work to do to make it secure.
Caveat: I've not used cPanel as an admin or a user for some time, but used to administer a couple of cPanel managed servers.
cPanel in itself is not a particular security concern as most of the core components are standard and cPanel are quick to release updates following upstream security fixes these days.
There are a few things to consider though:
(damn low reputation)
Just my 2 cents:
cPanel is just as secure as experienced is the SA who manages it. However, here are 2 links to help you get started with something more than just the default installation:
Yes there is,
Firstly any vulnerability in cPanel would obviously make you vulnerable to attacks that used it. (you are making your attack surface larger by having it)
Secondly the bundled "one click" installs it has are very old and most are vulnerable to some attack or other.
Other than that no.
If your interested in security I would sincerely advise you to use suphp and suexec (for php and perl) as that will run those scripts as a specified user (one user per vhost) which means that if one site is exploited then all your other sites would be safe.
The other method (a better one but slightly more difficult to implement) is to use Apache MPM-ITK or MPM-Peruser, these have the added advantage of affording the same protection to Python, Ruby, Perl ......
At least that is what I have found to work, and what I have done for countless customers.