Systems hardening is a collection of tools, techniques, and best practices to reduce vulnerability in technology applications, systems, infrastructure, firmware, and other areas. The goal of systems hardening is to reduce security risk by eliminating potential attack vectors and condensing the system’s attack surface. By removing superfluous programs, accounts functions, applications, ports, permissions, access, etc. attackers and malware have fewer opportunities to gain a foothold within your IT ecosystem.
Systems hardening demands a methodical approach to audit, identify, close, and control potential security vulnerabilities throughout your organization. There are several types of system hardening activities, including:
- Application hardening
- Operating system hardening
- Server hardening
- Database hardening
- Network hardening / including Firewalls
Although the principles of system hardening are universal, specific tools and techniques do vary depending on the type of hardening you are carrying out. System hardening is needed throughout the lifecycle of technology, from initial installation, through configuration, maintenance, and support, to end-of-life decommissioning. Systems hardening is also a requirement of mandates such as PCI DSS and HIPAA.
Systems Hardening to Reduce the “Attack Surface”
The “attack surface” is the combination of all the potential flaws and backdoors in technology that can be exploited by hackers. These vulnerabilities can occur in multiple ways, including:
- Default and hardcoded passwords
- Passwords and other credentials stored in plain text files
- Unpatched software and firmware vulnerabilities
- Poorly configured BIOS, firewalls, ports, servers, switches, routers, or other parts of the infrastructure
- Unencrypted network traffic or data at rest
- Lack of privileged access
Benefits of Systems Hardening
Systems hardening recovers continuous effort, but the diligence will pay off in substantive ways across your organization via:
- Enhanced system functionality: Since fewer programs and less functionality means there is less risk of operational issues, misconfigurations, incompatibilities, and compromise.
- Significantly improved security: A reduced attack surface translates into a lower risk of data breaches, unauthorized access, systems hacking, or malware.
- Simplified compliance and audibility: Fewer programs and accounts coupled with a less complex environment means auditing the environment will usually be more transparent and straightforward.
Overview of Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity refers to the practice of reducing cyber risk through the protection of the entire information technology (IT) infrastructure, including systems, applications, hardware, software, and data. Information security (InfoSec), or data security, is a chief component of cybersecurity and entails ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.
Cybersecurity leverages a growing number of tools, methods, and resources that help organizations and individuals alike increase their cyber-resilience, meaning the ability to prevent or withstand damaging security events. These adverse security events could include a cyberattack (via malware, external attacker, or malicious insider), a fault in an IT systems component or application, human error (i.e. a misconfiguration, or scripting/coding error), etc.
We will review assets, reports, outputs, and more to identify potential risks and arrange for resolution.
- Design, manage and maintain security strategy, policy, protocol, procedure, and process
- Plan, design, implement and upgrade security measures, tools, reports, and resolution
- Protect software, systems, and data from unauthorized access or other cybersecurity issues
- Monitor systems and data for unauthorized access or changes
- Carry out vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, audits, and other gap analysis
- Monitor and manage systems for intrusion attempts
- Investigate and remediate the root cause of security breaches
- Manage relationships with security vendors
What is Endpoint Security & Why is it Important?
Endpoint security refers to the strategies and technologies for preventing, containing, mitigating, and remediating threats to endpoints. Endpoint threats can involve external attacks as well as insider threats, which may be either malicious or unintentional in nature. A compromised endpoint can give an attacker a foothold within an environment. From that foothold, the threat actor can launch further attacks on systems to access data and compromise additional endpoints via lateral movement.
This glossary post will explore:
- The challenges of managing and securing endpoints
- Key endpoint attack vectors
- Strategies, technologies, and solutions for implementing endpoint security
What is an Endpoint?
An endpoint can be defined as any physical or virtual device or hardware that connects to the corporate environment. An endpoint will either use a TCP/IP (v4 or v6) address or another protocol for networking (wired or wireless). Endpoints are anything from end-user devices, such as desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones to servers, medical devices, IoT devices and sensors, industrial control systems (ICS), point-of-sale (PoS) devices, ATMs, printers, network switches, routers, and much more.