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A Comprehensive Overview of OS Hardening

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a-comprehensive-overview-of-os-hardening

By AMSAT Feb 1,2021

A Comprehensive Overview of OS Hardening

Based on the theory of least privilege, hardening is about reducing the attack surface available to the threat actors and other malicious hackers. Hardening is a vital component of information security and includes the principles of deterrence, denial, delay and detection.

OS hardening

This is the act of putting together an OS strongly, updating it, making rules and strategies to help supervise the system securely, eliminating unnecessary applications and services. The purpose of this exercise is to reduce a computer OS’s contact to threats and to alleviate possible risk. OS hardening is one of the most significant steps toward thorough information security, since operating systems evolve over time and add more features and capabilities.

Windows hardening


Windows is packed with a collection of features, applications and software that ought to be properly configured to guarantee the system is as hardened as possible.

Secure installation

Windows 10 must be installed fresh on a system. It’s important to create or find an appropriate installation media for your Windows 10 system (a reliable USB drive, preferably).

Clean up unwanted programs

Even in fresh installations of Windows 10, a system is expected to have unnecessary programs installed, which expand the attack surface, making it easy for hackers to unleash attacks. Make sure you confirm that all installed programs are authentic and not bootlegged software, which could be filled with bloat and malware.

Encryption

It’s essential to encode hard drives. Windows 10 is equipped with BitLocker and hasan easy encryption process. Trusted Platform Module (TPM) must be empowered to encode with BitLocker. Advanced editions of Windows 10 are equipped with TPM aided by default, while secure boot should be used together with encryption, linking the hard drive to the system hardware and ensuring that only Microsoft-trusted firmware is used upon boot.

BIOS configuration

Windows 10 systems come laden with a Basic Input Output System (BIOS) like previous versions of Windows. The BIOS has a DOS-ish interface but doesn’t require wide-ranging coding experience to operate. Before working with the BIOS, research whether your Windows 10 variant has any BIOS configuration applicable to it, then configure away.

Linux hardening

Most systems have confidential data that should be protected. To do this, we need to protect our Linux system, by physically taking security measures to prevent unauthorized people from access the system in the first place. Then installation should be done properly, so a strong foundation is there. Finally, a set of common security measures need to be applied. Once it’s all done, your server or desktop system should be effectively secured.

Fundamental rules of system hardening

System hardening can be divided into a few core principles. These include the principle of least privilege, segmentation, and reduction.

Principe of least privilege

The principle of least privileges suggests that you give users and processes the bare minimum of consent to do their job. It is like granting a visitor access to a building. You could give full access to the building, including all sensitive areas. The other option is to only let your guest access a single floor where they need to be. The choice is easy, right?

Examples:

  • When read-only access is sufficient, don’t give write permissions
  • Don’t allow executable code in memory areas that are highlighted as data sections
  • Do not run applications as the root user, as an alternative use a non-privileged user account

Segmentation

The next principle is that you divide greater areas into smaller ones. If we look at that building again, we have split it into numerous floors. Each floor can be additionally divided into diverse regions. Perhaps you visitor is only permitted on floor 4, in the blue zone. If we interpret this to Linux security, this code would apply to memory usage. Each process can only access their own memory sections.

Reduction

The objective of this principle is to eliminate something that is not sternly needed for the system to work. It appears like the principle of least privilege, yet it focuses on averting something altogether.

Steps of system hardening

 

1.  Install security updates and patches
2.  Use strong passwords
3.  Bind processes to local host
4.  Implement a firewall
5.  Keep things clean
6.  Security configurations
7.  Limit access
8.  Monitor your systems
9.  Create backups (and test!)
10.  Perform system auditing

Conclusion

Contemporary computing environments are discrete infrastructures which need any organization to develop interruption finding plans for the servers. An organization must similarly update its computer arrangement plan when relevant changes occur. The environment will only work efficiently if the process is centralized. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon financial institutions to develop, execute and monitor suitable information security programs. Whether systems are maintained in-house or by a third-party vendor, appropriate security controls and risk management systems should be put into place.

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  • Security Updates
  • Windows hardening

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    Posted in Application Security

    Top 5 Application Security Best Practices

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    Top-5-Application-Security-Best-Practices

    By AMSAT Jan 11,2020

    Top 5 Application Security Best Practices

    As applications become more intricate and software development timelines narrow, developers are under pressure to trot out new features at the earliest. Consequently, developers count more profoundly on third-party libraries, mostly open-source components, to attain distinguished and convincing application functionality. This rise in open-source components drives companies to regulate their security practices. One of the ways organizations can protect their software is by espousing application security best practices and combining them into their software development life cycle.

     

    To this end, here are the top 10 application security best practices you should use in your organization.   

     

    1. Track Your Assets 

     

    You can’t secure what you don’t know you have. 

     

    Keeping track of your assets helps you preempt mishaps and disasters in the future. You should ensure you automate the process as much as possible, as it’s a Herculean task for organizations to continue to scale their development. As well as tracking your assets, take the time to categorize them, observing which ones are important to your business roles and which are of less importance. 

     

    2. Carry out a Threat Assessment

     

    Once you have a list of what needs to be protected, you can start to understand what your threats are and how to alleviate them. You also need to know the paths that cybercriminals use to breach your application, while ensuring you have the right security measures in place to spot or thwart an attack. At the same time, you also need to be realistic about expectations for how secure you can be. This implies that even if you take the highest level of defense available, nothing is ever unhackable. You also need to be truthful about what kind of measures you believe your team can maintain in the long term. 

     

    3. Patch your software with updates 

     

    Fixing your software with updates either from commercial vendors or the open-source community is one of the most significant initiatives you can take to ensure the security of your software. When a flaw is correctly exposed and reported to the owners of the product or project, the flaw is then published on security manuals and databases for public consumption. Developers may be cautious to upgrade to the latest version of the software if it could break your product, but automated tools can help enormously here. 

     

    4. Manage Your Containers

     

    Over the last few years, containers have gained immense traction as more organizations adopt the technology for its flexibility, making it easier to build, test, and arrange across several environments throughout the SDLC. 

     

    5. Prioritize Your Remediation Ops

     

    In recent years, vulnerabilities have seen a sharp rise, and this trend shows no sign of abating anytime soon. Developers have a hard time when it comes to remediation. Given the magnitude of the task at hand, prioritization is vital for teams that expect to keep their applications safe while upholding their rationality.

     

    Doing so requires carrying out a threat evaluation based on the severity of a flaw, how serious the affected application is to your operations, and many other factors. When it comes to open-source flaws, you ought to know whether your registered code is actually using the susceptible functionality in the open-source component. If the susceptible component’s functionality is not receiving calls from your product, then it is unproductive and not a high risk even if its CVSS rating is grave. A shrewd approach is one that automatically prioritizes the most demanding threats first, taking into account the factors at play, and leaves the low-risk ones for later.   

     

    Takeaway

     

    Staying ahead of cybercriminals is mostly circumventing the common errors that others are likely to make, making yourself a stiffer target to exploit than others. While no perimeter or application security measures are ever fully hack-proof, following these basic best practices goes a long way in making your application not worth the hassle for the hackers, thereby keeping you and your data safe for another day.

     

    TAGS

    • Cyber Security
    • Security Updates
    • Application Security

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