The concept of configuration hardening has nice imagery to it. When we use it to describe battle-hardened soldiers who have been tested in combat, a grim, determined image invariably leaps to mind. The same thing happens when we speak of hardened steel that’s been repeatedly quenched and tempered or of hardened fortifications and bunkers.
But what does this state of “being hardened” mean in the context of information systems? What do we mean when we talk about operating system hardening techniques to repel exploits and withstand intrusions? Much of this is captured in three simple concepts:
- Ensure a system’s security configurations are appropriately set given the job it needs to do.
- Ensure operating system software, firmware and applications are updated to stay ahead of exploits that attack flaws in the underlying code.
- Ensure this process runs continually, leveraging and employing as much automation as possible.
What is Configuration Hardening?
Configurations are, in an almost literal sense, the DNA of modern information systems. “Configuration settings” are the attributes and parameters that tell these systems—from servers to network devices and from databases to desktops and applications—how to act and how to behave.
Unfortunately, these systems are made to “do work” and not to “be secure.” In other words, they’re shipped infinitely capable but effectively insecure. Modern computer systems have over 1,000 well-known ports with which to get work done. They also have another 40,000 or so “registered” ports and yet another 20,000 or so “private” ports. These in turn support a vast number of services and processes.
There’s a nice analogy that helps us get our arms around this: If we translate a server’s “ports and processes and services” to the “doors and gates and windows” in a house, we see information systems as unimaginably large, fundamentally porous houses.
Security configuration (Read more...)
*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from The State of Security authored by Megan Freshley. Read the original post at: https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-data-protection/automation-action-proactively-hardening-systems-intrusion/