The first article in this series examined configuration hardening, essentially looking at ports, processes and services as the “doors, gates and windows” into a network where security configuration management (SCM) becomes the job of determining which of these gateways should be open, closed, or locked at any given time. Now it’s time to look at application and version hardening.
What is System Hardening?
If configuration hardening settings are “conditional,” meaning they must find and keep that balance between security and productivity, then hardening against known vulnerabilities in applications and versions is much more black-and-white.
If an exploit path has been found in an operating system or application, the vendor rushes to create a patch or upgrade that removes the vulnerability. “Hardening” in this sense means “making sure the holes are known and that the most current security patches are deployed.”
One Way Hackers Exploit Known Vulnerabilities
To go back to our “secure house” analogy from the previous article in this series for a moment, imagine that the house I’m protecting has three external doors and that they all use Secure-A-Door Model 800 high-strength locks.
But a tester at the Secure-A-Door factory (or worse, a professional burglar) has just discovered an interesting thing: If you slide a credit card along the door jamb at 15 degrees while pulling up on the handle, the Secure-A-Door 800 pops open like a Coke can.
One of the most famous examples of this exploitation began in 2008. That’s when the makers of the Conficker worm discovered and exploited an underlying weakness in Port 445 of the Windows operating system.
The worm created a remote procedure call that dropped a DLL on the system, unloaded two distinct packets for data and code, and hid itself in a remote thread to make itself at home. (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/proactively-hardening-systems-application-version-hardening/