How to reduce your attack surface with system hardening


In most cases, new digital assets such as servers and operative systems, comes in a non configured status. When you install an asset, everything is predetermined. All the app services are activated and all the ports are open. At the same time, mosto f the new assetsare not completely updated, they often require multiple software and firmware updates. Here is where the System hardening comes in.

System hardening is the process of configuring an asset according to the top security practices to reduce it’s vulnerability from cyberattacks. The process means to reduce the “surface attack” of the asset, disabling services, user accounts and unnecessary ports.

The purpose of System hardening is simple. The less the Surface attack of an asset is, that is to say less points of entry, the harder will be for a hacker to obtain a unauthorized access.

Establishment of a system reinforcement baseline

One of the most important steps in system hardening is to establish a baseline. This requires an initial evaluation of the “hardness” of the system in front of an established better practice frame.

In a recent publishing, we discussed about the function and importance of reference points from Center for Internet Security (CIS). The reference points of CIS are a set of configuration standards for better practices developed in consensus with a wide range of cybersecurity experts.

With over 100 comparable evaluations avalilable for a wide range of common commercial technologies the CIS comparable evaluations are the worldwide accepted standard for secure configuration. This makes them an ideal option for system hardening.

A baseline identification requires a manual evaluations or assisted by assets and system solutions to see how close they line up with relevant CIS reference points. This initial evaluation, along with clear documentation of any area in which the configuration does not reach a reference point, becomes a baseline.

Why is System hardening so important?

The system reinforcement is an essential function both for security and compliance.

From a security point of view, System hardening is an essential precursor of protective technologies like firewalls and EDR’s. If a system is not reinforced enough, meaning that is not configured and kept according to the best cybersecurity practices, it will never be safe, no matter how much you spend on cybersecurity technologies.

Make sure that every system stay “hardened” at all times by providing an alert and a clear remediation guide each time there is a non-compliance problem.