Checklist for securing and hardening your cloud server .

Checklist for securing and hardening your cloud server .

Photo by Collin Armstrong on Unsplash

The method of safeguarding a computer system by minimising its attack surface is known as cloud server hardening. This involves deactivating unneeded services and applications, blocking open network ports, modifying default settings, and so forth. The attack surface of online applications is further influenced by the configuration of all underlying operating systems, databases, network devices, application servers, and web servers. This article investigates approaches to system hardening and demonstrates what security precautions you may use to make your web applications secure.

Cloud server hardening checklist

The key part of protecting a web application is server hardening. Not just web servers and application servers, but also database and file servers, cloud storage systems, and interfaces to any other systems are included. Begin by uninstalling or deactivating unneeded software and services (particularly file-sharing services such as FTP) and blocking all unused ports. Reduce administrative access channels — delete or disable a server’s web-based administrative interface if you exclusively use SSH sessions to administer it.

Another critical part of system hardening is network security. If your infrastructure relies on physical network devices, update all default settings and credentials and keep firmware up to date to reduce exposure to known defects and vulnerabilities. Use access lists to restrict data and system access, and encrypt communications as needed.

Patching is critical at all levels of software and hardware, therefore make sure to always deploy the most recent security updates after evaluating them outside of the production environment. To keep systems up to date, it’s a good idea to automate the updating process and produce notifications regarding out-of-date items.

Configuration Hardening — File Integrity Monitoring

On the issue of agent-based vs agentless scanning technologies, another restriction of scanning appliances is that they can only ever do a snapshot evaluation of the item in question. While this is an useful approach to ensure that the device is compliant with a configuration hardening best practices checklist, there is no way to ensure that the filesystem has not been hacked, for example, by a Trojan or other malware. Only by combining continuous compliance evaluation with real-time breach detection can you ensure that systems are safe — and remain secure — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Configuration Hardening Procedure

Configuration hardening, like patching, should be done at least once a month — it is not a once-and-done task.

Every day, new vulnerabilities are identified. Frequently, it is a novel exploit of an existing known vulnerability. As a result, renewing your systems’ compliance with hardened configuration recommendations must be done on a regular and frequent basis.

Changes are done all the time in a typical IT environment to improve IT services. New apps or updates to existing ones, new users, and new devices all necessitate modifications to a hardened system, any of which may have a detrimental effect on the device’s intrinsic security.

Given that every checklist can often contain 200 to 400 measures, ensuring that all hardening measures are consistently and constantly executed must be an automated procedure.

Configuration Hardening and Vulnerability Management

Quick diversion — It is critical to distinguish between software-based vulnerabilities that must be patched and configuration-based vulnerabilities that can only be addressed by using hardened settings. A hardening programme is all about achieving a hardened, secure build standard, which ensures a consistent and basic degree of security.

Configuration hardening is a particularly difficult task since the amount to which you can harden is dependent on your environment, applications, and working patterns. Removing web and ftp services from a server, for example, is an excellent, fundamental hardening strategy. However, if the host is required to operate as a web server, this is not a practical hardening solution.

Similarly, if you require network access to the host, you must open firewall ports and activate terminal server or ssh services on the host; otherwise, these should always be withdrawn or disabled to assist secure the host.

Why server hardening is important

Security and compliance need server hardening. It is significant because the attack surface of a company’s or individual’s network is one of the most vulnerable points to assaults. Hackers, viruses, and other cyber threats may be able to access sensitive information within a company via entry points on the attack surface. Companies can lessen their exposure to cyber risks and the possibility of a cyber threat obtaining access to their network by hardening their systems.

What are some server hardening standards

Several groups in the technology sector have developed system hardening standards or guidelines. These guidelines frequently contain a section on recommended practises for firms attempting to adopt system hardening successfully. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), for example, advises the following as best practises for system hardening:

  • Developing a system security strategy
  • removing or deactivating services, network protocols, and applications that your firm no longer requires
  • Patching or updating the operating systems on your network
  • Setting up resource controls
  • Encryption and authentication techniques are used.

Best practices for server hardening

Here are some pointers for properly integrating server hardening into your company’s technological systems and devices.

Use automation wherever possible

Automate as many of your organization’s computer equipment, systems, activities, and apps as feasible. Some applications and operating systems have capabilities that allow them to automatically update or install fixes as soon as they are published. Enable as many of these automated procedures as feasible to assist guarantee that your whole network is as safe as possible at all times.

Evolve your system hardening techniques

Recognize that your system hardening requirements and strategies may need to alter over time. Cyber threats and attackers may update their approaches on a regular basis in order to more successfully breach networks. At the same time, your company’s network structure, processes, or priorities may change as it develops, changes, or grows. To provide your workers and organization with the finest cyber protection, treat system hardening as a continuous activity rather than a one-time exercise.

Did you find this article valuable?

Support Cyber Aeronautycs Ltd. Blog by becoming a sponsor. Any amount is appreciated!