System hardening is akin to removing unnecessary doors from a house. The more doors you have, the more risk of unauthorized entry exists. The same goes for computer systems and system/server images. The goal of hardening a system is to remove any unnecessary functionality and to configure what is left in a secure manner.  Every application, service, driver, feature, and setting installed or enabled on a system can introduce vulnerabilities. Unsecured ports, redundant programs, multiple administrative accounts, unmonitored guest access, and unused services increase security risk. By removing these, companies can secure “doors” and reduce risk.

Our system hardening practices includes:

Server Hardening and OS Hardening:

This strategy focuses on securing the operating system of a workstation or server. An operating system can be hardened by automating its updates and patches. While operating systems are also a form of software, operating system hardening differs from regular application hardening in that the software here is responsible for granting permissions to other applications.

Operating system hardening methods include:

  • Applying the latest updates released from the operating system developers
  • Enabling built-in security features such as Microsoft Defender or using 3rd party EPP/EDR software
  • Deleting unneeded drivers and updating the ones that are used
  • Restricting the peripherals that are allowed to be connected
  • Encrypting the host drive using a hardware TPM
  • Enabling Secure Boot
  • Restricting system access privileges
  • Using biometrics or FIDO authentication on top of passwords

Additional methods for hardening server systems include:

  • Establishing a strong password policy
  • Protecting sensitive data with AES encryption or self-encrypting drives
  • Implementing firmware resilience technology and multi-factor authentication

Application Software Hardening

This involves implementing software-based security measures to protect any standard or third-party application installed on a server. While server hardening seeks to secure the overall server system by design, an application hardening focuses on securing specific applications, such as web browsers, spreadsheet programs, or custom software.

Application hardening techniques may include:

  • Allowing installation only from trusted application repositories such as the Microsoft Store
  • Automated patches of standard and third-party applications
  • Firewalls, antivirus, and malware or spyware protection programs
  • Software-based data encryption
  • Password encryption and management applications

Network Hardening

This approach secures the communication infrastructure for multiple systems and servers. It can be achieved through attaining a hardened network state by implementing an intrusion prevention or detection system (IPS/IDS), which identifies suspicious network traffic.

These network hardening methods, when combined with an IPS or IDS, can help reduce the network’s attack surface:

  • Proper configuration of network firewalls
  • Audits of network rules and access privileges
  • Disabling unneeded network ports and network protocols
  • Disabling unused network services and devices
  • Network traffic encryption
  • Intrusion prevention and detection systems (IPS/IDS)

Database Hardening

This is the process of securing the contents of a digital database as well as the database management system (DBMS), which allows users to store and analyze the data in the database.

Database hardening techniques may include:

  • Restricting administrative privileges
  • Implementing role-based access control (RBAC) policies
  • Maintaining regular software updates for the database and DBMS
  • Restricting unnecessary database functions
  • Locking database accounts with suspicious login activity

Our team is experienced to provide system hardening services to achieve compliance with relevant policies, guidelines and recognized benchmarks e.g. Operating System hardening should occur any time a new system, application, appliance, or any other device is introduced into any environment. A hardening process helps establish a baseline of system functionality and security.