Upon installation, you must have noticed that software is notorious for providing default credentials such as username or password. These credentials are publicly known here and can easily be obtained with a simple Google Search. While the world is slowly moving away from these default credentials by needing organizations to define the credentials themselves, multiple organizations either have a defined strict password policy or set weak passwords serving no better purpose than the default one that the software provides.
Here, security hardening standards are used to prevent these weak or default credentials from being leaked into the environment. Therefore, let’s start with understanding what these are and why are they important for network application security.
What are Security Hardening Standards?
Security hardening systems are used to set a baseline of requirements for every system. And, as a new system is introduced to the environment, it should comply with the hardening standard. Moreover, one can find different industry standards that set the benchmarks for different applications and systems.
Now, system hardening is a method to help prevent cyberattacks. This is enabled by reducing vulnerabilities in servers, firmware, applications and other areas. This is achieved by using infrastructure and security management tools – they help in auditing all systems, detect potential attack vectors and minimize the attack surface.
Further, considering the impact of attacks on organizations, system hardening has become a strategic defence against these attacks as they close system loopholes that are frequently used by attackers to exploit the system and gain access to sensitive data. A few activities associated with system hardening are:
Ideally, a great place to start is by running vulnerability scans as they can reveal missing patches, security updates and unsecured ports that can prove to be the entry point for the attackers. Further, system hardening also needs that the default passwords of applications and services to be changed along with strict firewall rules to control or restrict traffic. Other things such as account lockout mechanisms and continuous compliance audits are performed.
Why is it important?
With system hardening, you can ensure that you minimize the risk of cyberattacks greatly. Moreover, configuration changes are one of the major reasons that lead to audit issues and security breaches that causes compliance drifts. Further, every time when a new user or server is added, and/ or a new application is installed, it creates opportunities for different vulnerabilities to arise.
Moreover, when organizations have multiple assets along with different configuration options, bringing every asset in line with the benchmark standards can take manual effort and time all while the potential to introduce new errors. And, since these are inevitable, one should take great care to ensure secure configuration and continuous compliance with the dynamic and ever-changing IT infrastructure. And, this can only be achieved by implementing automation tools to help in system hardening using continuous monitoring and auditing.