Server hardening is a necessary process. And it’s a neverending one. From the moment you pull the machine out of the box (or create it in the virtual environment), it pays to be thinking about security. But server hardening can do more than keep your machine safe. It will help with performance, and it can even play a part in keeping your machine online and available.
Server Hardening is the process of enhancing server security through a variety of means which results in a much more secure server operating environment. This is due to the advanced security measures that are put in place during the server hardening process.Server Hardening reducesthe increasing amount of dynamically emerging cyberattacks, information systems and servers especially need to get hardened.
Server Hardening, probably one of the most important tasks to be handled on your servers, becomes more understandable when you realize all the risks involved. The default configuration of most operating systems is not designed with security as the primary focus. Instead, default setups focus more on usability, communications and functionality. To protect your servers, you must establish solid and sophisticated server hardening policies for all servers in your organization. Developing a server hardening checklist would likely be a great first step in increasing your server and network security. Make sure that your checklist includes minimum security practices that you expect of your staff. If you go with a consultant you can provide them with your server hardening checklist to use as a baseline.
◊ Server Hardening Guidelines
Every server security conscious organization will have their own methods for maintaining adequate system and network security. Often you will find that server hardening consultants can bring your security efforts up a notch with their specialized expertise.
Some of the common server hardening guidelines includes:
- Use Data Encryption for your Communications.
- Avoid using insecure protocols that send your information or passwords in plain text.
- Minimize unnecessary software on your servers.
- Disable Unwanted SUID and SGID Binaries.
- Keep your operating system up to date, especially security patches.
- Using security extensions is a plus.
- User Accounts should have very strong passwords.
- Change passwords on a regular basis and do not reuse them.
- Lock accounts after too many login failures. Often these login failures are illegitimate. attempts to gain access to your system.
- Do not permit empty passwords.
- SSH Hardening.
- Change the port from default to a nonstandard one.
- Disable direct root logins. Switch to root from a lower level account only when necessary.
- Unnecessary services should be disabled.
- Hide BIND DNS Sever Version and Apache version.
- Minimize open network ports to be only what is needed for your specific circumstances.
- Configure the system firewall (Iptables) or get a software installed like CSF or APF. Proper setup of a firewall itself can prevent many attacks.
- Consider also using a hardware firewall.
- Separate partitions in ways that make your system more secure.
- Disable unwanted binaries.
- Maintain server logs; mirror logs to a separate log server.
- Install Log watch and review logwatch emails daily. Investigate any suspicious activity on your server.
- Use brute force and intrusion detection systems.
- Install Linux Socket Monitor Detects/alerts when new sockets are created on your system, often revealing hacker activity.
- Install Mod security as Webserver Hardening.
- Hardening the Php installation.
- Limit user accounts to accessing only what they need. Increased access should only be on an as per requirement basis.
- Maintain proper backups.
- Don’t forget about physical server security
Computers are just machines. They need to be treated with care and not abused. Streamlining services, restricting access, and limiting vulnerabilities will make your server healthier and you happier. If you don’t harden your server now, you may very well be sorry in the long run.