Join Lisa Bock for an in-depth discussion in this video Hardening: Updates and patching, part of IT Security Foundations: Operating System Security.
When we talk about protecting the server, there's a number of things that we can do to do what's called hardening the operating system. We know in any system, there are a number of threats that come from any number of sources, such as hackers or malware. Also, maybe the administrator is not monitoring for signs of intrusion, or even an inside threat such as a disgruntled employee. We can take steps to do what's called hardening an operating system. Hardening an operating system minimizes exposures to threats. Remember, any security system, we have a layered approach so we have to do a number of different steps in order to ensure we minimize our exposure to the overall threat landscape.
There are some things that are just considered good practice, such as use antivirus and antispyware protection. We always want to use this, no matter what. Remember, activate real-time protection. Secure your email systems to minimize threats. We know that a lot o the malware comes through the email system so we want to ensure that that is secure. Periodically, conduct risk assessments to see if there are any vulnerabilities that can be exploited. We want to make sure that you use, and everyone that you work with uses strong passwords or passphrases.
We want to ensure complexity in length. Also, a good practice is to simply lock the computer when you step away so that someone won't be able to gain access to your system once you've logged in. Also, think before downloading and installing any free software or utility. One of the things that happens in a system, either in an operating system or, in some cases, software, there's what's called updates and patches. Whenever you have software or an operating system, periodically, you should download and install the latest manufacturer's patches, also, updates that are available that possibly would come at a predefined time.
If you have a server operating system, you could use Windows Server Update Services. I'm here in Windows 7 and as you can see, I'm at the Download Center. Here, you can see where you can download the Windows Server Update Services and delivers updates to corporate environments from Microsoft Update. Some server operating systems automatically do this, but as you can see here, we can download and install this to continuously update with the latest from Microsoft. There's also what's called a Service Pack.
A Service Pack is a combination of updates, bug fixes, and security fixes that have taken place over a length of time. How you can check to see if you have a service pack is by going into the computer and I'm going to simply right click and go to Properties. Here, we can see that it says Service Pack 1. The last thing is disabled unneeded applications. Periodically, you've downloaded and installed an application but you find you really don't need it.
It's best to disable this or even uninstall an unneeded application. We also want to ensure that you disable any nonessential services that do not interfere with the functionality of your operating system. When you disable or uninstall unnecessary applications or nonessential services, this helps, again, to reduce the size of the attack surface. We're going to go into the Control Panel, Programs, and Programs and Features and see if there are some programs that we might want to uninstall.
I'm in Windows 7 and I'll go into the Control Panel. I'll click on Programs and Features and here we see "Uninstall or change a program". Hm. Big Fish Game Manager. Well, I think I don't want that on my system, and I'm going to uninstall it. I'm going to right click and say Uninstall. Again, this will help to reduce the attack surface of your operating system. Turn Windows Features on or off, we can select this and this will populate the features that are available in the Windows operating system.
As you can see, there are a number of things that we can do to harden an operating system.
Note: This training maps to a number of the exam topics on the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Security Fundamentals exam (98-367). See https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-98-367.aspx for more information.
- Creating strong passwords
- Understanding biometric security
- Adjusting permission behavior
- Enabling auditing
- OS hardening
- Using the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer
- Protecting email