Hardening practices for configuration and vulnerability management

Linkedin 18-01-2022 a

Hardened images are part of Extreme Compute’s cloud workload protection. In accordance with CIS regulations, we conduct this as part of our healthy cloud compliance solution. Hardening ensures that the operating system of the virtual server is devoid of unneeded components, hence minimising the risk vector. Customers of Extreme Compute probably don’t require this information, as we already do it for them.. As a result, your developers are more productive and your company is able to save money.

In the event that you want to build your own cloud, the pain of establishing sufficient hardening policies should already be felt. It’s all about you. Following is a more in-depth look at how to protect images and the entire system. In addition to system hardening, we’ll give some best practises for configuration and vulnerability management.

As an organisation, you need to ensure that an application and its supporting infrastructure are adequately protected from misuse and attack vectors. Monitoring configuration changes and applying best practises for each delivery model is also important. Legal action, fines, reputational damage can all arise from a system breach.

All systems and networks should be configured in a hardened manner. There are a number of criteria that developers should follow to ensure that the application and the network and storage infrastructure are secure.

There are a variety of ways to harden a cloud-based application.

Cloud computing’s most popular delivery model, Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS), uses a combination of virtualized machines, storage volumes and network segmentation to deliver content. Securing or deactivating services, blocking ports, and locking down network configurations are all ways to harden a web application with this architecture.

Protecting your infrastructure using IAC Best Practices
Infrastructure as Code (IAC) is being used by some organisations, rather than IAAS. This strategy helps these organisations develop faster, utilise cloud services more effectively, and save operating expenses.

Containers are a type of virtual machine that can be used to run cloud-based applications. Virtual machines have many similarities, yet there are some important differences. Physical hosts can be partitioned to run as many separate virtual computers as desired by using hardware virtualization. As an alternative to this, virtualized containers are able to break down the OS into a series of smaller, more manageable units known as containers. Application data and libraries can be transferred to the host OS using this feature.

Containers can be thought of as having five layers:

  • The application’s code instructs the technology. Code written by others may be private, public, or proprietary; it’s possible.
  • For cloud applications, containers serve as single-purpose virtual machines.
  • Cluster: A dynamic system for the placement and management of containers in groups. Nodes run pods, which act as a means of connecting other nodes.
  • Worker computers managed by a Master. The pod-running components are located on this machine, whether it’s virtual or physical.
  • A container cluster’s trusted computing foundation, a cloud provider.

The memory, CPU, disc (block-level I/O), and operating system of the host are all utilised by containers. The security posture of a container runtime/worker host varies as a result of these features. Worker nodes that update worker hosts are managed by orchestration engines like Kubernetes. Customized host and cluster hardening should be carried out as a result.

IAC hardening should focus on:

  • Your apps and their development process.
  • Utilizing static scanning, create open-source applications.
  • Code repositories that are safe
  • A build procedure that is automated.
  • QA reporting that is generated automatically
  • Host hardening
  • Instantaneous scanning
  • Monitoring and corrective actions.
  • Using and enhancing security tools and practises.
  • Scanning of the host scanner for vulnerabilities

For the security of your company’s cluster components, the IaC hardening approach should be used.

  • Use TLS for all API communications.
  • Securing and enabling APIs
  • There is a limit on the amount of cluster resources that can be used
  • Security measures such as a password
  • Limits on how much data you can send over the internet
  • Access to cloud-based metadata is restricted.
  • The Node-Pod access is restricted.
  • Etcd auditing restrictions
  • Changes in IT credentialing
  • Analyzing access controls in the library
  • These are the codes used to decrypt data.

Control of the Configuration
More than just setting a number and moving on, configuration management is a complex process. By integrating compliance, change management, and operational software controls, your company can ensure that essential and non-critical systems are properly protected. Consider the following in your configuration management strategy:

Standards and guidelines for security:

  • Asset owners should be inspected on a yearly basis for compliance. The outcomes must be approved by the top leadership.
  • When it comes to ensuring compliance, automated technologies are more accurate than humans. Every month, Extreme Compute examines more than 50 cloud services in more than a million assets.
  • It is essential that automated tools and remediation technology also provide testing for technical compliance.
  • An impartial monitoring procedure should be in place for your firm. 

Change management programmes that focus on the following aspects of change management:

  • Changes to assets, applications, systems, networks, rules, or procedures must be monitored and regulated.
  • Equipment and software upgrades have made it more difficult to keep up.
  • In the event of a failure, have a backup plan in place and apply it.

Management of operations can be handled by operational software.

  • Do not allow everyone to further software or system updates
  • Incorporate programme allowlists that limit the code that is allowed to run.
  • Avoid End-of-life or limited support for software
  • Include programme allowlists so that only permitted code is allowed to run
  • Check for usability, security, and impact before going live.

Vulnerability Management
Vulnerability management should not be taken for granted at any point in time. Evil actors can take control of your system without it. A well-executed vulnerability management programme can prevent an attacker from inflicting harm.
An annual review of a vulnerability management programme should contain at least the following:

  • An inventory of assets and services
  • Ascertaining and resolving security vulnerabilities
  • testing systems, virtualized environments, and networked settings for internal and external vulnerabilities
  • Input validation for applications
  • Intrusion-detection technology
  • Uses signatures and behavioural change detection to identify malware.
  • Patch testing and evaluation prior to installation are included in this approach of patching.
  • Penetration testing on an annual basis by an independent team or firm
  • Inquiries into logs and computer systems
  • A post-fix vulnerability scan to see whether there are any remaining issues.

We can clearly detect a process of long-term hardening. It all relies on how the cloud is delivered and how it is used to compute. Hardening can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive operation if it isn’t done correctly or with the help of automation. You can tell us if you have any additional suggestions. Extreme Compute Cloud Protection can help you reclaim your weekends.

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