Checklist for Securing & Hardening your Server Environment

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This general security checklist can serve as a starting point for organizations to improve the security of their servers and environment. As the technology behind cyber security is always evolving, it is important to regularly maintain and upgrade their security systems.

Manage Server Access

  • Don't forget physical server security
  • Manage access to your servers
    • only allow trusted personnel
    • keep staff informed/trained

Minimize the External Footprint

Patch Vulnerabilities

  • Keep Browsers & Plugins updated
  • Update the OS & other applications

Minimize Attack Surface

  • Minimize unnecessary software on your servers
  • Install on a Windows Server Core
  • Remove unnecessary operating system components
  • Unnecessary services should be disabled
  • Component/Feature Management - Add what you need, remove what you don't


Know What's Happening

  • Audit access permissions & access changes
  • Maintain server logging
    • Mirror logs to a separate log server
  • Scans/Audits of the server - check for malware/hacks


Establish Communications

Minimize User Access Permissions

  • Group permissions by role
  • Limit user account access
  • Manage Security Considerations of Directory accounts, e.g. AD Account Security (external link)
  • Elevated access should only be on an as-needed basis
  • Delete unnecessary OS users

Further Hardening / Protecting Credentials

  • Use Security applications, such as anti-virus/anti-malware
    • Choose reputable, well-known, well-tested
  • Keep Security applications updated
  • Use very strong passwords, especially for Administrative passwords
  • Change passwords periodically and do not reuse them
  • Change regular account names from 'admin' or 'guest'
  • Lock accounts after too many login failures. These could be illegitimate attempts to gain access.
    • Note: be careful with setting LDAP/AD directories lockout policies, as some configurations could become lockout-prone/problematic.
  • Use auto-lock OS features

Backup Plans

  • Maintain proper backups
  • Use non-elevated account privileges where possible

Prevent Time Drift

  • Keep server clock in-sync

Harden Remote Sessions

  • Secure and monitor SSH
    • Change the port from default
    • Disable elevated privileges where possible
    • Use non-elevated account privileges where possible




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