Next on our cloud security series, we’ll discuss ways to harden a new cloud system and ensure it’s configured in a manner that reduces threats and attacks from both internal and external sources. While the precise settings and measures for hardening your cloud system will differ from solution to solution, the fundamental processes required are similar, regardless of the technologies being hardened. A few of these essential hardening methods are:
- Remove all unneeded software and disable services from the system. Some operating systems and appliances found in various cloud marketplaces add extra services that are unnecessary and can add to your attack surface.
- Keep up with firmware and patch levels. Security holes are continuously found in both applications and firmware, and vendors release patches as fast as possible in order to react to these new vulnerabilities. With cloud, you don't have to worry about the underlying infrastructure firmware updates, but if you have implemented an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud solution, you will need to ensure you are patching your operating systems, applications and virtual appliances.
- Monitor and control account access. Unused accounts should be removed completely from your machine. For required active accounts, ensure users only have access to the resources they need.
- Change all default account names and passwords. Hackers are able to easily guess default login information, and if they obtain unauthorized access to a system, they and will already have half of the necessary data to access your new cloud service.
- Disable unnecessary network interfaces. If you deployed a new IaaS, you should also remove and disable entry points which could allow unauthorized traffic into your new cloud infrastructure.
- Deploy anti-virus and anti-malware. Guard your systems by adding an additional layer of protection. The best method of defense comes when any malicious traffic must pass through multiple layers before reaching its destination.
- Set up a host-based firewall. Protect against a wider range of threats and firewall failure. You may also want to and create application firewall settings for the hosts.
- Enable logging. When logging is enabled, intrusions can be identified and investigated.
Stay tuned for part four for more tips on cloud security!