Reduce the attack surface of your computer through system hardening

Internet security.Laptop and opening safe deposit box's door.
Computers are capable of performing a seeming infinite amount of tasks. They are made to be adaptable and capable to open and execute many different programs and applications. Unfortunately this is also the reason why your machine may be susceptible to a malicious attack. Every application that is installed on your machine is door to your data and the network it resides on. If these applications are not kept up to date with patches, hot fixes and new versions, then these doors may be wide open to anyone strolling along the internet. Keeping up with the bad guys is a constant process.
Ever wonder why Adobe needs to be updated so much? In most cases it is not because there are new features to the application, but because they are trying to fix vulnerabilities in their code so that hackers do not take advantage of an application that is installed in nearly every organization. On April 5, 2016 Adobe released a security advisory citing a critical vulnerability in their latest version of Flash Player and any version previous to version  If you have been ignoring an adobe update for the past few weeks, make sure to update it now. This is not a new issue for Adobe’s Flash player. If you do not use Adobe Flash, delete it from your system. Don’t just delete Adobe though, delete anything that you don’t use frequently.
A large part of system hardening is deciding what applications that you use and what you can delete. If your computer is for work purposes, this may already be done for you by your system admin. If not, you should go through your programs under “Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Programs and Features” and uninstall anything you don’t use frequently. If you need to use the application you can always install the latest version which will be safer than falling behind on patches and updates. Watch out for add-ons when you install a new browser such as Adobe or Chrome. Often times you must remove the check mark on a box if you do not want a Yahoo toolbar or some other program installed along with what you were intending on installing. This is another good reason to skim through your installed programs, you never know what piggybacked onto your latest installed program that needs to be removed.
By removing unwanted programs, you are decreasing the “attack surface” of your machine. By removing these programs you are making it very difficult for a hacker to find a vulnerability in your system. System hardening and regular virus scans can help to ensure that your data and your company’s data stays secure.
For more information about our system hardening procedures and keeping your companies data secure, Contact ITDATA today.
Zachery Albeitawi
Help Desk Technician, ITDATA, Inc.