Prevention of security breaches is always seen as the best approach to protecting key data assets. Hardening a server in line with acknowledged best practices in secure configuration is still the most effective means of protecting your Server data.
Deriving the right checklist for your Server 2008 estate requires an iterative process, starting with an ‘off the shelf’ hardening checklist and comparing this to your current hardened build standard for Server 2008.
There will be discrepancies, for example, a decision will need to be made on settings to adopt such as Password Length. Some checklist authorities recommend an 8 character minimum, others 12 characters, and in fact, Server 2008 R2 allows up to 24 characters to be used. Password length and complexity significantly strengthen security – a typical brute force attack on a system with a 7 character password will take on average just 4 days to crack. An 8 character password with complexity i.e. including symbols, will take on average 23 years.
Server Hardening Policy background
Any server deployed in its default state will naturally be lacking in even basic security defenses. This leaves it vulnerable to compromise. A standard framework for your server security policy should include the following attributes defining password, local user accounts and the Windows Audit and Security policies. This sample Server 2008 hardening checklist will help to get your server more secure but please see also the sample Server 2008 services hardening checklist and FIM policy.
And, if you want to make life simpler…
NNT Change Tracker Enterprise provides an automated tool for auditing servers, firewalls, router and other network devices for compliance with a full range of hardened build checklists. Once a hardened build baseline has been established, any drift from compliance with the required build standard will be reported. To enhance security protection further, Change Tracker also provides system-wide, real-time file integrity monitoring for detecting any Trojan, backdoor or other malware infiltrating a secure server.