7 Best Windows Server Hardening Checklist

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Regardless of the environment in which you’re releasing your windows servers, an appropriate approach is necessary to ensure the security and reliability aspects of deployment platforms. No windows servers are implemented with significant security aspects in the first place that we can directly shift into the production line. However, the Microsoft platform is working hard to enhance in-built windows server security measures in each release version.

This article contains ten checklists for the windows server hardening to stand still against the most common and threatening cyber-attack. Best practices may differ as per requirements, but referring to these ten aspects (that we mentioned) before deploying a Windows server on the internet will protect it from many possible loopholes. Many of these checklists can be applied to any server, Linux, but the remaining is specifically applicable to Windows servers.

Let’s start with the top-7 checklists or windows server hardening best practices.

Security of Organization:

The first step in keeping organisational security intact is by maintaining each server’s inventory record, baseline configuration, and alteration records to deal with cyber disasters. Audit each report and make a list of required changes, then test and validate each change proposal to server hardware and software before deploying them in the public domain. Follow routine risk assessment practice or automate this process, then use the results to update the strategy accordingly. Resolve the security loopholes. Furthermore, keep the maintenance revision level the same for all servers.

Windows Server Configuration:

While installing OS and hardening it, make sure that newly mounted machines have been protected from the unknown network traffic. Always keep a habit of hardening the server in a DMZ network that has not been crawled on the internet. Set the BIOS/firmware authorisation to prevent unwanted server startup setting-related changes. Do not save IOS and recovery console passwords on the browser. If yes, then disable it when encountered. Also, configure the windows device boot order to avoid unauthorised access from another channel.

While Installing Windows Server:

Always ensure that systems stay on. To create system configurations for a particular required role, use the security configuration wizard to make this process smooth. Security vulnerabilities can be a target of attackers. The attackers can take control of the entire enterprise system. Hence, applying stabler patches, hotfixes, and service packs with continuous maintenance becomes essential.

After the windows server installation is done, you need to ensure that the latest security patches have been applied to the system through SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) or WSUS (Windows Server Update Services) and should be analysed, tested, and connected in a proper time by them after the successful release of a patch. Organisations can also enable automatic notification of security patches whenever they are available.

Network Security Configurations:

While configuring network security measures, it is essential to ensure production servers contain static IP addresses and must be in a protected shell (meaning behind a firewall). Many servers’ database contains data redundancy; hence, configure around two DNS servers to double-check and validate entries stored in DNS and PTR by writing the “nslookup” command in the command prompt.

Any DNS changes can take hours to reflect the change across the internet. Therefore, you need to address this before releasing the window. Avoid enabling unnecessary servers to maintain the connectivity and disable the unrequired server like IPv6.

Registry Security Configuration:

Before configuring registry security measures, all administrators should have enough knowledge and understanding of its functions and each key’s purpose, such as fixing significant windows OS vulnerabilities.

• It allows setting registry permissions to protect the OS from unauthorised access.

• Set MaxCachedSockets (REG_DWORD), SmbDeviceEnabled (REG_DWORD), AutoShareServer, and AutoShareWks to 0.

• Delete each data entry from the NullSessionPipes and NullSessionShares keys.

Audit Policy Settings:

Windows audit policy defines the types of events mentioned in its security logs. Configure the event log retention method to overwrite the logging activity and scale it to 4 GB and SIEM to facilitate log monitoring activity.

System Finalizations:

Use GHOST or Clonezilla tools to make a clone of each OS to monitor and simplify the additional windows server installation and hardening activities in a particular area. Keep the windows servers up to date with the latest license key for taking advantage of the latest Windows versions. Finally, shift the server into the internet domain and apply selected domain group measures.

Conclusion:

Windows server is a crucial system for databases, active directory, mission-critical applications, cloud services and other essential components of the business IT landscape. Every organisation must follow auditing procedures for their windows or similar servers.

Enterprises that don’t have an IT operations team in place now have an option to outsource their server hardening services. That’s where CloudStakes Technology Pvt. Ltd – a leading Server Hardening Company in India, comes into the picture. We provide intelligent windows server hardening services and solutions to all organisations that meet their demands.

Write your server hardening requirements to us at sales@cloudstakes.com and get the best quotation within 24-48 hours. Or book a free 60 min of server hardening consultation with our cybersecurity experts.

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