Windows 10 Hardening (Part II)

Using the Security Compliance Manager

SCM 4.0 provides ready-to-deploy policies based on Microsoft Security Guide recommendations and industry best practices, allowing you to easily manage configuration drift, and address compliance requirements for Windows operating systems and Microsoft applications.


Update baselines


Windows 10 Hardening (Part I)

Using the STIG templates

Just like in previous version of Windows, some of the requirements in the Windows 10 STIG depend on the use of additional group policy administrative templates that are not included with Windows by default. The new administrative template files (.admx and .adml file types) must be copied to the appropriate location in the Windows directory to make the settings they provide visible in group policy tools.

This includes settings under MS Security Guide, MSS (Legacy), and the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) tool. The MSS settings have previously been made available through an update of the Windows security options file (sceregvl.inf). This required a change in permissions to that file, which is typically controlled by the system. A custom template was developed to avoid this.

The custom template files (MSS-Legacy and SecGuide) are provided in the Templates directory of the STIG package. The EMET administrative template files are located in the tool’s installation directory, typically “\Program Files (x86)\EMET x.x\Deployment\Group Policy Files\”.

The .admx files must be copied to the \Windows\PolicyDefinitions\ directory. The .adml files must be copied to the \Windows\PolicyDefinitions\en-US\ directory.

NOTE: EMET’s end of life date is being extended until July 31, 2018a and at this time there are no plans to offer support or security patching for EMET that date. For improved security, everyone should migrate to the latest version of Windows 10. EMET 5.5 is compatible with current versions of Windows 10 but according to this article, it won’t be compatible with future versions of the latest Microsoft OS.

Before the installation of the STIG templates, Windows 10 Enterprise has:

  • 2283 Computer configuration settings
  • 1731 User configuration settings



Linux Hardening with OpenSCAP

The OpenSCAP project is a collection of open source tools for implementing and enforcing this standard, and has been awarded the SCAP 1.2 certification by NIST in 2014. The project provides tools that are free to use anywhere you like, for any purpose.

The OpenSCAP basic tools are:

  • OpenSCAP Base
    • Provides a command line tool which enables various SCAP capabilities such as displaying the information about specific security content, vulnerability and configuration scanning, or converting between different SCAP formats.
  • SCAP Workbench
    • User friendly graphical utility offering an easy way to tailor SCAP content to your needs, perform local or remote scans, and export results.

Linux Hardening with OpenVAS

The Open Vulnerability Assessment System (OpenVAS) is a framework of several services and tools offering a comprehensive and powerful vulnerability scanning and management solution.


    The security scanner is accompanied with a regularly updated feed of Network Vulnerability Tests (NVTs), over 51,000 in total (as of February 2017).

    OpenVAS Features

    The OpenVAS security suite consists of three parts:

    • OpenVAS Scanner
      • The actual scanner that executes the real-time vulnerability tests;
      • It can handle more than one target host at a time;
      • Uses the OpenVAS Transfer Protocol (OTP);
      • OTP supports SSL.
    • OpenVAS Manager
      • Handles the SQL Database where all scanning results and configurations are stored;
      • Controls the scanner via OTP and offers XML based OpenVAS Management Protocol (OMP);
      • It can stop, pause or resume scanning operations;
      • Makes user management possible including group level management and access control management.
    • OpenVAS CLI
      • Command line tool acting as a client for OMP.

    Linux Hardening with Lynis

    Lynis is a powerful open source auditing tool for Unix/Linux like operating systems. It scans the system for security information, general system information, installed software information, configuration mistakes, security issues, user accounts without password, wrong file permissions, firewall auditing, etc.

    Lynis is also one of the most trusted automated auditing tools for software patch management, malware scanning and vulnerability detecting in Unix/Linux based systems. This tool is useful for auditors, network and system administrators, security specialists and penetration testers.

    Installing Lynis in Ubuntu

    This application doesn’t require any installation, it can be used directly from any directory. So, it’s a good idea to create a custom directory for Lynis:

    sudo mkdir /usr/local/lynis

    Download the stable version of Lynis from the website and unpack it:

    cd /usr/local/lynis

    sudo wget https://cisofy.com/files/lynis-2.4.0.tar.gz


    Linux Hardening with Tiger

    Tiger is a security tool that can be used both as a security audit and as an IDS. It supports multiple UNIX platforms and it is free and provided under a GPL license.


      Check all the details on the official website.

      Installing Tiger in Ubuntu

      Install the application by running the command:

      sudo apt-get install tiger


      Windows 7 Hardening (Part II)

      Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit

      EMET is a free tool built to offer additional security defenses against vulnerable third party applications and assorted vulnerabilities. EMET helps prevent vulnerabilities in software from being successfully exploited by using security mitigation technologies. These technologies function as special protections and obstacles that an exploit author must defeat to exploit software vulnerabilities. These security mitigation technologies work to make exploitation as difficult as possible to perform but do not guarantee that vulnerabilities cannot be exploited.

      Download the tool here


      and the User’s guide here.


      Windows 7 Hardening (Part I)

      Using Microsoft Security Baseline Analyzer

      Download MSBA 2.3. Install it and start a default scan on your Windows machine:


      Typical results:


      • Analyze the report and the proposed solutions.
      • Enable the IIS Windows feature.
      • Repeat the MSBA scan
      • Analyze the new report an compare it with the previous one.

      System Hardening

      System hardening refers to providing various means of protection in a computer system, eliminating as many security risks as possible. This is usually done by removing all non-essential software programs and utilities from the computer. While these programs may offer useful features to the user, they might provide "back-door" access to the system and thus must be removed to improve system security.

      Extended system protection should be provided at various levels and is often referred to as defense in depth. Protecting in levels means to protect at the host layer, the application layer, the operating system layer, the data layer, the physical layer and all the sub layers in between. Each one of these layers requires a unique method of security.


      Security Content Automation Protocol

      SCAP is a method for using commonly accepted standards to enable automated vulnerability management and security policy compliance metrics. It started as a collection of specifications originally created by the US government which are now an industry standard.

      It was developed through the cooperation and collaboration of public and private sector organizations, including government, industry and academia, but the standard is still maintained by the the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.


      Benefits of SCAP

      Automated tools that use SCAP specifications make it easier to continuously verify the security compliance status of a wide variety of IT systems. The use of standardized, automated methods for system security management can help organizations operate more effectively in complex, interconnected environments and realize cost savings.