What Is Hardening in Cyber Security and Why It’s Important


“What is hardening in cyber security?” you may ask. Well, sit tight because this is going to be one interesting journey.

In the early 2000s, while browsing a fledgling internet, a friend of mine once casually clicked on a pop-up ad (yes, they were a nuisance even back then). The next moment, his PC was hijacked by ransomware. This was the time when the concept of cyber security was still in its diapers.

Fast forward to today, with the surge in cyber threats, the internet landscape feels like the Wild West, and the stakes have never been higher. The need for robust cyber security measures? It’s not just a need, it’s an imperative.


Hardening in Cyber Security

Now, when we talk about fortifying our digital territories, what comes to your mind? Probably some fancy firewalls or antiviruses. But let’s dive a bit deeper. Hardening, in cyber security parlance, is the act of beefing up your system’s defenses.

Think of it like a castle: in medieval times, kings didn’t just rely on their walls; they had moats, watchtowers, and guards. They hardened their defenses.

Historically, computer systems were built for functionality, not security. The concept of hardening comes from the realization that functionalities can be exploited.

So, over time, just like those ancient castles, we’ve learned to add multiple layers of defense to our systems.


Methods and Techniques of Hardening

Operating System Hardening

Did you know that most attacks exploit vulnerabilities in the operating system? This is where hardening kicks in.

  • Patch management: It’s like those software updates that most people ignore. By updating, you’re patching vulnerabilities. I recall an instance where a major company (let’s keep them anonymous for the sake of their blushes) ignored a minor OS update. A hacker exploited this vulnerability and resulted in data leakage worth millions!
  • Minimization: Do you have apps or services on your computer that you no longer use? It’s time to bid them goodbye. Every additional application is a potential risk. It’s like having an unused door in your house – why have it if it can be a potential entry for thieves?
  • Configuration changes: Remember the time when ‘password’ and ‘123456’ were actual passwords people used? Configuring proper user access and ensuring appropriate file permissions is the first step to avoid such rookie mistakes.


Network Hardening

Your computer’s operating system is essential, but think about the vast expanse of the internet it connects to.

  • Firewalls and intrusion detection/prevention systems: These are your first line of defense. Just like a vigilant guard who checks everyone entering a building, these tools monitor and control the incoming and outgoing traffic.
  • Securing network devices and traffic: Ever used public Wi-Fi? A hacker can set up a fake Wi-Fi hotspot, and if your device connects to it, they can potentially access your data. Securing network devices ensures you’re connecting to legit networks.


Application Hardening

Every app you use, from your banking app to your favorite pizza delivery app, needs to be secure.

  • Secure coding practices: This is the responsibility of developers. They need to ensure the app isn’t vulnerable to attacks. In 2013, a minor coding flaw in a popular social media platform allowed a hacker to gain unauthorized access to user accounts. That’s how critical secure coding is!
  • Regular vulnerability assessments and penetration tests: Think of this as a routine medical checkup but for applications. It’s about finding and fixing vulnerabilities before the bad guys exploit them.


Database Hardening

Your data, from those embarrassing college photos to crucial bank details, resides here.

  • Encryption techniques: This is about converting your data into a code to prevent unauthorized access. If a hacker manages to break into a system, encryption ensures they see gibberish instead of your data.
  • Proper user access control: Not everyone should have access to all data. Just as you wouldn’t let a stranger into your home, you should be careful about who has access to what data.


Importance of Hardening in Today’s Cyber Landscape

Preventing Data Breaches

We’ve all heard about major companies suffering data breaches. Beyond the financial losses, it’s the loss of trust that hits harder. According to a report, businesses that suffer major data breaches see a significant dip in their stock prices, and the recovery is slow.

Regulatory Compliance

With regulations like GDPR and CCPA, companies aren’t just morally but legally obliged to protect user data. Non-compliance? Well, that’s a hefty fine waiting to be paid.

Protecting Brand Reputation

Imagine trusting a brand for years, only to find out your data was compromised because of their negligence? That trust, once broken, is challenging to regain. Brands have lost loyal customers due to such oversights.

Financial Implications

Cyber attacks come with a price tag. And it’s not just about paying ransoms or fines. The aftermath involves PR to mend reputation, compensation to affected parties, and investment in security.


Best Practices and Recommendations

  • Routine vulnerability assessments: Stay proactive. Don’t wait for an attack to realize there’s a vulnerability.
  • Employee training and awareness: The best security system can be bypassed by one naive click from an unaware employee.
  • Staying updated with the latest threats and hardening techniques: The cyber realm evolves rapidly. Yesterday’s security protocol might be today’s vulnerability.



The virtual realm is as tangible and perilous as our physical world. Just as we instinctively lock our doors, steer clear of shadowed alleyways, and remain vigilant, our digital counterparts must embody a similar level of caution.

Grasping the concept of “what is hardening in cyber security” is the initial move towards a fortified digital journey. But remember, reading is merely the beginning.

As you ponder over auditing your digital assets and reinforcing your defenses, remember that expertise is just a call away.

Contact Sertainty and explore how we can be the cornerstone of your data privacy security. In this vast digital expanse, let Sertainty be the beacon guiding you towards safe harbors. Don’t just surf—surf with certainty.



What is hardening in cybersecurity?

Hardening in cybersecurity refers to the process of securing a system by reducing its surface of vulnerability. This is achieved by configuring the system to eliminate unnecessary functions, closing off unused ports, and implementing strict access controls, thereby making it more difficult for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities.

Why is hardening important for protecting IT systems?

Hardening is crucial because it minimizes the potential entry points for attackers, thus protecting systems against unauthorized access and cyber threats. By removing non-essential services, applying security patches, and enforcing security policies, hardening helps in maintaining the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of IT systems.

What are some common techniques used in system hardening?

Common techniques used in system hardening include updating and patching software, disabling unused services and ports, encrypting data storage and communications, using strong authentication mechanisms, and configuring firewalls and antivirus software to defend against threats.

How does hardening impact system performance?

While hardening can sometimes impact system performance by disabling certain services, the trade-off is generally beneficial in terms of enhanced security. Administrators must balance security needs with performance requirements, ensuring that critical services run efficiently while maintaining robust security measures.

Can hardening guarantee complete security of systems?

No, hardening does not guarantee complete security, but it significantly reduces the risk of cyber attacks by limiting the number of vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Regular audits, continuous monitoring, and updating of security measures are essential to complement hardening efforts and adapt to evolving cyber threats.