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Essential 8 strategy 4 – user application hardening

Last updated 9 March 2023

Would you know how to harden your operating system? What about how to test to see if your operating environment is secure? These are some of the questions to consider when protecting your operating system against attacks.

Strategy 4 – user application hardening

An operating system is essentially the backbone of a device. It manages all the apps, hardware and software to make sure the device runs properly.

Hardening your apps and operating system means that you're adding layers of security to make it more difficult for cybercriminals to break into your device.

You can harden your apps and systems by:

  • installing all software updates – using outdated software versions can make your system vulnerable to cyber-attacks
  • using a standard operating environment, meaning all computers should run on the same software, reducing the set-up changes users can make to their own computers
  • controlling the types of apps that are installed and used in your operating system
  • reviewing the apps and functions enabled on your system to make sure they're all needed and removing any that are no longer used or required
  • managing who can make system changes like installing/uninstalling software
  • using software firewalls to limit inbound and outbound network connections to approved apps and services
  • having anti-virus software in place
  • considering the need for software that can prevent particular devices from being connected to workstations and servers
  • logging and storing actions or occurrences that can be recognised by your device's software, such as an app being updated.

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