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The term OS hardening itself is misleading/vague to me as i am reading to understand it online here. It seems to me that its something related to making linux/unix box more secure.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

To quote wikipedia:

In computing, hardening is usually the process of securing a system by reducing its surface of vulnerability. A system has a larger vulnerability surface the more that it does; in principle a single-function system is more secure than a multipurpose one. Reducing available vectors of attack typically includes the removal of unnecessary software, unnecessary usernames or logins and the disabling or removal of unnecessary services.

There are usually guides by the OS vendor. Look for example at the Debian guide: http://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/securing-debian-howto/

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Maybe you should include an explanation of what it is to "reducing its [a system's] surface of vulnerability"? –  N.N. Feb 12 '13 at 12:02
    
@N.N. Yes, I extended the wikipedia-quota as I couldn't explain it better. –  tlo Feb 12 '13 at 12:28
    
In my opinion, hardening means not only removing unnecessary stuff and configuration changes, but also using software versions which have additional security checks that are included automatically by special compiler flags or by extra patches (like e.g. grsecurity for the Linux kernel). –  jofel Feb 12 '13 at 12:50
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Hardening is a process of securely configuring weak(vulnerability) point of a system like there may be unused port, services or useless software running that may create weak point in your system. these weak point may be used by other's to enter in your system.

For example in Linux systems there is a file called /etc/hosts is used to allow/disallow users as per policy. So you may need to change the permissions of this file chmod 700 /etc/hosts.allow or chmod 000 /etc/hosts.allow

For OS(Linux, Unix) hardening go to http://www.itsecurity.com/features/ubuntu-secure-install-resource/ http://www.security.berkeley.edu

You can use tool like PSysHard Hardening Framew0rk

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