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How Developers Can Protect Linux From Vulnerabilities

How Developers Can Protect Linux From Vulnerabilities

Many of the kernel bugs present in the Linux system are potential security flaws. Hackers use the vulnerabilities inherent in the Linux kernel to gain privilege escalation or to create denial-of-service attack vectors.

One of the main issues that developers are concerned about is the fact that some of the most severe vulnerabilities can be exploited completely remotely, and unlike phishing scams that rely on user action, these vulnerabilities are completely free-roaming. Of course, Linux remains one of the most secure operating systems available thanks to its founding principles of transparency and collaboration. Most vulnerabilities are spotted and resolved before they become an issue, but what are developers doing to protect against the inherent vulnerabilities that do threaten their Linux systems?

Understanding the Most Common Linux Vulnerabilities

Cybercriminals tend to exploit the same Linux vulnerabilities, so it's vital that developers have an awareness of those potential gaps in their kernel security. The majority of Linux security bugs are going to occur in the software development stage, and these are the source of the majority of cybercriminals’ success. Most commonly, hackers are looking for:

  • Weak Configurations: During the software development stage, configurations need to be remodeled and adapted to suit the developer's intent. Using default configurations is a quick way to leave security gaps, leaving your software much more vulnerable to attacks. Those default configurations are great, but they may not be 100% suitable when it comes to security, and even the slightest change to those default configurations can have a ripple effect across the entire Linux security system. By not being aware of the right configurations, your systems may be exposed, and you won't even notice until harm is caused.
  • Programming Issues: Server security is one of the top reasons that developers prefer to use Linux. Unfortunately, the concept of a 100% secure system is more difficult to achieve than ever, even though Linux distributions have a virtually 24/7 security update system that is continuously rolling out improvements and solving specific programming defects. Linux security is made weaker through improper resource management and the introduction of buffer flows as well, but luckily there are solutions. Access is the key, via limiting the number of people who can access the developing system. This can mitigate the fallout of any bad actors who have gained access to your programming.
  • Server Vulnerabilities: In recent years, there has been an influx of new vulnerabilities that threaten Linux security. Developers need to know as much as they can about these vulnerabilities, such as Heartbleed, GHOST, and shellshock. These flaws can be extremely destructive because they dramatically affect server functionality. If left untreated, they can lead to security issues with network services and system library services, at the very least. 

How Can I Detect Linux Vulnerabilities?

The goal of any developer is to ensure preventive security measures are the focus rather than curative ones. This can be extremely challenging on open-source code, which is why the focus of recent years has been on vulnerability detection. This guide to vulnerability management walks through the essentials of developer security and is a fact-based template for establishing a more secure system and network. Performing a vulnerability audit regularly should be part of the developer's workweek. While Linux vulnerabilities can't all be prevented, they can be reduced. That means more secure systems and less damage that is able to be caused by those with ill-intent. 

How Can I Reduce Linux Vulnerabilities?

There are some straightforward ways to reduce the number of vulnerabilities in your Linux systems. The key things to remember are:

  • Reduce Your Redundant Software: Software applications often come with their own set of vulnerabilities. When looking at your network, make sure that you only have the software installed that you really need. Of course, the more software applications that you have installed, the more vulnerable your system will be and the harder it will be to identify the source of an attack.
  • Auditing Code: This best practice is becoming much more common as Linux experts have realized just how transformative it can be in terms of security. Code auditors need to be deployed if you are looking to minimize vulnerabilities.
  • Learn about Linux: The more that you know about Linux and how it works, the easier it will be to reduce vulnerabilities. Linux already has many built-in security measures in place. The more that you know about them, the easier it is to ensure that all of your decisions are based on taking advantage of these security measures. 

How Can I Treat Linux Vulnerabilities?

Hackers and developers alike are always going to need to be on the alert for new vulnerabilities. When a new vulnerability is spotted, developers know that they have to upgrade their software if they don't want to risk system compromise. Automatic software updates are fantastic for treating new vulnerabilities, even if they can often lead to full system updates. These updates are the key to ensuring that your systems are as secure as possible. 

Linux servers are about as secure as a system can be - but they aren't invulnerable. As cyber threats continue to increase, developers are having to consider vulnerability management and the advantages of Open Source more than ever before. The more that developers can learn about the detection, prevention, and treatment of vulnerabilities, the more secure their work will be.

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