System Hardening
Learn how to secure your computer & reduce vulnerabilities

A computer screen with the words "security" displayed.

In computing, system hardening is the process of securing a system by reducing its vulnerability to attacks and eliminate as many risks or threats to a computer system as possible. Reducing the available ways of attack typically includes changing default passwords, the removal of unnecessary software, unnecessary usernames or logins, and the disabling or removal of unnecessary services.

While this sounds very technical and challenging, it is fairly straightforward and usually involves four simple steps:

  1. CHANGE YOUR DEFAULTS. If your phone, computer or wifi router have any default names or passwords, it is a good idea to change them right away. Default passwords for these devices are commonly known and present an easy way for unsolicited access to your computer systems.
  2. UPDATE YOUR SOFTWARE. You know how Adobe Reader gives you an annoying little pop-up every time you start it to say it wants to download updates? There’s a reason for that – they found and fixed a potential vulnerability that would let an attacker compromise your system. Always be sure to update your software or apps, especially your operating system.
  3. UPDATE YOUR ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE. Your antivirus software (whether it is for a PC, Mac, or a phone) has a database of known malicious software and is constantly searching your files to find them hidden within your computer system. It is important to keep it up-to-date to ensure that it can detect these and other viruses in your system.
  4. REMOVE UNNECESSARY PROGRAMS. Every program is a potential window for malware or other exploits to gain access to your system. If you no longer use that CD burning software from 2007 then get it off your system ASAP. The less software that you have on your computer, the less that you need to keep up to date.