Restrict, disable, or prevent the use of nonessential programs, functions, ports, protocols, and services.
DiscussionRestricting the use of nonessential software (programs) includes restricting the roles allowed to approve program execution; prohibiting auto-execute; program blacklisting and whitelisting; or restricting the number of program instances executed at the same time. The organization makes a security-based determination which functions, ports, protocols, and/or services are restricted. Bluetooth, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), and peer-to-peer networking are examples of protocols organizations consider preventing the use of, restricting, or disabling.
Further DiscussionOrganizations should only use the minimum set of programs, services, ports, and protocols required for to accomplish the organization’s mission. This has several implications:
- All unnecessary programs and accounts are removed from all endpoints and servers.
- The organization makes a policy decision to control the execution of programs through either whitelisting or blacklisting. Whitelisting means a program can only run if the software has been vetted in some way, and the executable name has been entered onto a list of allowed software. Blacklisting means any software can execute as long it is not on a list of known malicious software. Whitelisting provides far more security than blacklisting, but the organization’s policy can direct the implementation of either approach. Control of execution applies to both servers and endpoints.
- The organization restricts the use of all unnecessary ports, protocols, and system services in order to limit entry points that attackers can use. For example, the use of the FTP service is eliminated from all computers, and the associated ports are blocked unless a required service utilizes those ports. The elimination of nonessential functionality on the network and systems provides a smaller attack surface for an attacker to gain access and take control of your network or systems.
ExampleYou are responsible for purchasing new endpoint hardware, installing organizationally required software to the hardware, and configuring the endpoint in accordance with the organization’s policy. The organization has a system imaging capability that loads all necessary software, but it does not remove unnecessary services, eliminate the use of certain protocols, or close unused ports. After imaging the systems, you close all ports and block the use of all protocols except the following:
- TCP for SSH on port 22;
- SMTP on port 25;
- TCP and UDP on port 53; and
- HTTP and HTTPS on port 443.
Potential Assessment Considerations
- Are only applications and services that are needed for the function of the system configured and enabled [a,b,c,d,e,f]?
- Are only those ports and protocols necessary to provide the service of the information system configured for that system [g,h,i,j,k,l]?
- Are systems services reviewed to determine what is essential for the function of that system [m]?