System hardening refers to providing various means of protection in a computer system, eliminating as many security risks as possible. This is usually done by removing all non-essential software programs and utilities from the computer. While these programs may offer useful features to the user, they might provide "back-door" access to the system and thus must be removed to improve system security.
Extended system protection should be provided at various levels and is often referred to as defense in depth. Protecting in levels means to protect at the host layer, the application layer, the operating system layer, the data layer, the physical layer and all the sub layers in between. Each one of these layers requires a unique method of security.
Security Content Automation Protocol
SCAP is a method for using commonly accepted standards to enable automated vulnerability management and security policy compliance metrics. It started as a collection of specifications originally created by the US government which are now an industry standard. It was developed through the cooperation and collaboration of public and private sector organizations, including government, industry and academia.
Benefits of SCAP
Automated tools that use SCAP specifications make it easier to continuously verify the security compliance status of a wide variety of IT systems. The use of standardized, automated methods for system security management can help organizations operate more effectively in complex, interconnected environments and realize cost savings.