(also system hardening, security hardening)
In cybersecurity, hardening is the process of making a specific system more resistant to attack. Hardening is not confined to cybersecurity software like antiviruses and VPNs — it covers a wide range of tools and policies that eliminate vulnerabilities within the system and promote safe practices.
Real hardening examples
- Removing unused or redundant applications: Hackers may exploit coding oversights and unusual interactions between different apps to break into a computer system. Older versions of software or programs no longer maintained by the developers are especially vulnerable to attack. For this reason, cybersecurity experts recommend getting rid of all excess apps on your device.
- Automatic security updates: Developers regularly release patches for software and firmware when security vulnerabilities are discovered or new threats emerge. Failure to apply these patches in a timely manner can give attackers a window of opportunity, so IT administrators often configure systems to update automatically.
- Cybersecurity training: The weakest link in any cybersecurity system is the user. Hackers exploit human error to bypass sophisticated software and hardware measures entirely — for example, by tricking an employee to hand over their credentials and logging into the system with their account. Cybersecurity training helps users spot scams, avoid potential threats, and respond appropriately in the event of a breach.