ITPro.TV: CompTIA Security+ (SY0-601)

CompTIA Security+ Exam Cram

Today I’ll be reading chapter 18 of the Security+ Exam Cram, “Host and Application Security Solutions”.

Firewalls and HIPS/HIDS Solutions

Exam Cram recommends outbound connection filtering even for host-based firewalls.


The difference here is between detection/logging (HIDS/NIDS) and actively attempting to block attacks (HIPS/NIPS). Technically things like anti-virus and EDR are HIDS, though I feel like in practice detection/protection is often bundled. It is implied in the text that Windows’ UAC is also a species of HIDS

AIDE = Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment

AIDE is a Linux-based file integrity checker.

Anti-Malware and Other Host Protections

Exam Cram defines heuristic-based scanning narrowly, as something that’s just looking for atypical instruction sets, and implies that it is inferior to signature-based methods. If I take this definition at face value, then the difference between heuristic-based and behavioral detection is quite stark.

Exam Cram further defines anti-malware as a broader category than antivirus that incorporates behavior-based and context-based detection.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

Boy, I wish I’d read this section last night!

Exam Cram defines EDR solutions as a package that “rolls up” multiple types of system protections (anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spyware, etc.), but with more of an emphasis on detection and response than prevention, and typically using behavioral analytics or machine learning for detection. Additionally, EDR solutions often come with application whitelists/blacklist functionality, DLP, host-based-firewalls, and various logging and analytic capabilities.

Data Execution Prevention (DEP)

DEP is a hardening method that prevents non-OS code from executing in a protected memory space reserved for system processes. modern CPUs have DEP features built in, and kernel-level DEP is available as well.

Web Application Firewall

Exam Cram points out that a WAF is actually a type of special-purpose deep packet inspection firewall - which isn’t something I’d thought about before, but totally makes sense.

Application Security

Basically, a cookie with the “secure cookie flag” is allowed to be transmitted over HTTPS only (which implies that it must be set over HTTPS).

Code Analyzers

Just because I keep forgetting this acronym: SDLC = Software Development Life Cycle.

Static Code Analyzers

Static code analyzers are often integrated into compilers.

Dynamic Analysis


Application Sandboxing

The Exam Cram focuses on the sandboxing of development environments.


FDE = Full Disk Encryption

Windows supports Bitlocker (FDE) and the “encrypted file system” (EFS), which can be used to encrypt particular files or directories trees on a per-file basis. Bitlocker uses AES under the hood.

SED = Self-Encrypting Drive


TPM = Trusted Platform Module

TPM components:

HSM = Hardware Security Module

Boot Integrity

Windows’ “measured boot” stores information about each step of the boot process in the system TPM and provides an interface for this information to be read out as a log to a remote endpoint. So, basically taking advantage of the TPM’s sealed storage and attestation functions.

Hardware Root of Trust

Technically, a self-encrypting drive is a root of trust.

Disabling Unnecessary Ports and Services

Common ports:

Chargen = Character Generator. Does exactly what you think it does, for totally unclear reasons.

Least Functionality

“Least function” is the server version of “least privilege”, and is a fancy way of saying “use single purpose servers”. The term originates from NIST 800-53.

Secure Configurations

Interesting: FAT doesn’t allow for file-level access controls. Which is weird, because even though FAT isn’t a forking filesystem, it does support limited extended attributes.

ITPro.TV: CompTIA Security+ (SY0-601)

Host Security - Endpoint Protection

“Antivirus” and “antimalware” are generally used interchangeably these days. Definition-based protection is still used, but behavioral monitoring is becoming more common.

ITPro.TV uses “heuristics” to represent a more advanced form of behavioral monitoring, in contrast to the Exam Cram.

ITPro.TV sees EDR solutions as basically just “enterprise antimalware” - antimalware/antivirus solutions that are designed to be centrally managed and scaled, and often includes more intense analysis and reporting options.

Another way to think of the host-based intrusion detection/prevention distinction: Detection is passive, while prevention is active. Generally these systems are bundled together these days.

NextGen Firewalls = UTM (Unified Threat Management)

The key with NextGen firewalls is that they’re application-aware, basically operating over almost the entire OSI stack (network-to-application layers). They can also sometimes include DLP features and DNS/URL blocking.

Host Security - Hardening

File-level encryption methods:

Full disk encryption methods:

Check out the Microsoft Security Compliance Toolkit to generate automated suggestions for Windows hardening.