Security Tools in Linux Distributions, Part I

Monday, 7 October 2002, 12:31 AM EST

With so many security tools available, it can be hard to know what to use. Many users do not want to be bothered with downloading, learning and configuring security software when so many other things need to be done. The good news is tools that system administrators would manually install, and checks that they would write scripts to do as part of a security audit, are available out of the box in Linux distributions.

People rarely notice the security enhancements until they start receiving security reports or until they have been hacked. Most of the time, security features are the last bullets on the marketing material and glossed over in product reviews. Although many reviews of each distribution appear with each new release, none seem to focus much on the security tools.

This article, presented in two parts, is an overview of the security enhancements of two Linux distributions, Red Hat 7.3 and SuSE 8.0, and of how to maximize security simply by selecting and using the software provided in the distribution. It should be noted at the start that security is an ongoing process, and no one program can keep a system completely secure. But you can get a head start by starting with a secure distribution and using good tools that are readily available.

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