Securing a home Linux installation

# systemctl is-active firewalld

You’ve just installed a Linux variant on your laptop and you’re ready to play. But wait! Have you thought about security?

What you will find below are my general opinions on security as a Linux end user. This post is intended for educational and interest purposes only. I am not a Cybersecurity expert. Ensure you’re familiar with the disclaimer here!

There are two extremes at either end of the scale when it comes to end user security. Users at one extreme live their digital life as if it were an open book on the internet. Those at the second extreme go the opposite way. Users who fall into either extreme category regard those at the other end with derision (words like ‘paranoid’ or ‘cowboy’ get thrown around, and not in sympathy or admiration). Of course, most of us are positioned somewhere in the middle, though I must admit I find myself easily swaying between both extremes.

This post is about protecting Linux home computers from threats and attacks. This falls primarily into the realm of Cybersecurity, though there is some overlap with the field of Information Security. You can read a summary of the differences between Information Security (InfoSec) and Cybersecurity here at Cloud Academy.

Three facts inform my approach to personal ICT security:

1. Threats really do exist has a great live map that puts some of this in perspective. The majority of exploits today are automated and therefore operate on a far larger scale and reach than ever before in history. No end user is too insignificant to be targeted by the machine.

2. Security measures are only effective if they are used

This was dinned into me by many wiser heads than I. If a security measure is too hard to use, people just won’t use it. That’s as bad as the security measure not being there in the first place! Sounds bleeding obvious right? However it’s surprisingly common for ICT security to be kiboshed by well-meaning users who bypass or ignore security measures simply to make their lives easier.

3. At this point in time no-one can give a single globally-applicable catch-all guide to securing your tech

I learned from a recent IT Security course I attended that, as an end user you have to know your context, understand the threats in it, and secure accordingly. This will almost certainly mean employing more than one – if not multiple – security measures to protect your home kit.

It can get pretty overwhelming fast. ICT Security in many ways seems like playing catch up, trying to keep pace with ever-evolving threats. However, we can cover some basics. Every bit counts. Join me over the next few weeks for my take on essential considerations for a home Linux setup.

Do you have key takeaways on end user security from a Linux perspective? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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