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UK cyber security boffins dispense Ubuntu 18.04 wisdom
GCHQ: Yeah, but maybe don't make it too secure, ok?
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has dispensed advice aimed at securing Ubuntu installs and followed it up with help for Dixons customers.
The NCSC, part of the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) exists to make the UK a safer place to do business online and, in an unusual step for a Government agency, does a pretty good job of dispensing sensible security advice.
Dixons Carphone customers got the treatment yesterday, following the admission that, er, maybe a bit more than 1.2 million users had actually had their privates exposed in a data breach. More like 10 million records. GCHQ's infosec crew suggested Dixons users shouldn't fill in their log-in info via that link on that unsolicited email, hmm?
Last week, however, it was Ubuntu 18.04 LTS upon which the agency turned its gimlet gaze. The security wonks first stated the obvious – route data over a secure VPN to avoid prying eyes, stop users installing whatever they want and for goodness sake, cut down on the admin rights.
Once over the summary, the agency went into detail. It has a number of security principles, and soberly explains the risks associated with Ubuntu along with mitigating steps. The list should be required reading for anyone about to leap into the wonderful world of Linux, thinking all their Windows woes or Mac migraines will vanish overnight.
Of course, this isn’t to say a default installation of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS isn’t already pretty secure. As well as making recommendations, the agency highlights areas where the OS does just fine, with minimal tinkering needed (such as stopping the execution of malicious code, unless you’ve sprayed the system with root level rights like a naughty child with a water pistol.)
The agency has also provided guides for the likes of Office 365, Windows 10 (but only to 1709) and macOS (to 10.13). Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is also present, but other Linux distributions are conspicuous by their absence.
Dell recently shovelled Ubuntu 18.04 LTS onto the Developer Edition of its XPS 13 laptop and users, mindful of the operating system's presence in the vulnerability charts (number 10 in the all time list, but down to 32 in 2017) could do considerably worse than look to the NCSC for tips on keeping things secure. ®