Warning icon

New location: Zurich, Switzerland

How to check your Linux server for vulnerabilities and protect it

How to check your Linux server for vulnerabilities and protect it

What is vulnerability?

Vulnerability is usually used to describe how exposed or susceptible something is to injury or attack. It means the same thing when used as a technical term. As a technical term, a vulnerability describes a weakness in a software, device, computer system, or process that exposes it to malicious attack.

Linux vulnerabilities open a Linux server to malicious attacks that further impede Linux security, leading to damaging results like data loss or the corruption of the Linux server. When hackers or cybercriminals target a Linux server, they usually do so through Linux vulnerabilities. 

They attack these Linux vulnerabilities, making them even weaker until they become weak enough to grant them access to manipulate Linux security systems and gain hold of sensitive data. It then follows that to beef up Linux security, much attention should be paid to strengthening Linux vulnerabilities.

Common Linux vulnerabilities

There are different common Linux vulnerabilities that help cybercriminals in their pursuit of compromising Linux security. These vulnerabilities usually occur in the software development stages and are responsible for the success of some common attacks on Linux security systems.

  • Weak Configurations: 

When software packages are developed, they have to be configured to ensure that they operate in a certain way intended by the developers. In the course of performing their normal operations, these software applications could either help to beep up Linux security or cause certain Linux vulnerabilities.

When default configurations are not perfectly suited to meet our tastes, we are allowed to adjust settings whenever we want. These changes in settings even the smallest ones can have ripple effects on the entire Linux security system, which we only notice after some harm has been done.

  • Issues in Programming: 

Linux security is of paramount importance to Linux distributions especially as server security is one of the biggest reasons users choose Linux. To keep up with this reputation, Linux distributions continuously carry on security updates. These security updates usually focus on improving Linux security by solving one or more programming defects.

But there continue to be vulnerabilities in Programming as 100% Linux security is unattainable. Certain actions like improper resources management and buffer inflows further predispose the Linux system to more vulnerabilities that weaken Linux security. 

Efforts should be concentrated on limiting the number of persons who can abuse them while also developing systems to mitigate the harsh effects of such abuse, if and when they occur.

  • Other Vulnerabilities:  

While programming defects and weak configurations are common Linux vulnerabilities, recent years have exposed us to some more vulnerabilities that threaten Linux Security. These include vulnerabilities like Heartbleed, shellshock, GHOST and POODLE. 

These Linux vulnerabilities are quite destructive and affect general server functionality in different ways. They are weaknesses inherent in certain software applications and could affect network services, systems library services, etc.

Vulnerability detection and tools 

When it comes to general Linux Security, preventive measures are usually more effective and rewarding compared to curative ones, but when it comes to Linux vulnerabilities, this may not always be the case.

Linux vulnerabilities through unfortunate occurrences are here to stay. Rather than focusing on preventive measures than cannot absolutely rule out these vulnerabilities, a better approach would be to develop effective vulnerability detection measures that help to nip Linux vulnerabilities in the bud as soon as they surface.

Vulnerability detection would not prevent Linux vulnerabilities but would ensure that they’re discovered early enough before they can compromise Linux security and cause irreparable damage to the Linux server. Linux distributions usually have a security mailing list or any other platform for users to report any security issues they encounter. 

Furthermore, some vulnerability detection mechanisms and tools have been developed to improve Linux security: Let’s discuss some of them.

  • Linux Software Auditing;

Linux software auditing tools help to control software packages while carrying out a series of software inspections to ensure maximum functionality and boost Linux security by detecting Linux Vulnerabilities. Some auditing tools like apt-get serve as package managers, helping to boost Linux security by retrieving security updates and supporting other major auditing tools.

  • Linux Security System Auditing;

Another method of improving Linux security through vulnerability detection is through system auditing. System auditing is more extensive than software auditing and conducts more indebted vulnerability checks than vulnerability scanning.

System auditing tools like Lynis improve Linux security by auditing the Linux system in categories. To install the Lynis tool, run this command: 

cd /opt

git clone https://github.com/CISOfy/lynis

When you have completed installation, you can run the Lynis using this command: 

cd /opt/lynis

./lynis audit system –quick

The Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) is another great system auditing tool that simplifies the process and achieves maximum results by checking for vulnerabilities in configuration and strengthening Linux security defenses against malicious attacks.

  • Scanning for Linux Vulnerabilities:  

Vulnerability scanners are configured to detect Linux Vulnerabilities in software applications or configurations. They’re a quick-fix method of detecting vulnerabilities and while they’re not as effective as software/system auditing, they’re valuable nonetheless.

Vulnerability prevention and reduction 

While we cannot prevent all Linux Vulnerabilities, we can prevent some. By preventing Linux Vulnerabilities to the best of our abilities, we reduce them to the barest minimum, boosting Linux security and making vulnerabilities less damaging in the long run.

We have taken out time to discuss some effective methods of preventing and reducing vulnerabilities: 

  • Reduce Redundant Software: 

We can boost Linux security and reduce vulnerabilities by installing only the software applications that we need. Software applications usually come with their own vulnerabilities. 

The more software applications you have installed, the more vulnerable you are to attacks and the harder it is for the source of these attacks to be detected.

  • Codes Audit: 

Coding experts can ensure that they employ various security measures like employing the use of code auditors to minimize vulnerabilities.

  • Knowledge about Linux security measures 

To effectively manage Linux security and reduce vulnerabilities in the Linux system, it’s important to understand how the Linux system works and the security measures Linux already has in place.

This knowledge helps you make well-thought-out decisions that are inline and supports the measures Linux has already set in motion.

  • Firewalls Installation

Installing firewalls on your Linux System may just be your first line of defense against malicious attacks. It helps to filter network access to certain programs and is an excellent security measure for web hosting Management.

Vulnerability treatment 

Remember that preventive measures don’t do the job 100%. We’d always have to develop corrective measures to treat vulnerabilities that remain regardless, and the most common way of doing this is by conducting regular software updates.

Just as hackers are always on alert looking for vulnerabilities to take advantage of, software developers are equally on the lookout for security glitches to protect. To this end, whenever one is found, these developers usually upgrade their software to strengthen its security.

Automatically, updating your software whenever upgrades are available helps you to solve treat vulnerabilities. The downside to these updates is that you may have to update the whole system in the process or install all the updates together with the security update. 

You can attempt to install only security updates if your Linux distribution enables that. 


Linux servers are secure enough as they come, but with the rapid increase in cyber threats over the years, it has become necessary to continuously discover more ways to boost server security and the risks of hackers perpetrating their crimes by exploiting vulnerabilities. 

Knowledge about the different methods of detecting, preventing and treating vulnerabilities in the Linux system goes a long way in beefing up the server security. When we combine our understanding of Linux security measures, we are placed in a better position to make informed decisions concerning Linux server security that are effective and fosters productivity.