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DISA publishes STIG for Ubuntu 22.04 LTS

Introduction

DISA, the Defense Information Systems Agency, has published their Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) for Ubuntu 22.04 LTS. The STIG is free for the public to download from the DOD Cyber Exchange. Canonical has been working with DISA since we published Ubuntu 22.04 LTS to draft this STIG, and we are delighted that it is now finalised and available for everyone to use.

We are now developing the Ubuntu Security Guide profile with a target release in summer 2024.

What is a STIG?

A STIG is a set of guidelines for how to configure an application or system in order to harden it. Hardening means reducing the system’s attack surface: removing unnecessary software packages, locking down default values to the tightest possible settings and configuring the system to run only what you explicitly require. System hardening guidelines also seek to lessen collateral damage in the event of a compromise.

STIGs are intended to be applied with judgement and common sense. Each mission or deployment is going to be different: where a piece of guidance doesn’t make sense for your specific needs, you can choose your own path forward whilst keeping the overall intentions of the STIG in mind.

The STIGs have been primarily developed for use within the US Department of Defense. However, because they are based on universally-recognised security principles, they can be used by anyone who wants a robust system hardening framework. As a result, STIGs are being more widely adopted across the US government and numerous industries, such as financial services and online gaming.

When will Canonical publish a DISA-STIG USG profile?

The STIG that DISA has published is primarily composed of a manual XCCDF XML document that describes in human-readable words how to configure Ubuntu 22.04 LTS. This XML file contains nearly 200 individual pieces of guidance, which can be quite a daunting prospect to tackle from scratch. To simplify this process, Canonical produces the Ubuntu Security Guide (USG), an automation tool that handles both the checking and remediation of the STIG rules. USG is available as part of Ubuntu Pro, and can be enabled through the Pro client.

Our engineering team is currently working through the XCCDF document and codifying the rules into a new profile for USG. We will publish the STIG profile for USG in the coming months, with a target release in summer 2024, and will make an announcement at that time.

Conclusion

The STIG for Ubuntu 22.04 LTS will allow any users or administrators to harden their systems in accordance with this rigorous standard. Doing this by hand is a time-consuming proposition, so we recommend waiting until automated tooling is available to speed up the hardening and auditing process; the USG profile is in active development and will be published as soon as it’s ready.

Further resources

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