What Happens If Attackers Get Into A Bastion Host?

One of the few hosts that are directly exposed to the Internet. It acts as a “gateway” for other hosts on your network. All traffic coming from outside your network hits this host before it hits any other host on your network. This means that you need to secure it very well since intruders who get into this host can quickly access anything behind that gateway.

Bastion Hosts are used in a lot of setups. It’s a great place to install security applications since they get maximum visibility, and you can easily configure them for optimal performance. If the attackers manage to enter Bastion Host, it can be very dangerous as they can access your entire system quickly. Click here to see what a Bastion Host really is.

Purpose Of Having Bastion Host

The purpose of a bastion host is to add a layer of security on top of your existing hosts by preventing direct access from the Internet to the internal network. 

If intruders get into your network from that device, then it means that all other devices on that network are compromised, too (since all traffic passes through this one host). This is why you need to make sure that you secure it properly. In most cases, this host does not have any production or user data, but it has administrative tools installed so administrators can manage other hosts on the internal network.

Attackers who manage to get into a bastion host can easily find a way inside other machines on that network. This is the only host that all traffic passes through before hitting any other device on the internal network. This means that you need to ensure that your bastion host is as secure as your internal hosts if it gets compromised (which has happened many times).

Impact Of Attackers On Bastion Host

If attackers manage to break into the bastion host, they will be able to access your entire internal network (and all machines on it).

  1. Intruders can easily find ways of breaking into other machines on the network – since this is the only centralized connection for traffic between these hosts and the outside world.
  2. Suppose you have web applications or any other types of services hosted on servers behind this bastion host. In that case, you will need to consider additional security measures to protect them from intruders. Otherwise, all data stored on those servers may become compromised if attackers manage to break into that one host.
  3. You should also consider possible damage resulting from this attack – intruders who manage to get into your network and find servers with sensitive information on them might:

  • Steal the data stored on your servers,
  • Find ways to eavesdrop on your communication lines (which may result in further damage that is hard to estimate)
  • Spread viruses and malware across your network (which can affect all machines behind the gateway).
  • Spy on you by reading any recorded traffic between different hosts within your network (e-mail messages, browsing history, etc.).
  • Hijack or crash critical applications by sending unexpected requests through those applications (making them unavailable for some time).
  • Perform Denial of Service attacks against services hosted inside your internal network by constantly requesting certain kinds of data from your application servers using known exploits (resulting in unavailability of those services).
  • Reasons Of Bastion Host Getting Attacked

    The main reasons for this attack are,

    Lack Of Security On The System. Either because no security was applied to it or because some configuration mistakes allowed attackers to discover your network and find a way into that host.

    Initial Attack Vector. Attackers use this to get into the host through one of the other servers hosted inside your internal network. This means that these servers should also be secured better since they are probably just as insecure as your bastion server is now. Some common examples of poor security include:- weak password policies, user accounts with root access, open ports without firewalls.).

    Vulnerability. Vulnerability in security software (such as an open port in a web server application such as Apache/PHP, which is used to send files to the Internet)

    They are using Special Tools And Bots. Attackers can use special tools and bots to scan your internal network for hosts with known vulnerabilities (leveraging holes in old, insecure protocols like FTP or Telnet).

    Special Scripts. This is designed specifically for this type of attack. These scripts try to connect to services on available ports and see whether they can gain access by guessing passwords or trying default usernames and passwords (which are often common).

    How Do You Protect Your Bastion Host?

    1. First of all, make sure you install and configure security applications like antivirus software and firewalls correctly. Choose one that will not affect performance for critical operations on your server, or even better – choose an application that doesn’t require much overhead (i.e., you shouldn’t be able to see it at all on top of your server desktop).
    2. Secondly, make sure that you have a strong password for this account and set a reasonable policy regarding changing the password. This host should not be used for daily tasks like browsing the web or writing personal emails. It’s purely meant for system administration purposes only (and nothing else). 
    3. You can even consider using a dedicated admin account for this purpose if you don’t want to use the same credentials as your one. If you need to access other applications from this machine, make sure they are secure too!
    4. You should also apply patches diligently – but always verify before using them! Some vendors have been known not to honor their support contracts if their products suffered damage because of this.
    5. Finally, make sure you don’t give away all your secrets! Don’t install unnecessary applications or services on this host. If someone does get into it, then they will have access to everything on that machine. Make sure you are logged in as the administrator account when doing your work (don’t use an everyday user account) and delete temporary files after you are finished with them. Use the built-in Windows cleanup tool for temporary files instead of directories like C:\Temp so they can’t be accessed by intruders at a later stage – even if they have Administrator privileges on your server.

    As always, back up everything regularly so you can quickly recover from any intrusion attempt.


    Overall, Bastion Host is a powerful server. However, if you are afraid that the attacker still gets through it, you should avoid the reasons mentioned above, and if the attackers somehow enter your system, make sure to protect it by the methods we have described above. GOOD LUCK.

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