What are CIS Benchmarks?

The Center of Internet Security (CIS) Benchmarks are a set of widely acknowledged and consensus-driven best practices to assist security practitioners in implementing and managing their cybersecurity defenses. The recommendations, developed in collaboration with a global community of security professionals, assist enterprises in proactively protecting themselves against new dangers. Companies use the CIS Benchmark standards to reduce configuration-based security flaws in their digital assets.

The cybersecurity sector highly values defensive solutions such as firewalls and EDRs. These technologies are critical for a strong security program.

However, the overemphasis on these solutions has led many people to assume that total security can be achieved in a security network environment. There aren't enough security solutions to protect a network environment from cyber assaults if it isn't secure.

A network environment must be correctly built and configured to be secure. This is where the Center for Internet Security (CIS) benchmarks come in.

CIS Benchmark Security

It comes with default settings when you install a new operating system or program. Typically, all ports are open, and all application services are activated. Newly deployed assets are extremely vulnerable.

CIS benchmarks are a collection of configuration standards and best practices intended to assist businesses in strengthening the security of their digital assets. These benchmarks are internationally recognized and can be customized to fit a company's security needs and business structure

Three factors distinguish CIS benchmarks from other security standards:

• They are primarily concerned with the setup of current assets. They do not include security protections such as firewalls and EDRs.
• They are produced through the CIS Workbench through consensus among specialists such as SMEs, security vendors, the CIS benchmarking team, and even the global security community.
• While not a legislative necessity, most notable compliance frameworks point to CIS standards as the industry standard, making them great for meeting security and compliance goals.

Levels of CIS Benchmark Security

There are two levels of benchmarks available depending on your organization's security and compliance requirements:

Level 1

This level of security is intended to significantly reduce a company's attack surface while preserving accessibility and business functionality. These criteria may be considered the bare minimum of security and compliance that all companies should strive to reach or surpass.

Level 2

At this level, requirements are more demanding and should improve an organization's security structure through 'defense in depth.' These standards are intended for circumstances where security is critical and are more expensive and time-consuming to apply.

Who Uses CIS Benchmarks?

CIS standards are used by organizations across various sectors and countries to help them accomplish security and compliance goals.

The CIS standards constitute the best-practice security design recommendations established and recognized by the government, business, industry, and academic organizations. Because they are internationally recognized, they have a broader scope than country-specific standards, like HIPAA or FedRAMP.

The benchmarks are popular in tightly regulated industries and businesses governed by a regulatory framework. Organizations in healthcare, finance, and government industries are likely to utilize them.

Importance of CIS Benchmarks

Cybersecurity is a vast and complicated issue. Operating systems and apps are frequently configurable, with numerous ports, services, and customization options. It would take years to develop a safe business environment if firms were required to decide on the optimal configuration of every asset.

CIS benchmarks establish precise guidelines for managing basic digital assets, such as operating systems and cloud infrastructure. This eliminates the need for each business to make its own guidelines and offers enterprises a clear route to reducing their security vulnerabilities.

A firm that adopts CIS Benchmarks enjoys the following benefits;

Expert Cybersecurity Guidelines

CIS Benchmarks offer businesses a framework of expert-vetted and validated security setups. Companies may avoid risky trial-and-error scenarios by leveraging the knowledge of a diversified IT and cybersecurity ecosystem.

Internationally Recognized Security Standards

CIS Benchmarks are the only acknowledged and approved best practice guides worldwide by governments, corporations, research, and academic organizations. CIS Benchmarks have significantly broader relevance and acceptability than regional legislation and security standards due to the global and diversified community that works on a consensus-based decision-making paradigm.

Cost-effective Threat Mitigation

Anyone may obtain and implement the CIS Benchmark documentation for free. Your organization may acquire free, up-to-date, step-by-step instructions for all types of IT systems. You may accomplish IT governance while avoiding financial and reputational harm from avoidable cyber threats.

Compliance with Regulations

CIS Benchmarks are compatible with important security and data privacy frameworks, such as:

Cybersecurity Framework of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was enacted in 1996. (HIPAA)
Data Security Standard for the Payment Card Industry (PCI DSS)

Implementing CIS Benchmarks is a significant step toward compliance for firms operating in highly regulated industries. They can help to avoid compliance problems caused by misconfigured IT systems.

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