CIS Controls

What are CIS Controls, and Why are they Important?

In today’s digital age, cybersecurity threats are a significant concern for organizations.

Last year, over 50% of CIOs and network engineers ranked cybersecurity as one of the top risks to their organization. The growing number of cyber-attacks fuels these concerns. Over 60% of CIOs reported an increase in cybersecurity attacks in 2021 compared to the preceding two years, and those numbers continue to increase with the sophistication of cybercrime.

Most successful cyber attacks exploit poor ‘cyber hygiene.’ Unpatched software, poor configuration management, and outdated or unsupported software can all lead to vulnerabilities and cyber-attack risks. That is why organizations must have cybersecurity controls to mitigate the ever-growing threat of cyber attacks. The frequency, sophistication, and impact of cyber threats have increased significantly, posing severe risks to organizations of all sizes and sectors.

CIS is the Center for Internet Security, and they provide a list of benchmarks and controls that are best practice recommendations to help enterprises focus their resources on the most critical actions to defend against cybersecurity threats. CIS Controls is a prescriptive, prioritized and simplified set of best practices that organizations can use to increase their cybersecurity posture. Thousands of cybersecurity practitioners worldwide use CIS Controls and contribute to the development via a community consensus process. The importance of CIS controls lies in their ability to help organizations strengthen their security posture and reduce the risk of cyber attacks. Here are some reasons why CIS controls are essential:

Comprehensive Security Framework

CIS controls provide a comprehensive framework that covers a wide range of security domains, including inventory and control of hardware and software assets, continuous vulnerability management, secure configuration, access control, and incident response. This framework provides a systematic approach to identify vulnerabilities, protecting against malicious activities, detect and respond to incidents, and recover from potential damages. They help organizations establish a strong defence against cyber threats, safeguard sensitive data, maintain operational continuity, protect customer trust, comply with regulations, and mitigate financial and reputational risks. Each Safeguard outlined by CIS Controls requires organizations to do one thing. This simplified approach is proven to improve cybersecurity posture. Organizations can establish a solid foundation for their security programs by implementing these controls.

Risk Reduction

Cyber attacks and data breaches can have significant financial, operational, and reputational consequences for organizations. CIS Controls offer specific security measures that help mitigate common risks and vulnerabilities. CIS Controls emphasize vulnerability management practices, proper infrastructure configuration, access control and user management, data protection, security awareness training, incident response management, disaster recovery and backup, and continuous monitoring. By implementing these measures, organizations can address known security risks, establish robust security measures, and reduce the likelihood and impact of cybersecurity incidents. This proactive approach to risk reduction helps protect critical assets, maintain operational continuity, and safeguard the organization’s reputation.

Industry Best Practices

As the CIS controls are developed by a community of cybersecurity experts, practitioners, and organizations from various sectors, they represent a consensus on industry best practices for securing systems and data. By implementing these controls, organizations can align themselves with recognized standards and benefit from the collective knowledge and experience of the cybersecurity community.

Adaptable to Different Environments

CIS controls are designed to be flexible and adaptable to different environments, regardless of the organization’s size, industry, or technology stack. They can be customized and scaled based on specific requirements, allowing organizations to tailor their security strategies to their unique needs. The CIS Controls include recommendations based on a 3-tier implementation group system.  The first implementation group (IG1) is the definition of essential cyber hygiene and represents the minimum standard of cybersecurity for enterprises. This group is aimed to assist enterprises with limited cybersecurity expertise in dealing with general, non-targeted attacks. The second group (IG2) assists enterprises with managing varying risk profiles and multi-department infrastructure. IG2 aims to help organizations cope with increased operational complexity. The third implementation group (IG3) assists enterprises with IT security experts to secure sensitive and confidential data. IG3 aims to prevent or lessen the impact of sophisticated attacks. Each implementation group represents an increase in the number of controls, with IG3 containing all 153 Safeguards. Enterprises can begin with the essentials of IG1 and work up toward IG3 as appropriate.

Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

Many regulatory frameworks and industry standards reference or incorporate CIS controls as part of their requirements. By implementing these controls, organizations can demonstrate compliance with relevant regulations, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Continuous Improvement

The CIS Controls are regularly updated and refined to keep pace with emerging threats, evolving technologies, and changing security landscapes. The frequency of updates can vary depending on various factors, including emerging risks, new attack vectors, technological advancements, and feedback from the cybersecurity community. Typically, updates to CIS Controls occur on an annual basis. Organizations can adopt a proactive approach to security and stay current with the latest best practices and recommended security measures by following the updated CIS Controls.

Wrapping Up

CIS controls are essential because they provide organizations with a structured framework and actionable guidance to strengthen their security posture, reduce risks, demonstrate compliance, and adapt to evolving cybersecurity challenges. By implementing these controls, organizations can enhance their ability to protect sensitive information, maintain business continuity, and safeguard their reputation.








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