How to Effectively Implement CIS Controls in Your Business

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In an increasingly digital world where businesses rely heavily on technology, the need for robust cybersecurity measures has never been more critical. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) provides a comprehensive set of best practices, known as CIS Critical Security Controls, to help organizations safeguard their digital infrastructure. 

But having a set of guidelines is just the beginning. To truly secure your business, you must effectively and efficiently implement these controls. We’re here to provide a look at some ways to accomplish this. 

Understanding the CIS Critical Security Controls

The CIS Critical Security Controls are 18 actionable practices that help mitigate the most common and damaging cyberattacks. Implementing these controls can significantly enhance the security posture of your business, reduce risk, and improve resilience against cyber threats.

Here are nine ways you can implement these guidelines, mapping out which controls will help in each area.

1. Look at Your Current Assets

The first step in implementing CIS Critical Security Controls is to determine what, exactly, needs to be protected. It’s not uncommon for organizations to have incomplete or inaccurate knowledge of their IT assets. For this reason, CIS Controls 1 and 2 involve taking inventory and control of hardware and software assets respectively.

Set up systems to automatically identify and categorize devices connected to your network as well as all installed software. It’s also important to establish a software update and patch management process to address vulnerabilities.

2. Data Protection

CIS Control 3 focuses on data protection. Encryption is a powerful tool to maintain the confidentiality of your data, even if it falls into the wrong hands. Additionally, it’s important to implement data loss prevention mechanisms to monitor and control the flow of sensitive information.

Control 11, meanwhile, emphasizes data recovery and backups. Backups should be regularly scheduled, tested, and stored in offsite locations to ensure quick recovery from cyberattacks or natural disasters, ideally with additional copies backed up to the cloud.

3. Evaluate Existing Defenses

The next step is to identify gaps in your current defenses. It’s essential to ensure the secure configuration of assets and software, which is what Control 4 is all about, while Control 5 and 6 center on account management and access control. Limit admin access to necessary personnel and monitor usage to thwart potential attacks.

Evaluating your defenses also includes continuous vulnerability management, which leads us to Control 7. Regularly scan and patch systems to identify and manage vulnerabilities, prioritizing deploying patches quickly and efficiently. This can help you identify and shore up weak spots.

4. Email and Web Browser Protections

Email is a common vector for cyberattacks. Control 9 emphasizes implementing filters to prevent the delivery of malicious content via email or the web.

Secure web browsing practices, such as restricting access to known malicious sites and implementing security protocols, can help protect your organization from web-based attacks, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

5. Fortify Your Digital Borders

Control 10 focuses on malware defenses, requiring anti-malware protocols to detect, prevent, and remove malicious software. Control 12 stresses network infrastructure management, including secure configurations, regular updates, and segmentation to control who has access to your network.

Network monitoring and defense is the focus of Control 13, highlighting the necessity of identifying and responding to threats promptly. Together, these Controls form a formidable defense, enhancing your organization’s capability to fend off cyber threats.

6. Employee Training and Awareness

Your employees can be your greatest asset or your greatest liability when it comes to cybersecurity. Regular training sessions, highlighted by Control 14, should be prioritized, focusing on current threats, security best practices, and how to recognize phishing attempts.

By making security awareness part of your company culture, you empower your workforce to be an active part of your defense, rather than a liability.

7. Service Provider Management and Application Software Security

The cybersecurity landscape extends beyond your immediate digital environment. CIS Control 15 emphasizes the importance of managing security across third-party service providers, ensuring they adhere to your organization’s security standards. 

Meanwhile, CIS Control 16 focuses on securing application software by establishing proper development practices, conducting regular code reviews, and testing for vulnerabilities. 

8. Have a Swift Response Strategy

When an incident occurs, time is of the essence. Control 17 is about implementing an incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a cyberattack. Regularly update and test this plan to ensure it’s effective. Training and drills can help your team respond quickly and appropriately.

Continuously monitor for security incidents and respond to them in a timely manner. This includes setting up alerts, monitoring logs, and having a team ready to spring into action. 

9. Test Controls

CIS Control 8 requires organizations to collect, manage, and analyze audit logs. Proper management of these logs not only enables review of security incidents but also helps identify anomalies in system behavior that could indicate a breach.

Regular testing is key to ensuring your security controls are effective. Control 18 encourages businesses to perform regular audits, penetration tests, and exercises to simulate attack scenarios to help identify weak spots and strengthen your security posture.

Partner with US Resources for Reliable Cybersecurity

Securing your business is vital in today’s threat landscape. For organizations seeking to bolster their cybersecurity without compromising on efficiency, working with dedicated cybersecurity partners such as US Resources can provide peace of mind.US Resources offers top-of-the-line cybersecurity that covers the whole host of CIS Critical Security Controls. Contact us today to ensure that your organization’s digital perimeter is fortified and that you have the responsiveness required to tackle emerging cyber threats.