What Are the CIS Controls and Why Do They Matter?

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, no business or organization is exempt from the increasing threat of cyberattacks. Safeguarding sensitive data, client information, and the integrity of your operations is more paramount now than ever before.

This is where the Center for Internet Security (CIS) comes into play with its CIS Controls, a robust framework designed to bolster your organization’s cybersecurity infrastructure. In this blog post, we will dive into the CIS Controls, how they are organized into three categories, and the significant benefits they bring to your organization’s security.

What are CIS Controls?

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a leading authority in the field of cybersecurity. They have developed a comprehensive set of best practices known as the CIS Controls, which are specifically designed to help organizations like yours strengthen their cybersecurity defenses. These controls provide a prioritized, actionable roadmap for enhancing your security posture, regardless of your organization’s size or industry.

Categorizing the CIS Controls

The CIS Controls are divided into three distinct categories, each focusing on a particular aspect of cybersecurity:

Basic Controls (CIS Controls 1-6)

Basic Controls form the foundation of your organization’s cybersecurity strategy. They include measures such as:

  • Inventory and Control of Hardware Assets
  • Inventory and Control of Software Assets
  • Continuous Vulnerability Management
  • Controlled Use of Administrative Privileges
  • Secure Configuration for Hardware and Software on Mobile Devices, Laptops, Workstations, and Server
  • Maintenance, Monitoring, and Analysis of Audit Logs

These controls ensure that you have a solid security infrastructure in place, from managing your hardware and software assets to monitoring system activities.

Foundational Controls (CIS Controls 7-16)

Building upon the Basic Controls, the Foundational Controls delve deeper into more advanced aspects of cybersecurity. This category includes controls such as:

  • Email and Web Browser Protections
  • Malware Defenses
  • Limitation and Control of Network Ports, Protocols, and Services
  • Data Protection
  • Controlled Access Based on the Need to Know
  • Boundary Defense
  • Data Recovery Capabilities
  • Secure Configuration for Network Devices, such as Firewalls and Routers

These controls help protect your organization against advanced threats and attacks, including those related to data security and network protection.

Advanced Organizational Controls (CIS Controls 17-20):

The final category, Organizational Controls, focuses on creating a culture of cybersecurity within your organization. These controls include:

  • Security Skills Assessment and Appropriate Training to Fill Gaps
  • Application Software Security
  • Incident Response and Management
  • Penetration Testing, Red Team Exercises

Organizational Controls emphasize the importance of training, preparedness, and testing to ensure that your cybersecurity program remains effective and adaptable in the face of evolving threats.

Benefits of Implementing CIS Controls

Now that we’ve covered the three categories of CIS Controls, let’s explore the benefits they bring to professional service firms and nonprofit associations:

Enhanced Security Posture: Implementing CIS Controls, along with Managed Security Services, provides a systematic approach to cybersecurity, ensuring that you are well-prepared to defend against a wide range of threats. These services optimize security operations and reduce costs related to inefficient security measures, all while strengthening your security posture.

Compliance and Risk Mitigation: Adhering to CIS Controls, with the support of Managed Security Services, helps your organization meet regulatory requirements and reduce cybersecurity risks. These services offer expertise in risk management and compliance, ensuring that you navigate the complex regulatory landscape with confidence, potentially preventing costly data breaches.

Operational Efficiency: The controls and Managed Security Services promote the efficient management of hardware and software assets, leading to improved operational effectiveness and cost savings. These services also automate vulnerability management, reducing the burden on your internal IT team and enhancing operational efficiency.

Proactive Threat Response: With controls like incident response and penetration testing, coupled with Managed Security Services, you can identify and respond to potential threats before they escalate. These services offer 24x7x365 security monitoring through their Security Operations Center, ensuring threats are identified and addressed swiftly, maintaining the integrity of your systems and data.

Improved Client Trust: Protecting sensitive data and maintaining a strong security posture enhances your clients’ trust in your organization, which is especially crucial for professional service firms. By securing email and web interactions in line with CIS Control 8, Managed Security Services safeguard your extended team from cyber threats, enhancing the overall security of your business and boosting client trust.

Fortify Your Digital World

In a world where cyber threats are constantly evolving, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) offers a lifeline to businesses looking to fortify their cybersecurity defenses. By organizing the CIS Controls into three categories—Basic, Foundational, and Organizational—you can systematically address various aspects of cybersecurity and build a robust security posture.

The benefits of implementing CIS Controls go beyond compliance and risk mitigation. They contribute to enhanced security, operational efficiency, proactive threat response, and, most importantly, the trust of your clients and stakeholders. As a decision-maker, consider embracing the CIS Controls to fortify your organization’s security in an increasingly digital world.