The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a non-profit organization that focuses on enhancing the cybersecurity posture of public and private organizations. To achieve this goal, the organization has developed a set of critical controls that serve as a roadmap for organizations to follow to reduce their exposure to cyber threats. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the CIS critical controls, including what they are, why they’re important, and how organizations can implement them.
What are the CIS Critical Controls?
The CIS critical controls are a set of 20 recommended actions that organizations can take to improve their cybersecurity posture. These controls are based on real-world experience and have been proven to be effective in reducing the risk of cyber attacks. The 20 controls are divided into three categories: Basic, Foundational, and Organizational.
The basic controls are the first line of defense in an organization’s cybersecurity posture. They are designed to be quick and easy to implement, and serve as a foundation for the more advanced controls. The basic controls include:
- Inventory of Authorized and Unauthorized Devices: This control is designed to help organizations keep track of the devices connected to their network. This includes both authorized and unauthorized devices, and can help organizations quickly identify and respond to potential security threats.
- Inventory of Authorized and Unauthorized Software: Similar to the first control, this control helps organizations keep track of the software installed on their devices. This can help organizations quickly identify and remove software that may be a security risk.
- Secure Configurations for Hardware and Software: This control involves ensuring that all hardware and software are configured securely, with the latest patches and security updates installed. This helps to reduce the risk of vulnerabilities being exploited by attackers.
The foundational controls build upon the basic controls and provide a more comprehensive approach to improving an organization’s cybersecurity posture. These controls are designed to be more involved and require more resources to implement, but they provide a stronger defense against cyber threats. The foundational controls include:
- Continuous Vulnerability Management: This control involves regularly identifying, assessing, and remedying vulnerabilities in an organization’s systems and networks.
- Controlled Use of Administrative Privileges: This control involves limiting the use of administrative privileges to only those who require them to perform their job responsibilities. This helps to reduce the risk of insider threats and unauthorized access to sensitive information.
- Maintenance, Monitoring, and Analysis of Audit Logs: This control involves regularly reviewing and analyzing audit logs to identify potential security incidents and trends. This can help organizations quickly respond to security threats and prevent future incidents.
The organizational controls are designed to be more comprehensive and require a higher level of investment, but they provide the strongest defense against cyber threats. These controls are designed to be integrated into an organization’s overall security strategy and involve a commitment from both the IT and business sides of the organization. The organizational controls include:
- Incident Response and Management: This control involves having a plan in place to quickly respond to and manage security incidents, including data breaches and cyber attacks.
- Penetration Testing and Red Team Exercises: This control involves regularly testing an organization’s systems and networks to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers.
- Security Awareness and Training: This control involves educating employees on the importance of cybersecurity and providing them with the training they need to identify and respond to potential security threats.
Why are the CIS Critical Controls Important?
The CIS critical controls are important because they provide organizations with a roadmap to follow to reduce their exposure to cyber threats. They are based on real-world experience and have been proven to be effective in reducing the risk of cyber attacks. By implementing the controls, organizations can take a proactive approach to cybersecurity, reducing the risk of data breaches and other security incidents. In addition, the controls are flexible and can be customized to meet the unique needs and resources of each organization.
In today’s digital world, cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated and frequent. With the increasing reliance on technology and the growing number of connected devices, organizations are at a greater risk of being targeted by cyber criminals. The CIS critical controls provide a comprehensive approach to reducing these risks and protecting an organization’s sensitive information and assets.
How to Implement the CIS Critical Controls Implementing the CIS critical controls can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By following a few simple steps, organizations can successfully implement the controls and improve their cybersecurity posture.
Step 1: Assess Your Current Security Posture:
Before implementing the controls, it’s important to assess your current security posture. This involves identifying your current vulnerabilities and weaknesses, as well as the resources you have available to implement the controls.
Step 2: Prioritize the Controls:
The 20 controls can be overwhelming, so it’s important to prioritize the controls based on your organization’s unique needs and resources. Start with the basic controls and work your way up to the organizational controls as you have the resources and expertise to do so.
Step 3: Create a Plan:
Once you have prioritized the controls, create a plan for implementing them. This plan should include specific steps for each control, as well as deadlines for completion and who is responsible for each step.
Step 4: Implement the Controls:
With your plan in place, it’s time to start implementing the controls. This may involve making changes to your current systems and processes, as well as training employees on the importance of cybersecurity.
Step 5: Monitor and Evaluate:
Once the controls have been implemented, it’s important to regularly monitor and evaluate their effectiveness. This may involve reviewing audit logs, conducting penetration testing and red team exercises, and updating your incident response plan as needed.
In conclusion, the CIS critical controls are a valuable tool for organizations looking to improve their cybersecurity posture. By implementing the controls, organizations can reduce their exposure to cyber threats and protect their sensitive information and assets. The controls are flexible and can be customized to meet the unique needs and resources of each organization, making them a valuable resource for any organization looking to improve their cybersecurity posture.