1. What is CIS benchmarking?
The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is an international organization of cybersecurity experts who work together to develop benchmarks, a set of standards and best practices, for preventing, detecting, and remediating modern threats. The benchmarks include configuration baselines, controls, and hardened images which help security teams assess and improve their practices and policies.
The benchmarks are categorized into two levels. Level 1 is designed for essential basic security which can be used in most environments and has little impact on operations. Level 2 enumerates settings for more stringent protections which may restrict some business functions. CIS controls work in concert with regulatory requirements and standards, including the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) and HIPAA.
2. How does CIS benchmarking help protect from cyber attacks?
CIS benchmarks are developed by security experts from a wide variety of organizations and governments. The benchmarks reflect their deep experience in countering cyber threats. The standards are designed so that any organization from small to large can effectively implement reliable security while maintaining normal operations.
Security teams can implement each recommendation or use them to assess existing policies and fill in gaps where needed. With controls addressing software and hardware inventory and configuration, administrative privileges, log monitoring, email and web browser protections, and malware defenses, among others, organizations who are compliant with CIS benchmarks will know they’ve implemented world class security.
3. Why is workload hardening important for hybrid environments?
Workload hardening involves finding vulnerabilities such as unpatched software, unsafe configurations, or hardcoded secrets then making changes to fix them and reduce the attack surface of a workload. Hardening is particularly important for hybrid workloads because in these environments, information may travel across multiple clouds, on-premise services, through multiple applications and data storage. Accordingly, they are difficult to monitor and can introduce new vulnerabilities to a network.
In the cloud, organizations can spin up workloads that aren’t properly secured or configured. But they still need best-in-class protection which often requires special tools designed for cloud and hybrid environments.