The Critical Security Controls for Effective Cyber Defense is a brainchild of the Center for Internet Security (CIS). More popularly known as the Critical Security Controls Version 7, 20 guidelines are based on the latest database of experts about cyberattacks.
This knowledge pool, the combined inputs of individual penetration testers, US government agencies, and commercial forensics experts.
IT security experts use the CIS Critical Security Controls Version 7 to establish digital security protections within organizations. With these defenses firmly in place, organizations can flush out most of the typical cyberattacks..
These sets of actions are designed to align with the latest research against cyberattacks, and they are optimized to promote the overall health of any digital environment.
Seven Key Principles
The CIS Critical Security Controls Version 7 collaborates with top-level security experts to prioritize digital safety at all levels. Here are the seven fundamental principles that serve as the bedrock of the framework.
- The CIS Critical Security Controls Version 7 must address current attacks, emerging technology, and changing business requirements for IT.
As part of its core promise, the CIS Controls continually update and re-structure to reflect the presence of new cybersecurity tools and new threats as they happen.
- There has to be more focus on authentication, application whitelisting, and encryptions.
The guidance for these essential topics is more precise, robust, and consistent across all CIS Controls.
- The CIS Controls now have better alignment with other frameworks such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. With more emphasis on multi-framework functionality, it offers better dynamics to companies.
- Improvement of the wording of each sub-control has been prioritized. Each sub-control only has one “ask,” and the consistency of the syntax has been simplified.
The expert community worked tirelessly to clarify the intention of each CIS Control to be more user-friendly. Multiple tasks have been eliminated so that they can be measured, monitored, and implemented more efficiently.
- A rapidly growing ecosystem of devices, products, and services from both CIS and the marketplace now has a better foundation set in place. The documentation is better since Version 6 made an effort to improve importing, tracking, and integrating the CIS Controls.
- The layout and format have been bolstered with structural changes. And flexibility is prioritized so that various organizations can help keep the Controls adaptive and relevant to their industries.
- With growth encouraged, there is now a system in place that will reflect the feedback of a global community of supporters, volunteers, and adopters. The CIS Security Controls Version 7 believes it is only as strong as the support that sustains it. The hope is to provide more guidance and resources for the entire cybersecurity community.
With digital threats evolving in complexity and expanding in reach, the cybersecurity community needs to be on its toes with vigilance. The cybersecurity world is continually changing and shifting, with new vulnerabilities developing in the blink of an eye. Most organizations are thrust into chaos and confusion to keep up with technical jargon and dynamics to improve defenses.
The CIS Critical Security Controls Version 7 collaborated with a global ensemble of experts from the academe, government agencies, and essential industries to secure inputs at every level. The public call for comment for Version 7 transpired from January 24 until February 7, 2018.
During this period, the community gathered feedback from 300 individuals who formed the best cybersecurity practices: this involves forums, community discussions, and focus groups.
After the consultation, the decision-makers of the CIS Controls V7 retained the original 20 controls of Version 6 for continuity. The changes are subtle and functional. The ordering of the commands has been updated to reflect the emerging threats of today. There are also sub-controls so that there is better precision with the guidelines. A single sub-control only has a single “ask.”
The CIS Controls V7 are now separated into three particular categories listed below:
- Basic (CIS Controls 1-6): All organizations must follow the key controls for essential protection against cyber threats.
- Foundational (CIS Controls 7-16): Companies must adhere to these best practices to have further security protection.
- Organizational (CIS Controls 17-20): These have more technical elements to boost a more robust cybersecurity system in place.
- CIS Control 1: Inventory and Control of Hardware Assets
All hardware devices within the network must undergo active management. This encompasses inventory, tracking, and correction. All devices must be authorized to screen unmanaged devices from gaining access to the network.
- CIS Control 2: Inventory and Control of Software Assets
All software within the network must undergo active management. Companies must adhere to this basic control, including the proper inventory, tracking, and correction of authorized software, in order to avoid installing and executing unmanaged software.
- CIS Control 3: Continuous Vulnerability Management
New information must be continuously acquired, assessed, and taken action so that vulnerabilities are identified and remediated. The objective is to minimize the window of opportunity for cyber attackers.
- CIS Control 4: Controlled Use of Administrative Privileges
There must be proper supervision of the tools and processes used for the active management of hardware and software. Administrative privileges on networks, computers, and applications must be adequately managed.
- CIS Control 5: Secure Configuration for Hardware/Software on Mobile Devices, Laptops, Workstations, Servers
The security configuration of servers, workstations, mobile devices, and laptops must be implemented and established using a rigorous configuration management and change control process. The active management of this security will prevent attackers from tampering and exploiting vulnerabilities.
- CIS Control 6: Maintenance, Monitoring, and Analysis of Audit Logs
Audit logs of events are essential to monitor, understand, troubleshoot, and detect attacks. There must be a system in place for its collection, management, and analysis.
- CIS Control 7: Email and Web Browser Protections
The window of opportunity of cyber attackers using email systems and web browsers must be minimized so that human behavior cannot be manipulated easily.
One of the popular types of cyberattacks is phishing, a fraudulent attack wherein cybercriminals try to acquire critical and sensitive data such as usernames and passwords through spam emails or text messages. The modus operandi uses a disguise as a trustworthy organization such as a bank or a government agency to scam employees into providing necessary information.
- CIS Control 8: Malware Defenses
Malicious code can spread and execute if there is no existing installation control at multiple points in the organization’s digital environment. The company can optimize automation to help with the rapid updating of cyber defense, data gathering, and corrective action.
- CIS Control 9: Limitation and Control of Network Ports, Protocols, and Services
The operational use of ports, protocols, and services on networked devices must be managed actively using tracking, control, and correction protocols. This minimizes the available vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cyber attackers.
- CIS Control 10: Data Recovery Capabilities
Data recovery is essential for the overall security of an organization. There must be a proven methodology for the timely recovery of data using processes and tools to back up vital information. Without a system in place for data recovery, the long-term operations of a company can severely suffer. When crucial data is gone forever, it can have damaging implications to a company’s reputation and output.
- CIS Control 11: Secure Configuration for Network Devices, such as Firewalls, Routers, and Switches.
Organizations must enforce a rigorous configuration management and change control process of network infrastructure devices. When actively managed, this security configuration can prevent attackers from vulnerabilities and exploitations. These serve as the first line of defense of an organization. When these are left vulnerable, cyberattackers can easily exploit these weaknesses with impunity.
- CIS Control 12: Boundary Defense
There must be a focus on security0-damaging data when monitoring the flow of information across networks. Detection, prevention, and correction are vital processes in this Control.
- CIS Control 17: Implement a Security Awareness and Training Program
There must be a program in place to identify specific knowledge, skills, and abilities essential in defending the organization from cyber-attacks. This must be assessed across all functional roles in the organization, especially the business’s mission-critical designations. An integrated plan must assess, determine gaps, and remediate through awareness programs.
- CIS Control 18: Application Software Security
Whether in-house or acquired, the software must have a robust security life cycle to prevent security vulnerabilities.
- CIS Control 19: Incident Response and Management
A reliable incident response infrastructure must be implemented and developed to protect the organization, particularly its reputation. This includes defined roles, plans, training, management oversight, and communications. The flow of the response must begin with discovering the attack and must commence with damage control, eradication of the attacker’s presence, and the restoration of network integrity.
- CIS Control 20: Penetration Tests and Red Team Exercises
Simulating an attacker’s objectives and methodology can help the organization prepare and test its defensive strategy strength. This should cover all aspects, including the technology, the policies, and the personnel.
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Compatibility with Other Standards
The CIST Critical Security Controls are designed to have cross-compatibility with other security and compliance standards with its origin in collaboration. These include the following:
- NIST 800-53. A catalog of security and privacy controls for all US Federal information systems.
- PCI DSS. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. A set of guidelines for companies that handle branded credit cards.
- FISMA. Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002. A US Federal Law that recognizes the importance of information security for the economy of America.
- HIPAA. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. A US Federal Statute meant to protect the health information of Americans.
These standards believe that when they are united, they can achieve more protection for everyone. The compliance is essential because organizations that must follow the regulations mentioned above can use the CIS Security Controls to comply.
Another fantastic set of guidelines — the NIST Cybersecurity Framework — also use the CIS CSC as a baseline reference for their recommended best practices. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a robust tool to streamline and strengthen the security posture of an organization.
Organizations that want to bolster their cyber defenses can start with the CIS Critical Security Controls strategic point of reference. With these controls, companies can reduce risks and mitigate damage control in the event of a cyberattack.
Expert Advice and Guidance for CIS Critical Security Controls Version 7
With its focus on creating robust digital security for organizations, the CIS Critical Security Controls Version 7 has a comprehensive set of guidelines to help organizations achieve protection against cyberattacks.
But without expert guidance, compliance can be confusing for organizations. This is where RSI Security can be of utmost assistance. Our years of extensive experience and expertise can help you determine the best fit for your company.
The CIS Critical Security Controls Version 7 is scalable. A small organization will be required to implement most of the controls, but not to the same extent as a large company. A small company can effectively eliminate 84% of cyberattacks by focusing on the first five controls.
RSI Security helps assess the needs of organizations, both small and large. Our IT security services suite is reliable, flexible, and scalable to support organizations with the best cost-efficient plan to safeguard their organization.
Our security professionals are experts in regulatory and vulnerability management. Consult with our team today to gain peace of mind in this ever-evolving digital environment.
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