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Is CIS CSC a framework?


What is CIS CSC?

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) Critical Security Controls (CSC) is a globally recognized and widely adopted cybersecurity framework. It provides organizations with a comprehensive set of best practices and guidelines to protect their critical assets and defend against cyber threats. The CIS CSC framework is designed to help organizations assess and improve their security posture by focusing on a prioritized list of security controls that are known to be effective against common attacks. These controls cover a wide range of areas, including network security, system hardening, user authentication, incident response, and security awareness training. By implementing the CIS CSC framework, organizations can establish a solid foundation for their cybersecurity program and reduce the risk of security incidents.

Why is CIS CSC important?

CIS CSC, which stands for Center for Internet Security Critical Security Controls, is a framework that plays a crucial role in enhancing an organization's cybersecurity posture. It provides a set of best practices and guidelines to help organizations identify and address security weaknesses, thereby minimizing the risk of cyber threats such as data breaches, theft of intellectual property, and identity theft.

Implementing CIS CSC offers several benefits. First and foremost, it enables organizations to establish a comprehensive security program that covers various aspects of cybersecurity. This program includes implementing technical security controls, securing network and mobile devices, controlling access to systems and data, and monitoring and detecting security incidents. By following CIS CSC, organizations can significantly strengthen their security posture and better protect their sensitive information from potential cyber attacks.

Furthermore, CIS CSC helps organizations address common cybersecurity challenges. It provides a structured approach to identifying and mitigating security risks, ensuring that proper controls are in place to protect against known attack vectors. This framework also emphasizes the importance of ongoing security awareness and training for personnel, promoting a culture of cybersecurity throughout the organization.

Overview of the CIS CSC framework

The CIS CSC framework, also known as the Center for Internet Security Critical Security Controls, is a comprehensive set of guidelines and best practices designed to help organizations establish effective security controls and enhance their cybersecurity posture. This framework outlines a prioritized list of security measures that organizations should implement, covering areas such as asset management, access controls, malware defenses, secure configuration, incident response, and more. By following the CIS CSC framework, organizations can identify and address security weaknesses, improve their security awareness, and protect their sensitive information from cyber threats. This framework provides a structured approach to managing cybersecurity risks, enabling organizations to establish a robust cybersecurity program that aligns with industry standards and best practices. It offers organizations a roadmap for implementing effective security controls and establishing a culture of cybersecurity throughout the organization.

How does CIS CSC work?

The CIS (Center for Internet Security) Critical Security Controls (CSC) is a framework designed to help organizations protect their IT infrastructures against cyber threats and attacks. The framework consists of a set of best practices and controls that can be implemented to improve an organization's security posture.

The key components of the CIS CSC framework include 20 specific controls that cover various aspects of cybersecurity. These controls are organized into three categories: basic, foundational, and organizational controls.

The basic controls focus on the fundamentals of cybersecurity and include measures such as inventory and control of software assets, secure configuration for hardware and software, and continuous vulnerability assessment and remediation.

The foundational controls build upon the basic controls and address more advanced cybersecurity measures. These controls include boundary defense, data protection, and control of administrative privileges.

The organizational controls are the highest level controls and focus on the management and governance of cybersecurity within an organization. These controls include security awareness training and monitoring, secure configuration management, and incident response and management.

One of the key features of the CIS CSC framework is the prioritization of controls based on industry needs. The framework provides guidance on which controls to implement first, based on their effectiveness in mitigating common cyber threats. This helps organizations focus their resources and efforts on the most critical controls for their specific industry.

What are the benefits of using CIS CSC?

The CIS CSC framework offers a multitude of benefits to organizations in their cybersecurity efforts. One of the key advantages is the prioritization it provides. By organizing controls based on their effectiveness in mitigating common cyber threats, the CIS CSC helps organizations prioritize their defenses. This allows them to allocate resources effectively and focus on the most critical controls that address their unique risk issues.

Another strength of the CIS Controls is their detailed and explicit step-by-step guidance. The framework condenses expert-level cybersecurity knowledge into a common language that can be easily understood and implemented by organizations. This makes it accessible to a wide range of users, from security personnel to executives, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding cybersecurity best practices.

Furthermore, the CIS CSC covers all common cybersecurity threats. It offers a comprehensive set of controls that address various aspects of cybersecurity, including inventory and control of software assets, secure configuration management, and incident response. This means organizations can rely on the framework to guide them in mitigating a wide range of threats, from phishing attacks to unauthorized access attempts.

What are the core components of CIS CSC?

The core components of the CIS CSC framework consist of 20 critical security controls that organizations can implement to enhance their cybersecurity posture. Each component plays a crucial role in protecting against common cybersecurity threats.

  1. Inventory and Control of Software Assets: This component focuses on maintaining an up-to-date inventory of authorized software and ensuring its control and integrity. It helps organizations mitigate the risks associated with unmanaged software, such as unpatched vulnerabilities and malicious programs.
  2. Secure Configuration for Hardware and Software: This control ensures that systems are securely configured to minimize security weaknesses. It includes implementing secure configurations for network devices, end-user devices, and server infrastructure.
  3. Continuous Vulnerability Management: Organizations should establish a process for monitoring, assessing, and remediating vulnerabilities in their systems. This control helps identify and address vulnerabilities promptly to reduce the risk of exploitation by cyber attackers.
  4. Controlled Use of Administrative Privileges: Limiting administrative privileges minimizes the potential for unauthorized access and reduces the damage that can be caused by compromised accounts. It is essential to control and monitor the use of administrative privileges within an organization.
  5. Secure Configuration for Network Devices, such as firewalls and routers: Configuring network devices securely is crucial in protecting the network infrastructure from potential attacks. It includes disabling unnecessary services, implementing strong access controls, and regularly updating device firmware.
  6. Maintenance, Monitoring, and Analysis of Audit Logs: This control involves systematically monitoring and analyzing audit logs to identify and respond to security incidents promptly. It helps organizations maintain visibility into their systems and detect suspicious activities or indicators of compromise.
  7. Email and Web Browser Protections: Organizations should implement security measures to protect users from malicious email attachments and URLs. This control includes deploying filtering mechanisms, conducting regular security awareness training, and providing safe browsing tools.
  8. Malware Defenses: Employing robust malware defenses, such as antivirus software and endpoint protection, is critical in preventing and detecting malicious software. It helps organizations identify and mitigate malware threats that could harm systems and compromise sensitive data.
  9. Limitation and Control of Network Ports, Protocols, and Services: By controlling network ports, protocols, and services, organizations can reduce their attack surface and minimize the potential for unauthorized access and network-based attacks.
  10. Data Recovery Capabilities: Organizations should implement reliable data backup and recovery processes to ensure the availability and integrity of critical data. This control is crucial in mitigating the impact of data loss or system failures.
  11. Secure Configuration for Mobile Devices, such as smartphones and tablets: As mobile devices become increasingly prevalent, securing their configurations is essential. This control focuses on implementing secure settings, managing mobile applications, and protecting data on mobile devices.
  12. Boundary Defense: Establishing a strong boundary defense includes implementing firewalls and intrusion prevention systems to protect against network-based attacks. It helps organizations monitor and filter network traffic and block malicious activities.
  13. Data Protection: This control encompasses various measures to protect sensitive and critical data, including data encryption, access controls, and data loss prevention mechanisms. It ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.
  14. Controlled Access Based on the Need to Know: Limiting user access to sensitive information based on their roles and responsibilities is crucial in protecting data from unauthorized access. This control helps organizations enforce the principle of least privilege and minimize insider threats.
  15. Wireless Access Control: Organizations should implement secure wireless access controls to protect against unauthorized connections and potential breaches. This control involves strong authentication mechanisms, encryption, and regular monitoring of wireless networks.
  16. Account Monitoring and Control: By actively monitoring user accounts and promptly removing or disabling unused or unnecessary accounts, organizations can reduce the risk of unauthorized access and potential account compromises.
  17. Security Skills Assessment and Appropriate Training to Fill Gaps: Continuously assessing the security skills of the workforce and providing appropriate training helps ensure that individuals have the necessary knowledge and expertise to effectively contribute to the organization's cybersecurity efforts.
  18. Application Software Security: Implementing secure coding practices, conducting source code reviews, and regularly updating applications are essential in reducing common application-based vulnerabilities.
  19. Incident Response and Management: Establishing an effective incident response plan allows organizations to identify, respond to, and recover from security incidents quickly and efficiently. This control helps mitigate the impact of cybersecurity incidents and minimize downtime.
  20. Penetration Testing and Red Team Exercises: Regularly conducting controlled attacks on systems, networks, and applications helps identify vulnerabilities and strengthen defenses. This control allows organizations to proactively assess their security posture and improve their overall resilience.

Each core component of the CIS CSC framework addresses specific cybersecurity challenges and provides organizations with a roadmap to implement effective security controls. By adopting these controls, organizations can reduce the risk of cyber attacks, enhance their security posture, and protect their valuable assets and data.

Who can benefit from using the framework?

The CIS CSC framework can benefit a wide range of organizations, regardless of their size or industry. Its applicability lies in its comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, addressing various security controls that are essential for protecting against cyber threats.

Government agencies can benefit from using the CIS CSC framework as it provides a robust security posture for critical infrastructure and citizen data. The framework enables agencies to establish effective security controls to safeguard against cyber attacks and comply with regulatory frameworks.

Financial institutions can also greatly benefit from the framework as they are prime targets for cyber criminals seeking financial gain. Implementing the CIS CSC controls enables these organizations to strengthen their security defenses and protect sensitive financial information.

Healthcare organizations can leverage the CIS CSC framework to address the unique challenges they face in safeguarding patient data and ensuring the security of medical devices. By implementing the framework's controls, healthcare providers can mitigate security risks and better protect patient privacy.

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from the framework as it helps establish a comprehensive security program and mitigate common cybersecurity threats. Implementing the CIS CSC controls provides organizations with a roadmap to effectively address security weaknesses and improve their overall cybersecurity posture.

Implementation of the framework

Implementation of the CIS CSC framework is crucial for organizations looking to establish effective security controls and address cybersecurity risks. By implementing the framework's controls, organizations can strengthen their security posture, protect critical infrastructure and sensitive data, and comply with regulatory frameworks. The implementation process involves a comprehensive assessment of the organization's current security measures, identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses, and prioritizing the implementation of controls based on risk assessment. It also involves establishing security policies and procedures, training employees on cybersecurity best practices, and regularly monitoring and updating security measures. The CIS CSC framework provides organizations with a roadmap for implementing technical security controls, such as secure configuration and access controls, as well as non-technical controls, such as security awareness training and incident response planning. Successful implementation of the framework can greatly enhance an organization's cybersecurity defenses and minimize the impact of potential cyber attacks.

What are the steps to implementing CIS CSC?

Implementing the CIS Critical Security Controls (CSC) is an essential step towards establishing a robust cybersecurity posture. Here are the steps to successfully implement CIS CSC and strengthen security measures:

  1. Identify Gaps and Risks: Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of your organization's current security posture. Identify potential weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and gaps in your cybersecurity controls.
  2. Perform a Gap Analysis: Utilize the CIS Controls Self-Assessment Tool (CSAT) for a comprehensive analysis. CSAT enables you to measure your organization's security posture against the 20 CIS CSC and provides a maturity score for each control. This helps prioritize actions and focus on areas that require immediate attention.
  3. Align with Other Frameworks: Ensure that the implementation of CIS CSC aligns with other cybersecurity frameworks your organization follows, such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF). This integration will enable you to create a comprehensive and harmonized cybersecurity program.
  4. Establish Priorities and Objectives: Based on the assessment and gap analysis, identify the critical areas that require immediate attention. Establish priorities and objectives that meet your organization's unique security challenges and goals.
  5. Develop an Action Plan: Create a detailed roadmap for implementing the CIS CSC, outlining specific control objectives, responsible parties, timelines, and resource allocations. This plan will guide your organization through the implementation process seamlessly.
  6. Implement Security Controls: Execute the action plan by implementing the necessary technical and administrative controls to close the identified gaps. This may include access controls, secure configurations, malware defenses, monitoring systems, security awareness training, and more.
  7. Monitor and Measure: Continuously monitor the effectiveness of the implemented controls, measure their impact on security incidents, and adjust strategies as needed. Regularly review audit logs, security incidents, and performance metrics to ensure the effectiveness of the controls.

By following these steps, organizations can effectively implement CIS CSC, enhance their security posture, and mitigate potential risks and cyber threats. Aligning with other recognized frameworks such as the NIST CSF ensures a comprehensive and holistic approach to cybersecurity.

How do you ensure a successful implementation?

To ensure a successful implementation of the CIS CSC framework, several key steps and strategies can be followed.

Firstly, it is crucial to conduct a thorough assessment of the organization's current security posture to identify gaps and risks. This assessment should include identifying potential weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and gaps in cybersecurity controls.

Utilizing the CIS Controls Self-Assessment Tool (CSAT) can help perform a comprehensive gap analysis. The CSAT enables organizations to measure their security posture against the 20 CIS CSC and provides a maturity score for each control. This helps prioritize actions and focus on areas that require immediate attention.

Another important strategy is to align the implementation of CIS CSC with other cybersecurity frameworks your organization follows, such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF). This integration allows for the creation of a comprehensive and harmonized cybersecurity program.

Establishing clear priorities and objectives based on the assessment and gap analysis is vital. This ensures that critical areas requiring immediate attention are addressed first. Developing a detailed action plan that outlines specific control objectives, responsible parties, timelines, and resource allocations helps guide the implementation process seamlessly.

Implementing the necessary technical and administrative controls to close identified gaps is essential. This may include access controls, secure configurations, malware defenses, monitoring systems, and security awareness training.

Continuous monitoring and measurement are equally important. Regularly reviewing audit logs, security incidents, and performance metrics helps ensure the effectiveness of the implemented controls. Adjusting strategies as needed based on the monitoring results enhances the security posture.

By following these key steps and strategies, organizations can ensure a successful implementation of the CIS CSC framework and enhance their cybersecurity resilience. Additionally, integrating continuous vulnerability management practices into the implementation process can minimize the risk of compromise.

How do you measure success when implementing CIS CSC?

When measuring the success of implementing the CIS CSC framework, there are several key indicators and metrics to consider. Firstly, assessing the alignment of controls with the organization's security posture is vital. This involves evaluating how well the implemented controls address the organization's specific security needs and requirements.

Another important metric is the improvement in security maturity. By implementing the CIS CSC framework, organizations should aim to enhance their overall security maturity level. This can be measured by tracking the progression of security capabilities and practices over time.

Reducing cyber risks is another key indicator of success. Implementing the CIS CSC framework should result in a decrease in the organization's exposure to cyber threats and vulnerabilities. This can be measured by tracking the number and severity of security incidents and breaches.

Adherence to regulatory requirements is also an important metric. The CIS CSC framework incorporates many best practices that align with industry standards and regulatory frameworks. Ensuring compliance with these requirements demonstrates the effectiveness of the implemented controls.

Lastly, the successful implementation of the CIS Controls themselves is a crucial metric. This involves evaluating whether the controls are effectively deployed, monitored, and managed within the organization.

By monitoring these key indicators and metrics, organizations can measure the success of implementing the CIS CSC framework and make informed decisions to continuously enhance their security posture.

What are common challenges when implementing CIS CSC?

Implementing the CIS CSC framework can present various challenges for organizations. One common challenge is the complexity of the NIST CSF framework, on which the CIS CSC is based. The NIST CSF provides a comprehensive set of guidelines and controls to enhance cybersecurity, but it can be intricate and require a significant investment of time and resources to fully understand and implement.

Limited resources can also pose a challenge when implementing the CIS CSC framework. Organizations may not have the necessary budget, technology, or personnel to effectively deploy and manage the required security controls. This can result in incomplete or inadequate implementation, leaving the organization vulnerable to cyber threats.

Another challenge is the need for a dedicated cybersecurity team. Implementing the CIS CSC framework requires a team with expertise in cybersecurity to develop and execute the necessary strategies, policies, and procedures. However, many organizations struggle to build and maintain a strong cybersecurity team due to the shortage of skilled professionals in the industry.

To overcome these challenges, organizations should consider leveraging external expertise such as cybersecurity consulting firms or managed security service providers. These organizations can provide the necessary knowledge, resources, and support to effectively implement the CIS CSC framework and enhance the organization's overall cybersecurity posture. Additionally, organizations should prioritize budgeting for cybersecurity investments and fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness to address these challenges effectively.

Security standards and controls within the framework

Security standards and controls within the framework of CIS CSC play a crucial role in protecting organizations from cyber threats. These standards provide a comprehensive set of guidelines and best practices for implementing effective security controls across various systems and networks. The CIS CSC framework emphasizes the importance of securing critical assets, such as network devices, mobile devices, and end-user devices, by enforcing strong access controls, implementing secure configurations, and maintaining robust malware defenses. These controls not only help prevent unauthorized access and data breaches but also ensure the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive information. Moreover, the framework highlights the significance of monitoring and auditing activities through the implementation of audit logs and security incident response mechanisms. By adhering to these security standards and controls, organizations can enhance their security posture, mitigate risks, and better defend against evolving cyber threats.

What security standards are included in the framework?

The CIS Critical Security Controls (CSC) framework provides a set of security standards that organizations can implement to enhance their cybersecurity posture. These controls are designed to help organizations defend against common attacks and safeguard their critical assets.

The CIS CSC framework includes 20 controls, which cover various aspects of cybersecurity risk management. These controls address critical areas such as continuous vulnerability management, secure configuration of network devices, control of software assets, and wireless access control, among others. By implementing these controls, organizations can better protect themselves against cyber threats and minimize security weaknesses.

It is important to note that the CIS Critical Security Controls are cross-compatible with other industry-specific security standards and compliance frameworks. This means that organizations can use the CIS CSC framework alongside other frameworks, such as NIST 800-53, PCI DSS, FISMA, and HIPAA, to ensure comprehensive security. This cross-compatibility allows organizations to align their cybersecurity program with multiple regulatory requirements and industry best practices.

What security controls are included in the framework?

The CIS Critical Security Controls (CSC) framework consists of 20 security controls that are designed to provide organizations with a comprehensive set of best practices for managing cybersecurity risks. These controls cover a wide range of areas and are categorized into three levels of maturity: basic, foundational, and organizational.

The basic controls focus on essential actions that organizations should take to establish a strong security foundation. These controls include aspects such as inventory and control of hardware, software, and information assets; continuous vulnerability management; and controlled use of administrative privileges.

The foundational controls build upon the basic controls and are intended to further strengthen an organization's security posture. These controls include aspects such as secure configuration of network devices, boundary defense, and data recovery capability.

The organizational controls represent the highest level of maturity and address strategic security management practices. These controls include aspects such as penetration testing and red team exercises, incident response and management, and continuous security monitoring.

By implementing the CIS CSC framework, organizations can leverage these controls to enhance their cybersecurity posture and minimize security weaknesses. These controls provide a structured approach to managing cyber threats and aligning with industry best practices, ultimately enabling organizations to better protect their critical assets and information.

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