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What is CIS?

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a non-profit organization that focuses on improving cybersecurity readiness and response for private businesses and government agencies. CIS provides a comprehensive set of security controls, known as the CIS Critical Security Controls (CIS Controls), which are a prioritized list of actions organizations can take to protect their systems and data from cyber threats. These controls are continuously updated and enhance an organization's security posture by addressing common and emerging cyber risks. By implementing the CIS Controls, organizations can improve their cybersecurity maturity and reduce the risk of security breaches. Additionally, CIS provides informative references, implementation guidance, and additional controls to help organizations establish a comprehensive cybersecurity program. The CIS Controls are often used in conjunction with other cybersecurity frameworks, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework, to create a robust and effective approach to cybersecurity.

What is NIST?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a government agency operating within the Department of Commerce in the United States. NIST plays a critical role in the cybersecurity field by developing standards, guidelines, and best practices to enhance the security postures of federal agencies and private businesses.

NIST's primary objective is to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness by providing a comprehensive framework of cybersecurity standards and guidelines. It works closely with various stakeholders to define the best practices for enhancing cybersecurity resilience, mitigating cyber threats, and protecting critical assets.

Federal agencies rely on NIST's cybersecurity standards to implement a robust cybersecurity program that aligns with their organizational goals and risk profile. By following NIST's guidance, agencies can assess their current cybersecurity posture, identify vulnerabilities, and implement additional controls to enhance their level of security.

NIST's role in establishing cybersecurity standards and promoting best practices ensures a consistent approach to cybersecurity across government agencies and private sector organizations. Its contributions enable businesses to establish comprehensive security policies, build a strong cybersecurity control framework, and respond effectively to security breaches.

CIS vs. NIST

CIS (Center for Internet Security) and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) are two renowned organizations that provide guidance and best practices for cybersecurity. While both organizations aim to enhance cybersecurity resilience, protect critical assets, and mitigate cyber threats, there are key differences between CIS and NIST in terms of coverage and use cases.

NIST offers a more comprehensive approach to cybersecurity with extensive documentation and coverage. Its cybersecurity framework provides a programmatic framework for organizations to assess their current security programs, measure cybersecurity maturity, and align their strategies accordingly. This comprehensive documentation makes NIST suitable for mature organizations and those seeking high-level contracts, as it covers a wide range of cybersecurity aspects.

On the other hand, CIS focuses on baseline controls and implementation. Its CIS Controls are a set of prioritized actions that organizations can take to improve their cybersecurity posture. These controls provide a concrete and actionable framework for organizations to implement security measures effectively.

While NIST assesses and enhances existing security programs, CIS focuses more on the implementation of controls. CIS is particularly valuable for organizations that want to establish a solid foundation for their cybersecurity practices and improve their security control framework.

The common cybersecurity framework (CCSF)

The common cybersecurity framework (CCSF) is a comprehensive set of guidelines, controls, and best practices that organizations can use to enhance their cybersecurity posture. It provides a standardized and consistent approach to cybersecurity, allowing organizations to align their cybersecurity strategies with industry standards and best practices. The CCSF is designed to address the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape and help organizations protect their critical assets from cyber threats. By implementing the CCSF, organizations can strengthen their cybersecurity controls, improve their risk management processes, and enhance their overall security confidence. This framework is particularly valuable for organizations that want to establish a robust and comprehensive cybersecurity program to effectively mitigate cyber risks and protect sensitive information.

Overview of CCSF

The Common Cybersecurity Framework (CCSF) is a comprehensive framework that provides guidelines and best practices to organizations for enhancing their cybersecurity posture. It serves as a common reference point for both private businesses and government agencies, ensuring that the cybersecurity goals and strategies are aligned across the board.

In the context of CIS and NIST compliance, the CCSF plays a crucial role in guiding organizations towards the implementation of effective cybersecurity controls. It takes into account the critical security controls defined by the Center for Internet Security (CIS) and the cybersecurity framework developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The CCSF consists of various components that organizations can leverage to bolster their cybersecurity program. These components include comprehensive security policies, informative references, implementation tiers, additional controls, and risk profiles. By utilizing these components, organizations can align their cybersecurity controls with industry best practices and compliance standards, thus improving their overall level of security and confidence in their security posture.

Ultimately, the CCSF serves as a unifying and comprehensive framework of frameworks, bringing together the key elements from CIS and NIST, and enabling organizations to establish a robust and effective approach to cybersecurity. By adopting the CCSF, organizations can better identify, assess, and mitigate cybersecurity risks, ensuring the protection of critical assets and the resilience of their cybersecurity program.

Benefits of CCSF

The Common Cybersecurity Framework (CCSF) offers several benefits to organizations seeking to enhance their security posture and effectively address cybersecurity threats.

One major advantage of the CCSF is its ability to help organizations prioritize cybersecurity practices. By providing a comprehensive set of guidelines and controls, the CCSF enables organizations to identify and focus on the most critical aspects of their cybersecurity program. This ensures that limited resources are directed towards areas that are most vulnerable to specific threats, reducing the overall risk to the organization.

Another benefit of the CCSF is its practical and actionable guidance. Drawing from various frameworks, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework, the CCSF provides organizations with proven and industry-recognized best practices. This guidance allows organizations to implement effective cybersecurity measures that are tailored to their specific needs and risk profile.

The CCSF consists of multiple components that contribute to its effectiveness in enhancing an organization's security posture. These components include comprehensive security policies, informative references, implementation tiers, additional controls, and risk profiles. Together, these components provide organizations with a holistic approach to cybersecurity, enabling them to develop a robust and tailored cybersecurity program.

Components of CCSF

The Common Cybersecurity Framework (CCSF) consists of several components that play a vital role in the context of CIS and NIST compliance. These components include core functions, implementation tiers, and institutional profiles.

The core functions of the CCSF are a set of cybersecurity activities that every organization should implement. They provide a foundation for effective cybersecurity and include identification, protection, detection, response, and recovery. These functions help organizations prioritize their cybersecurity efforts and ensure a well-rounded approach to addressing cyber threats.

Implementation tiers are another important component of the CCSF. They define the level of cybersecurity maturity and the effectiveness of an organization's cybersecurity program. These tiers range from partial to adaptive, with adaptive being the highest level of maturity. By assessing their current tier and working towards higher levels, organizations can continuously improve their cybersecurity posture and reduce their vulnerability to cyber threats.

Institutional profiles are profiles that allow organizations to align their cybersecurity strategy with their overall business strategy. These profiles take into account an organization's risk profile, cybersecurity goals, compliance standards, business model, and risk appetite. By understanding their institutional profile, organizations can develop a comprehensive cybersecurity framework that meets their specific needs and aligns with their organizational goals.

How the CCSF helps with CIS & NIST compliance

The Common Cybersecurity Framework (CCSF) is a comprehensive framework that assists organizations in achieving compliance with both the Center for Internet Security (CIS) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines. The CCSF is not only recognized by both CIS and NIST, but it is also referenced in the NIST Framework as a recommended methodology for implementation.

The CCSF comprises several components, with one of the key elements being the Critical Security Controls (CIS Controls). These controls provide a set of prioritized actions that organizations can take to improve their cybersecurity posture. By implementing these controls, organizations can align with both CIS and NIST requirements.

One of the significant benefits of the CCSF and the CIS Controls is their ability to help organizations address a wide range of cybersecurity threats, regardless of their industry or size. The controls cover various areas such as vulnerability management, access control, incident response, and security awareness training. This not only ensures organizations have a well-rounded approach to cybersecurity, but it also helps them comply with both CIS and NIST guidelines.

Critical security controls (CIS Controls)

The Critical Security Controls (CIS Controls) are a vital component of the Comprehensive Cybersecurity Framework (CCSF). These controls offer a prioritized set of actions that organizations can implement to enhance their cybersecurity posture. By adhering to the CIS Controls, organizations can meet the requirements set forth by both CIS and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). The beauty of the CIS Controls lies in their versatility, as they can be tailored to address a wide range of cybersecurity threats, regardless of an organization's industry or size. These controls encompass crucial areas like vulnerability management, access control, incident response, and security awareness training, ensuring that organizations have a well-rounded and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity. Furthermore, implementing these controls aids in compliance with both CIS and NIST guidelines, making them an invaluable resource for organizations striving to enhance their security measures.

Overview of the CIS controls

The CIS controls provide a comprehensive framework for organizations to strengthen their cybersecurity posture. These controls are organized into Implementation Groups (IGs) based on the maturity level of an organization's cybersecurity program.

The purpose of the CIS controls is to identify and prioritize the most effective actions that can be taken to defend against common cybersecurity threats. These controls are derived from experienced cybersecurity professionals who have encountered and successfully defended against real-world cyber attacks.

The controls are divided into 20 specific areas of focus, which cover a wide range of cybersecurity domains such as inventory and control of hardware assets, secure configurations for hardware and software on mobile devices, and continuous vulnerability assessment and remediation.

The basic controls (Controls 1-6) serve as the foundation for baseline cybersecurity and should be implemented by all organizations, regardless of their size or industry. These controls address critical areas such as inventory and control of hardware and software assets, secure configurations for hardware and software, continuous vulnerability assessment and remediation, controlled use of administrative privileges, maintenance, monitoring, and analysis of audit logs, and email and web browser protections.

By implementing the CIS controls, organizations can enhance their security confidence, protect critical assets, and better defend against cyber threats.

Benefits of implementing the CIS controls

Implementing the CIS controls provides numerous benefits for organizations aiming to enhance their security posture. One significant advantage is that these controls prioritize actions based on their effectiveness in defending against common cybersecurity threats. By following the controls, organizations can allocate resources and efforts to focus on the most impactful areas, thereby maximizing their cybersecurity defense.

Moreover, the CIS controls offer detailed and explicit guidelines for implementing effective cybersecurity measures. These guidelines provide organizations with a clear roadmap, ensuring that they are taking the necessary steps to protect their systems and data. The controls cover a wide range of cybersecurity domains, such as inventory and control of hardware assets, secure configurations for software and hardware, and continuous vulnerability assessment and remediation. This comprehensive approach helps organizations address potential vulnerabilities across their entire infrastructure.

Furthermore, the CIS controls provide practical steps for adoption and implementation. They are derived from the experiences of cybersecurity professionals who have encountered and successfully defended against real-world cyber attacks. This practicality ensures that organizations can readily implement the controls, even if they lack an extensive background in cybersecurity.

Components of the CIS controls

The CIS (Center for Internet Security) controls consist of 20 individual components that provide detailed guidelines for improving cybersecurity measures. These components cover a wide range of areas and help organizations prioritize their efforts to enhance their cybersecurity posture.

The first component is Inventory and Control of Hardware Assets, which focuses on maintaining an up-to-date inventory of all hardware assets and ensuring proper control and management of these assets. This helps organizations gain visibility into their infrastructure and prevent unauthorized access.

The second component is Inventory and Control of Software Assets, which aims to monitor and manage software installations across the organization. By maintaining an inventory of software assets, organizations can identify and address potential vulnerabilities and ensure that their software is up to date with the latest security patches.

Secure Configuration for Hardware and Software is another crucial component. It emphasizes the importance of configuring hardware and software in a secure manner to minimize the potential for exploitation. This involves implementing secure defaults, disabling unnecessary services, and hardening system configurations to reduce potential attack surfaces.

Continuous Vulnerability Assessment and Remediation is the fourth component, which involves regularly scanning systems for vulnerabilities and promptly remediating any identified issues. This component helps organizations proactively identify and address potential weaknesses in their infrastructure.

Each component of the CIS controls contributes to improving cybersecurity measures by providing specific guidelines and priorities for organizations. By following these guidelines, organizations can enhance their security posture, reduce the risk of cyber threats, and protect their systems and data from unauthorized access or breaches.

How the CIS controls help with NIST compliance

The CIS controls play a crucial role in helping organizations achieve NIST compliance by aligning their cybersecurity practices with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. The NIST Framework recognizes the CIS Controls as an 'informative reference,' indicating their significance in achieving effective cybersecurity.

The CIS controls provide a comprehensive set of security best practices that organizations can adopt to enhance their cybersecurity posture. These controls cover a wide range of areas such as asset management, vulnerability management, secure configurations, and continuous monitoring, among others.

By implementing the CIS controls, organizations can address key cybersecurity goals outlined in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. For example, the controls help organizations identify and protect critical assets, detect and respond to cybersecurity threats, and recover from security breaches.

Furthermore, the NIST Framework acknowledges that most users of the Framework also use the CIS Controls. This recognition highlights the value and effectiveness of the CIS Controls in achieving NIST compliance.

Security posture and additional controls

A strong security posture is crucial for organizations in today's digital landscape. It refers to the overall strength and resilience of an organization's security measures in protecting its information and systems against cyber threats. A robust security posture involves the implementation of comprehensive security controls, policies, and practices that align with industry standards and regulations. It requires a proactive approach to cybersecurity, focusing on prevention, detection, response, and recovery from security incidents. By investing in a solid security posture, organizations can minimize vulnerabilities, protect critical assets, and maintain the trust and confidence of their stakeholders.

Additional Controls:

In addition to the foundational security controls, organizations may need to implement additional controls based on their specific risk profile and regulatory compliance requirements. These additional controls can include industry-specific guidelines, compliance standards, or recommendations from government agencies such as the Department of Defense or the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These controls serve as supplementary measures to enhance an organization's existing security posture and address specific cybersecurity risks. By incorporating these additional controls, organizations can further strengthen their defense against evolving cyber threats and ensure a comprehensive and robust cybersecurity program.

Understanding your security posture

Understanding your security posture is essential in the field of cybersecurity. It refers to the assessment and evaluation of an organization's overall security strength and resilience. By understanding your security posture, you can identify vulnerabilities, evaluate the effectiveness of existing security policies, and determine the level of risk exposure faced by your organization.

Identifying vulnerabilities is a critical step in improving your security posture. It involves conducting risk assessments, penetration testing, and vulnerability scanning to identify weaknesses in your systems and processes. Understanding these vulnerabilities allows you to take proactive measures to mitigate them and strengthen your security defenses.

Evaluating the effectiveness of existing security policies is another important aspect of understanding your security posture. It involves reviewing and assessing your organization's current security policies, procedures, and controls to ensure they align with industry best practices and compliance standards. This evaluation helps identify any gaps or deficiencies in your security infrastructure, allowing you to make necessary improvements.

Determining the level of risk exposure is crucial for organizations to prioritize their security efforts. By understanding your security posture, you can assess the potential impact of security incidents and breaches on your business operations, reputation, and customer trust. This knowledge enables you to allocate resources effectively and allocate them where they are most needed to reduce risk.

Key factors that contribute to your security posture include having clear and comprehensive security policies, robust incident response capabilities, ongoing monitoring and evaluation of security controls, and regular employee training on cybersecurity best practices. By addressing these factors, you can strengthen your security posture and enhance your overall cybersecurity resilience.

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