3 key elements of a strong cybersecurity program

The world relies on technology. So, a strong cybersecurity program is more important than ever. The challenge of achieving good cyber hygiene can be especially acute for small- and medium-sized businesses. This is particularly true for those with fully remote or hybrid work environments. Add to the mix limited resources and limited talent focused on cybersecurity, and the challenges can seem overwhelming.

Considering this, we’ve simplified things down to three key elements of a strong cybersecurity program. You need to know how to assess, remediate, and implement security best practices at scale. In more detail, this means:

  • Assessing your organization’s current cybersecurity program and its prioritization
  • Remediating endpoints at scale, bringing them into compliance with security best practices
  • Implementing cybersecurity policies and monitoring them to stay in compliance

1. Assess your organization’s current cybersecurity program

Taking the first step toward better cyber hygiene means understanding where your organization stands today. Conduct an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses in order to prioritize where to focus your efforts for your cybersecurity program. The challenge here is finding the right bar to measure yourself against. There are several frameworks that will do the job. Thus, it can be daunting to figure out which one is the right fit, especially if this is the first time you’re doing an assessment. Starting with the CIS Controls and CIS Benchmarks can help take the guesswork out of your assessment and provide peace of mind that you’re covering all of your bases.

Here’s what makes these two sets of best practices especially useful:

  • They tell you the “what” and the “how”: Many frameworks tell you what you should do, but not how to do it. CIS best practices give you both.
  • They are comprehensive and consensus-based: CIS best practices are developed in collaboration with a global community of cybersecurity experts. They’re also data-driven as explained in the CIS Community Defense Model.
  • They are mapped to other industry regulatory frameworks: CIS best practices have been mapped or referenced by several other industry regulatory requirements, including: NIST, FINRA, PCI DSS, FedRAMP, DISA STIGs, and many others. This means you can get the proverbial “two birds with one stone” by assessing against CIS best practices.

The CIS Controls are a prioritized and prescriptive set of safeguards that mitigate the most common cyber-attacks against systems and networks. The CIS Benchmarks are more than 100 configuration guidelines across 25+ vendor product families to safeguard systems against today’s evolving cyber threats. Both are available as free PDF downloads to help you get started.

2. Remediate endpoints at scale with CIS Build Kits

One of the challenges in applying any best practice framework is dedicating the time and resources to do the work. Luckily, CIS offers tools and resources to help automate and track the assessment process. The CIS Controls Self Assessment Tool (CIS CSAT) helps organizations assess the implementation of the CIS Controls. Additionally, the CIS Configuration Assessment Tool (CIS-CAT Pro Assessor) scans target systems for conformance to the CIS Benchmarks. CIS-CAT Pro Assessor allows you to move more quickly toward analyzing results and setting a strategy to remediate your gaps.

CIS resources and tools are designed to help you move toward compliance with best practices by remediating the gaps. Once you understand where your gaps are and how to fix them, you can use CIS Build Kits to achieve compliance at scale. CIS Build Kits are automated, efficient, repeatable, and scalable resources for rapid implementation of CIS Benchmark recommendations. You can apply them via the group policy management console in Windows, or through a shell script in Linux (Unix,*nix) environments.

Interested in trying out a Build Kit? CIS offers sample Build Kits that contain a subset of the recommendations within the CIS Benchmark. They provide you a snapshot of what to expect with the full CIS Build Kit.

3. Implement cybersecurity policies and monitor for compliance

Lastly, creating strong policies and monitoring conformance helps ensure that an organization is working toward a more robust cybersecurity program. Regularly monitoring conformance over time is critical. It helps you avoid configuration drift, and helps identify any new issues quickly. CIS tools can help monitor conformance and identify gaps.

CIS-CAT Pro Dashboard provides an easy-to-use graphical user interface for viewing CIS Benchmark conformance assessment results over time. Similarly, CIS CSAT Pro enables an organization to monitor implementation of the CIS Controls over time.

A strong cybersecurity program with CIS SecureSuite Membership

Any organization can start improving its cyber hygiene by downloading CIS’s free best practices, like the PDF versions of the CIS Benchmarks. But it’s important to know that you don’t have to go it alone. A cost-effective CIS SecureSuite Membership can be both a solution to your immediate security needs, as well as a long-term resource to help optimize your organization’s cybersecurity program.

You’ll get access to:

  • CIS-CAT Pro Assessor and Dashboard
  • CIS CSAT Pro
  • CIS Build Kits
  • CIS Benchmarks in various formats (Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, XCCDF, OVAL, XML) and more

Get the most out of CIS best practices for your cybersecurity program by signing up for a cost-effective CIS SecureSuite Membership.

Learn more about CIS SecureSuite




Share this