How can DoD Contractors Achieve Compliance with CIS Benchmarks?

Compliance has evolved into a critical corporate role during the previous two decades. Many firms were more engaged with regulation than security until a few years ago. Today, most businesses recognize that security and adherence are not identical and that both divisions must collaborate to safeguard the company.

However, there are still some misconceptions concerning PCI-DSS compliance and legal obligations like the GDPR. Many businesses regard adherence as an annual activity, whereas security plays a distinct and more critical role. Continuous compliance is critical for risk management as well as security for CMMC government contracting.

The Importance of Constant Compliance

It’s risky to entertain the notion that compliance is something that should be signed off once a year. This approach nearly guarantees that your systems and resources will be non-compliant for the majority of the year.

An organization, for instance, undertakes a yearly adherence audit and qualifies. The finance department then purchases a new software solution a month later, which necessitates a new server, user rights, and so on. Every modification or extension made to fit the new solution increases the risk of security and compliance concerns. Worse yet, if you just check for adherence once a year, such flaws might go undiscovered for up to 11 months.

New assets, users, and apps are regularly added, and configuration changes are performed regularly. While many of these changes are necessary, each one poses a risk of security problems and adherence difficulties.

You’ll be fortifying your assets against cyber assaults and saving your business from the financial burden of non-compliance fines if you make sure they’re constantly compliant with any relevant standards. Even though your previous control process was clean, your company might still be punished for non-compliance if a violation occurs. This is why it’s critical to check for compliance on a regular basis.

What are the CIS Benchmarks, and what do they mean?

The CIS standards are a collection of best practices for configuring common digital assets. They were created in partnership with a consortium of cybersecurity professionals and suppliers by the Center for Internet Security (CIS) to assist enterprises with hardening the security of digital assets.

The benchmarks are divided into two levels, based on your security and compliance requirements:

Level 1: Basic restrictions that reduce your security flaws while maintaining usability and business functionality.

Level 2:  More strict security measures aimed to improve security posture in critical situations.

Compliance Benchmarks from the CIS

To be clear, the CIS criteria do not constitute a regulatory necessity. However, the benchmarks are considered the industry standard by most significant compliance and administrative frameworks (including NIST CSF, ISO 27000, DFARS VS CMMC and PCI DSS) and have configuration standards that map directly to them.

Even if the standards aren’t explicitly referenced in frameworks, they’re widely acknowledged as the best practice for safe setup. They are utilized to aid with GDPR, HIPAA, FISMA, and other regulations. If your company has any compliance requirements — and let’s face it, most of them have – designing and hardening your assets to meet the benchmarks is a big step toward meeting them.