Breaking Bad Habits with CIS Benchmarks

Jun 11, 2024
5 minutes
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In today’s cyberthreat climate, organizations must prioritize the security of their IT infrastructure. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) Benchmarks provide a set of comprehensive guidelines designed to safeguard systems against prevalent cyber risks. Adhering to these benchmarks, referred to as CIS compliance, is central to protecting cloud environments.

Prisma Cloud by Palo Alto Networks, a Code to CloudTM platform, simplifies the adoption of cloud security best practices outlined by CIS compliance. In this blog post, we’ll explore the intricacies of CIS benchmarks and how Prisma Cloud helps organizations to comply with them.

Understanding CIS Benchmarks

CIS independently develops and promotes best practices to secure IT systems and data against cyberthreats. CIS compliance involves adhering to these best practices, all of which have been rigorously tested and together serve as a comprehensive guide to strengthen IT infrastructure security across various platforms, including cloud-based and web server environments. Regarded as industry standards, CIS benchmarks align with regulations from ISO, NIST and HIPAA.

How CIS Benchmarks Work

CIS Foundations Benchmarks are comprehensive guides designed to secure public cloud platforms. Despite being tailored to different cloud service providers (CSPs), these benchmarks share a common structure and features. Each benchmark provides detailed, prescriptive guidance on essential security areas such as identity and access management (IAM), logging and monitoring, and networking.

Each CIS Foundations Benchmark is organized systematically to ensure thorough and consistent security measures across various platforms. Here is an in-depth look at the sections included in each recommendation:

CIS Benchmarks Overview
Figure 1: In-depth look at CIS Benchmarks

The Significance of CIS Benchmarks

Compliance with CIS benchmarks is not only a proactive measure against cyberthreats but also an affirmation of an organization's commitment to cybersecurity. It boosts customer confidence and often intersects with compliance for other critical standards like GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS.

Significance of CIS Benchmarks
Figure 2: Significance of CIS Benchmarks

CIS Benchmarks and the Role of Prisma Cloud

Prisma Cloud protects applications across multicloud environments. The platform continuously monitors code, pipelines, cloud infrastructure, workloads, data, web applications and APIs for risks, compliance violations and threats. It aligns with the latest versions of CIS benchmarks across various cloud platforms — Google Cloud Platform (v3.0.0), Microsoft Azure (v2.1.0), Amazon Web Services (v3.0.0), Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (v2.0.0), and Google Kubernetes Engine (v1.5.0).

Also, Prisma Cloud remains current with CIS Critical Security Controls (v8), which are integral to complying with a range of compliance standards, such as those set by NIST CSF, NIST SP 800-53 Rev.5, NIST SP 800-171 Rev.2, CMMC, CSA CCM, SOC 2, HIPAA and PCI. These provisions protect organizations from known cyberthreats, as recommended by the Center for Internet Security.

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How Does Prisma Cloud Support CIS Benchmarks Compliance?

Extensive Cloud Visibility

Prisma Cloud consolidates a comprehensive view of your cloud assets across platforms like Alibaba, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), IBM and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), which is crucial for real-time compliance assessment and effective management.

Automated Compliance Checks

Prisma Cloud automatically scans cloud configurations against the latest CIS benchmarks. This automation facilitates continuous oversight and adherence to security best practices without the need for manual intervention. By routinely comparing an organization's cloud environment against these industry-recognized benchmarks, Prisma Cloud identifies potential misconfigurations or noncompliant settings in real time.

Guided Policy Enforcement and Remediation

Upon detecting noncompliance with a CIS benchmark, Prisma Cloud generates an alert that includes the nature of the issue, affected resources and relevant CIS controls. Accompanying the alert are contextual details outlining the failure, associated risks and potential impact. Users receive remediation instructions, which might involve configuration changes, permission updates or new security measures.

For efficiency, Prisma Cloud can automate remediation for certain issues or integrate with existing workflows. It supports policy-as-code for consistent policy enforcement, allows for policy customization to fit unique organizational needs and maintains continuous compliance monitoring to ensure ongoing adherence to CIS benchmarks and proactive issue detection.

Detailed guidance for remediating a compliance violation
Figure 3: Detailed guidance for remediating a compliance violation

Risk Evaluation and Prioritization

Within Prisma Cloud, sophisticated vulnerability assessment tools are employed to conduct risk evaluation and prioritization, effectively identifying and ranking security risks within the cloud environment. This prioritization ensures that the most critical vulnerabilities are addressed first. By discerning the level of risk — taking into account factors such as potential impact and exploitability — Prisma Cloud enables security teams to strategically plan remediation efforts and strengthen their security posture.

Ongoing Updates for Compliance

Prisma Cloud continuously updates its compliance features to align with the latest CIS benchmarks, ensuring that as security standards evolve, so does the protection it offers. When the Center for Internet Security updates its benchmarks, Prisma Cloud automatically adapts its compliance checks, providing organizations with current and proactive assurance that their cloud environments remain secure and compliant.

Detailed Reporting and Analytics

Prisma Cloud offers detailed reporting and analytics capabilities that deliver in-depth insights into an organization's cloud security and compliance posture. These comprehensive reports include data on the current status of compliance with standards like CIS benchmarks, analyses of risks prioritized by severity, and trends in the security landscape. This information simplifies internal and external audit processes by documenting all due diligence and compliance efforts. Additionally, the analytics aid in strategic security planning by enabling organizations to identify patterns and areas for improvement.

Learn More

Prisma Cloud enables organizations to maintain not only compliance with CIS benchmarks but comprehensive security against a variety of cyberthreats. Its unification of multiple security tools into one Code to Cloud platform streamlines cloud security management.

To identify potential risks and compliance violations in your cloud, request a free cloud security health check. Alternatively, if you'd like to see how Prisma Cloud can address your CIS benchmark goals, consider booking a personalized demo.

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