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Why is Continuous Monitoring so Complex?

May 12, 2021

Continuously Monitoring CIS Benchmarks does not have to be so cumbersome

Nearly every cybersecurity law, industry-standard, or framework incorporates continuous monitoring. Malicious actors continuously evolve their threat methodologies, which is why companies need to keep reviewing their controls’ effectiveness. Continuously monitoring CIS Benchmarks may be challenging but equally important as you look to mature your security posture.

Why is continuous monitoring complex?

Continuous monitoring is the bane of every security professional’s existence. It’s such a cumbersome project that an entire cybersecurity industry has grown up around it. Abstracted, continuous monitoring means making sure that you have visibility into your environment to remediate any security control weaknesses.

Many organizations have complex technologies that include security information and event management (SIEM) and Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) platforms to help them. Other organizations use centralized log management (CLM) tools to help them detect, investigate, and remediate suspicious activities.

However, at their core, all of these solutions focus on monitoring the organization’s environment to detect abnormal activity, indicating potential threats or risky activity. That can mean a cybercriminal gained unauthorized access to the organization’s systems, networks, or applications.

Where do CIS Benchmarks fit into this strategy?

Fundamentally, CIS Benchmarks are the technical configurations that lock down your devices and applications. When your organization is engaged in continuous monitoring activities, those tools are scanning your organization’s hardware and software to look for any weaknesses that can act as a backdoor into your infrastructure.

Those scans then send alerts to security or IT professionals, telling them that they need to install a security update or fix a configuration. Ultimately, responding to alerts falls under the broader umbrella of system hardening.

For example, installing a security patch update is just another name for maintaining technical security controls.

Why is it hard to maintain secure configurations?

Maintaining secure configurations for a single device or application might not be that difficult. However, consider smartphone updates for a moment. People need to make sure that their operating systems are continuously updated, but they also need to make sure that each application on the device stays updated. Even with automatic updates, people struggle because sometimes an operating system update creates a functionality problem with an application.

Now, take this example and scale it across the enterprise. According to Netskope’s 2021 Cloud and Threat Report, organizations with 500-2,000 employees use an average of 690 specific cloud applications per month. This number doesn’t comprise the fact that the average organization also includes at least one device per employee, network devices, Internet of Things devices like printers, and on-premises applications.

When organizations try to maintain secure configurations, they often find that the number of devices and applications makes the process cumbersome and time-consuming.

How to maintain secure configurations with automation

Automation makes it easier for organizations to maintain secure configurations. Security Content Automation Protocols (SCAP) validated tools are vendor-neutral tools that can scan your environment, detect non-compliant configurations, and help remediate vulnerabilities.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) explains that SCAP-validated tools enable

  • Continuous monitoring
  • Patch management
  • Security automation
  • Testing and validation
  • Vulnerability management

SCAP-validated solutions use the Common Configuration Enumeration (CCE) standardized method of describing and identifying classes of applications, operating systems, and devices. These solutions mean that they enable organizations to make configuration decisions across divergent technology stacks.

SteelCloud: SCAP-Validated Automation for Continuously Monitoring CIS Benchmarks

SteelCloud’s patented compliance software suite automates the CIS Benchmark configuration process, saving you time and money as you try to mature your security posture and meet mission-critical compliance requirements. Our solution automates scanning and remediation while providing compliance reporting so you can document all your compliance activities in a single location.



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