CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark: What You Should Know!

CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark security framework

With security and compliance needs evolving in the digital age, a new regulatory framework is launched every week. Every company and organization is attacked by ransomware, malware, and new cybersecurity threats. Maintaining your systems secure, the more precious or sensitive the data in danger is crucial. Maintaining credibility with your consumers depends on compliance with the security frameworks relevant to your sector.

This blog will focus on the CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark Security Framework. CIS, also known as the Center for Internet Security (CIS), is a non-profit security research organization that creates best practices for protecting IT systems and data, including cloud security best practices. The CIS Benchmarks rely on the knowledge of cybersecurity and IT experts from international corporate, government, and academic institutions.

AWS Foundations Benchmark, a collection of security setup best practices for Amazon Web Service, based on best practices recommended by CIS and a part of the AWS Foundational Security Best Practices standard – a set of controls that detect when your deployed accounts and resources deviate from security best practices. These best practices provide extensive, precise instructions for integrating security measures into AWS services and assessing their efficacy. The standard allows you to continuously evaluate your AWS accounts and workloads to identify areas of deviation from best practices quickly. It provides actionable and prescriptive guidance on how to improve and maintain your organization’s security posture.

The CIS Benchmark covers a variety of facets of AWS infrastructure and managed services, including network hardware, operating systems, and cloud service setup. By adhering to CIS rules, organizations can fulfill their obligation under the shared responsibility model by protecting their AWS deployments from well-known cyberattack vectors.

In this blog, we will discuss who should be using the CIS AWS Benchmark security framework, the different levels of this regulatory standard, the various sections of this framework, and the benefits of being compliant with the security guidelines. 

CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark Framework

The CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark is a compliance standard for securing Amazon Web Services resources. The Benchmark offers prescriptive instructions for configuring AWS services in accordance with industry best practices and to meet the security and compliance objectives for AWS. CIS Benchmarks assist organizations in configuring them securely, closing vulnerabilities, and lowering the risk from cyber threats. The best practice recommendations cover protocols for driver installation, user profile management, and remote access restrictions.

The Different Levels of CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark

Three benchmark levels are provided by the CIS that can aid with the security of an AWS environment. These include —

  • CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark: which offers a starting point for setting up the AWS cloud securely at the account level. Some of these resources are identity and access management, logging, monitoring, and networking.
  • CIS Product-Level Benchmarks: offer recommendations for setting up products and services, including those in the compute, database, storage, and containers sectors. These benchmarks aid customers in selecting and configure the best cloud service for their requirements and environment. They further secure the cloud services utilized within cloud accounts.
  • CIS Standalone Cloud-Services Benchmarks: are explicitly designed for AWS services that need more detailed setup advice. In this instance, the services component of the Product-Level Benchmark refers to the standalone CIS Benchmark for the particular service.

What are the Sections Within the AWS Foundations Benchmark?

Here are the different sections of this regulatory standard:

  1. Identity and Access Management

Recommendations for identification, accounts, authentication, and authorization are included in this section. Most identity and access control issues on AWS are controlled using the IAM service. Most recommendations cover IAM configurations such as setting up a password policy, employing security groups and roles, and setting up devices for multi-factor authentication (MFA).

  1. Storage

The suggestions in this area are updates and improvements to AWS’s storage features that help improve security. The major topics of this section are Amazon EC2, S3, and RDS. Access control to resources, handling sensitive data, and encryption for data in transit and at rest are all covered.

  1. Logging

AWS offers a number of logging, monitoring, and auditing services with corresponding benchmark recommendations:

  • AWS CloudTrail—used to monitor API usage and user activities;
  • AWS Config—used to record and assess esource configurations;
  • VPC Flow Logs—used to record details about network traffic in VPCs; and,
  • AWS KMS—used to manage the keys needed to encrypt and decrypt your data.

The Benchmark does not directly address some AWS logging features. Numerous AWS services are connected with Amazon Cloudwatch Logs, the primary log ingestion and query service. The Benchmark advises users to connect CloudTrail and CloudWatch Logs.

  1. Monitoring

The advice in this section focuses on using the CloudTrail service along with CloudWatch Logs filter metrics to track particular API requests. Each suggestion creates a unique filter with a corresponding alarm.

Two criteria, which are described in the logging section, determine the monitoring recommendations:

  • Users must make sure that CloudTrail is activated in every region; and,
  • Users must integrate CloudWatch Logs Networking with CloudTrail.
  1. Networking:

The suggestions in this area are moderate, despite the fact that networking is essential to the security of any distributed system. The recommendations restrict traffic from a zero network ( and restrict routing for VPC peering connections based on the least-privilege principle.

Under each CIS Foundations Benchmark recommendation, are the subsections mentioned below:

  • Profile applicability: determines if the suggestion relates to Level 1 (the normal security profile) or Level 2 (higher security profile);
  • Description: describes the recommendation’s significance;
  • Audit: explains how to assess the recommendation’s standing in its present state;
  • Remediation: outlines a step-by-step process for carrying out recommendations successfully;
  • References: links to supplementary documentation;
  • Additional information: helps in analysing and fixing the problem; and,
  • CIS controls: allows reference mapping to certain CIS controls.

Benefits of the CIS AWS Benchmark Security Framework

Here are some advantages of being compliant with these security guidelines:

  • Widely acknowledged industry best practices: Security professionals have a clear set of standards and prescriptive recommendations for particular assets in their AWS account thanks to CIS benchmarks. Implementing essential security measures is made simple for security teams and AWS account holders by best practices that have been prescribed. It is incorporated into the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) National Checklist Program, cited and acknowledged by PCI 3.1, and complies with FedRAMP (NCP).
  • Simple integration into the security ecosystem: Over 20 security manufacturers’ products can incorporate the CIS benchmark. Organizations can utilize these tools to incorporate AWS security best practices into their current security and audit processes.
  • Regular auditing: This enables security and compliance teams to monitor an AWS account’s security. Implementing best practices can simplify risk management and clarify how to audit the usage of AWS for regulated and mission-critical business systems, infrastructure, and applications.

Get CIS AWS Benchmark Certified with Akitra!

Establishing trust is a crucial competitive differentiator when courting new SaaS businesses in today’s era of data breaches and compromised privacy. Customers and partners want assurances that the organizations they work with are doing everything possible to prevent disclosing sensitive data and putting them at risk. Compliance certification fills that need.

Akitra offers an industry-leading, AI-powered Compliance Automation platform for SaaS companies. Using automated evidence collection and continuous monitoring, together with a full suite of customizable policies and controls as a compliance foundation, our service helps customers become certified for CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark framework, along with other frameworks like SOC 1, SOC 2, ISO 27001, ISO 27701, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, CMMC, FedRAMP, NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, and more. Our compliance and security experts will also provide the customized guidance you need to navigate the end-to-end compliance process confidently. 

The benefits of our solution include enormous savings in time, human resources, and cost savings — including discounted audit fees with our audit firm partners. Customers achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, stay continuously compliant as they grow, and can become certified under additional frameworks using a single compliance automation platform.

Build customer trust. Choose Akitra TODAY!‍

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