Qualys Blog

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4 posts

Webcast Q&A: Automating the CIS Critical Security Controls

Qualys Product Management Director Tim White and SANS Institute Analyst John Pescatore did a deep dive into the Center for Internet Security’s Critical Security Controls during a recent webcast, and answered questions from audience members about these 20 foundational security practices, and about the importance of maintaining basic security hygiene.

In this blog post, we’re providing edited transcripts of their answers to all the questions, including those that they didn’t have time to address during the one-hour webcast, which was titled “Automating CIS Critical Security Controls for Threat Remediation and Enhanced Compliance.” We hope you find their explanations insightful and useful.

Webcast Questions and Answers - Automating CIS 20 Critical Security ControlsIn addition, if you didn’t catch the webcast live, we invite you to listen to the CIS controls webcast recording. We also encourage you to download a copy of a highly detailed guide that maps the CIS controls and sub-controls directly to specific features in Qualys apps.

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The Critical Security Controls: Basic Cybersecurity Hygiene for your Organization

It’s a well-known fact that most successful cyber attacks are easily preventable. That’s because the majority are neither highly sophisticated nor carefully customized.

Instead, they are of the “spray and pray” sort. They try to exploit known vulnerabilities for which patches are available, or to take advantage of weak configuration settings that IT departments could have handily and quickly hardened.

One recent and infamous example was the WannaCry ransomware, which infected 300,000-plus systems and disrupted critical operations globally in May. It spread using the EternalBlue exploit for a Windows vulnerability Microsoft had patched in March.

So why do many businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies — including those with substantial cybersecurity resources and knowledge — continue falling prey to these largely unrefined and easy to deflect strikes?

In most cases, the main reason can be traced back to hygiene — of the cybersecurity type, of course. Just as personal hygiene practices reduce the risk of getting sick, applying cybersecurity hygiene principles goes a long way towards preventing security incidents.

That was the key message Qualys Product Management Director Tim White and SANS Institute Analyst John Pescatore delivered during the recent webcast “Automating CIS Critical Security Controls for Threat Remediation and Enhanced Compliance.”

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Countdown to GDPR: IT Policy Compliance

From the first page, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation stresses the importance it places on the security and privacy of EU residents’ private information. The 88-page document opens by referring to the protection of this personal data as a “fundamental right” essential for “freedom, security and justice” and for creating the “trust” needed for the “digital economy” to flourish.

The stakes are sky-high for EU regulators tasked with enforcing GDPR, and for organisations that must comply with it. The requirements outlined in the document amount to what some have called “zero-tolerance” on mishandling EU residents’ personal data and apply to any organisation doing business in the EU, regardless of where they are based.

Both data “controllers” — those who collect the data — and data “processors” — those with whom it’s shared — must implement “appropriate technical and organisational measures” and their IT networks and systems must “resist, at a given level of confidence, accidental events or unlawful or malicious actions.”

Bottom line: Organisations are expected to have technology and processes in place to prevent accidental or malicious incidents that compromise the “availability, authenticity, integrity and confidentiality of stored or transmitted personal data.”

As we’ve discussed in this GDPR preparedness blog series, while the regulation’s document is light on specific prescriptive information security controls and technologies, organisations must have solid InfoSec foundations in place to comply with this regulation, which goes into effect in May 2018.

In prior installments, we’ve discussed the importance for GDPR compliance of IT asset inventory, vulnerability management, prioritization of remediation based on current threats, and vendor risk assessment. Today, we’ll focus on another core component for preparing for GDPR: policy compliance.

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Examining the Current State of Database Security

Considering that database systems hold extremely valuable and sensitive information, one would assume that most organizations would fiercely protect these “crown jewels” with great care. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Throngs of databases in organizations worldwide are unsafe, at high risk of being breached by malicious hackers, rogue employees and crooked partners. This sorry state of database security puts financial data, customer information, health records, intellectual property treasures and more in grave danger.

Below we’ll discuss the two main causes for database security breakdowns — unpatched vulnerabilities and configuration errors — along with helpful tips for reducing the risk of database breaches.

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