CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark vs AWS Foundational Security Best Practices: Which One Reigns Supreme?

CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark vs AWS Foundational Security Best Practices: Which One Reigns Supreme?
Navigating the ever-evolving landscape of cloud security can feel like traversing a tangled jungle. Thankfully, you’re not alone in your quest for secure AWS deployments. Two prominent sets of guidelines have emerged as most common standards: the CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark and the AWS Foundational Security Best Practices. But with both vying for your attention, which one should you choose? This wiki post unpacks their strengths, weaknesses, and differences to help you chart your optimal security course.
  • We’ve built a platform to automate incident response and forensics in AWS, Azure and GCP — you can grab a demo here. You can also download a free playbook we’ve written on how to respond to security incidents in AWS.
CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark: Built for Compliance & Rigor
Imagine a comprehensive rulebook for securing your AWS environment. That’s the CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark in a nutshell. Developed by the Center for Internet Security (CIS), a globally recognized cybersecurity authority, this benchmark boasts:
Compliance-aligned: Tailored to industry regulations like PCI DSS and HIPAA, it’s a one-stop shop for achieving compliance mandates.
Granular controls: Dive deep into granular security configurations across various AWS services, leaving no stone unturned.
Rigorous assessment: Comprehensive tests ensure your configurations adhere to best practices, leaving no room for ambiguity.
Widely accepted: Trusted by numerous organizations for its robust and proven security posture.
However, the CIS benchmark may not be for everyone. Its depth can be overwhelming for beginners, and its prescriptive nature may feel inflexible for nuanced cloud environments.
AWS Foundational Security Best Practices: Agility & Continuous Monitoring
Think of AWS Foundational Security Best Practices as your friendly security coach, constantly nudging you in the right direction. Developed by Amazon itself, this framework offers:
Simplicity & Agility: Easy-to-digest controls prioritize clarity over complexity, making them ideal for beginners.
Continuous monitoring: Automated checks constantly assess your environment for deviations from best practices, providing real-time feedback.
Integrations galore: Seamless integration with AWS services like Security Hub and Security Command Center simplifies implementation and monitoring.
Evolving with AWS: As new features and services roll out, the best practices adapt and keep your security posture up-to-date.
But the agility of AWS Foundational Security Best Practices comes at a cost. Compared to the CIS benchmark, it lacks:
Compliance focus: While it adheres to some compliance mandates, it’s not explicitly designed for strict regulatory adherence.
Granularity: The controls offer a high-level view, which might not be sufficient for organizations requiring in-depth security configurations.
Independent validation: As an AWS-developed framework, it might raise concerns about potential bias or blind spots.
The best approach often lies in synergy. Consider using the CIS benchmark as a foundation for establishing a secure baseline, then leveraging AWS Foundational Security Best Practices for continuous monitoring and adaptation. Remember, security is a journey, not a destination. By combining these frameworks with your own security expertise and risk assessments, you can confidently navigate the cloud security jungle and establish an unshakeable fortress for your AWS environment.
Bonus tip: Explore tools like AWS Security Hub, which integrates both frameworks and simplifies compliance and monitoring efforts.
Ultimately, the choice between the CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark and AWS Foundational Security Best Practices is yours. By understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and their most effective utilization, you can confidently make the decision that best secures your journey to cloud security nirvana.
Now go forth, secure your AWS environment, and conquer the cloud!