How CIS-CAT Is Simplifying Configuration Complexities

This entry was posted in Tips & Tricks on by .

Around the world, one business becomes a victim to an attack by ransomware software every fourteen seconds. Every company must also face an average of over twenty security breaches every year. For these reasons, the security of your infrastructure is imperative to keep customer trust. Luckily for you, infrastructure assessment tools such as CIS-CAT exist to test for vulnerabilities in your system. If you do not know what this tool is, then this article is for you. By the end of this piece, you should have a good rundown of what CIS-CAT is and why it is making configuring your system so much simpler.

What Is CIS-CAT?

The Center for Internet Security’s Configuration Assessment Tools is a set of controls. With them, you can judge how secure your tech infrastructure is. They do this by comparing your network’s setup with a set of standards it has on file.

These standards are configurable and customizable. This means you can check particular areas of your network against different benchmarks. Thus, CIS-CAT allows you to rest assured that those looking at the network can consider the appropriate context for each area of the system.

CIS-CAT produces reports that are sharable with anyone in your company. This allows you to start conversations with your peers in a way that lets you discuss improvements. You can also all speak the same language and have the same context for the discussion before it begins.

What Is CIS-CAT Doing for You?

CIS-CAT allows your company to focus on cybersecurity in a way that is reliable and repeatable. It offers the following perks in how it simplifies the process of configuring your network.

Improved Internal Security

The primary reason for using this assessment tool is to allow your engineers and IT personnel to empower your system’s defenses. In this way, they can continue to defend it against cyberattacks.

Having a comprehensive ability to scan your network for potential vulnerabilities is invaluable. CIS-CAT enables you to prevent any other threats that may come up in the future from both a technological or personnel angle, or any other.

Configuration Assessment

CIS-CAT can look at the system you use and compare it to a benchmark of policies. By evaluating the cybersecurity of a system in this way, it helps companies save money. It does this by giving them a set of advice and instructions for how it can meet its cybersecurity requirements.

Those using the CIS-CAT system can rest assured that they are doing everything they patch out known vulnerabilities.

Remote Capabilities

You do not need to complete the assessments CIS-CAT performs at the location of the infrastructure. You can instead perform these checks from another remote location. This allows a technician to maintain several areas of the network without having to factor in travel time.

This feature simplifies the entire configuration process. In doing so it saves time and resources in a way that would otherwise be unattainable.

Comparison With Benchmarks

CIS-CAT can assess machines on the network and compare them to the recommendations given by the CIS for what the benchmarks should be. Following this, you should be able to begin your own road map for how you should improve your system.

Once you have run the benchmark tests and determined the current state of your network, you can work with your team to secure the system. You and those you work with can determine what opportunities are available for you. These may be automation, consolidating your network, simplifying the systems you have, or reducing costs.

When you have implemented any changes along these lines, you can look at your system with a critical eye. You can aim to maintain security while you modernize your infrastructure. After you do this, your team will be free to look at your security strategy moving forward.

Once you have full visibility of your network after running a CIS-CAT diagnostic, you can ensure you maintain any wins you have gained. Keeping an eye on these benchmarks over time, you can ensure your system does not slip.

You should continue to assess your network for behaviors that cause further problems. To do this, you can use CIS-CAT alongside your other security measures to keep your infrastructure secure.

Why Is CIS-CAT Good for Configuration Management?

CIS’s suite of tools is perfect for allowing you to ensure that your configurations match your needs across your networks. It does this in the following ways:

Appropriate Tools

CIS-CAT is a wide set of tools. This includes assessment applications and dashboards that work together. In all, they provide a wide bevy of information to the user.

These tools are compatible with several other solutions provided by the Center for Internet Security. This allows you to use them as part of a suite of actions you can take to better improve cybersecurity in your organization. With the many CIS benchmarks available, you can assess how much else the CIS organization can assist you.

Best Practices

CIS-CAT bases its recommendations on best practices accepted across the industry. Thus, you can combine the best tools and the best practices to create a comprehensive method to secure your systems.

For that reason, CIS-CAT keeps a relevant and up-to-date set of system recommendations. These best practices are often changed based on the technology moving forward, so need to remain relevant.

Why Is CIS-CAT Good for Configuration Security?

This system has several unique selling points that make it perfect for a technician. They can use it to configure their infrastructure’s security. The following is a short list of examples of how configuring the security for a system works well for all users.

User Experience

The CIS-CAT Pro Dashboard has a strong focus on usability and understandability. It makes use of the tenets of good UX to allow both old and new users a simple method to assess a network.

The dashboard does this by providing a graphical view of the systems it investigates. This interface can then display the results of the assessment in a clear yet detailed manner.

This graphical user interface allows for a greater level of accessibility to the system. This means that you do not need to train users for as long in how to use its advanced features. Thus you can let your IT personnel take the lead in using it to the best of their ability.

Drill Down

The infrastructure of a system can become especially complex over time through growth. Using the CIS-CAT Pro Dashboard, you can look at this system through several different levels of fidelity.

The application allows you to view a summary overview of your system. This can give you a broad idea about the level of security currently in your network. Similarly, you can choose to drill down into each assessment’s details to get more information.

This ability empowers you to be able to get the exact information you need on specific systems. Using CIS-CAT, you can thus produce reports that have as much detail as you need for different target audiences.


CIS-CAT software exists with the understanding that not all systems are identical. While other assessment apps may judge all infrastructures the same, you can customize CIS-CAT to a large degree.

You can apply exceptions to the rules of cybersecurity in CIS-CAT to allow it to take specific circumstances into account. This way, you can ensure you give not only an accurate level of oversight to your server configuration but a relevant one.

After applying exceptions, you can then get the system to recalculate the scores you earn for your system. These can be output and reported on in the same way as ones without exceptions.

This will prevent you from needing to explain every minor detail to those who are not in the Information Technology department. As several questions may come up when you make security changes, this can be very useful.


There are times when you may need to pass your knowledge of the system forward to others. There are also other times when you yourself need summaries and reminders of how you should configure a system.

For these instances, and several others, CIS-CAT allows you to apply tags to specific systems in your network. You can ensure that the different areas in your infrastructure have the context they need. This way, mistakes are not made when reconfiguring them.

This can prevent downtime from situations where you misunderstand the status of a particular system. Similarly, if you bring in new hires, they can see what each system needs, summarised in the tags applied to it.

Your configuration decisions can then live long into the future of your system, documented for future work.

Why Is CIS-CAT Good For Remote Security?

CIS-CAT is a tool that supports online interaction with external servers. Using a web-based application, you can log in to the system from anywhere online with the correct credentials. This has specific benefits when you start being able to ensure you can assist from any location.

Remote Capabilities

CIS-CAT Pro v4 can assess remote systems. This lets individuals be able to be “on-call” from remote locations. Thus, reducing the need for complicated schedules for administrators.

Your employees can be available only as and when they need to be. They can go online to assess and fix issues only when you call them to action following an issue becoming known.

Dashboard Alerts

You do not need to enter the application and check the status of your system many times in quick succession over the day. Instead, CIS-CAT allows you to set up dashboard alerts.

You can customize these automatic alerts. They can assign different levels of priority to different situations that CIS-CAT may detect. Once they alert you, you can then open CIS-CAT and start the process of diagnosing the flagged issue in its system.

These dashboard alerts allow you to stay up-to-date on any problems, resolving them before they escalate any further.

This can save you significant amounts of money over the lifetime of your company. IBM reported recently that the average cost of a data breach in the USA is $3.86 million, so attempting to stop that before it can even happen is imperative.

The customizability of this system also prevents false red flags from occurring. The nature of your specific infrastructure may mean that you should allow for a little extra “give” when it comes to the speed and actions of your system. CIS-CAT allows for that, and lets you set its automated assessments to a level where you will not receive a warning unless there are real issues.

Automated Update Alerts

Like the automated dashboard alerts for problems in your system, CIS-CAT can inform you of when security procedures need an update. This includes when CIS-CAT itself needs a renewal of its policies.

This active method of informing you that security policies need updating can have a significant effect. It can mean the difference between ensuring your system is up-to-date and falling behind. In a world of technology that is fast-moving, this can mean the difference between security and vulnerability.

After an update, CIS-CAT is also aware of the realities of changing policies. When assessing your infrastructure, it can inform you of configuration changes. These are a form of “drift” between one assessment and another.

Having this knowledge allows you to determine for yourself whether this drift is a problem or something you should ignore.

Where Can You Learn More?

Now you have read through this article, you should have a deeper understanding of how CIS-CAT can simplify your security processes. You should be able to configure your system in a much more fast and easy manner. If you still have further questions, though, you can always get in contact.

Our teams are available for you to chat about CIS-CAT and your systems. You can ask any questions you may have about how we can help you to get started upgrading your cybersecurity solutions moving forward.

About Chad Lauterbach

CEO at Be Structured Technology Group, Inc. a Los Angeles based provider of Managed IT Services for small business. I desire to help small businesses better utilize technology by assisting in high level planning to make sure that new systems will benefit them both operationally and financially. I am careful to implement and support systems using industry best practices.