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Understanding the CIS 18 Critical Security Controls: Everything You Need to Know

Navigate the complexities of the CIS 18 Critical Security Controls with Gridware. This framework, comprising 18 key cybersecurity measures, is instrumental in safeguarding against evolving digital threats. Our CIS 18 security control services guide Australian businesses through the CIS 18, ensuring a robust and comprehensive security posture.

Overview of CIS Critical Security Controls

What is the Center for Internet Security (CIS)?

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a non-profit organisation focused on enhancing cyber security for public and private sector entities. It develops comprehensive security guidelines and leading practices to help organisations protect themselves against emerging threats.

What are CIS Critical Security Controls?

CIS Critical Security Controls are a set of prioritized, best-practice actions designed to improve cyber defense. They provide a framework for organisations to implement specific and effective security measures against prevalent cyber threats.

Why Choose to Comply with CIS 18 Security Controls?

Complying with CIS 18 Security Controls helps organisations fortify their cyber defenses, offering a structured approach to cybersecurity. These controls are widely recognized for effectively reducing the risk of the most common and impactful cyber attacks.

Relevance of CIS 18 Security Controls in Today's Cybersecurity Climate


The CIS 18 Security Controls, currently at Version 8, has evolved since its inception in 2008. The standard now stands as a popular cybersecurity framework, especially for technology-focused organisations. Unlike broader standards like ISO 27001, CIS 18 offers specific, actionable controls, making it highly effective for businesses seeking clear, concise security guidelines. Its adaptability and focus on prevalent cyber threats make it a relevant choice in the dynamic cybersecurity landscape, particularly beneficial for organisations requiring a targeted approach to digital defense.

What are the Key Components of CIS 18 Security Controls?

The CIS 18 Security Controls are a set of comprehensive and prioritised guidelines designed to provide a roadmap for organisations seeking to bolster their cybersecurity defences. These controls encompass a wide range of practices, from managing hardware and software assets to implementing advanced security measures. Each component is carefully formulated to address specific vulnerabilities and threats, ensuring a holistic approach to protecting an organization’s digital infrastructure. Understanding these key components is essential for any organisation aiming to enhance its security posture effectively in the face of evolving cyber threats.

Asset and Configuration Management

Controls 1-2: Focused on managing and securely configuring hardware and software assets to prevent unauthorized access and vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability Management

Controls 3-4: Involves continuous vulnerability scanning and remediation to address security gaps in systems and applications.

Privilege and Access Control

Controls 4-6: Enforces strict access control and administrative privileges, ensuring secure network access and limiting potential internal threats.

Network and Data Security

Controls 9-12, 16: Establishes strong network defenses and data protection measures, encompassing perimeter security, data integrity, and confidentiality.

Security Awareness and Skills

Control 17: Highlights the importance of security training for employees, fostering a vigilant and informed organizational culture.

Application and Endpoint Security

Controls 7-8, 13-15, 18: Focuses on securing applications and endpoints, including email and browser security, malware defenses, and wireless access controls.

How to Implement CIS 18 Controls Effectively: Step by Step Guide

Before embarking on the journey to align with the CIS 18 standards, it’s crucial to understand the pathway ahead. Following these streamlined steps will facilitate an effective transition to meeting the CIS 18 standards, ensuring a robust cybersecurity posture for your organisation. Here is a concise guide to help you navigate this process:

Step 1 – Conduct a Gap Analysis: Assess your current cybersecurity measures against CIS 18 controls to identify areas needing improvement.

Step 2 – Prioritise Implementations: Rank the controls based on your organisation’s specific risks and vulnerabilities.

Step 3 – Develop and Execute a Plan: Formulate a plan for implementing the prioritised controls, ensuring resource allocation and setting timelines.

Step 4 – Train and Educate Staff: Provide training to ensure everyone understands their role in upholding cybersecurity.

Step 5 – Implement and Monitor Controls: Roll out the controls and establish a process for ongoing monitoring and adjustment.

Step 6 – Document and Review: Maintain thorough documentation of the implementation process and conduct regular reviews for continuous improvement.

Step 7 – Self-Assessment or External Evaluation (Optional): Evaluate your alignment with the CIS 18 standard through self-assessment or external help, though formal certification is not available.

CIS 18 vs Other Cybersecurity Frameworks

CIS 18 vs ISO 27001

CIS 18 and ISO 27001 differ significantly in their approach to cybersecurity. While ISO 27001 provides a broad, holistic framework, CIS 18 offers more specific, actionable controls. This makes CIS 18 particularly suitable for organisations seeking clear and immediate steps for enhancing cybersecurity. CIS 18 compliance is typically self-assessed as it doesn’t come with a formal certification option, in contrast to ISO 27001, which offers independent certification and is internationally recognised.


Comparing CIS 18 to the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) reveals key differences in complexity and practicality. NIST CSF offers a comprehensive set of guidelines, but its complexity can be daunting. CIS 18, on the other hand, is more accessible and user-friendly, focusing on prioritized actions for immediate security improvements.

CIS 18 vs ASD Essential 8

The ASD Essential 8 provides foundational cybersecurity strategies, while CIS 18 offers a more focused approach. CIS 18’s prioritised controls target specific areas of vulnerability, making it an effective choice for organisations that need to address particular security concerns rapidly. The ASD Essential 8 is an Australian standard, which may assist in specific circumstances such as Government tenders. Whereas the Center for Internet Security was founded and headquartered in the United States.

CIS 18 vs SOC2

CIS 18 is designed for a broad range of organisations seeking to enhance their cybersecurity posture, whereas SOC2 is specifically for cloud-based service providers focusing on data security and privacy. CIS 18 offers a set of actionable controls for cybersecurity improvement, ideal for organisations needing clear guidance. SOC2, on the other hand, is audit-based, focusing on adherence to specific Trust Service Criteria, primarily used in the US technology sector.

This level is designed for organizations with limited resources and cybersecurity expertise. It focuses on implementing key controls that provide the most significant benefit to defend against common cyber threats.

IG2 is intended for organizations with more resources and cyber risk exposure. It builds upon IG1 by adding additional controls that further reduce cybersecurity risk.

This highest level is aimed at organizations with significant resources dedicated to cybersecurity. IG3 includes all controls from IG1 and IG2, with additional measures for comprehensive cyber defense, addressing more sophisticated threats.

Understanding CIS 18 Maturity Model

The CIS 18 Security Controls present a structured and strategic approach to bolstering cybersecurity in organisations of all sizes and types. This model is delineated into three implementation groups, each tailored to varying levels of resources, expertise, and risk exposure. Implementing these levels helps organisations to systematically strengthen their defenses against a spectrum of cyber threats, from the most common to the highly sophisticated. By following the CIS 18 framework, businesses can develop a robust cybersecurity posture that is both pragmatic and scalable, ensuring continuous improvement and adaptation in a dynamic digital landscape.

CIS 18 for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

Where other standards might be daunting for SMEs, CIS 18 offers a scalable solution that fits the unique challenges and resource constraints of smaller businesses. By focusing on the most critical controls, SMEs can effectively elevate their cybersecurity defence without overwhelming their resources. CIS 18 does not require formal certification, a requirement often found in other standards, which can be challenging for smaller organizations with limited resources. Gridware specializes in helping SMEs navigate and implement the CIS 18 framework, ensuring robust security tailored to their specific needs.

Why Choose Gridware for CIS 18 Consulting?

Choosing Gridware for CIS 18 consulting services offers expert guidance from one of Australia’s leading cybersecurity companies. Our team specialises in the CIS 18 framework, providing practical, effective solutions for businesses of all sizes. With Gridware, you gain a partner committed to enhancing your security posture, ensuring you’re well-equipped to tackle evolving cyber threats. 

CIS 18 Framework FAQs

They are a set of 18 actionable guidelines designed by the Centre for Internet Security, to improve an organisation’s cybersecurity posture, covering everything from asset management to data protection.

No, CIS 18 doesn’t come with a formal certification. Compliance is typically self-assessed, focusing on practical implementation of the controls.

CIS 18 provides specific, actionable controls for immediate security improvements, making it more accessible, especially for organisations with limited resources, unlike the broader approach of ISO 27001.

There are numerous benefits of implementing CIS 18 to enhance your organisation’s cyber defence against cyber threats. It provides a practical and scalable framework suitable for all sizes of businesses. It focuses on impactful security measures, improving risk management and compliance, and builds trust with customers and partners. It is a more cost-effective approach, compared to other standards to streamlines your cybersecurity efforts, ensuring a strong foundational security posture.

The time to implement CIS 18 Security Controls varies depending on the organisation’s size, existing security posture, and resources. Typically, a basic implementation can take several months, while a more comprehensive approach may extend over a year.

Gridware offers expert consulting services to guide organisations through each step of the CIS 18 implementation, tailoring strategies to meet unique cybersecurity needs.

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