Controlled Access Based on the Need to Know

CIS Control 14This is a foundational Control

The processes and tools used to track/control/prevent/correct secure access to critical assets (e.g., information, resources, systems) according to the formal determination of which persons, computers, and applications have a need and right to access these critical assets based on an approved classification.

CIS RAM is an information security risk assessment method that helps organizations implement and assess their security posture against the CIS Controls. Download CIS RAM

Why is this CIS Control critical?

Encrypting data provides a level of assurance that even if data is compromised, it is impractical to access the plaintext without significant resources; however, controls should also be put in place to mitigate the threat of data exfiltration in the first place. Many attacks occurred across the network, while others involved physical theft of laptops and other equipment holding sensitive information. Yet, in many cases, the victims were not aware that the sensitive data were leaving their systems because they were not monitoring data outflows. The movement of data across network boundaries both electronically and physically must be carefully scrutinized to minimize its exposure to attackers.

The loss of control over protected or sensitive data by organizations is a serious threat to business operations and a potential threat to national security. While some data are leaked or lost as a result of theft or espionage, the vast majority of these problems result from poorly understood data practices, a lack of effective policy architectures, and user error. Data loss can even occur as a result of legitimate activities such as e-Discovery during litigation, particularly when records retention practices are ineffective or nonexistent.

The adoption of data encryption, both in transit and at rest, provides mitigation against data compromise. This is true if proper care has been taken in the processes and technologies associated with the encryption operations. An example of this is the management of cryptographic keys used by the various algorithms that protect data. The process for generation, use and destruction of keys should be based on proven processes as defined in standards such as NIST SP 800-57.

Care should also be taken to ensure that products used within an enterprise implement well known and vetted cryptographic algorithms, as identified by NIST. Reevaluation of the algorithms and key sizes used within the enterprise on an annual basis is also recommended to ensure that organizations are not falling behind in the strength of protection applied to their data.
For organizations that are moving data to the cloud, it is important to understand the security controls applied to data in the cloud multi-tenant environment, and determine the best course of action for application of encryption controls and security of keys. When possible, keys should be stored within secure containers such as Hardware Security Modules (HSMs).

Data loss prevention (DLP) refers to a comprehensive approach covering people, processes, and systems that identify, monitor, and protect data in use (e.g., endpoint actions), data in motion (e.g., network actions), and data at rest (e.g., data storage) through deep content inspection and with a centralized management framework. Over the last several years, there has been a noticeable shift in attention and investment from securing the network to securing systems within the network, and to securing the data itself. DLP controls are based on policy, and include classifying sensitive data, discovering that data across an enterprise, enforcing controls, and reporting and auditing to ensure policy compliance.

Main Points:
  • Segment the network based on the label or classification level of the information stored on the servers, locate all sensitive information on separated Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs).
  • Encrypt all sensitive information in transit.
Want to implement this foundational Control?

Download the CIS Controls for more details on implementing this and the other 19 Controls.

Download all
CIS Controls v7.1 (PDF)

Already downloaded the CIS Controls?

We have several resources to help you implement:

Information Hub : CIS Controls


Pencil Blog post 14 Apr 2021