CIS Benchmarks Community Volunteer Spotlight: Rob VandenBrink

CIS Benchmarks volunteers undertake a significant role in establishing high-level security measures throughout the industry. They contribute their expertise across various domains, implementing strategies to identify vulnerabilities in systems and mitigate potential risks. The individuals involved are specialists in their respective fields who ensure that the advised standards are practical and effective. Consequently, CIS Benchmarks Community volunteers play a pivotal role in shaping a robust landscape, promoting excellence through collective effort and knowledge sharing.

Rob VandenBrink is the Principal Consultant and Owner of Coherent Security. He’s been in IT since 1981 when he began his career on mainframes and was part of IBM’s support desk when the IBM PC was launched. Since then, he’s worked on everything from networking to Windows NT and Active Directory to Azure for various companies, and he began consulting in 2003. VandenBrink has been a CIS Benchmarks Community member since 2007 and has learned a lot as a volunteer.   

“I’ve got a whole new appreciation for what makes a product secure as opposed to what the default installation is or what it takes to make ‘the thing’ work. These are three different things,” he said. “Often you’ll also find differences between what would be the more secure configuration and what the vendor’s documentation recommends; those are great to explore.”ntly over the years, as most of the recommendations are vendor-independent, cybersecurity-focused, and developed by professionals with practical experience in the field."

As a CIS Benchmarks volunteer, VandenBrink has contributed to the CIS Benchmarks for VMware ESX and ESXi, Palo Alto Networks, as well as Cisco Nexus and Cisco Firepower. He’s also helped on the CIS Cisco IOS Benchmarks in a testing and problem-solving capacity. He further promotes the CIS Benchmarks as an incident handler with the Internet Storm Center.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn a platform inside-out. Even if you are not an expert going in, if you contribute to the Benchmark for it, you’ll know more — likely WAY more — about it by the time the Benchmark is completed,” said VandenBrink. “Also, if you want to network and make friends with folks who are like-minded (technically), you’ll likely find that they’re like-minded in other ways as well.”

Interested in becoming a volunteer like Ron VandenBrink?