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How Can I Know if Our IT Is Really Secure?

In today’s digital world, your company’s data security is paramount. Yet, it's not easy to assess your IT security level if you are a non-technical business leader. You need more than simple assurances from the IT team that everything is “okay.” That’s where an IT security framework comes into play as an objective way for you to measure your security.


These security frameworks are just an organized collection of best practices compiled by independent experts. Your IT team should follow a framework AND routinely give you a “score” for how well you align against that set of standards. Two frameworks (NIST-CSF and CIS Controls) dominate the landscape. Both are similar in purpose, but which one should your company follow?  Let’s look deeper at the pros and cons of each to determine which framework is best for your business.   

What is NIST-CSF?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework (NIST-CSF) is a comprehensive set of standards that help organizations enhance their ability to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber-attacks. NIST-CSF focuses on a risk-based approach that provides general guidelines and practices that can be customized to fit your industry, risk tolerance, and budget. This flexibility means that NIST-CSF is more of a descriptive framework that must be interpreted by your IT team on how to implement it in your unique situation.  

What are the CIS Controls?

The CIS Controls are a collection of approximately 150 prioritized best practices created by a nonprofit called the Center for Internet Security. CIS Controls focus on a threat-mitigation approach that provides clear, prescriptive standards for securing your environment. These standards are lumped into “implementation groups” that allow companies to improve their IT security in phases.

Which Framework is Right for You?

When selecting a security framework, one of the most important factors to consider is the size of your business. The complexity of the NIST-CSF framework is best suited for larger companies with over 500 employees or those under heavy regulation. NIST-CSF can be daunting for smaller businesses due to the lack of clear, specific recommendations. The CIS Controls, on the other hand, are very action-oriented with easy-to-understand guidelines.

On the other hand, if flexibility matters to your organization, the NIST-CSF might be the better fit. Since NIST-CSF takes a risk-based approach, there is more room for interpreting the standards to fit your unique needs. That may or may not be a good thing depending on the strength of your IT team. Again, the guidance provided by the CIS Controls is black and white, with fewer areas for customization. 

Ultimately, what matters is that your IT team is following a framework and that you get a regular scorecard to know where you stand. Because cyber threats constantly evolve and your IT environment constantly changes, applying these frameworks isn’t as simple as a one-time assessment. Your IT team must have a process to assess your environment for alignment with the framework continuously. Tell them you expect a quarterly report card on your framework alignment with specific recommendations that you can take to improve your score. That’s how you can know where you really stand with IT security.

EpiOn's Measurable Better IT Framework

At EpiOn, the CIS Controls are at the heart of our “Measurably Better IT Framework.” We believe that IT should be all about helping you achieve an Outcome. The MBIT Framework is built upon the seven core business Outcomes of Efficiency, Security, Continuity, Compliance, Leverage, Innovation, and Decision-Making. It also removes the mystery of IT management by providing clear metrics and a shared definition of success.

In many respects, each Outcome serves as the foundation for higher Outcomes. Efficiency, Security, Continuity, and Compliance are all about reducing the risks of technology reliance. Leverage, Innovation, and Decision-Making are all about maximizing the productivity promise of technology.

Your IT systems should be helping you achieve business outcomes - driving improved productivity while reducing risk. The MBIT Framework provides the structure and management framework you need to create a collaborative relationship with your IT team. 

For any business leader questioning, "What is the most effective way to safeguard my business?" a consultation with EpiOn is the answer. Specializing in comprehensive IT security and support for small to mid-sized organizations, EpiOn ensures your operations run safely and efficiently, helping you meet your objectives without compromising security. Schedule a call with us today!