Regulatory compliance benchmarks are standards or guidelines that help organizations measure and assess their level of compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and industry standards.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a U.S. federal law enacted in 1996. HIPAA establishes standards and regulations to protect the privacy, security, and confidentiality of individuals' personal health information (PHI) and electronic health records (EHRs) in the healthcare industry.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Rule are two key components of the HIPAA standard:
  • HIPAA Privacy Rule: The Privacy Rule sets standards for the use and disclosure of PHI by covered entities, which include healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses. It grants individuals certain rights over their health information, such as the right to access, request amendments, and obtain an accounting of disclosures. Covered entities are required to implement safeguards to protect PHI, provide patients with notice of privacy practices, and obtain written authorization for certain uses and disclosures of PHI.
  • HIPAA Security Rule: The Security Rule establishes security standards for protecting electronic PHI (ePHI). It requires covered entities and their business associates to implement administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI. These safeguards include risk assessments, access controls, encryption, audit controls, disaster recovery plans, and employee training on security awareness.

The HIPAA standard applies to healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and their business associates who handle PHI or ePHI. Compliance with HIPAA regulations is mandatory, and non-compliance can result in significant penalties, including financial fines and potential criminal charges.

HIPAA also includes provisions related to the electronic exchange of health information and establishes the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which promotes the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records.

It's important to note that my knowledge cutoff is in September 2021, so it's advisable to consult the latest information and updates from official sources such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the most current and accurate information regarding HIPAA standards and regulations.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) Compliance Standards

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of compliance standards established by the major payment card brands, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and JCB. PCI DSS aims to ensure the security of cardholder data and protect against fraud and unauthorized access within the payment card industry.

The PCI DSS compliance standards consist of twelve high-level requirements, organized into six control objectives. These requirements outline security measures that organizations handling payment card data must implement:
  • Build and Maintain a Secure Network
  • Protect Cardholder Data
  • Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program.
  • Maintain an Information Security Policy

PCI DSS compliance requirements vary based on the organization's level of involvement in payment card transactions, classified as levels 1 to 4. Level 1 merchants and service providers with the highest transaction volumes have more stringent requirements and undergo annual on-site audits by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA). Level 2, 3, and 4 merchants may have different validation requirements, ranging from self-assessment questionnaires (SAQs) to external vulnerability scans.

Compliance with PCI DSS is necessary for entities involved in payment card processing, including merchants, service providers, and payment processors. Non-compliance may result in penalties, fines, increased transaction fees, or restrictions on card acceptance.

It's important to note that while this information provides an overview of the PCI DSS compliance standards, specific requirements and guidance can evolve over time. Therefore, it is recommended to consult the official PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) website and the latest PCI DSS documentation for the most up-to-date information and requirements.

CIS (Center for Internet Security) Security Standards

The VMware Aria Operations Compliance Pack for CIS is updated to support the following benchmarks:
  • CIS_VMware_ESXi_6.7_Benchmark_V1.3.0
  • CIS_VMware_ESXi_7.0_Benchmark_V1.2.0
For more details, see the KB 93135.

The CIS (Center for Internet Security) Security Standards are a set of best practices and guidelines for securing computer systems and networks. The CIS organization is a non-profit entity that collaborates with experts from various industries to develop and promote consensus-based security configurations and benchmarks.

The CIS Security Standards include two primary components:
  • CIS Controls: The CIS Controls are a set of 20 security actions that organizations can take to mitigate the most common and impactful cyber threats. These controls are prioritized based on their effectiveness in reducing risk. They cover various security domains, including asset management, access control, incident response, network security, and security awareness training. The CIS Controls are regularly updated to address emerging threats and evolving technology landscapes.
  • CIS Benchmarks: CIS Benchmarks provide detailed configuration guidelines for securing specific technology platforms and systems. These benchmarks outline recommended settings and configurations for operating systems, applications, and network devices to ensure security and reduce vulnerabilities. CIS Benchmarks are created through a consensus-driven process involving input from cybersecurity experts, vendors, and practitioners.

CIS Security Standards are known for their practical and actionable nature, providing step-by-step instructions and specific configuration recommendations. They are widely adopted across industries and are used as a reference by organizations to assess, improve, and maintain the security of their IT systems and networks.

The CIS organization regularly updates its security standards and benchmarks to address emerging threats, technology advancements, and changes in regulatory requirements. The CIS Security Standards are available to the public, and organizations can leverage them as a valuable resource for enhancing their cybersecurity posture and reducing the risk of cyberattacks.

Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Security Standards

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) establishes and provides security standards and guidelines for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and its information systems. DISA is responsible for ensuring the secure operation and defense of DoD's global information infrastructure.

DISA has developed several security standards and guidelines to protect sensitive information and ensure the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of DoD systems. Some of the key security standards and guidelines provided by DISA include:
  • Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIGs): STIGs are a set of guidelines and configuration standards for various operating systems, applications, and network devices. They provide detailed instructions on how to secure and configure these systems to meet DoD security requirements. STIGs cover a wide range of technologies, including Windows, Linux, Cisco devices, databases, and web servers.
  • Security Requirements Guides (SRGs): SRGs are comprehensive documents that outline security requirements for specific technology platforms, systems, or applications. They provide guidance on how to secure and configure systems in accordance with DoD security policies. SRGs address various security domains, including access control, identification and authentication, audit and accountability, and encryption.
  • Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIGs) Viewer: DISA provides a STIG Viewer tool that helps organizations assess and implement STIG recommendations. The STIG Viewer automates the process of checking system configurations against STIG requirements, allowing organizations to identify and remediate security vulnerabilities more efficiently.
  • Information Assurance Vulnerability Management (IAVM): DISA maintains the IAVM program, which identifies and manages vulnerabilities in DoD systems. IAVM alerts provide timely information about security vulnerabilities and patches. Organizations within the DoD are required to promptly apply these patches to mitigate potential risks.
  • DoD Cybersecurity Discipline Implementation Plan (CDIP): The CDIP outlines the implementation and management of cybersecurity practices within the DoD. It provides guidelines and best practices for managing risks, protecting systems, responding to incidents, and fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness.

DISA's security standards and guidelines play a critical role in ensuring the security and resilience of DoD systems and information assets. They are constantly updated and refined to address emerging threats and align with evolving cybersecurity practices. Organizations within the DoD are expected to adhere to these standards to maintain the security of their systems and networks.

The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) Security Standards

The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is a U.S. federal law enacted in 2002. FISMA establishes a framework for securing information systems and managing cybersecurity risks within federal government agencies and their contractors. FISMA requires federal agencies to develop, implement, and maintain information security programs to protect sensitive government information.

While FISMA itself does not provide detailed security standards, it sets requirements for federal agencies to follow certain security guidelines and standards, including those established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-53, titled "Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations," is a key document referenced under FISMA.

NIST SP 800-53 provides a catalog of security controls that federal agencies must implement to protect their information systems. The controls cover various areas, including access control, incident response, configuration management, encryption, network security, and security assessment and authorization. The controls are categorized into families and are tailored to address specific security requirements.

FISMA requires federal agencies to develop and maintain a risk-based approach to information security. This involves conducting risk assessments, implementing security controls based on the identified risks, periodically testing and evaluating the effectiveness of these controls, and ensuring continuous monitoring of information systems.

Under FISMA, federal agencies are also required to undergo annual security assessments, including independent audits, to evaluate the effectiveness of their information security programs and controls. The results of these assessments are reported to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Congress.

FISMA compliance is crucial for federal agencies to demonstrate their commitment to protecting government information and ensuring the security of their information systems. It helps establish a standardized approach to information security across federal government entities and aligns with other security frameworks and standards, such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and NIST Risk Management Framework.

It's important to note that FISMA requirements may evolve over time, and agencies should refer to the latest guidance provided by NIST and other authoritative sources to ensure compliance with FISMA security standards.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Security Standards

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an independent, non-governmental international standardization body that develops and publishes international standards across various industries. ISO has also created a series of security standards specifically related to information security management systems (ISMS). The most well-known among them is ISO/IEC 27001.

ISO/IEC 27001: The ISO/IEC 27001 standard specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continuously improving an ISMS within the context of an organization. It provides a systematic and risk-based approach to managing the security of sensitive information. The standard covers areas such as risk assessment, information security policies, asset management, access control, incident management, and compliance. ISO/IEC 27001 is widely adopted by organizations globally and serves as a benchmark for information security management.

ISO/IEC 27002: ISO/IEC 27002 (formerly known as ISO/IEC 17799) is a code of practice for information security controls. It offers guidance and recommendations for implementing security controls and safeguards based on the best practices of information security management. ISO/IEC 27002 covers a broad range of security areas, including organizational security, human resource security, physical and environmental security, communications and operations management, and compliance.

ISO/IEC 27005: ISO/IEC 27005 provides guidelines for conducting risk assessments in the context of information security. It offers a structured approach for identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and treating information security risks. ISO/IEC 27005 helps organizations assess the potential impact of risks, determine risk tolerance, and make informed decisions on implementing appropriate security controls.

ISO/IEC 27017 and ISO/IEC 27018: These standards specifically focus on cloud security. ISO/IEC 27017 provides guidelines for implementing information security controls in cloud computing environments, while ISO/IEC 27018 offers guidance for protecting personal data in the cloud and addresses privacy concerns related to cloud services.

ISO/IEC 27701: This standard is an extension to ISO/IEC 27001 and provides guidelines for implementing a Privacy Information Management System (PIMS). ISO/IEC 27701 helps organizations establish and maintain controls to protect personal data and comply with privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

ISO security standards provide a framework for organizations to establish effective information security management practices. Compliance with these standards demonstrates a commitment to securing sensitive information, managing risks, and implementing robust security controls. Organizations can seek ISO certification through a formal audit process conducted by accredited certification bodies to validate their adherence to ISO security standards.