CIS Controls for SaaS

CIS Controls for SaaS Providers: A Unique Cybersecurity Approach for Your Business

Implementing CIS Controls for SaaS providers has become a great solution in recent years since the arrival of cloud-based software platforms. Software as a Service providers now understand the great value of CIS since this cybersecurity framework promises to eliminate a large number of cybersecurity threats from these platforms.

CIS Controls provides an actionable plan, which consists of 3 main divisions, called IG1, IG2, and IG3. We’re going to explain this essential cybersecurity framework in the next sections and answer the following questions:

● What does CIS mean for SaaS providers?

● What benefits does the CIS framework offer to SaaS businesses?

● What are the main challenges of implementing CIS Critical Security Controls

 in an organization?

● How can SaaS businesses overcome CIS challenges?

● What solutions do virtual CISO services provide in terms of implementing CIS Critical Security Controls?

Check Out SaaS Security Checklist HERE.

How Does CIS Work for SaaS Platforms?

CIS Critical Security Controls v8  consist of 18 critical controls and action items by which SaaS platforms and organizations can achieve great and actionable cybersecurity. The CIS controls are a set of standards and recommendations that provide a step-by-step plan for organizations that want to prevent their computer systems from sophisticated attacks.

Remember that there is a notable benefit when it comes to the CIS framework. This framework is based on a relatively short action plan that leads an organization through prioritized steps to reach the desired cybersecurity posture.

Prioritization of action plans is a unique advantage of CIS Controls for SaaS platforms. Take into consideration that there is a need to define a starting point for the implementation of a cybersecurity framework. The CIS controls are structured based on a step-by-step plan which streamlines the process by defining this starting point. As a result, your team can directly jump into the starting point and start implementing these standards in your organization.

What Are CIS Controls for SaaS Platforms?

CIS Critical Security Controls v8 defines top security controls in 18 points, which consist of different procedures and requirements. During each of these procedures, your SaaS business can level up its cybersecurity posture and improve data security and protection to achieve the desired level.

● Inventory and control of enterprise assets

● Inventory and control of software assets

● Data protection

● Secure configuration of enterprise assets and software

● Account management

● Access control management

● Continuous vulnerability management

● Audit log management

● Email and web browser protections

● Malware defenses

● Data recovery

● Network infrastructure management

● Network monitoring and defense

● Security awareness and skills training

● Service provider management

● Applications software security

● Incident response management

● Penetration testing

An Overview of Different Categories of CIS Controls for SaaS Providers

The CIS critical security controls are categorized into 3 main divisions to simplify the process of implementing those controls using a step-by-step plan.

For SaaS platforms, the following classification makes it easy to start the process and keep on with the next steps after the initial steps. Note that we have 3 main classifications, including the basic steps, foundational steps, and organizational steps, as follows:

Basic CIS Security Controls for SaaS Platforms

These are the basic measures all organizations should implement as a means of basic cybersecurity structure.

Foundational CIS Security Controls for SaaS Platforms

Foundational CIS controls for SaaS platforms include more advanced criteria to block a wide range of cyberattacks and security threats on a SaaS platform. These controls include the previous category (IG1).

Organizational CIS Security Controls for SaaS Platforms

If your SaaS business is improved in cybersecurity posture through the previous steps, there are more steps to safeguard your organization even better. These controls include the previous categories (IG1 and IG2).

Why is Implementing CIS Important for SaaS Businesses?

CIS controls are important for SaaS businesses because they minimize the risk of data breaches, data leaks, and data theft. No matter how robust an IT infrastructure is structured and developed, it’s always subject to cybersecurity risks.

Even the most powerful IT infrastructures and companies struggle to keep pace with new cybersecurity practices, and they’re investing in implementing the latest technologies and protection tools in their organizations. CIS comes to the forefront with a reliable plan, offering a security framework to help reduce these risks.

Especially for SaaS platforms that provide third-party software services through cloud computing platforms, CIS is a crucial standard that aims to develop and deploy an effective cyber defense capability.

How Can the CIS Controls Help SaaS Businesses Improve Their Security Posture?

Security experts have worked on CIS Controls and they’re in agreement that these controls are the best defensive technique to prevent different cybersecurity issues on SaaS platforms.

Beyond blocking unauthorized access and preventing data loss, implementing CIS controls on SaaS platforms aims to address threat indicators, monitor network activities, and prevent additional attacks throughout an IT infrastructure.

Note that the defensive mindset behind CIS deals with reducing the initial attack surface by safeguarding and intensifying servers’ security and adding more cybersecurity controls that prevent malicious software tools from acting on your platform.

Steps to Implementing CIS Security Controls on SaaS Platforms

If you’ve read about the recent cyberattacks, you may be wondering how you can protect your software services and what steps you should take in the near future. There is no concern since cybersecurity frameworks and regulations offer you the best methodologies and strategies to implement top security standards in a defined period of time.

When it comes to the CIS framework, there is a practical strategy that defines the necessary steps you can take to implement key controls in your organization. We will explain these steps in the next sections, but let’s take a look at the challenges SaaS businesses may face during the implementation process of CIS controls:

Challenges of Implementing the CIS Controls on SaaS Platforms

SaaS providers need to start their work carefully as they serve mission-critical applications and cloud services to organizations of all sizes. They may face a number of unique challenges when they want to implement a cybersecurity framework and integrate a cybersecurity regulation into their current security posture.

SaaS platforms are cloud-based, and a notable challenge is that some of the traditional cybersecurity practices and measures will not work for these platforms. Think of firewalls that can protect on-premise networks, data, and software, but there will be a need to make use of specific types of firewalls for SaaS platforms and cloud-based services.

● Another important challenge for SaaS platforms is that their services should be actively running during the implementation process, and even small downtimes can lead to big losses.

The Best Practices for Implementing Essential CIS Controls on SaaS Platforms

As noted earlier, the CIS controls are implemented on a SaaS platform through a step-by-step plan. Overall, there are 5 practical steps that help cybersecurity teams start their work and integrate these controls into your organization:

● Taking the inventory of your assets

● Measuring and analyzing the current asset controls

● Analyzing the weaknesses that are hidden in the current systems

● Planning and starting to deploy the required controls

● Training employees and monitoring systems to prevent future problems

What Benefits Does CIS Provide for Your Organization?

Remember that the CIS controls are very important to those companies that want a high level of cybersecurity to protect their IT systems against cyberattacks. Leading organizations worldwide recommend using CIS controls and deploying its advanced standards in small and large organizations.

It offers a great range of benefits, especially for SaaS platforms, including but not limited to the following:

● Improved security: By implementing CIS controls completely in your organization, your company can fundamentally reduce its attack surface and monitor suspicious activities within your network. CIS is based on providing a well-defined roadmap to improve the cybersecurity posture in small and large organizations.

● Standardization: Standardization and consistency are the 2 main benefits of implementing CIS in your organization. If you want to reform your systems and IT infrastructure to benefit from the latest cybersecurity standards, CIS is a reliable framework.

● Trustworthy compliance: Many leading cybersecurity organizations offer the CIS controls since it covers compliance rules both in terms of hardware and software security. This framework puts cybersecurity best tools and technologies into practice to help your systems improve in terms of data security and protection.

Additional Benefits of CIS Controls for SaaS Providers

Although many SaaS providers think online security is a complex concept, cybersecurity frameworks such as CIS have solved these complexities through practical steps. Thanks to cybersecurity experts, there have been trustworthy frameworks developed by professionals that are customizable to use in small or large organizations.

No matter if you’re a small SaaS platform or you’re providing enterprise software services through cloud-based platforms. The CIS controls are practical and helpful to integrate into your cybersecurity strategies. 

Can CIS Security Controls Improve Customer Trust and Retention?

Enhancing Cybersecurity Frameworks with CIS controls can turn out to be your company’s central aspect of trust. It’s a true fact that organizations cannot prosper and grow without trust, and CIS focuses on improving customer trust through several steps and procedures.

The success of a SaaS business comes with high levels of trust, and cybersecurity is one of the key pillars of trust. It improves customer retention rates over time.

What SaaS Businesses Can Benefit from CIS Controls? Real-World Examples

In fact, Software as a Service platforms are a common part of the modern world today that provide online users with a great number of benefits. Some of the most commonly used SaaS tools are Google apps, DropBox, and Netflix. These are the leading platforms in the world, but there are many other SaaS tools, like business applications, that are running on cloud platforms.

CIS is a customizable framework for SaaS providers meaning you can make use of these controls for a small organization or large enterprise. As a notable benefit, you can start with the basic controls at the first step and proceed with the following controls if you need to safeguard your systems.

The list below shows a list of SaaS tools that can benefit from the CIS controls:




● Project management software

● Sales tools

● Marketing platforms or services

● eCommerce platforms

● Cloud storage providers

● All other cloud-based services, applications, and tools

How You Can Achieve CIS through vCISO Services?

Virtual CISO services offer a clear and unbiased insight into your cybersecurity posture. As a consequence, your IT team can understand what weaknesses and gaps you have in your systems to be filled in the next step.

Virtual CISO services provide you with managed security plans customized to cover exactly the requirements and cybersecurity standards in your organization.

● If you want to get started with the CIS framework and deploy its standards on your SaaS platform, virtual CISO services offer the best and most effective option.


CIS framework has been around for many years, and this framework is helping SaaS providers around the world after the introduction of cloud computing platforms. To make sure there is the desired level of cybersecurity in a SaaS platform, CIS v8 offers some cybersecurity controls in 18 points in which every control aims to protect one or more parts of your IT infrastructure against deadly cyber threats. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the CIS framework practical for SaaS platforms?

● Yes. All businesses, including those SaaS providers, can benefit from the unique advantages of this framework since it offers helpful solutions to preventing a wide range of cybersecurity threats. SaaS businesses need to be careful about how they start the process of implementation, as there is a need for a step-by-step plan to start and carry out the process.

 Is CIS the same as NIST for SaaS businesses?

● These 2 frameworks have a lot in common, but they have some differences. CIS focuses on cybersecurity, while NIST follows a broader scope to develop and implement cybersecurity standards and practices.

What are the 3 main steps to implementing the CIS controls on SaaS platforms?

● There are 3 essential divisions for CIS that lead SaaS platforms to the final result, including the basic controls, the foundational controls, and the organizational controls. Each part consists of different controls starting from very basic concepts and ending with more advanced cybersecurity ideas.

What types of SaaS products can benefit from CIS controls?

● CIS framework is a great solution in the cybersecurity industry as it provides trustworthy coverage for these software services worldwide. The most common types of SaaS solutions that make use of the CIS framework are CRMs, ERPs, and content management systems. 

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