A virtual image is a snapshot of a virtual machine (VM) used to create a running instance in a virtual environment, thus providing the same functionality as a physical computer. Virtual images reside on the cloud and let you cost-effectively perform routine computing operations without investing in local hardware and software. Hardening is a process of limiting potential weaknesses that make systems vulnerable to cyber attacks. More secure than a standard image, hardened virtual images reduce system vulnerabilities to help protect against denial of service, unauthorized data access, and other cyber threats.
CIS Hardened Images are configured according to CIS Benchmark recommendations, which are developed through consensus by a global community of cybersecurity experts. These recommendations are recognized by the DoD Cloud Computing Security Recommendation Guide (SRG), Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI DSS), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a secure configuration standard. This recognition also applies to CIS Hardened Images as their configuration is based on the CIS Benchmarks. For organizations and industries that require compliance to Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) standards, CIS has mapped the CIS Benchmark to STIG standards, when applicable, and includes the remaining STIG and CIS recommendations that don’t map to each other.