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CIS Microsoft Servers Benchmark Reports

by Stephanie Dunn
February 16, 2017

As infrastructure demands evolve to support cloud, mobile, and virtualization needs, many organizations continue to rely on Microsoft Windows servers to support business requirements. With each subsequent release of Windows servers, additional features are added to enhance overall security and support newer technologies. However, these features also include default settings that must be configured properly, as attackers frequently target and exploit misconfigured settings to gain access to the organization’s network. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is an organization that works with security experts to develop a set of 'best practice' security standards designed to harden Windows Server operating systems. These report templates provide a high-level overview of results gathered from CIS compliance scans using the CIS Microsoft Windows Server Benchmarks.

Tenable Network Security has been certified by CIS to perform a wide variety of platform and application audits based on the best practice consensus benchmarks developed by CIS. Tenable submits example test cases for all of the criteria within each unique benchmark, and then submits our results to CIS personnel for official certification. Tenable has developed audit files based on the CIS Microsoft Windows Server Benchmarks tested on systems running the Windows Server operating system, and has been approved and certified by CIS staff members.

When performing managed scans with SecurityCenter, some CIS audits require additional patch audits and vulnerability checks. Any additional requirements for completing an audit using the CIS Microsoft Windows Server Benchmarks will be included within the audit file description text. In some cases, multiple scans may be required to be performed, as Tenable provides both Level 1 and Level 2 audit checks. Level 1 checks provide minimum settings recommendations, and are generally considered safe to apply to most systems. Level 2 checks include recommendations for complex or highly secure environments, and can lead to reduced functionality of Windows Servers.

In order to perform audit scans with SecurityCenter, CIS Microsoft Windows Server Benchmark audit files must be uploaded first. Next, the appropriate credentials must be added, after which a scan policy can be created. Finally, a scan can be scheduled. As part of the post scan jobs, the 'Auto-Run Reports' can be enabled automatically, running this report on the data collected using the appropriate audit file. Using these benchmarks will help to assess the effectiveness of existing security controls on Windows servers, and provide the critical information needed to strengthen an organization's security posture.

The reports are available in the SecurityCenter Feed, a comprehensive collection of dashboards, reports, Assurance Report Cards, and assets. The reports can be easily located in the SecurityCenter Feed under the category Compliance & Configuration Assessment. The report requirements are:

  • SecurityCenter 5.2.0
  • Nessus 6.9.3
  • CIS Audit Files for Windows Servers are required, and the files required for each template are listed below with respective templates.

Tenable SecurityCenter helps organizations measure and communicate results with many compliance standards using the CIS Benchmarks. By frequently scanning systems, SecurityCenter will measure compliance in real time, providing a security posture assessment of Windows servers throughout the enterprise. SecurityCenter comes default with over 200 audit files for CIS and more than 400 audit files overall. By prioritizing remediation actions of misconfigured systems, the organization can maximize their investment in compliance reporting and system hardening efforts. With more supported technologies than any other vendor, organizations will obtain the most comprehensive view of the network, and the intelligence needed to assess the enterprise against CIS compliance standards.

Report Templates


CIS Microsoft Exchange 2007 Benchmark v1.1.0 - This benchmark provides guidance for establishing a secure configuration posture for Microsoft Exchange 2007 Server. This report includes a high-level overview of results gathered from Exchange server settings. The audit file required to support this report template is:

  • CIS_v1.1.0_MS_Exchange_2007_Edge_Transport.audit

CIS Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Benchmark v3.1.0 – This benchmark provides guidance for establishing a secure configuration posture for Domain controllers and Member servers running Microsoft Windows Server 2003. This report includes a high-level overview of results gathered from registry settings, service policies and permissions, file permissions, and more. The audit files required to support this report template are:

  • CIS_MS_Windows_Server_2003_DC_v3.1.0.audit
  • CIS_MS_Windows_Server_2003_MS_v3.1.0.audit

CIS Windows Server 2008 Benchmark v1.2.0 - This benchmark provides guidance for establishing a secure configuration posture for servers running Microsoft Windows Server 2008 RTM and R2. This report includes a high-level overview of results gathered from password policies, audit policies, registry settings, user permissions, and more. The audit files required to support this report template are:

  • CIS_MS_2008_Server_Enterprise_v1.2.0.audit
  • CIS_MS_2008_Server_SSLF_v1.2.0.audit

CIS Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (non-R2) Benchmark v3.0.1 - This benchmark provides guidance for establishing a secure configuration posture for Domain controllers and Member servers running Microsoft Windows Server 2008. This report includes a high-level overview of results gathered from registry settings, service policies settings, group policies, file permissions, and more. The audit files required to support this report template are:

  • CIS_MS_Windows_Server_2008_DC_Level_1_v3.0.1.audit
  • CIS_MS_Windows_Server_2008_DC_Level_2_v3.0.1.audit
  • CIS_MS_Windows_Server_2008_MS_Level_1_v3.0.1.audit
  • CIS_MS_Windows_Server_2008_MS_Level_2_v3.0.1.audit

CIS Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Benchmark v3.0.1 - This benchmark provides guidance for establishing a secure configuration posture for Domain controllers and Member servers running Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2. This report includes a high-level overview of results gathered from system services, registry settings, group policies, account policies, and more. The audit files required to support this report template are:

  • CIS_MS_Windows_Server_2008_R2_DC_Level_1_v3.0.1.audit
  • CIS_MS_Windows_Server_2008_R2_DC_Level_2_v3.0.1.audit
  • CIS_MS_Windows_Server_2008_R2_MS_Level_1_v3.0.1.audit
  • CIS_MS_Windows_Server_2008_R2_MS_Level_2_v3.0.1.audit

CIS Microsoft Windows Server 2012 (non-R2) Benchmark v2.0.1 - This benchmark provides guidance for establishing a secure configuration posture for Domain controllers and Member servers running Microsoft Windows Server 2012. This report includes a high-level overview of results gathered from system services, registry settings, group policies, account policies, and more. The audit files required to support this report template are:

  • CIS_DC_SERVER_2012_Level_1_v2.0.1.audit
  • CIS_DC_SERVER_2012_Level_2_v2.0.1.audit
  • CIS_MS_SERVER_2012_Level_1_v2.0.1.audit
  • CIS_MS_SERVER_2012_Level_2_v2.0.1.audit

CIS Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Benchmark v2.2.1 – This benchmark provides guidance for establishing a secure configuration posture for Domain controllers and Member servers running Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2. This report includes a high-level overview of results gathered from system services, registry settings, group policies, account policies, and more. The audit files required to support this report template are:

  • CIS_DC_SERVER_2012_R2_Level_1_v2.2.1.audit
  • CIS_DC_SERVER_2012_R2_Level_2_v2.2.1.audit
  • CIS_MS_SERVER_2012_R2_Level_1_v2.2.1.audit
  • CIS_MS_SERVER_2012_R2_Level_2_v2.2.1.audit

CIS Microsoft Windows Server 2016 RTM Release 1607 Benchmark v1.0.0 – This benchmark provides guidance for establishing a secure configuration posture for Domain controllers and Member servers running Microsoft Windows Server 2016 RTM Release 1607. This report includes a high-level overview of results gathered from system services, registry settings, group policies, account policies, and more. The audit files required to support this report template are:

  • CIS_DC_SERVER_2016_Level_1_v1.0.0.audit
  • CIS_DC_SERVER_2016_Level_2_v1.0.0.audit
  • CIS_MS_SERVER_2016_Level_1_v1.0.0.audit
  • CIS_MS_SERVER_2016_Level_2_v1.0.0.audit