The Microsoft Windows Security Hardening Guides, also referred to as the Microsoft Security Standards (MSS), provides detailed recommendations on the proper configuration of Microsoft Windows environments to ensure security readiness. Recently expanded to Windows XP, the standards were reviewed by the Center for Internet Security (CIS) and the United States Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for consistency with existing security best practices. Regulatory requirements, such as SOX, HIPAA and FISMA have driven the necessity for organizations to continuously track and monitor security configurations. System administrators know the Internet is a hostile environment. They can't tell when a hacker will attempt to gain access, but they can bet that there will be an attempt soon. Because the operating system is vital to a computer's functioning, and because it's the only layer between the machine's available resources and its users, it's critical that the operating system resist compromise. Organizations must implement a continuously thorough program of security configuration and compliance, yet lack the time, objectivity and expertise to accurately assess the security readiness of their systems and where the vulnerabilities exist.
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