On July 17, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) released new security benchmarking tools for Windows 2000 Professional. The new benchmarking set consists of a scoring tool along with security templates that you can use to analyze and adjust system security settings. According to CIS, "The scoring tools provide a quick and easy way to evaluate systems and networks, comparing their security configurations against the CIS benchmarks. They automatically create reports that guide users and system administrators to secure both new installations and production systems. The tool is also effective for monitoring systems to assure that security settings continuously conform with CIS Benchmark configurations." <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

CIS also provides benchmarking tools for Windows NT, Cisco hardware, Solaris, Linux, and HP-UX. CIS offers the free benchmarking tools to help people better secure these platforms because they're some of the most common points of attack.

CIS said the reason for the existence of the center and its benchmarks is that "a key element currently missing in Internet security is useful and widely accepted, non-proprietary security-enhancing benchmarks specifying in greater detail how systems should be configured and operated." The center operates independently of vendor interests so it can provide impartial, objective guidance. The free benchmarking tools are available for download on the CIS Web site.