Nonprofit association Educause, which promotes IT use in higher education, and the Center for Internet Security (CIS) have teamed up to provide more tools to colleges and universities in order to improve cybersecurity.

CIS develops benchmarks for technical security controls that strengthen the configuration of operating systems, software applications, and network devices. Under the agreement, each Educause institutional member can, at no cost, redistribute CIS benchmarks and software tools on college and university-owned systems.

Access to the benchmarks will give colleges and universities a straightforward way to measure system security.

In addition, the relationship entitles institutional members to redistribute CIS tools to students, faculty, and employees for use on computers they own. CIS memberships usually costs between $2,000 to $7,000.

Rodney Petersen, policy analyst and security task force coordinator at Educause, praised the efforts of CIS to improve the security of "out-of-the-box" systems, which he said was very consistent with the goals of Educause's Security Task Force.

The partnership provides technical control baselines that can be presented to software vendors and hardware suppliers as default security configurations for systems that colleges and universities purchase.