Organizations must now, more than ever, balance a rapidly revolutionizing cyber threat landscape with the need to meet business requirements.
NIST convened the stakeholders to develop a carefully curated Cybersecurity Framework that addresses threats and supports businesses in managing their cybersecurity risk.
The Framework’s primary stakeholders are private-sector owners and critical infrastructure operators in the United States. Its user base has expanded to include communities and organizations worldwide.
The Framework combines industry standards and best practices to assist organizations in managing cybersecurity risks.
It establishes a common language that enables employees at all levels of an organization and at all points in a supply chain to develop a shared understanding of their cybersecurity risks.
The Framework was developed by NIST in collaboration with private-sector and government professionals and was released in early 2014.
The effort was so successful that Congress included it as a responsibility of the NIST in the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014.
The Framework not only assists businesses in understanding their cybersecurity risks (threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences) and how to mitigate these risks through specific solutions.
The Framework also helps them respond to and recover from cybersecurity problems, motivating them to investigate fundamental causes and propose ways to improve.
JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft, Boeing, Intel, the Bank of England, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, and the Ontario Energy Board are among the companies that have adopted the Framework.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) works to raise awareness of the Framework and its application in domestic and foreign markets.
NIST also collaborates with industry and other stakeholders to ensure that Framework updates retain the Framework’s relevance and usability for a wide spectrum of businesses.
Check It Out: New Executive Order On Cybersecurity 2021
What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?
The Cybersecurity Framework, laid forth by the National Institute of Standards and Technology under the United States Commerce Department, is a collection of rules for private sector organizations to follow to be better prepared in recognizing, detecting, and responding to cyber-attacks.
It also contains instructions on how to avoid and recover from an assault.
To put it simply, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a collection of best practices, standards, and recommendations to assist organizations in improving their cybersecurity procedures.
NIST developed the optional standards after former US President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2014.
NIST Cybersecurity Framework: It’s functions!
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework aims to overcome the absence of security standards.
There are now significant variances in how businesses use technology, languages, and procedures to combat hackers, data thieves, and ransomware.
Cyberattacks are getting more common and complicated, and combating them is getting increasingly challenging, exacerbated by companies’ lack of a clear strategy.
Another issue arises from the many sets of regulations, rules, best practices, and technology used in cybersecurity: firms are unable to exchange information regarding assaults.
Suppose your organization is subjected to a hacking effort. In that case, you can speak with a colleague from another organization who has previously been subjected to the same type of assault.
Keep in mind, though, that what they accomplished could not work for you.
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework tries to eliminate all of this. A consistent set of rules, norms, and standards makes it simpler to transfer information between firms and get everyone on the same page.
The Impact of NIST Cybersecurity Framework
These rules, which were originally meant simply as recommendations under then-President Obama’s executive order, are now being enforced in federal offices under the executive order signed by current U.S. President Donald Trump.
These rules, however, can also help nonprofit groups and corporations. As a result, everybody concerned about or accountable for their organization’s cybersecurity should be aware of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.
It might be argued that everybody who uses a computer should consider the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.
Your IT employees would be in charge of implementing it. Still, your other staff would be responsible for adhering to the new security requirements.
Business managers and C-level executives would be in the order of ensuring that everything is done appropriately.
Implementation of NIST Cybersecurity Framework
Make no mistake about it: applying the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is an absolute must. There’s no good reason not to.
For starters, it will help prevent you from a looming cyber attack. Failure to adhere to the NIST rules creates a greater risk. The installation procedure may appear to be time-consuming, but you may be more secure.
Not only will your clients trust you more, but your workers will be thinking about security while they go about their daily tasks.
Over seven out of ten security professionals and IT experts feel that the NIST framework is a good concept and that executing it is an excellent practice.
To assist businesses and government agencies in implementing the recommendations outlined in the Cybersecurity Framework, NIST provides several resources on its website, which include frequently asked questions, industry documents, case studies, and other assistance.
If you work for the government, you don’t have much choice. Ninety days after the executive order was signed in May 2017, the Trump administration mandated that each agency develop its implementation strategy.
NIST Security Framework Summary: At a Glance
The Framework’s Foundation
The framework core describes the actions required to achieve various cybersecurity outcomes, which is further subdivided into four parts:
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework defines five functions: identity, detect, protect, respond, and recover. These are your most fundamental cybersecurity responsibilities.
There are categories for each of the five functions, which are distinct challenges or tasks that you must do.
To safeguard (function) your systems, for example, you must execute software upgrades, install antivirus and antimalware software, and have access control rules in place.
Subcategories are Subcategories
Each category has its own set of activities or difficulties. For example, while implementing software updates (type), you must ensure that auto-updates are enabled on all Windows devices.
Sources of Information
These are the documents/manuals that instruct users on how to do various tasks. For example, you should include a paper that explains how to activate auto-updates on Windows PCs.
Tiers of Implementation
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework defines four tier levels of implementation that may allow you to determine your level of compliance. You are more obedient if you are on a higher tier.
Profiles in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework address both the present state of your organization’s cybersecurity measures and the roadmaps you have in place to achieve NIST Cybersecurity Framework compliance.
According to NIST, having these profiles would allow firms to recognize their weak points at every stage of the process. Once these flaws are addressed, businesses will find it simpler to progress to higher implementation stages.
The profiles can also assist business management in understanding how each function, category, or subcategory may benefit the firm as a whole, offering a demonstrated advantage of complying with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.
The profiles are analogous to executive summaries of everything a company has done for the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.
Should you consider implementing the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?
If you are a private organization, you can choose not to use the NIST framework. You are not required to do so by law or regulation.
Implementing this also requires a large investment, so some businesses are hesitant to completely apply the organization’s structure.
Nonetheless, the cost of a security breach is almost certainly far higher. In 2018, the average cost of a data breach topped $3.65 million. And, as if the financial expenses weren’t enough, it is hard to put a price tag on the loss of consumer trust and your company’s image.
NIST Cybersecurity Certification
The NIST Cybersecurity Professional (NCSP) authorized training program teaches firms how to swiftly design, operationalize, and automate the informational reference controls and management systems necessary to provide the business objectives anticipated by senior management, government regulators, and industry auditors.
Organizations can learn how to do the following through NCSP-accredited training programs:
- Evaluate an organization’s cybersecurity capabilities to determine its current cybersecurity condition.
- Create a cybersecurity program that uses NIST-CSF informative reference controls to achieve its desired cybersecurity state.
- Please install and activate a Continual Implementation and Improvement Management System (CIIS) to automate, sustain, and continuously enhance its future cybersecurity status.
Professionals in IT, Cybersecurity, and Risk Management
NCSP courses educate students on analyzing, creating, executing, operationalizing, and continuously enhancing the controls, management systems, and workforce capabilities involved with a NIST Cybersecurity program.
Auditors and Regulators in Cybersecurity
NCSP courses educate the information, skills, and abilities required to identify what core and mission-important capabilities (controls, management systems, workforce skills, and so on) must be in place to comply with an organization’s cybersecurity risk management policies and regulatory requirements.
The advantages of NSCP certification
- NCSP is the industry’s first approved training program, designed to assist organizations and people in designing and implementing the NIST Cyber Security Framework throughout their organization and supply chain.
- Because of the certifications and training alternatives, the program may be tailored to any organizational structure and activity schedule.
- The online NCSP teacher The Train the Trainer program allows training businesses to train their workforce swiftly.
- The NCSP program provides further training and consulting opportunities against a recognized US government department structure.
- The NCSP program provides access to new job options in the cybersecurity field.
NIST Assessment Tool: A Deeper Dive!
From a presidential executive order, the National Institute of Standards and Technology established the Framework for Improving Important Infrastructure Cybersecurity, subsequently named the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), to assist critical functions of our society in monitoring and mitigating cybersecurity threats.
The Framework has now been embraced by enterprises of all sizes across a wide range of sectors.
As an optional guideline, the CSF is intended to be tailored to the company and, as a result, does not include controls as other standards do. Instead, the CSF assists security practitioners in starting a conversation about the need with stakeholders across the company.
Using the Framework Core’s five functions – Identify, Detect, Respond, and Recover – technical and non-technical stakeholders may identify their organization’s cybersecurity strengths and weaknesses, as well as where to invest time and effort.
The implementation of the Cybersecurity Framework begins with a benchmarking evaluation, which for the most part, requires the use of an assessment instrument.
Now that you have decided to work with the CSF, finding the correct instrument to put it into action is crucial.
A NIST Cybersecurity Framework Assessment Tool’s Critical Capabilities
Any CSF evaluation tool must be developed on the Framework, with the three key aspects serving as guides:
- Framework Profiles: Discover how the solution allows your team to adopt Framework Profiles.
- Implementation Tiers: How it aids in the expression of your Implementation Tier.
- Framework Core: The clarity with which the solution depicts your strengths and shortcomings in the context of the Five Functions.
Creating a Profile
A Cybersecurity Framework Assessment tool should use the NIST CSF Categories and Subcategories to help you and your company determine which are the most critical based on risk assessment and business reasons.
You must create a Current State and Target State profile based on the Categories and Subcategories evaluated.
In the case of CyberStrong, whenever your team completes an evaluation, the platform will automatically build a current and desired state profile.
These visualizations are not only useful for your team to understand where they should focus their time, but they are also useful to present to your executive leadership to contextualize what they are saying.
Tiers of Implementation
In the Framework documentation, NIST emphasizes that the Implementation Tiers are not a maturity model.
On the other hand, the tiers are a method of approaching cyber risk management and bridging the gap between technical and business stakeholders. The Implementation Tiers for assessment tools can take several shapes.
CyberStrong employs control scoring implementation levels and rolls that data up to the reporting level to directors, the CEO, and the Board.
This openness allows contributors and stakeholders to view the Tiers at all levels of granularity, from control through assessment, asset, and the entire organization.
The 5 Functions
The NIST CSF’s Five Functions are the most well-known aspect of the CSF. The Five Functions – Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover – provide another lens to analyze cybersecurity and risk, allowing stakeholders to interpret their organization’s strengths and vulnerabilities from these five high-level buckets.
The CyberStrong platform creates gap-analysis graphs automatically using the Five Functions. It may be viewed in any evaluation, independent of the framework (even assessments not using the NIST CSF).
Keeping the Five Functions at easy reach regardless of the assessment serves as a common thread that connects all checks and assets.
What factors should a NIST Cybersecurity Framework Assessment Tool take into account?
With increasing business-side stakeholders, particularly Boards and CEOs, relying on information technology and security executives to understand cybersecurity and risk, effective communication among all parties is critical.
The NIST CSF, widely regarded as the gold standard and the source material for many bars and regulations, provides the most solid basis for developing a forward-thinking cyber program.
Make sure you choose a platform that can facilitate an organization-wide discourse on cybersecurity and risk.
How To Get Started With The Framework?
Aligning with the framework entails listing all of your actions and labeling them with one of the five function designations.
The Identify label, for example, will be used for tools that assist you in inventorying your assets.
Tools such as Firewalls and Crowdstrike will be included in Protect. However, depending on their capabilities, you would place them in Detect alongside your IDS and SIEM.
Respond receives your incident response tools and playbooks. Recover includes your backup and recovery tools.
After completing this exercise, some of your buckets may feel more empty than others, and you may be uneasy about the matching function description in the image above. That’s great; you can now explain what your cybersecurity program is lacking.
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a promising tool for standardizing your cybersecurity and risk management. It may also be used to benchmark your organization’s current security activities.
If you need a brief self-assessment, we recommend you to try the NIST Self-Assessment, which will walk you through the Framework’s Functions, Categories, and Subcategories.