The NIST framework might be the right option for you when you're looking for the right cybersecurity framework. This is a rather robust set of guidelines you can implement to gain better data security and lower your security risk. Let's look at the NIST cybersecurity framework and how it might benefit you.

What is the NIST?

The NIST cybersecurity framework is a set of guidelines that can be used by businesses and government offices to help mitigate cyber risk. It was developed through industry and government collaboration, and it is now widely implemented in both sectors.

The NIST framework comprises five functions (Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover) and 23 categories. It also contains 108 subcategories. Each subcategory is accompanied by multiple Informative References, which are useful resources for assessing a company's cybersecurity program. NIST security system updates also come out from time to time to update the framework core.

NIST is an American government agency that develops and manages information security standards. These standards help to secure the information of government agencies and private industry.

Its purpose is to help businesses improve their security posture and reduce the risk of a data breach. This security framework is based on existing standards and practices, but it is also flexible and customizable to the specific security needs of your organization.

What cybersecurity framework does the NIST use?

NIST uses a tiered approach to implement the security framework and offers guidance on what level of rigor is best for your organization. This way, companies can identify and prioritize what needs to be done to make their cybersecurity program more effective.

An organization must map out its security posture and evaluate the current state of its security measures. This process will allow them to identify gaps and plug them before moving up to higher implementation tiers of the framework.

Once an organization has determined its profile, it is time to implement the security controls that will be most beneficial for them. To do this, they need to take a close look at the five core functions of the NIST cybersecurity framework:

Identify: This framework core function will list all your software, equipment, and data. RiskRecon, a Mastercard company, provides visualization into your cyber environment. We view your environment as would any hacker: looking for vulnerabilities that may exist across the ecosystem.

Protect: With the right security controls, the NIST cybersecurity framework can protect your organization with security software, encryption, regular backups, and more. Ensure that your software has round-the-clock monitoring and priority threat identification.

Detect: Through a process of monitoring for unauthorized access, you will be able to identify cyber risk better. RiskRecon provides you with an accurate, prioritized view of high value assets that require remediation. Thus, creating efficiencies within the operating environment and reducing time spent on less critical issues or false positives.

Respond: This core function includes having a plan for notifying customers and employees if their data may be at risk and reporting any attacks or breaches to the authorities. When a vendor’s posture exceeds the policies you set, a notification is sent with recommended actions. Further, you can set a review schedule that enables you to track the progress the vendor has or has not made in addressing the issue(s).

Recover: After an attack, you must repair and resort to any affected equipment, along with keeping employees and customers informed. 

The framework is explained in even more detail on the NIST website.

What is the purpose of the NIST cybersecurity framework?

The NIST cyber security framework provides guidelines that help organizations improve their security strategies and critical infrastructure by addressing security risk at various levels and implementing cyber security best practices for data protection, access control, and other security measures. This can reduce the impact of cyber attacks and keep sensitive information secure.

To build a successful NIST cybersecurity program, an organization must identify its environment and establish its business goals. They should then perform a risk assessment to determine which risks and vulnerabilities are present within their information system, devices, personnel, and assets. This should also include any residual risk to the organization.

An organization must also establish a current profile of its critical infrastructure cybersecurity activities and align those with the desired outcomes of the NIST cyber security framework core. This enables them to compare their current levels with the target implementation tiers and create an actionable roadmap for improving data protection and mitigating risk.

How does the framework work to mitigate cyber risk?

Every organization is unique and has different challenges when it comes to cyber risk. However, there are certain similarities in how companies mitigate this threat.

Moreover, each business may use different policies, guidelines, and best practices to secure its networks and systems from cyber threats. This can lead to confusion in the company.

To solve this problem, the NIST developed a cybersecurity framework that provides a common language and a systematic approach to detecting, evaluating, and managing cyber risks. In addition, the NIST cybersecurity framework incorporates industry standards and customizable measures into its approach to help businesses manage their risk and remain in compliance with requirements for cybersecurity best practices.

Once an organization has decided to implement the NIST framework, it must first carry out a critical infrastructure cybersecurity risk assessment. This will help the company determine which security gaps it needs to address.

After this, the company must evaluate its current security status and plan for improvement. The company will also need to define its target framework profile.

This process is important for ensuring that the data security goals of the organization are met and that it can achieve the desired results. It also helps the company compare its current cybersecurity program with its target program, revealing any gaps.

How can I learn from the NIST to strengthen my cybersecurity systems?

When you compare your cybersecurity activities and risk management strategy to the NIST cybersecurity framework, you can fill in any security gaps you might have. In addition, since this framework provides the necessary functions for a successful cybersecurity program, it provides an excellent tool for organizations to learn from.

Using the right cybersecurity analytics to assess your risks properly is important. Whether your main vulnerabilities are found in access control, data security, or your current security controls, you want to identify all the possible risks and threats before choosing the right cybersecurity solutions.

With a closer look at the NIST framework, it will be easier for your organization to implement a plan for improving cybersecurity.

How can RiskRecon help me?

With the recommended steps taken, RiskRecon can continuously monitor your environment to assess whether the ecosystem of vendors and suppliers are compliant with the standards you set, benchmark how well they are doing against their competitors, and check their own compliance against other governmental standards such as NIST, CMMC, and others. RiskRecon automatically prioritizes findings based on issue severity and asset value, and also notifies you if third-party vendors exceed their limits.

If you have questions about the NIST cybersecurity framework, risk management, or anything related to cybersecurity, we are here to help. At RiskRecon, we’d be happy to discuss improving cybersecurity with you. Request a demo today and let our team of professionals help better protect your critical infrastructure.