What Is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF)?
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is the ultimate in data security. It is an incredibly important topic for any business, and understanding the basics of it can help protect your company from cyber risk.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a United States federal agency that sets standards for business and industry. Although the original purpose of the NIST framework was geared towards healthcare, manufacturing, finance, and military industries, the guidelines have been adopted across cybersecurity, IT, and risk management departments around the globe. The organization develops standards and guidelines to promote U.S. innovation in industrial development, enhance public safety, strengthen national security, support economic growth, and aid law enforcement efforts by ensuring interoperability between criminal justice information systems while protecting privacy rights.
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework was designed for use in any size of business, although it is more effective on a large-scale company because of the complexity involved with the risk management processes required by this framework. The framework can be used as an assessment tool against current cybersecurity practices, or simply learning how to better manage cyber risks within your organization. For example, if you have set up certain security measures but do not understand why you would want them configured in those ways, then maybe this framework will help bring clarity when implementing changes or creating a new system, so you can more fully understand what you need to do to better protect your company.
Framework Core Functions
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is for those who are looking to improve the management of cybersecurity risk to their organization. The framework follows five main functions of its Framework Core: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. It is recommended organizations become acquainted with these Core guidelines to ensure their cybersecurity endeavours are industry leading:
The first step is to understand how to manage cybersecurity risks for your company. This includes the threats to your systems, assets, data, and even your company's capabilities. Without identifying the risks your company can face, there is no way to be able to protect against them.
The second step in the framework is protecting yourself from cyber attacks. After you have identified what exactly needs protection, then you will know how well-protected your business is. There are several steps that need to take place for this function of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to work effectively:
- Assessing risk
- Developing and implementing policies
- Managing security measures
- Training employees on best practices concerning cyber security.
Then after all these tasks are completed, monitoring and measuring should be implemented, which should happen regularly throughout an organization's lifespan. More effort put into this process results in better cyber protection overall, thus creating a much safer working environment. This includes everything from firewalls, encryption, or other monitoring software so that no one can access anything they are not supposed to.
Once the above steps have been completed, it is important to monitor how well they work, because if something does go wrong, you need to know about it as soon as possible before more damage occurs. If systems do fail, then having a plan of action ready beforehand is vital when trying to solve any problems quickly and efficiently without losing time while trying to mitigate any further harm.
The next part of the framework is to be prepared to respond and resolve issues that arise because of a cyber attack. This is where having backups easily accessible comes in handy, as well as having all the data you would need readily available without too much effort so it can be analyzed and used for updates or patches if needed.
It is great to have a plan and to implement it when the threat becomes real. However, it is not enough to stop there. The NIST framework recommends testing and rehearsing the good plans repeatedly. This is an extremely important step because it will help you identify any weaknesses that need improvement or fixing before they can be exploited by cybercriminals.
Reviewing your plan on a regular basis also makes sure that once implemented, everything goes according to expectations, and nothing gets left out unintentionally. It should be kept current, allowing you to spend more time where it really matters instead of using resources trying to strategize from scratch at short notice, especially when dealing with sensitive data like personal information about employees. Leaving this unattended for too long can become very costly in the future.
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is the current best practice for data security and should be followed as closely as possible to ensure that you are doing everything in your power to prevent cyber attacks from happening, not only protecting yourself but other potential victims too, which can have a positive effect on everyone's security, and can help avoid negative impacts on business success.