What is the NIST CSF?

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework, also known as the NIST CSF, enhances Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity by providing a mechanism for evaluating and enhancing the capacity of private and public sector entities that own, operate, or supply critical infrastructure to avoid, track, and react to cyber incidents. Based on current principles, protocols, and procedures, this structure reduces a company’s cybersecurity vulnerability.

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released Version 1.1 in April 2018 and it has since been adopted by a variety of industries.

The aim of the framework is to:

  • Incorporate industry guidelines and best practices to assist companies and enterprises in managing their cyber risks
  • Provide a common language that allows employees to build a shared understanding of their cyber risks
  • Provide guidance on how to minimize these risks
  • Provide advice on how to respond to and recover from cybersecurity attacks, as well as learn from such incidents

What are the requirements for the NIST CSF?

The framework’s core functions (Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover), implementation tiers, and profiles are the three main tenets for implementing NIST CSF. The first step is to start with a risk assessment which helps the company to incorporate it into a CSF Profile baseline. The next steps are to choose the appropriate controls, create a strategy, and put it into action.

The following are the three primary components of NIST CSF:

  1. Framework Core:
    The Core offers systematic cybersecurity practices as a roadmap for organizations to handle and reduce their cybersecurity threats in a way that complements current cybers and risk management processes.
  2. Framework Implementation Tiers:
    The Tiers set the stage for how a company can approach cyber risk management and help them determine the required degree of rigor for their cybersecurity program. Tiers are often used as a means of communicating about threats and budget.
  3. Framework Profiles:
    The Profiles align the organizational requirements and objectives, risk appetite, and resources against the desired outcomes of the Framework Core. Profiles are primarily used to identify and prioritize opportunities for improving cyber resilience at an organization.

Why should you be NIST CSF compliant?

There are a few advantages of adhering to NIST guidelines. Organizations can protect their data and networks by following the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. In certain ways, this framework protects businesses from cyber attacks, malware, ransomware, and other types of cyber-threats.
In addition, when organizations pursue NIST compliance, they also work on complying with other industry or government regulations. FISMA’s standards (Federal Information Security Management Act) can be met by federal agencies  and manufacturers and contractors can meet prerequisite standards if they are NIST compliant. NIST compliance also helps with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act). 

The above benefits are enough to justify avoiding noncompliance with NIST guidelines. Non-compliant businesses risk losing their right to bid on government contracts. Noncompliance or failure to maintain NIST compliance can result in contract termination, harm to the company’s reputation, and even legal issues.

How to achieve compliance?

Not every company has the same security requirements. You’ll need to start by developing a comprehensive profile to find out where your organization needs to improve and what steps need to be taken to make those changes happen. The next move will be to perform a risk assessment that is independent of the company.

The Centraleyes platform will provide your organizational risk score using an easy and adaptable process, based on a proprietary weighting and grading algorithm. Once scores are collected, the pre-populated Centraleyes NIST CSF questionnaire, featuring automated workflows and alerts, will assist to remediate the areas vulnerable to risk. 

Compliance is an ongoing process that requires constant updates and adjustments as the organization changes factors and attributes in its security and business. Centraleyes’s automated remediation planner identifies gaps and produces actionable remediation tickets with quantifiable risk tools that allow you to track and compare progress over time, supporting the collection and organization of required information before an audit.

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