NIST Cybersecurity Framework: 6 Common Questions

The latest 2023 report showcasing the past year’s cybersecurity trends signify that the North American region witnessed one of the steepest increase in cyber attacks by over 52 percent in 2022 when compared to 2021. It is evident that organizations must level up their level of preparedness in order to safeguard themselves against the pervasive and evolving nature of cyber threats and crimes. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has a handy guideline in the form of a comprehensive Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) that can help address organizational cybersecurity concerns. NIST is a government agency operating under the United States Department of Commerce, with a core objective of promoting innovation and industrial competitiveness within the country. The NIST CSF can help you chart the fitting course of action for your business entity’s data protection posture. We are here to probe deeper into the nuances of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF)?

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is a set of guidelines and standards to assist organizations manage and reduce cybersecurity risks. The framework provides a flexible approach to managing cybersecurity risks based on industry standards and best practices. The NIST CSF was first introduced in February 2014. It was developed in response to a 2013 Executive Order from the President of the United States, which called for the development of a framework to improve the cybersecurity posture of critical infrastructure organizations. 

NIST CSF is designed to be scalable and technology-neutral, and can be used by organizations of all sizes and across all industries. It works as a common language for organizations to communicate about cybersecurity risk management and serves as a blueprint for developing or improving an organization’s cybersecurity program. The framework has been updated several times since its initial release to reflect changes in the cybersecurity landscape and feedback from stakeholders. Today, many organizations in the public and private sectors recognize the NIST CSF as a valuable tool for improving cybersecurity risk management. 

What are the fundamental reasons that make the adoption of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) necessary for various organizations?

Business entities seeking to boost their cybersecurity preparedness can benefit from using the NIST CSF in the following ways:

  1. Comprehensive Guidance: With the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, we find comprehensive guidance to managing cybersecurity risk. It covers all aspects of cybersecurity, including risk management, threat intelligence, incident response, and cybersecurity governance. Organizations can use the framework to identify and prioritize their cybersecurity risks and create a cybersecurity plan based on their unique needs.
  2. Industry standard: According to a survey conducted by the NIST in 2020, 70% of US organizations reported using the NIST CSF as their primary cybersecurity framework. Thus, the framework acts as an industry-standard framework that is widely recognized and accepted by government agencies, regulatory bodies, and industry associations. By adopting the NIST CSF, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to cybersecurity and compliance with industry standards.
  3. Customizable capabilities: Organizations can adapt this cybersecurity framework to their specific needs and business requirements. Whether an organization is a small business or a large enterprise, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework can be tailored to suit their needs.
  4. Risk-based approach: NIST Cybersecurity Framework takes a risk-based approach to cybersecurity, meaning that it emphasizes activities based on their potential impact on the organization. By focusing on high-risk areas, organizations can allocate their cybersecurity resources more intelligently.



What are the critical components of NIST Cybersecurity framework?

Broadly, one can bifurcate the NIST Cybersecurity Framework into three segments:

  • The Framework Core: This is the heart of the framework and consists of a set of cybersecurity activities, outcomes, and informative references organized into five principal functions. The Framework Core delivers a structure for managing and reducing cybersecurity risk.
  • The Framework Implementation Tiers: This part of the framework provides a way for organizations to gauge their cybersecurity risk management practices against the goals and objectives of the Framework Core. The Framework Implementation Tiers are designed to enable organizations streamline and focus their cybersecurity efforts based on their risk management needs, available resources, and the degree of cybersecurity risk they are willing to accept.
  • The Framework Profiles: This part of the framework allows organizations to create a customized cybersecurity profile that aligns with their business needs, risk management objectives, and regulatory requirements. The Framework Profiles can be used to identify gaps in an organization’s cybersecurity program and structure cybersecurity investments to reduce risk.

What are the primary functions that are included in the Framework Core of NIST CSF?

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework Core identifies five key functions that form the foundation of an effective cybersecurity program. These functions are:

  • Identify: The framework focuses on identifying and managing cybersecurity risks to systems, assets, data, and capabilities through this function. This includes understanding the business environment, establishing governance, identifying assets, and conducting risk assessments.
  • Protect: Organizations can use this Framework core function for implementing safeguards to protect against cybersecurity threats. It talks about using access controls, awareness training, data security, and physical protection.
  • Detect: The Detect function involves detecting cybersecurity events through continuous monitoring and analysis of systems and networks. Entities can use it for executing detection processes, implementing security monitoring, and conducting assessments.
  • Respond: This function highlights the relevance of adequate response to cybersecurity events by implementing a suitable plan that contains the impact of the event. The function comprises building and implementing response strategies, conducting analysis, and improving response capabilities.
  • Recover: Through the Recover function, one can work on restoring operations that were impaired due to a cybersecurity event. This involves brainstorming and implementing recovery plans, conducting a post-incident review, and improving recovery abilities.

What are the four phases covered in the NIST CSF’s Implementation Tiers?

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework Implementation Tiers are a set of four progressive tiers that. offer a way for organizations to assess their cybersecurity risk management practices and determine areas for improvement. The four tiers are:

  • Tier 1 – Partial implementation: Organizations at this tier have limited understanding of cybersecurity risks and their cybersecurity practices are ad hoc and reactive.
  • Tier 2 – Risk-Informed implementation: At the Risk-informed stage, business concerns have a reasonable awareness of cybersecurity problems and have enforced risk management practices that are integrated into their overall business processes.
  • Tier 3 – Repeatable implementation: Organizations at this tier have effectuated cybersecurity practices that are repeatable and consistent across the organization. They have formalized policies and procedures and use metrics to measure the effectiveness of their cybersecurity practices.
  • Tier 4 – Adaptive implementation: When a business operates as per the adaptive implementation stage, they have an advanced cybersecurity program that is proactive and adaptable to evolving cybersecurity risks. They continuously monitor their cybersecurity practices and make improvements based on changes in the threat landscape and their business requirements.

How to streamline the implementation of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework in your organization?

A report by the Center for Internet Security found that organizations that implemented the NIST CSF experienced a 60% reduction in cyber risk. The implementation of the NIST CSF within a business necessitates a methodical approach that guarantees seamless integration of the framework into the organization’s cybersecurity program. To achieve this objective, several best practices must be taken into account. First and foremost, it is essential to obtain the support of senior management, given that the enactment of the NIST CSF requires their commitment. Consequently, securing their backing at the outset of the process and ensuring that they fully understand the advantages of introducing the framework is pivotal.

Another notable best practice is identifying and categorizing the business assets that require protection. This aspect can be achieved by highlighting the critical infrastructure, sensitive data, and intellectual property. By doing so, the implementation efforts can be focused on safeguarding the most vital areas of the business. Furthermore, policies and procedures that align with the NIST CSF must be developed and applied. It will guarantee that the organization’s cybersecurity practices are consistent and effective. Operationalizing cybersecurity controls that align with the NIST CSF is crucial to protect the organization’s assets and data from cybersecurity threats.

Lastly, business concerns should contemplate hiring a professional cybersecurity provider to reap the most out of the NIST CSF guidelines. Putting in place the NIST CSF within a business can be a complex and challenging process, especially for organizations with limited cybersecurity expertise or resources. In such cases, it can be beneficial to engage the services of a cybersecurity service provider to support the execution efforts. They bring the required expertise and offer cost-effective and time-saving services to gain an optimal cybersecurity posture. 

NaviSec can be your ally to accomplish your NIST Cybersecurity framework implementation goals!

A survey conducted by the National Cybersecurity Alliance found that 80% of small businesses that implemented the NIST CSF saw an improvement in their cybersecurity posture. With our team of experienced cybersecurity professionals, we can provide businesses with the expertise and support they need to effectively integrate the NIST CSF into their cybersecurity program. By working with NaviSec, businesses can improve their cybersecurity posture and protect their critical assets from cyber threats. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you implement the NIST Cybersecurity Framework!

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