With an ever-growing volume of data and sensitive information within our organisations and an expanding threat of data breaches, a practical way of identifying and managing security controls has become a top priority. However, while most businesses realise the importance of building a robust cybersecurity program, the reality can be overwhelming. Fortunately, cybersecurity frameworks such as ISO 27001 and NIST CSF (National Institute of Standards and Technology Cyber Security Framework) can act as a key resource to help businesses improve their cybersecurity and implement organisation-wide controls. In the previous blog, we talked about ISO 27001 and why you might adopt and certify to that standard. In this article, we are going to have an overview of NIST CSF.

What is NIST CSF?

NIST is an organisation responsible for establishing technology, standards, and metrics to be applied to the science and technology industries in both public and private sectors in the United States. NIST CSF is voluntary guidance, based on existing standards, guidelines, and practices for organisations to better manage and reduce cybersecurity risk. By helping organisations understand how to adequately protect data and advising as to which security measures need to be in place, NIST helps to create a level of industry-wide uniformity.

There are hundreds of security-related standards published by NIST, e.g. NIST 800 series. However, NIST CSF is a gold-standard that enables businesses of all sizes to adopt and implement a risk-based cybersecurity framework.

Why Use the NIST CSF?

Data breaches can have a devastating impact on any business. Not only can finances be squeezed but productivity can ground to a halt and reputation irreversibly damaged. Therefore, NIST CSF compliance is so important; it creates a foundation for protecting sensitive information and managing risks by focusing on an outcome-driven approach.

Based on best practices, by implementing NIST CSF guidelines and recommendations, companies can realise many benefits:

  • Build competitive advantage – by adopting NIST CSF, there is more trust between partners, supply chains and vendors, enabling faster, more sustainable business growth.
  • Attract potential clients – being a compliant business with the highest levels of cybersecurity standards is an attractive quality to potential clients and can be the difference between making a deal and not.
  • Achieve compliance – by complying with NIST CSF, companies can lay the foundational protocol to achieve compliance with other regulations.
  • Mitigate risk – the NIST CSF helps businesses to secure their data, infrastructure, and network, protecting them against cyberattacks, malware, ransomware, and more.
  • Prepare for the future – NIST provides a reliable foundation for building and iterating a cybersecurity program. As compliance requirements no doubt rise, organisations will benefit from an outcome-driven, highly customisable approach.
  • Integrate risk management – risk management should be a shared responsibility between technical and business stakeholders. NIST aligns seamlessly with business goals, facilitates communication, and makes justifying security budgets simpler.

By using the NIST CSF businesses can gain a common language and efficient methodology for managing cybersecurity risk. The required controls and activities across Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond and Recover can be tailored to meet company needs and work alongside existing cybersecurity programs and processes.

By following a well-crafted framework, organisations are able to identify areas where they can make improvements, be it by strengthening processes or implementing new solutions. Businesses can prioritise cost-effective activities, set expectations and leverage the implementation of new processes to build trust with stakeholders.

How Can Your Business Become NIST Compliant?

While complying with the NIST CSF framework is clearly beneficial for your business, getting started is often the difficult part. However, with cybersecurity rapidly becoming a board and CEO-level issue, lack of skilled personnel is no reason for non-compliance. Fortunately, we can help. At InfoTrust, we are experienced in consulting on the NIST CSF framework and can help your business achieve compliance, implement organisation-wide controls and improve your cybersecurity.

Stay tuned for our next blog where we will compare the NIST and ISO standards. If you’d like to read our previous blog on why you should be ISO certified, click here.

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