Web/API Penetration TestJan Kahmen7 min read

What is NIST's Cybersecurity Framework?

A powerful tool, the Cybersecurity Framework helps NIST organize and improve your cybersecurity at the same time.

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The Cybersecurity Framework from NIST explained in Brief

A powerful tool, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework helps you organize your cybersecurity while improving it. It contains a set of best practices and guidelines that help make far-reaching improvements in your IT security setup. It gives you a way to figure out how to identify cyberattacks and how to respond to them. The basis for ranking your IT security are five categories on which the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is built.

Why use NIST's Cybersecurity Framework?

Cybersecurity issues are a major challenge for most organizations. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides you with an important foundation to improve security. It lets you be aware of your own risks and opportunities. The following are reasons to use the Cybersecurity Framework NIST:

  • You get an overview and thus identify previously unseen vulnerabilities and risks.
  • You benefit from an accurate inventory of your assets.
  • You know which procedures lead to success and minimize real risks.
  • You can properly assess the current tools and know what vulnerabilities they harbor.
  • You create a general understanding within the company of the importance of cybersecurity.

How the NIST Cybersecurity Framework Works

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a standard for establishing a basic understanding of the need for cybersecurity. But that's by no means all: by organizing it into five functions, it helps you plumb key components of your infrastructure, your systems, and your options. This puts you back in control of your environment and allows you to focus on continuing to improve each area. Importantly, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is structured in such a way that it is best for you to proceed step by step. Instead of mixing up the individual items, take a completely systematic approach. This will give you the best and most complete results.

Identify (Identify)

With its Identify feature, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework lays the foundation for your security program. It is a way to create an organizational understanding of cyber risks and the management of those very risks. These risks affect not only data and systems, but also people, assets and capabilities. Such a step will enable your organization to re-evaluate its own standards of risk management. You can prioritize and sharpen business requirements in these areas according to the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

Protect (Protect)

The "Protect" function is the second focus that the NIST Cybersecurity Framework establishes. It involves outlining appropriate security measures. It is used to provide critical infrastructure services so that you can limit and mitigate potential security risks. This point applies to both your local infrastructure and accesses that occur remotely.

Detect (Detect)

In the NIST IoT Framework, the "Detect" item plays a central role: because it helps you identify a cybersecurity incident as such. Therefore, it includes all functions and activities that help you to correctly assess such incidents. This way, you can subsequently respond to them appropriately.

Respond (Respond)

The Respond section in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework focuses on activities you take should a cybersecurity incident occur. This item hides the functions, activities, and response plans that you can deploy in your organization. This part from the NIST Security Framework involves numerous business units in its evaluation.

Recover (Recover)

Recover is defined by the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as all recovery functions. These can involve data, activities, capabilities or services. If an incident occurs in your cybersecurity, know what strategies will help you respond immediately.

The Cybersecurity Framework from NIST in Application

If you want to apply the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, the first thing is to categorize all your activities. They are divided into a total of five functional levels to help you understand how secure each asset is.
For example, you might assign the label "Identified" to those tools you use to inventory your assets. Other tools, in turn, help you implement the security you want (firewalls, crowdstrike, and others). Therefore, these are integrated as "Protect".
For example, the "Detect" section includes IDS or SIEM. In "Respond" you list tools that tell you how to respond to certain incidents. Back-up and recovery tools, on the other hand, belong to the "Recover" label.
The result of this categorization is a clear functional description of software solutions and security approaches. So all that you use in your business and with the Cybersecurity Framework NIST.

Understand the Language of NIST - the "Maturity Levels"

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is based on what are called Maturity Levels for each functional area. These maturity levels are also referred to as "Implementation Tiers" and describe the individual implementation levels of NIST.
The goal is always to reach higher implementation levels - namely by adding functions. The names of the tiers of the NIST Compliance Standard are in English, but accurate in their description: Thus, the implementation ranges from "Partial" to "Informed" to "Adaptive". If you reach the "Adaptive" level, you have a cybersecurity program at your fingertips that protects you extremely comprehensively.

Implementing and Adapting the NIST Cybersecurity Framework

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides a basic feature: the so-called Identify function. It helps you take an accurate inventory of your IT assets and understand how critical these assets are. In addition, the standard NIST convinces with its other functions.
All in all, the NIST Security Framework helps you uncover vulnerabilities. And this before attackers can use them for their own purposes. Once you implement the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, you can adapt it to your own infrastructure. After all, the NIST Compliance Standards are a guideline that point you in the direction of the highest cybersecurity.
The most important foundation is to profitably implement and customize the Identity function in a way that benefits you. Once you have successfully mastered this step, then start implementing the other cybersecurity features and customize them as well.

Conclusion - the NIST Framework is a good Guide

As a standard, NIST is an excellent guide towards best cybersecurity. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides a guide that you can use as a foundation for your organization. However, the NIST IoT Framework is not easy to implement: You need the basic expertise to implement the standard. But once integrated, you can access numerous products and services and make the most of the features in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.


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