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Understanding NIST Compliance & Its Benefits

From small businesses to large corporations, cybersecurity remains a top priority. Security protocols are not the exclusive interest of government agencies or international companies. The risk to sensitive information and business interests has developed into a wide-reaching concern. For these reasons, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a non-regulatory government agency, has developed various resources to support public and private organizations.

Although a US-based initiative, NIST guidelines have been adopted by organizations throughout the world. Notable organizations utilizing the direction of this agency include JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft, Intel, Bank of England, Telephone Corporation, and the Ontario Energy Board. One of the primary resources developed by NIST is the Cybersecurity Framework. As of 2020, it is projected that 50% of US organizations use the Framework to inform and guide their cybersecurity efforts.

According to NIST, “The Framework integrates industry standards and best practices to help organizations manage their cybersecurity risks. It provides a common language that allows staff at all levels within an organization…to develop a shared understanding of their cybersecurity risks.” In addition to understanding risks, the Framework also supports organizations in reducing these risks through customizable measures.

Many businesses are exploring how to comply with NIST guidelines. They are also exploring what this means to their operations and security. In this article, we discuss an understanding of NIST compliance and its importance to businesses.

Summary of NIST Compliance

Compliance with the directions and infrastructure of NIST ensures that federal agencies also remain in compliance with various other federal regulations. As a result, it is endorsed by the US government, functioning as a standard for the highest level of cybersecurity.

Therefore, the high standards and broad reach of NIST guidelines have been adopted widely by businesses in the US and around the globe. Companies have developed an interest in complying with NIST standards because they represent security best practices applicable to a far-ranging set of industries.

The most widely recognized and adopted strategy is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. These security guidelines are rooted in improving an organization’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to diverse cyber threats. Each of these guidelines is customizable to the requirements of a company. The Framework is made up of three parts: Framework Core, Implementation Tiers, and Framework Profile.

The Framework Core is a set of co-occurring functions that a business can follow for its security infrastructure. It is comprised of five core functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. Implementation Tiers provide a range of four tiers representing how well the Framework is exhibited in an organization’s cybersecurity risk management practices. And the Framework Profile is offered to assist organizations in determining their progress based on their specific requirements and needs.

Making NIST compliance work for your business

NIST offers numerous resources that can be applied flexibly to your business based on your specific requirements. The Cybersecurity Framework, NIST’s most widely used resource, is a set of guidelines that can be sifted to determine what works best for your business’s needs. You can use each function of the Framework or identify which parts are most ideal. For example, the third part of the Framework focuses on developing a target profile for your company.

These target profiles are comprised of categories and subcategories that can be applied based on your circumstances. In addition to establishing your goals using the Framework Profile, you can also work through the Framework Core. These Core measures are the active procedures your company can take to identify, detect, and respond to cybersecurity incidents.

The final function of the Framework Core is a measure to recover from these incidents. While your company is engaging these co-occurring functions, the Framework will also assist in identifying how well you are implementing the guidelines. The Implementation Tiers portion of the Framework will support your business in identifying where gaps in your efforts exist and how to install strategies to address the shortcomings. Beyond the Framework, NIST also offers further resources for your company to expand, which they have identified as NIST 800-53 or an ISO standard.

The Benefits of Complying with NIST

Ultimately, complying with NIST guidelines offers your business confidence against cybersecurity threats. You will be provided a way to identify and assess your risk, and you will gain clarity on how to respond and bounce back from incidents. The immediate benefits are protection against cyberattacks, malware, ransomware, and various other cyber threats.

However, your business can also avoid the severe costs associated with security risks. This may result from avoiding direct theft, or it may result from the time saved to eliminating the risk altogether. A business also stands to diminish the impact of lost or compromised data. Securing sensitive information is critical to the operations of a business, but it also maintains a favorable and trustworthy reputation with your customers. NIST compliance can also assist in thwarting the legal trouble that can be associated with cybersecurity incidents.

Compliance with NIST and the Cybersecurity Frame cannot offer complete assurance of security. They are guidelines for developing a sounder strategy. But the NIST resources are only one step. Companies still need to develop comprehensive cybersecurity programs involving constant web monitoring, security policies, and ongoing training for employees.

Resources

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework has developed into a viable asset for numerous types and sizes of public and private organizations. However, it can be a complex system to understand or integrate into your operations.

Also, there are many factors to consider for the security and protection of your company’s data. An organization must determine what security measures will be optimally designed for your specific needs.

Network Coverage understands the reality and challenges facing today’s most vulnerable industries. This is why Network Coverage has assembled a set of technology and business solutions to support your organization in maneuvering through this complex and critical environment.

Set up a consultation with Network Coverage for experienced advice and support.

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