Rethinking the Role of Compliance

NIST CSF

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides a policy framework of computer security guidance for how private sector organizations in the United States can assess and improve their ability to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber attacks.

About NIST CSF

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a guide designed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a US-based non-regulatory federal agency under the Department of Commerce, to help organizations manage and mitigate risks associated with cybersecurity. It provides a holistic and risk-based approach to manage cybersecurity risks, offering guidance to both public and private sector organizations, regardless of their size, risk exposure, or cybersecurity sophistication.

The framework isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution but provides a common language for understanding, managing, and expressing cybersecurity risk internally and externally. It can be customized to suit the unique characteristics of any organization. Although NIST is a US agency, the framework’s principles are universally applicable and have been adopted by organizations globally.

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework was first issued in 2014 following an Executive Order from the President of the United States, aiming to improve the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure. The framework has been updated periodically to reflect changes in cybersecurity threats, technologies, and practices.

The NIST CSF comprises three main components:

Framework Core

The core presents five concurrent and continuous functions—Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover—that provide a high-level, strategic view of an organization’s management of cybersecurity risk. These functions are subdivided into various categories and subcategories, tied to specific informative references, such as existing standards, guidelines, and practices.

Framework Profile

A profile represents the cybersecurity outcomes based on business needs that an organization has selected from the framework core. Profiles can be used to identify opportunities for improving cybersecurity posture by comparing a “Current” profile (the “as is” state) with a “Target” profile (the “to be” state).

Framework Implementation Tiers

Tiers assist in contextualizing an organization’s cybersecurity risk management practices. They range from Tier 1 (Partial) to Tier 4 (Adaptive), representing an increasing degree of rigor and sophistication in risk management practices and the extent to which cybersecurity risk management is informed by business needs.

The Value of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework

Comprehensive

The framework offers a comprehensive structure that enables organizations to address cybersecurity risk comprehensively and holistically, considering people, processes, and technology.

Risk-Based Approach

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework moves away from a traditional compliance-based approach to a risk-based approach, emphasizing the importance of understanding the specific risks the organization faces and taking appropriate measures to mitigate them.

Common Language

The framework establishes a common language that allows staff at all levels within the organization, as well as external stakeholders, to understand the organization's cybersecurity risks and the steps being taken to mitigate them.

Flexibility

The framework is flexible and can be adapted to the needs of different organizations with varying risk exposures, sizes, and levels of cybersecurity sophistication. It can be used in conjunction with other cybersecurity frameworks or standards.

Business/IT Alignment

The framework promotes better alignment between business and IT by treating cybersecurity as a business risk rather than just a technical issue. This encourages more strategic and informed decision-making at the executive level.

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