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The Ultimate Guide to

NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) 1.1 and 2.0

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF)?   

Managing cyber risk is more critical today than ever. Global cybercrime costs businesses 16.4 billion every day, with a ransomware attack occurring every eleven seconds. Yet, managing risk is a challenging, ongoing, iterative process for all organizations. Today, many companies need help in creating a rigorous approach to managing cyber risk and turn to security guidelines like the NIST CSF. But despite many advantages, adoption of this framework can be challenging for many organizations. However, there is a way to implement the NIST CSF faster while ensuring it will provide all desired security benefits. Related: Guide to NIST 800-53

The NIST CSF is a list of standards, guidelines, and practices designed to help organizations better manage and reduce cyber risk of all types – including malware, password theft, phishing attacks, DDoS, traffic interception, social engineering and others. The National Institute of Standards and Technology created the framework by collaborating with government and industry groups with the framework designed to complement existing organizational cybersecurity operations. NIST CSF rests on industry best practices gathered from various other documents and standards like ISO 27001 and COBIT 5.

The NIST CSF is a useful tool to incorporate into any organization’s risk management practice, assisting with and supporting the ongoing process of cyber risk management. Security teams can use this framework to assess risk levels (both acceptable and existing), align on risk tolerance objectives, set improved security priorities, and determine a security budget to mitigate threats.

The NIST CSF is composed of three componentsImplementation Tiers provides context on cybersecurity risk management and guides organizations on an appropriate level of rigor for cybersecurity programs. The framework Core discusses activities incorporated in cybersecurity programs, which can be tailored to an organization’s unique needs. These critical security activities, broken down into six functions, are as follows–govern, identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. Framework Profiles compare an organization’s objectives, risk appetite, and resources against the framework Core’s desired outcomes. Comparing current profiles with target profiles helps teams identify opportunities for improvement.

Who Needs the NIST CSF?

The answer is all organizations. Designed initially with government industries and critical infrastructure in mind, organizations of all sizes, sectors, and maturities can use this security framework. It’s incredibly versatile as Tiers, Core, and Profiles can be modified and customized to fit any organization’s unique needs.

The NIST CSF is outcome driven but flexible on how each organization achieves security objectives. This flexibility allows all companies, from the smallest and newest to the largest and most established, to benefit from the guiding framework.

How to use the NIST CSF

As the NIST CSF allows flexibility for all organizations, its usage varies greatly depending on individual business needs. However, some common patterns of use exist, which include:

  • Leadership using the NIST CSF vocabulary to have informed conversations about risk.
  • Organizations using tiers to establish optimal levels of risk management.
  • Organizations creating profiles to help understand security practices in business.
  • Security teams and business teams use Profiles and the specific activities included in the Framework Core to prioritize security improvements and determine budgets.
  • Organizations choose to streamline and rationalize their set of security controls using recommended security activities from the Framework Core as their “north star”.

An example of a typical NIST CF usage guideline includes four stages:

Examine current state

This stage includes identifying security priorities/vulnerabilities/risks, determining compliance requirements, and reviewing existing security policies and practices.

Assessment

This stage includes reviewing vulnerabilities, identifying threats while defining probability and likelihood, categorizing risks, and creating a risk heat map.

Target state

This stage includes identifying mitigation options, translating mitigation into desired outcomes while defining goals for the outcomes, and managing security priorities.

Roadmap

This final stage involves the quantification and grading of the current state, establishing a budget and identifying resources, defining targets within the budget, and sharing the results with stakeholders.

Business Benefits of NIST CSF

NIST CSF is an excellent tool to help your organization identify, detect, respond to, and recover from cyber risk, as well as delivering valuable business benefits, which include:

  • Sparking meaningful internal dialog on risk.
  • Providing a single pane of glass into compliance efforts and visibility of all vulnerabilities and threats, including their organizational impact
  • Helping identify and align organizational risk tolerance levels, clarify security priorities, and better budgeting for security solutions
  • Streamlining and rationalizing security controls in an organization so that repetitive work to meet compliance demands can be eliminated
  • Improving security posture due to implementing more rigorous security management and compliance practices

Hyperproof for NIST CSF Compliance

Hyperproof’s compliance operations platform makes it much easier for organizations to see how their current security program and activities stack up against the recommended activities in the NIST CSF and identify areas for improvement. Hyperproof comes with project management features that help security assurance professionals manage security continuously, including assigning control testing tasks to business unit operators and managing remediation projects and collecting evidence of controls’ effectiveness. Hyperproof also facilitates automated controls monitoring, and our built-in dashboards help organizational leaders understand how their security efforts are helping mitigate risks and satisfy regulatory requirements.

NIST CSF

Understand the guidelines within the CSF

Hyperproof’s NIST CSF template contains 108 recommended security actions across the five critical security functions–identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. One hundred ninety-nine illustrative controls provide a starting point for customization to meet your organization’s unique needs.

Document your information security risk assessment results and risk response plans

The CSF recommends that each business identifies vulnerabilities to their assets, internal and external threats, assess the potential business impacts and likelihood of risks and document them in a risk register. It also asks organizations to establish consistent risk management processes that are agreed upon by stakeholders.

By using Hyperproof’s Risk Register module, risk owners from all functions and business units can document the results of risk assessments in a consistent format and all risk treatment plans, allowing organizations’ leaders to better manage resources and prioritize risk mitigation activities. Risks can be mapped back to controls and a risk manager can designate a risk mitigation percentage for that control. Adding this type of rigor helps company leaders fully understand the risks they’re taking on in pursuit of business objectives and the resources needed to adequately mitigate risks.

Implement security controls, assign remediation tasks and keep everyone on track

By using Hyperproof’s CSF template, you can work your way through the sections and document the procedures and steps (control) you’re taking to adhere to each guideline. You’ll be able to designate the responsible party (or team) for operating each control in Hyperproof, document what type of evidence should be provided to validate the effectiveness of a control, and set review cadences for controls to ensure they’re evaluated on a timely basis based on their importance to your objectives.

Using Hyperproof’s native task management system, you can assign tasks to individuals to ensure that control activities such as periodic risk assessments, management reviews, access control reviews, and more are performed in a timely manner. Participants can either get their work done in Hyperproof or in the project management tools of their choice. Because Hyperproof integrates with third-party project management tools, all activities related to tasks are synced back to Hyperproof.

Streamline the evidence collection and management processes

Implementing the CSF can help you streamline and rationalize the set of controls necessary to protect your organization so you can reduce the amount of evidence you must collect to meet multiple compliance obligations. For example, because NIST CSF guidelines overlap with ISO 27001 control requirements, organizations that need to achieve ISO 27001 certification can leverage the work they’ve already done to achieve the ISO 27001 standard faster.

Hyperproof supports the ability to collect evidence once, link that evidence to multiple requirements and controls so you don’t have to pull the same evidence files again and again to meet multiple auditors’ demands. Hyperproof also has Hypersyncs, which allow you to automatically extract data like backup settings, encryption settings, access groups, user lists, and more from dozens of cloud-based apps and services on a cadence or on-demand and store them in Hyperproof.

Within Hyperproof, a compliance pro can assign tasks to business stakeholders (e.g., assign them evidence to submit) and remind them to complete their tasks. Business stakeholders do not need to learn new tools just to do compliance work occasionally. They can receive notifications to complete tasks through the tools they are already using like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Jira to complete the tasks in those tools and have information routed back to and reflected in Hyperproof in real-time.

Assess your cybersecurity posture in real-time

Hyperproof comes with built-in reports making it easy to stay up-to-date with your team’s progress as they work through control domains. Senior leaders can see how the organization’s security initiatives are impacting the organization’s risk profile and advancing key business objectives.

Hyperproof partners with professional service firms with proven track records and deep expertise in helping organizations get NIST CSF ready. Our partners help customers design their compliance programs, build them out, and conduct readiness assessments to ensure there are no surprises when the audit occurs. If you need a referral, we’d love to talk.

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