What is the NIST Privacy Framework?
Created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Privacy Framework is a voluntary tool any organization can use to create or improve a privacy program. Effective privacy risk management can help you build trust in your products and services, communicate better about your privacy practices, and meet your compliance obligations.
By implementing the Privacy Framework, your organization will gain a better understanding of the privacy impacts individuals can experience as they interact with your products and services and how they pose risks to your organization. Using it will bring more rigor to your privacy program, help you secure resources for privacy enhancements, and communicate your privacy posture to stakeholders such as customers, employees, partners and board members.
The Privacy framework is flexible and outcome-driven. Because it helps organizations sharpen their focus on desired privacy outcomes and create granular action plans, implementing this framework will help your organization comply with various global data privacy laws (e.g.,GDPR, CCPA, LGPD) more easily and efficiently.
Ready to Make Privacy a Business Priority?
Using Hyperproof’s compliance operations platform, you can stand up an enterprise-wide data privacy program and manage it efficiently and effectively day-to-day. Hyperproof can help you:
Conduct privacy risk assessments and track risks in a central Risk Register
Tie together risks and controls to understand your residual risk
Implement a privacy risk management program using the NIST Privacy Framework
Efficiently comply with multiple data privacy laws and avoid duplicative work
Easily gather evidence of your control activities and automate workflows
Manage privacy controls on an ongoing basis and foster accountability
Gauge progress made within your privacy program and prioritize activities
Effectively communicate your privacy activities to stakeholders
Who’s Using the NIST Privacy Framework?
Any organization that wants to use data to develop innovative products and services while minimizing adverse impacts to individuals can use the NIST Privacy Framework as a tool to help them create or improve a privacy program. The first edition of the Privacy Framework was released in January 2020. An International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and FairWarning report found that more than a quarter of survey respondents had adopted the NIST Privacy Framework less than a year after its release.
Business Benefits of Using the NIST Privacy Framework
Until now, many organizations have treated privacy as transactional. Organizations evaluate data privacy laws separately and initiate separate work streams to achieve compliance as laws get enacted.
Given that data privacy laws are evolving rapidly and businesses must navigate through a complex regulatory landscape, having a unified, enterprise-wide approach to managing privacy risks on a continuous basis has become critical. If you’re operating in multiple geographic locations, taking a transactional approach to privacy is not sustainable or cost effective. You’ll likely end up duplicating effort as different teams in different regions or business units work in silos.
The NIST Privacy Framework helps your organization answer the fundamental question: “How are we considering the impacts to individuals as we develop our systems, products, and organizations?” It can be the system your organization relies on to organize its thinking, to map out its compliance goals, and to strengthen stakeholder trust.
By adopting a framework, your organization will mature in your approach to managing privacy risks. Instead of taking a compliance-oriented approach, you’ll be turning privacy into a business capability - much the same way that security has become a business capability -- and design a system that’s future-proof.
What Are the Key Components of the NIST Privacy Framework?
The Privacy Framework is structurally the same as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. It consists of three parts: Core, Profiles, and Implementation Tiers.
This is a set of privacy protection activities and outcomes that enable an organization to dialogue with stakeholders about managing privacy risk. The core is further divided into key Categories and Subcategories -- which are distinct outcomes - for each Function.
A profile represents an organization’s current privacy activities or desired outcomes. An organization can develop a Target Profile by selecting and prioritizing specific Functions, Categories, and Subcategories from the Core based on its priorities and risk appetite. Profiles can be used to conduct self-assessments and to communicate with an organization or between organizations about how privacy risks are being managed.
These provide a point of reference for how an organization views privacy risks and whether it has sufficient processes and resources in place to manage privacy risk and achieve its Target Profile.
What’s In the Privacy Framework Core?
The Core elements work together.
The Core has five high level Functions, which organize foundational privacy activities at their highest level.
Categories are subdivisions of a Function organized into Groups of privacy outcomes closely tied to programmatic needs and particular activities.
Sub-categories further divide a Category into specific outcomes of technical and/or management activities. They provide a list of results that support the achievement of Outcomes in each category.
The five functions can be used to manage privacy risks arising from data processing. They are:
The NIST Privacy Framework also includes express references within the framework to the data processing ecosystem within which an organization operates. For instance, GDPR includes distinction between a data controller and data processor. The Privacy Framework allows for that distinction.
Additional resource: Critical Data Security Controls Every Organization Needs
Use Cases For the NIST Privacy Framework
There are lots of ways to use the Privacy Framework. For instance, you can use it to:
Establish a privacy program or improve an existing one
Optimize beneficial uses of data and the development of innovative products and services while minimizing negative consequences for individuals.
Communicate your organization’s privacy stance and its activities to stakeholders
Improve organizational capabilities in privacy and meet multiple compliance obligations
Key Considerations for Implementing the Privacy Framework
Getting buy-in from internal stakeholders is one of the biggest considerations for success, given that privacy will likely touch every aspect of your business. Because virtually all business functions from Engineering to Sales to HR are involved in data processing of one type or another, it’s important to involve leaders from all business groups in privacy initiatives. The tone comes from the top. If your organization is going to instill a culture where privacy is a priority, everyone needs to know their leaders take the topic seriously.
Once you start to understand your current privacy posture and where you’d like to be, it’s time to prioritize your target outcomes and create an action plan. You’ll also want to discuss your plan as an organization and use it to work towards acquiring the resources and people needed to meet your goals.
How Does the NIST Privacy Framework Relate to the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?
Privacy and security are tightly linked. Cybersecurity risks are associated with cybersecurity incidents arising from the loss of confidentiality, integrity, or availability.
Privacy goes beyond cybersecurity. It’s focused on data processing -- the full information lifecycle of data from collection to disposal -- arising from organizations' need to use data for business purposes. Individuals can experience problems from data processing.
Where privacy overlaps with security is when the loss of personal information occurs. The loss of personal information can cause an individual to suffer embarrassment, discrimination, and economic loss.
Organizations can have follow-on impacts from privacy incidents that can manifest as customer abandonment, noncompliance costs, and harm to their reputation or internal culture.
For organizations familiar with the NIST CSF, they can use Functions from both the Cybersecurity Framework and the Privacy Framework in varying combinations to manage different aspects of privacy and cybersecurity risks.
How Does the NIST Privacy Framework Map to Data Privacy Laws, Standards, and Frameworks?
While the NIST Privacy Framework is intentionally regulations-agnostic, the privacy community has created crosswalks to help organizations understand which Privacy Framework Functions, Categories, and Sub-categories may be most relevant to addressing the provisions of several data privacy regulations, standards, and frameworks.
On the NIST website, you can find crosswalks to the following laws, regulations, standards and frameworks:
- California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) Crosswalk by BakerHostetler
- GDPR Crosswalk by Enterprivacy Consulting Group
- LGPD Crosswalk by Prado Vidigal Advogados
- ISO/IEC 27701 Crosswalk by Microsoft
- Cybersecurity Framework Crosswalk (NIST)
- International Association of Privacy Professional (IAPP) Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM) Crosswalk
- NIST Privacy Framework and Cybersecurity Framework to NIST Special Publication 800-53, Revision 5 Crosswalk
Hyperproof has also created crosswalks to multiple standards and frameworks (these are automatically available to all Hyperproof users):
NIST Special Publication 800-53
How Hyperproof Supports An Operational Privacy Program
Hyperproof can support the five high-level Functions outlined in the NIST Privacy Framework Core. We can help you build and maintain an enterprise-wide data privacy program and efficiently comply with a growing set of data privacy and cybersecurity laws and frameworks.
In Hyperproof’s compliance operations platform, you can conduct privacy risk assessments (internally and with vendors) and track all risks in a central Risk Register. Controls can be tied to risks so you can get an accurate understanding of residual risk.
With Hyperproof, you can easily assign privacy-related responsibilities and tasks to your workforce and ensure everyone understands the part they need to play. Privacy and security controls can be documented centrally in Hyperproof so that they can be implemented once and then easily mapped to multiple data privacy laws, regulations, standards and frameworks, allowing organizations to scale up their compliance efforts efficiently.
In Hyperproof, privacy professionals can document privacy controls and technical measures around dissociating data from users and devices -- and gather evidence that those measures are happening as intended. Compliance and privacy professionals can see whether internal stakeholders are doing their part and follow-up with teams or individuals when certain privacy duties aren’t being performed on time.
Security and compliance professionals can document their organization’s security controls in Hyperproof and quickly collect evidence to verify security measures designed to protect data (e.g., using security software, conducting regular backups of data, testing code for security vulnerabilities before going into production) are operational on a continuous basis. In fact, a portion of evidence can be automated with Hyperproof’s proof automation feature - Hypersync.
With Hyperproof dashboards and reports, gauging progress within your privacy program is straightforward. Business leaders can see how well privacy risks have been mitigated and understand risk trends. Compliance and privacy professionals can see how their organization is doing in specific privacy functions and sub-categories and prioritize their controls evaluation and risk mitigation activities. When Hyperproof serves as the single source of truth for all privacy risk management activities organization-wide, it’s simple to produce proof to show customers, regulators, and other stakeholders that privacy is a priority for your organization.