The risks that come with cybersecurity can be overwhelming to many organizations. Building a robust cybersecurity program is often complicated to conceptualize for any organization, regardless of size. Yet, the cyber security benefits of baselining to an industry-standard guide are worth the restructuring that might be involved. Frameworks are not a new concept to cybersecurity professionals, and the benefits are immense – nor do they need to be complicated to be effective. Here we’ll dive into the benefits of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) and why it should be a cornerstone for your cybersecurity solution.
Background of the NIST CSF
The National Institute of Standards and Technology developed the Framework for Protecting Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity in response to an executive order from President Obama. The first version of what would be later dubbed the NIST CSF was released in 2014. What was unique about the development of V1 was the decentralized and collaborative way it was developed. George Wrenn was a contributor to the development of this framework profile and recalled the process,
I can say that the team around the framework and NIST have more than just the baseline clout that you would hope for in a recognized group.
With thousands of contributors with independence and the Framework drawn from a decentralized sample of the population making unique contributions (industry professionals and cybersecurity experts), it accounts for its wide-reaching value.
Following the release of V1, the NIST CSF was adopted by more than critical infrastructure organizations - the flexible nature of the new gold standard enabled businesses of all sizes, both public- and private sector, to adopt and implement the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF).
Version 1.1 of the CSF was released in 2018, further expanding the Framework's applicability.
The Case for the CSF: Harnessing the Wisdom of Crowds
The internet age has enabled an exponential increase in diversity of thought and contribution. In the case of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, this enabled contributions from thousands of contributors, and George expands on the value that brings as a practitioner -
To determine the optimal set of cybersecurity controls for an organization, the wisdom of this larger crowd that pulls from different industries and organization structures and includes high-powered cybersecurity professionals who produced the NIST Cybersecurity Framework – wins over the small group of “experts.”
Those with a hand in creating the framework knew the importance of creating a “framework to live by” – they shared the same vision. These individuals were sourced from different roles and industries and had varying viewpoints and perspectives on data security and risk management. This crowd-sourcing methodology is precisely what makes the NIST Cybersecurity Framework so robust. It draws from every angle the priorities and uses cases of its creators, resulting in a framework that adds depth and breadth to your organization while being flexible enough to accommodate large and small businesses.
The Benefits of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework
As adoption of the NIST CSF continues to increase, explore the reasons you should join the host of businesses and cybersecurity leaders adopting this gold-standard framework:
- Superior and unbiased cybersecurity
- Enable long-term cybersecurity and risk management
- Ripple effects across supply chains and vendor lists
- Bridge the gap between technical and business-side stakeholders
- Flexibility and Adaptability of the Framework
- Built for future regulation and compliance requirements
Superior and Unbiased Cybersecurity
As discussed earlier, the NIST CSF is a voluntary approach that represents the collective experience of thousands of information security professionals. It is widely recognized as an industry best practice and the most comprehensive, in-depth set of framework controls. Shoring an organization up against cyber threats and attacks is the top priority of any cybersecurity leader or practitioner, and the NIST CSF is a necessary part of that mission.
Harnessing that crowd-based wisdom enables you to fill in blind spots you didn’t know you had and enables leaders to understand the perspectives of all members of their organization.
Enable long-term cybersecurity and risk management
The CSF takes your organization out of the ‘one-off’ audit compliance and risk assessment mindset, and into a more adaptive and responsive posture of managing cybersecurity risk. Continuous compliance is a much stronger strategy that supports respond and recover functions. While this can seem daunting, the right tools enable a continuous compliance approach using the CSF easily.
Ripple Effects Across Supply Chains
We have seen partners or clients ask an organization: “Where are you on the Framework?” The response to this question can be a deal maker or a deal killer. Cybersecurity practices and posture is becoming a substantive selling point. Using a gold standard like the CSF fosters trust between your partners and enables faster business growth while staying secure.
Bridge the Gap Between Stakeholders
The CSF comes from a risk-based approach, which executives understand very well. This approach enables an integrated risk management approach to cybersecurity management aligned with business goals. The result is better communication and decision-making throughout your organization. Security budgets will be better justified and allocated. Adoption develops a common language for business and technical stakeholders to share, facilitating improved communication throughout the organization from practitioners to the Board and CEO.
Flexibility and Adaptability of the Framework
The CSF is the most flexible framework, given its risk-based, outcomes-driven approach. Successfully adopted by many industries, from sizable critical infrastructure firms in energy, transportation, and finance, to small and medium-sized enterprises. Being a voluntary framework, it is highly customizable. The Core Functions are intuitive, and collectively, with the Implementation Tiers, and Profiles make for an easy-to-grasp blueprint that speeds adoption and provides ongoing guidance.
Built for the Future
Organizations and government agencies implementing the Framework are in a much better position as regulations and laws change, and new ones emerge. New regulations like NYDFS 23 NYCRR 500 and the insurance industry’s Model Law use the CSF as a foundation for their compliance standards guidelines. This trend impacts private industries beyond critical infrastructure. The compliance bar is rising, which will likely continue for all industries.
The great concern for many CISOs and security leaders is the rise in compliance requirements across industries and geographies. The NIST CSF is the most reliable security measure for building and iterating a cybersecurity program to prepare for new updates to existing standards and regulations.
A Cornerstone for a Forward-Thinking Cybersecurity Program
The NIST CSF is a powerful asset for cybersecurity practitioners. Given its flexibility and adaptability, it is a cost-effective way for organizations to approach cybersecurity and foster an enterprise-wide conversation around cyber risk and compliance. Managing cybersecurity today is rapidly escalating to a Board- and CEO-level issue, and information security leaders must be prepared to articulate their program effectively. Not only is the NIST CSF an asset for practitioners, but it is also a critical part of the bridge between technical- and business-side stakeholders.
Contact us to learn which security framework is best for your organization and how CyberStrong can streamline compliance and risk assessments. See Also: What is NIST CSF?