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NIST Risk Management Framework

Tips for Your Next Risk Assessment Based on NIST 800-30


Many regulations across industries require or promote security risk assessments. For example, risk assessments aren't only required under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Still, they are also vital in strengthening the IT team's and business leaders' knowledge of where the organization is most vulnerable and what data is involved in higher-risk environments. Furthermore, regulations require the use of risk assessments, including NERC CIP for energy and utilities and PCI DSS for credit card processing. Furthermore, they are the bedrock of an informed risk management strategy and help protect the organization's critical information assets in the face of a security incident. 

The demand for responsible cybersecurity in business is ubiquitous. The need to protect information is not limited to the financial services, insurance, and healthcare sectors. Identifying an industry that escapes some type of obligation to protect electronic information is difficult. The ultimate goal? To better manage IT-related risks, which inevitably cover the entire organization, vendors, applications, and customer base in many cases. Unsurprisingly, having this knowledge permeating your organization leads to effective cyber risk management and successful business operations.

The NIST RMF: Risk Management Framework

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), "The purpose of Special Publication 800-30 is to provide guidance for conducting risk assessments of federal information systems and organizations, amplifying the guidance provided in NIST 800-39. This document provides guidance for carrying out each of the three steps in the information security risk assessment process (i.e., prepare for the assessment, conduct the assessment, and maintain the assessment) and how risk assessments and other organizational risk management processes complement and inform each other."

The NIST risk assessment guidelines are certainly ones to consider. Some cybersecurity risk assessment tips derived from NIST best practices are below. 

CyberStrong streamlines your organization's assessment process for all your regulatory or voluntary frameworks, giving added visibility into the NIST Risk Management Framework

The Under Secretary of Commerce for NIST, Walter Copan, noted, " From the beginning, the Cybersecurity Framework has been a collaborative effort involving stakeholders from government, industry, and academia. The impact of their work is evident in the widespread adoption of the framework by organizations across the United States and internationally.” Below are some essential tips to consider when planning and conducting your company's first or next risk assessment.

Do Risk Assessment Prep

According to NIST SP 800-30, organizations implement risk management strategies to prepare for risk assessments effectively. The following tasks are critical to performing a thorough risk assessment according to the special publication:

  1. Identify the purpose of the assessment;
  2. Identify the scope of the assessment;
  3. Identify the assumptions and constraints associated with the assessment;
  4. Identify the sources of information to be used as inputs to the assessment and
  5. Identify the risk model and analytic approaches (i.e., assessment and analysis approaches) to be employed during the assessment. 

How to Scope Your Environment and Organization

To perform a practical security risk analysis, you must incorporate the entire organization to assess precisely where there are risks and vulnerabilities to sensitive data, whether it's yours or your customers. CyberStrong allows you to immediately implement NIST SP 800-30 methodology and easily scope your entire organization, whether you are assessing a single location, hundreds of applications, or even vendors. The NIST Special Publication 800-30 describes this as "Identify(ing) the scope of the risk assessment in terms of organizational applicability, time frame supported, and architectural/technology considerations." 

This guide for conducting Risk Assessments by NIST is the most credible risk assessment guidance to date and is at the backbone of CyberStrong's risk management offering because of it. The U.S. Federal government and commercial enterprises use the methodology to assess and monitor risks 

Implement a Credible Cadence for Risk Assessments

An organization’s entire risk management process should be reviewed regularly and changed as new technologies and security controls are introduced into the company or organization. New technologies could affect where sensitive data is stored. As more tools are integrated into business processes, data is more likely to fall into the wrong hands. 

IT systems are continually being updated, software applications are being replaced and updated with newer versions, and the human aspect is also changing, putting weight on training new personnel with evolving security policies that affect existing employees. New risks will surface, and risks previously mitigated may be reborn into new vulnerabilities. Your information security management process must be ongoing and evolving to combat new and existing threats and vulnerabilities.

Today, enterprises face the challenges of changing regulatory environments, supply chain demands, third-party risk transfer, and evolving digitization. CyberStrong greatly simplifies the adoption of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and related security standards to put your cybersecurity program on a strong foundation.

Share The Info That Your Gather 

According to the publication, “the risk assessment process entails ongoing communications and information sharing between those personnel performing assessment activities, subject matter experts, and key organizational stakeholders (e.g., mission/business owners, risk executive [function], chief information security officers, information system owners/program managers).”

Sharing your risk assessment information helps to ensure that the inputs put into the risk assessments are as accurate and credible as possible, that intermediate results can be used, perhaps to support other assessments in other areas of the organization, and that results are meaningful, resulting in real remediation plans and activities to make your organization more secure.

Make Your Risk Assessment Inform Company Decisions

In the past, it's been challenging to bring agility and tribal knowledge to cyber and cyber risk management. The CyberStrong Platform not only streamlines any framework or standard (NIST CSF, NIST SP 800-171, NIST SP 800-53, PCI DSS, HIPAA, NERC, and any other frameworks, custom or regulatory) but the platform also allows you to credibly report enterprise-level risk for each control on even the most complex risk environments. 

CyberStrong prioritizes risk mitigation decisions based on real data, using your risk profile to surface new mitigation opportunities with a high investment return for your specific organization. Easily assess your organization for credible enterprise risk management based on the proven NIST Risk Management Framework.

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