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NIST is for Cybersecurity and Compliance that is used as the basis for State data breach laws, industry oversight regulations, and other countries have adopted the standard too.

These may come from Federal, State, Local, or Tribal Governments, be industry-mandated, or voluntary. An organization that implements the NIST CSF can use it as a single tool to comply with multiple requirements.


What is NIST Compliance?

The National Institute of Standards and technology (NIST) is a non-regulatory government agency that promotes U.S innovation and industrial competitiveness. Adhering to the NIST security standards and best practices set forth by the government agency for the protection of data used by the government and its contractors.

NIST plays a vital role in how businesses are run through the advancement of scientific measurement standards and technology. NIST is more focused on data security than procurement. Most manufacturers are required to follow some Cybersecurity and privacy standards, laws, regulations, or requirements.

Why NIST is Important

The goal of NIST is to help organizations keep their data and information secure and safe. Protecting critical infrastructure from both insider threats and attacks from the outside. The NIST guidelines apply to all data, not just Federal.

NIST is the body that controls the guidelines that pertain to technology. NIST outlines how data should be protected by including standards that govern the security measures needed to protect data, as well as the systems and tools used to ensure data safety.

By conforming to NIST standards, a cybersecurity team establishes a baseline for the safety of a network. This can be used as a benchmark that can apply to various businesses, regardless of their industry. While NIST guidelines are designed for use by government agencies and their contractors, anyone can benefit from NIST certification. NIST requirements help public and private sector organizations alike to plan comprehensive security programs with robust controls that ensure systems and data are well-protected.

The Benefits of NIST

NIST compliance strengthens an organization’s security posture, improving resiliency in the event of a successful breach. NIST ensures a more secure infrastructure for your organization. With a strengthened infrastructure, it is more difficult for cyber threats to penetrate and disturb the day-to-day operations of various teams and individuals.

An organization with stronger infrastructure is more resilient to successful attacks. Not only does it have the tools to limit the spread of attacks, but the various employees and executives also likely have a better understanding of how the tools impact cybersecurity. This enables greater cooperation around security issues.

Following NIST guidelines helps businesses keep their systems protected from breaches that offer the added bonus of ensuring compliance with other mandatory regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

For businesses that deal with the U.S. government, NIST compliance is especially important. It opens the way for government contracts that would otherwise be out of reach. Even small companies, when NIST-compliant, can offer a safer business environment that avails them of potentially lucrative deals with the government.

The benefits of NIST extend to both government and private sector businesses, including:

  • Protecting critical infrastructure from malicious attacks and human negligence
  • Reducing the risk of business disruption due to a data breach
  • Qualifying businesses to work with the government
  • Increasing competitive advantage
  • Supporting IT teams and helping them handle new sources of risk
  • Safeguarding confidential information and protecting national security

Who Should Comply?

All federal government agencies and any federal contractors (and subcontractors) handling government data must be NIST-compliant. Contractors that fail to meet NIST compliance (or have a history of NIST non-compliance) risk losing future contracts.

While NIST compliance isn’t mandatory for the private sector, it is recommended and widely used by non-government organizations across industries as a best practice standard for cybersecurity and data protection. Businesses that achieve NIST compliance can use that as a competitive advantage when marketing and negotiating new contracts.

Aligning with NIST standards can put you ahead of the competition. Confidence in subcontractors and contractors to protect data is a very important factor for many companies. With cybersecurity attacks impacting the government on a constant basis, businesses are more likely to support a company that goes the extra mile to show they care about and support the data security standards by the U.S. government. Similar to an organization or individual that not only conforms to but also goes overboard as they follow stringent code, a company that adheres to NIST standards sends a message that it is responsible with its data and considerate of its customers.

Compliance demonstrates that an organization has a robust security posture and is invested in establishing and maintaining the best security controls and procedures. This means clients can be confident their information is being managed safely.

What is CSF All About?

The NIST framework can be considered voluntary guidance based on existing standards, guidelines, and practices, for any organization looking to better manage and reduce their cybersecurity risk. The framework is divided into three parts: the framework core, the implementation tiers, and the framework profile. The framework core describes 5 functions of an information security program: identify, protect, detect, respond and recover.

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework was released in February 2014 as voluntary guidance, based on existing standards and practices for critical infrastructures and organizations to improve security risk management. It is widely considered the gold standard for building cybersecurity programs and is a scalable and customizable approach that can work in organizations of any size across various industries.

  • Identify: Assess and uncover cybersecurity risks to systems, assets, data, and capabilities. This includes categories such as asset management, business environment, risk assessment, and supply chain risk management.
  • Protect: Develop and implement safeguards and controls to ensure delivery of critical infrastructure services. This includes categories such as identity management, authentication and access control, and data security.
  • Detect: Develop activities and controls to monitor and detect cybersecurity events. This includes categories such as anomalies and events, security continuous monitoring, and detection processes.
  • Respond: Develop techniques to control and mitigate cybersecurity incidents. This includes response planning, communications, analysis, mitigation, and improvements.
  • Recovery: Develop and implement processes to restore capabilities. This includes response planning, improvements, and communications.

The CSF can help businesses address key security challenges within their business:

  • Uncovering hidden risks and vulnerabilities
  • Leveraging the right tools and resources to address risks
  • Understanding which assets need protection
  • Prioritizing risk to focus on critical threats
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