What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?


NIST cybersecurity framework is used to organize and improve your cybersecurity program. It is a powerful tool that works on a set of guidelines and practices that help various organizations to build and improve the cybersecurity management of their company. There is a set of recommendations and standards that is put forth to enable organizations to identify and detect cyber-attacks. This framework also provides guidelines on how to respond, prevent, and recover from cyber incidents.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity addresses the lack of standards regarding data security. It also provides a uniform set of rules, guidelines, and standards for organizations to use across industries. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF) is widely considered to be the gold standard for building a cybersecurity program. NIST is a top-level security management tool that helps assess cybersecurity risk across the organization.

What is NIST?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a non-regulatory agency that promotes innovation by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology.

The NIST CSF is a very flexible program and can integrate with the existing security processes within any organization, in any industry. It provides an excellent starting point for implementing information security and cybersecurity risk management in virtually any private sector organization in the United States.

What is the core structure of the NIST cyber security Framework?

There is a framework that defines these. The framework categorizes all cybersecurity capabilities, projects, processes, and daily activities into these 5 core functions:

1. Identify:

To identify what projects, assets, and processes need protection. This is focused on laying the groundwork for an effective cybersecurity program. Identifying can help with developing an organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risk to systems, people, assets, data, and capabilities. Essential activities include; Identifying asset vulnerabilities, threats to internal and external organizational resources, and risk response activities to assess risk. Identifying physical and software assets to establish the basis of an asset management program. 

2. Protect:

Implement appropriate safety measures to ensure the safeguarding of these assets and protect them. Implementing protections for Identity Management and Access Control within the organization including physical and remote access.

3. Detect:

To implement the appropriate mechanism so that a cyber security risk can be detected beforehand. Implementing continuous monitoring capabilities to monitor cybersecurity events and verify the effectiveness of protective measures including network and physical activities.

4. Respond:

Develop techniques to contain the impact of cybersecurity events. Analysing the incident to ensure effective response and supporting recovery activities including forensic analysis and determining the impact of incidents.

5. Recover:

Implement measures to recover and restore capabilities in case of a cybersecurity emergency. Ensuring the organization implements recovery planning processes and procedures to restore systems and/or assets affected by cybersecurity incidents.

The NIST CSF’s informative references draw a direct correlation between the functions, categories, subcategories, and the specific security controls of other frameworks. These frameworks include:

  • The Center for Internet Security (CIS) Controls®
  • COBIT 5
  • International Society of Automation (ISA) 62443-2-1:2009
  • ISA 62443-3-3:2013
  • International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission 27001:2013
  • NIST SP 800-53 Rev. 4

The NIST CSF does not tell how to inventory the physical devices and systems or how to inventory the software platforms and applications; it merely provides a checklist of tasks to complete. An organization can choose its own method on how to perform the inventory.

Why should you use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

There are many cybersecurity issues that one may face like unseen risks and vulnerabilities, not having accurate data on assets that need to be protected, and not knowing what to prioritize. NIST framework can help you in coping up with all of this. It helps you to leverage the learnings of people who have successfully addressed similar issues. 

How to get started with NIST Cybersecurity Framework??

Aligning with the cybersecurity framework involves systematically cataloging all your activities and assigning each one to one of the five key function categories: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. Once you have done this, depending on their capabilities you would also put them in Detect along with your IDS and SIEM. Now you can articulate what your cybersecurity program is missing.

History of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework

On February 12, 2013, Executive Order 13636—”Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity”—was issued, kicking off NIST’s collaboration with the US private sector. The goal was to find and use existing voluntary standards and best practices to create a Cybersecurity Framework. This teamwork led to the creation of NIST Cybersecurity Framework Version 1.0.

Then, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014 expanded NIST’s role in developing this framework. Today, the NIST CSF remains one of the most widely used security frameworks across all US industries.

NIST Framework implementation tiers

There are four implementation tires of NIST Cybersecurity Framework to help private sector organizations measure their progress:

1. Partial:

The organisation must me familiar with NIST and  might have implemented some aspects of control in some areas of the infrastructure.

2. Risk informed:

An organization is aware of the risks that it might face but does not know the methods to tackle them as it lacks a planned, repeatable and proactive organization-wide cybersecurity risk management process.

3. Repeatable:

The organization is aware of the security threats and has implanted repeated organization-wide cybersecurity risk management plan to respond effectively to cyber attacks.

4. Adaptive:

The organization is cyber resilient, it uses lessons learned and predictive indicators to prevent cyberattacks. It works on improving and advancing the organization’s cybersecurity technologies and practices and adapts to changes in threats quickly and efficiently.

How to configure the NIST Framework Cybersecurity Risk Management Program?

Ready to step up your cybersecurity game? The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides simple, step-by-step guidance to help you establish or enhance your information security risk management strategy. Here’s a creative spin on how to do it.

1. First and foremost:

Start by drawing the big picture. Define the scope of the project and be realistic about your priorities. Pin high-level business or mission goals and determine what your organization’s risk tolerance is. This is your chance to stay grounded in reality and dream big.

2. Orient:

Know your assets and plans from the inside out. Understand the rules you need to follow, the approach to risk, and the threats hiding in the shadows. This step is like laying out a treasure map before you start your journey.

3. Create Current Profile:

Take a picture of your current location. How does your organization manage risk according to CSF’s categories and subcategories? This is your starting point, your “before” picture in the cybersecurity revolution.

4. Conduct a Risk Assessment:

Immerse yourself in the business environment in depth. Review emerging risks and cybersecurity threats to assess the likelihood and impact of a potential cyber incident. Think of this as learning the weather before you travel.

5. Create a goal profile:

Dream of your ideal state. What does appropriate risk management look like for your team? This goal profile is a “behind the scenes” picture of you, and the goals you have set for yourself.

6. Identify, Search, and Prioritize Differences:

Now, identify the differences between your current and target profiles. What is missing? What needs to be changed? Create an action plan with clear points and items.


A good Cyber security company can help you with the implementation of NIST cybersecurity framework. You can contact Spictera if you need help with the same.

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