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ATTENTION US BUSINESS LEADERS: Are You in the Know About the National Cybersecurity Framework?

Mandated by Presidents Obama and Trump alongside the National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST), The Cybersecurity Framework is required for all Federal organizations and is becoming the baseline security standard for commercial organizations at all levels.

Cybersecurity Framework

Background & Basics: What Is the Cybersecurity Framework?

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a policy framework of computer security guidelines for private sector organizations. The Cybersecurity Framework allows organizations to assess and improve their ability to prevent, detect and respond to cyber attacks.

The policy provides high-level analysis tools for cybersecurity outcomes and a procedure to best examine and manage those outcomes. Version 1.0 of the Cybersecurity Framework was published by NIST in 2014, originally directed toward operators of critical infrastructure.

The Cybersecurity Framework is currently used by a wide range of business organizations to assist them in proactivity, risk management, and overall cybersecurity strategy. The Framework was designed to help business leaders better examine the risks they face to guide the use of cybersecurity tools in a cost-effective way.

Breaking Down the Cybersecurity Framework: Core, Tiers, and Profile

The Framework was initially designed for federal organizations that are part of the nation’s critical infrastructure. However, NIST strongly encourages other business organizations to review and consider the Framework as a helpful tool for managing cyber risks. The Framework was developed strategically, for use by organizations that span enterprise conglomerates to the smallest of SMBs.

The Cybersecurity Framework is divided into three parts: Core, Tiers, and Profile

  • CORE

The Framework Core includes a multitude of activities, outcomes, and references that analyze approaches cybersecurity events and help business leaders make more strategic decisions and implementations regarding tech security.

  • TIERS

The Framework Implementation Tiers are included to help organizations clarify perceptions of specific internal and external cyber security risks. Additionally, the tiers offer standards of sophistication for developing cybersecurity strategies.

  • PROFILE

The Framework Profile is a list of outcomes that allows an organization to select specific cybersecurity categories and subcategories, based on its unique security needs and individual risk assessments.

The Framework Profile is also broken into two parts:

  • Organizations typically begin using the framework to develop a current profile that describes the organization’s current cybersecurity activities and what outcomes it is hoping to achieve.
  • Once that is determined, the organization can then establish a target profile, or adopt a baseline profile, that is customized to more accurately match its critical infrastructure.
  • After both profiles have been developed, the organization can then take steps to close the gaps between its current profile and its target profile.

Constantly Evolving: The 2017 Cybersecurity Framework Update

NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework was initially developed and released in 2014 under the Obama administration. Early this year, however, NIST issued a draft update to the Cybersecurity Framework. The update included new details on managing cyber supply chain risks, clarifying key terms, and introducing strategic measurement methods for cybersecurity.

The updated Cybersecurity Framework aims to optimize NIST guidance and help organizations continually reduce cyber risks. The Cybersecurity Framework update incorporates user-feedback and integrates comments from countless user organizations from the past few years.

The 2017 update specifically optimizes tools for cyber supply chain risk management.

For example, a small business selecting a cloud service provider may want guidance to make a strategic decision. With the Cybersecurity Framework update, the renamed and revised “Identity Management and Access Control” category, clarifies and expands upon the definitions of the terms “authentication” and “authorization.”

NIST also added and defines the related concept of “identity proofing.” All of these tools are designed specifically to help businesses make smarter cybersecurity decisions, across their service base, based on industry best-practices.

Reaping the Benefits: How Can Organizations Access and Best Use the Cybersecurity Framework  

So, how can a business like yours take advantage of this strategic and nationwide Cybersecurity Framework? It’s simple. You can access the complete and updated Framework and all its supporting documentation here: www.nist.gov/cyberframework.

You might also be wondering some of the key requirements of the Cybersecurity Framework that help organizations stay vigilant, strategic and protected. Check out some of the central requirements of the Framework below:

  • Cybersecurity Framework Risk Assessment and Gap Assessment

As part of the Cybersecurity Framework, organizations are required to have a formal risk assessment completed, from a qualified 3rd party firm to ensure nothing has been overlooked.

  • Cybersecurity Framework Penetration Test

The Framework also requires organizations undergo regular advanced penetration testing services for all web applications, databases and internal infrastructures needed to protect sensitive cardholder data.

  • Cybersecurity Framework Vendor Management Compliance

The Cybersecurity Framework outlines the critical importance of communicating cybersecurity standards and policies to all external service providers in the service supply chain.

No matter what business you’re in, the Cybersecurity Framework from NIST serves as an organized and effective backdrop for improving your organization’s approach to cybersecurity. The cybercrime climate is only going to get worse, and having a framework of industry best-practices that can be used and applied nationwide is a huge asset for business leaders in all industries.

Having trouble getting through the 41-page Cybersecurity Framework? Does the policy talk leave your head spinning? Don’t miss out on taking advantage of the Cybersecurity Framework because you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Reach out to a team of local IT experts. They can help your team break down the Framework and determine the best steps for implementation. The Cybersecurity Framework is quickly becoming the national standard – don’t fall behind the pack.


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