4 Key Benefits of Complying with the NIST CSF

September 13, 2022
Ryan McCartney

If you’ve been considering using the CSF as the security standard for your organization, we’d fully agree. Here’s why.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s Cybersecurity Framework, more commonly referred to as the “CSF”, has been supported and utilized by governments and industries worldwide as a baseline for cybersecurity since version 1 was published in 2014.

The result of a collaboration across government and private sector organizations, the CSF is a voluntary Framework consisting of standards and guidelines that organizations can use to minimize their security risk. While the CSF was initially developed to improve cybersecurity risk management in critical infrastructure, the Framework can be used by organizations in any sector or community. The Framework enables organizations – regardless of size, degree of cybersecurity risk, or cybersecurity sophistication – to apply the principles and best practices of risk management to improve security and resilience. What’s not to love?

What does the Framework consist of?

There are three key components to The Cybersecurity Framework: the Core, Implementation Tiers, and Profiles.

  • The Core
  • The Core is a set of cybersecurity activities, outcomes, and informative references that are common across sectors and critical infrastructure. This is a resource that organizations can use as a guide to reduce cybersecurity risks while building upon existing processes and controls.
  • Implementation Tiers
  • Implementation Tiers provide a mechanism for organizations to view and understand the characteristics of their approach to managing cybersecurity risk, which will help in prioritizing and achieving cybersecurity objectives.
  • Profiles
  • Elements of the Core provide detailed guidance for developing individual organizational Profiles. Through the use of Profiles, the Framework will help an organization align and prioritize its cybersecurity activities with its business and mission requirements, risk tolerances, and resources.

If it’s voluntary, why should I use it?

Many organizations utilize the NIST CSF as a way to evaluate and assess current cybersecurity capabilities for its five core cybersecurity functions – Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. The U.S General Services Administration explains them as follows:

  • Identify — Develop the organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risk to systems, assets, data, and capabilities
  • Protect — Develop and implement the appropriate safeguards to ensure delivery of critical infrastructure services.
  • Detect — Develop and implement the appropriate activities to identify the occurrence of a cybersecurity event.
  • Respond — Develop and implement the appropriate activities to take action regarding a detected cybersecurity event.
  • Recover — Develop and implement the appropriate activities to take action regarding a detected cybersecurity event.

In short, the results of an assessment against the CSF provide valuable, actionable steps that your organization can take to improve your cybersecurity maturity and posture. Here are 4 key benefits of using the Framework:

  • The Framework provides a common organizing structure for multiple approaches to cybersecurity by assembling standards, guidelines, and practices that are working effectively today.
  • The Framework offers a flexible way to address cybersecurity, including cybersecurity’s effect on physical, cyber, and people dimensions. It is applicable to organizations relying on technology, whether their cybersecurity focus is primarily on information technology (IT), industrial control systems (ICS), cyber-physical systems (CPS), or connected devices more generally, including the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • The Framework can assist organizations in addressing cybersecurity as it affects the privacy of their data.
  • The Framework’s outcomes serve as targets for workforce development and evolution activities. An assessment against the NIST CSF will also provide actionable materials that can support the cybersecurity agenda at a board meeting or during budget considerations.

What are the penalties for not adhering to the Framework?

While complying with the Framework itself is entirely voluntary, not adhering could ultimately put organizations at a loss. By not aligning with NIST CSF standards, organizations could be unknowingly depriving themselves of key risk vectors, which competitors may capitalize on.

How do I implement NIST CSF standards at my organization?

While the NIST offers an online Quick Guide for organizations looking to get started with the Framework, some may find it helpful to recruit the help of their Chief Information Security Officer, or even a vCISO, to make the most of it. Recruiting the help of a security professional or third-party consultant, like RISCPoint, can help personalize the Framework to your organization’s exact needs.

Have more questions about the Framework, or how it could benefit your organization’s security posture? Our team of industry experts is ready to help. Get in touch with the form below.


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