NIST Cybersecurity Framework

NIST Cybersecurity Framework
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The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework is a comprehensive guide designed to help organizations manage and mitigate cybersecurity risk. The framework is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather it provides an outline for organizations to tailor their cybersecurity approach based on their unique risks and requirements. It's comprised of three main components: the Framework Core, Framework Implementation Tiers, and Framework Profiles.

Framework Core: The Core presents five functions—Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover—that, when combined, provide a high-level, strategic view of an organization's management of cybersecurity risk. The Core then identifies underlying key categories and subcategories for each function, and matches them with example Informative References, such as existing standards, guidelines, and practices. This aspect of the framework outlines cybersecurity activities that are common across various sectors and organizations, and it's organized into five primary functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover.

  1. Identify: Understanding the business context, resources, and associated cybersecurity risks.
  2. Protect: Implementing safeguards to protect services, data, and systems.
  3. Detect: Identifying cybersecurity events promptly.
  4. Respond: Taking action regarding detected cybersecurity incidents.
  5. Recover: Restoring services and capabilities impacted by cybersecurity incidents.

Each function is divided into categories (like Access Control or Data Security), which are further divided into subcategories.

Framework Implementation Tiers: The Tiers provide context on how an organization views cybersecurity risk and the processes in place to manage that risk. The Tiers range from Partial (Tier 1) to Adaptive (Tier 4) and describe an increasing degree of rigor and sophistication in cybersecurity risk management practices and the extent to which cybersecurity risk management is informed by business needs and is integrated into an organization's overall risk management practices. These tiers help organizations calibrate their approach to cybersecurity by considering their risk management practices, threat environment, legal and regulatory requirements, business objectives, and organizational constraints. There are four tiers in total: Partial (Tier 1), Risk Informed (Tier 2), Repeatable (Tier 3), and Adaptive (Tier 4).

Framework Profiles: A Profile represents the outcomes based on an organization's business needs selected from the Framework Categories and Subcategories. The Profile can be characterized as the alignment of standards, guidelines, and practices to the Framework Core in a particular implementation scenario. Profiles can be used to identify opportunities for improving cybersecurity posture by comparing a "Current" Profile with a "Target" Profile. Profiles help organizations align their cybersecurity activities with business requirements, risk tolerance, and resources. Organizations can have multiple profiles, such as a "Current Profile" to represent existing cybersecurity activities and a "Target Profile" to represent desired cybersecurity outcomes.

The NIST framework is voluntary for private sector organizations but can be valuable for managing cybersecurity risk. It was created through collaboration between industry and government and is designed to be adaptable to an organization's size, risk, or sector.

The latest version of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as of my knowledge cut-off in September 2021 is version 1.1, which was released in April 2018. For the most current information, I recommend checking the official NIST website or other trusted sources.

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a policy framework of computer security guidance for private sector organizations in the United States. It's designed to help these organizations assess and improve their ability to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber attacks.

Importantly, the NIST Framework is voluntary – it's not a law or regulation. However, it has been widely adopted across many sectors due to its flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and comprehensiveness.

In terms of privacy considerations, the Framework does not explicitly cover privacy laws such as the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). COPPA is a U.S. law that aims to protect children's privacy and personally-identifying information by giving parents tools to control what information is collected from their children online. It would be up to individual organizations to ensure they are also compliant with these sorts of specific privacy regulations in addition to following the NIST Framework.

As for the cost of implementing the NIST Framework, there's no one-size-fits-all answer because it varies greatly depending on the size and complexity of the organization, the current state of its cybersecurity practices, and the extent of the implementation. However, investing in cybersecurity measures can be seen as a form of risk management, as the costs associated with a potential breach can be far greater.

While I have provided an overview of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, please note that implementing it effectively requires a deeper understanding of its components and its application in your specific organizational context.