NIST Cyber Security Compliance

NIST Cybersecurity Compliance

A Definition of NIST Compliance

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is a non-regulatory government agency that develops technology, metrics, and standards to drive innovation and economic competitiveness at U.S.-based organizations in the science and technology industry. NIST produces standards and guidelines to help federal agencies meet the requirements of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). NIST also assists those agencies in protecting their information and information systems through cost-effective programs.

Specifically, NIST develops Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) in congruence with FISMA. The Secretary of Commerce approves FIPS, with which federal agencies must comply – federal agencies may not waive the use of the standards. NIST also provides guidance documents and recommendations through its Special Publications (SP) 800-series, like NIST SP 800. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) policies require that agencies must comply with NIST guidance, unless they are national security programs and systems.

NIST Compliance at a Glance

NIST guidance provides the set of standards for recommended security controls for information systems at federal agencies like integrating cybersecurity for official websites, gov websites, and government agencies. These standards are endorsed by the government, and companies comply with NIST standards because they encompass security best practices controls across a range of industries –an example of a widely adopted NIST standard is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. NIST standards are based on best practices from several security documents, organizations, and publications, and are designed as a framework for federal agencies and programs requiring strict security measures. In many cases, complying with NIST guidelines and recommendations will help federal agencies ensure compliance with other regulations, such as HIPAA, FISMA, or SOX. NIST guidelines are often developed to help agencies meet specific regulatory compliance requirements.

NIST Compliance Benefits

The initial benefit of NIST compliance is that it helps to ensure an organization’s infrastructure is secure. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that complying with NIST is not a complete assurance that your data is secure. That’s why NIST guidelines begin by telling companies to inventory their cyber assets using a value-based approach, in order to find their most sensitive data and prioritize protection efforts around it.

HIPAA Compliance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standard for sensitive patient data protection. Companies that deal with protected health information (PHI) must have physical, network, and process security measures in place and follow them to ensure HIPAA Compliance. Service providers (anyone providing treatment, payment, and operations in healthcare) and business associates (anyone who has access to patient information and provides support in treatment, payment, or operations) must meet HIPAA Compliance. Other entities, such as subcontractors and any other related business associates must also be in compliance. Security and privacy controls play a big role in HIPPA cybersecurity framework goals.

FISMA Compliance

The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is a United States federal law that made it a requirement for federal agencies to develop, document, and implement an information security and protection program.

FISMA is one of the most important regulations for federal government data security standards and guidelines. It was introduced to reduce the security risk to federal government information and data while managing federal spending on information security. To achieve these aims, FISMA established a set of guidelines and security standards that federal agencies have to meet. FISMA requirements also apply to any private businesses that are involved in a contractual relationship with the government.

In April 2010 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released guidelines which require agencies to provide real time system information to FISMA auditors, enabling continuous monitoring of FISMA-regulated information systems.

SOX Compliance

In 2002, the Federal Government passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) to protect shareholders and the general public from accounting errors and fraudulent practices in enterprises, and to improve the accuracy of corporate disclosures. The act sets deadlines for compliance and publishes rules on requirements. The cybersecurity outcomes were substantial.

All public companies now must comply with SOX, both on the financial side and on the IT side. The way in which IT departments store corporate electronic records changed as a result of SOX and improved the business environment. While the act does not specify how a business should store records or establish a set of business practices, it does define which records should be stored and the length of time for the storage.

Management of Electronic Records Rules

Following SOX, IT departments became responsible for creating and maintaining an archive of corporate records. To achieve this, the goal was to make it both cost effective and to be in complete compliance with the requirements of the legislation.

Three rules in Section 802 of SOX affect the management of electronic records.

  • 1st rule: This rule concerns the destruction, alteration, or falsification of records and the resulting penalties.
  • 2nd rule: A rule that defines the retention period for records storage; best practices suggest corporations securely store all business records using the same guidelines as public accountants.
  • 3rd rule: This rule outlines the type of business records that need to be stored, including all business records, communications, and electronic communications.

What Does NIST Mean in Cyber Security?

Drafted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), this cybersecurity framework addresses the lack of standards when it comes to cybersecurity and provides a uniform set of rules, guidelines, and standards for organizations to use across industries. This helps agencies manage cybersecurity risk by organizing information, enabling risk management decisions, addressing threats, and learning from previous activities. This is meant to stop a cybersecurity event from occurring.

What Does NIST Compliance Mean?

NIST compliance is complying with the requirements of one or more NIST standards. NIST's primary role is to develop standards (particularly for security controls) that apply to various industries. This includes NIST cybersecurity framework, manage cybersecurity risk, enterprise risk management, ransomware risk management,a detected cybersecurity event, data breach incidents, and critical infrastructure services.

Is NIST Compliance Mandatory?

So... is NIST compliance truly mandatory? While it's recommended for organizations to follow the NIST compliance, most aren't required to. There are, of course, a few exceptions to this. Federal agencies have been required to follow NIST standards since 2017.

What is the Difference Between ISO 27001 and NIST?

NIST 800-53 is more security control driven with a wide variety of groups to facilitate best practices related to federal information systems and the United States Government. ISO 27001, however, is less technical and more risk focused for organizations.

Is NIST an International Standard?

ISO/IEC 27001 is the international Standard for best-practice information security management systems (ISMS). ... The Standard can also be extended by integrating with several other standards and frameworks, including the NIST CSF (Cybersecurity Framework) and NIST RMF (Risk Management Framework).

What is the Framework?

The Framework is voluntary guidance, based on existing standards, guidelines, and practices for organizations to better manage and reduce cybersecurity risk. In addition to helping organizations manage and reduce risks, it was designed to foster risk and cybersecurity management communications amongst both internal and external organizational stakeholders.

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework Identifies Five Core Functions:

  • Identify
  • Protect
  • Detect
  • Respond
  • Recover

The framework makes it more understandable for everyone, applies to any kind of risk management, defines the entire breath of cybersecurity, and spans both prevention and reaction.

Components of the Cybersecurity Framework

The Cybersecurity Framework consists of three main components: the Core, Implementation Tiers, and Profiles. The Framework Core provides a set of desired cybersecurity activities and outcomes. The Core guides organizations in managing and reducing their cybersecurity risks in a way that complements an organization’s existing cybersecurity and risk management, risk assessment processes, and get them to optimal cybersecurity standards through this protective technology. Secure websites are key to asset management.

Quick Start:

Seeking to improve cybersecurity risk management via utilization of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a good place to start. Though the Cybersecurity Framework is not a one-size-fits-all approach to managing cybersecurity risk for organizations, it is ultimately aimed at reducing and better managing these risks. As such, this guide is intended for any and all organizations regardless of sector or size. Organizations will vary in how they customize practices described in this document. Organizations can determine activities that are important to critical service delivery and can prioritize investments to maximize impact.

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