Cybersecurity has become a paramount concern for businesses of all sizes as cyber-attacks continue to rise. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks as larger businesses typically have robust security processes. Thus, SMBs face unique challenges when managing cybersecurity risks; due to limited resources and an ever-evolving threat landscape, SMBs often find themselves in a precarious position.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework 2.0 (NIST CSF 2.0) is an easy-to-use framework that addresses future risks and provides risk management blueprints for organisations regardless of size.
Understanding NIST 2.0
The NIST CSF 2.0 is a voluntary framework that provides robust guidelines for organisations to manage and mitigate cybersecurity risk effectively. Developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the framework is designed to be flexible and adaptable to the specific needs of each organisation. It represents an evolution from its predecessor, incorporating user feedback and updates to reflect changes in the cybersecurity landscape.
NIST was created to aid critical national infrastructure (CNI) organisations. Still, its clarity and thoroughness in highlighting cybersecurity best practices made it one of the most popular frameworks among U.S. and global organisations – whatever the sector.
Key Features and Components of NIST 2.0
The NIST framework was first published in 2014, but its first significant refresh is currently underway in a new public draft version, ready for publication in early 2024.
The NIST CSF 2.0 comprises six key functions: Govern, Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover.
Each function is further divided into categories and subcategories that detail specific outcomes related to each function. These components provide a strategic view of an organisation’s cybersecurity risk management, allowing for a comprehensive and holistic approach to cybersecurity.
A new function was added to NIST 2.0. This extra layer augments the existing five functions by emphasising the importance of governance in cybersecurity. This new addition aligns the NIST framework more closely with ISO 27001, a globally recognised Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) standard.
The ‘Govern’ function covers people, process and technology elements that cover the roles, responsibilities, policies, procedures and oversight in addition to the technology throughout the implementation of NST 2.0. This incorporates multiple categories under the ‘Identify’ function in the original framework, including Business Environment, Risk Management Strategy, and Supply Chain Risk Management.
‘Identify’ comprises of three core goals for organisations:
- Identify your assets (from hardware, software, and services to data to facilities and people)
- Understand the cybersecurity risks to the organisation, its assets and individuals.
- Identify improvements to its cybersecurity risk management processes, procedures and activities.
SMBs need an understanding of business context, the resources that support critical functions, and the related cybersecurity risks that enable their organisation to focus and prioritise their efforts in conjunction with risk management strategy and business needs.
Covering a range of safeguards for preventing or reducing cybersecurity risk, the ‘Protect’ function includes:
- Managing identities and their access rights.
- Requiring authentication.
- Protecting data.
- Helps secure platforms and ensures infrastructure resilience.
- Helps promote cybersecurity awareness amongst users.
This function supports limiting or contacting the impact of a potential cybersecurity event and outcomes within an organisation. Outcomes for ‘protect’ could include:
- Empowering staff through awareness training, including role-based and privileged user training
- Data security protection should be consistent with the organisation’s risk strategy to protect information confidentiality, integrity and availability.
- Protecting organisational resources through maintenance
The ‘Detect’ function defines the activities to identify the occurrence of a cybersecurity event to ensure the timely discovery of cybersecurity events.
Outcomes within this function can include detecting anomalies and events to understand their potential impact and implementing continuous security monitoring capabilities to monitor cybersecurity events and verify the effectiveness of protective measures, including network and physical activities.
This function details all the appropriate activities to take action regarding a detected cybersecurity incident. It aids organisations in containing the impact of a potential cybersecurity incident and ensuring critical infrastructure services remain available. Some of the activities in ‘respond’ include:
- Identity management, authentication and access control – Ensure that only authorised users, processes and devices can access physical and logical assets and associated facilities
- Awareness and training – All users should be informed and trained, and privileged users must understand their roles and responsibilities.
- Data security – Manage data with a data risk strategy to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.
Lastly, the ‘Recover’ function identifies activities to restore any capabilities or services impaired due to a cybersecurity incident.
- Recovery planning – maintain recovery processes and procedures to restore systems or assets affected.
- Improvements – incorporate lessons learnt into future activities.
- Continuous monitoring – Monitor and check for anomalies continuously and verify the effectiveness of your protective measures.
- Communications – coordinate restoration activities with key stakeholders internally and externally
The Importance of NIST 2.0 for SMBs
For SMBs, the NIST CSF 2.0 is a precious resource, it provides:
- A structured and systematic approach to managing cybersecurity risks.
- Ensuring compliance with best practices and standards.
- Enhancing resilience against cyber threats.
By adopting the framework, SMBs can significantly improve their cybersecurity posture, protect their valuable assets, and instil confidence in their customers and partners.
The benefits of adopting the NIST CSF 2.0 for SMBs are manifold. It provides a clear roadmap for improving cybersecurity, helps identify gaps in security practices, and offers a common language for communicating with stakeholders about cybersecurity issues. Moreover, it aligns with various regulatory requirements, assisting SMBs to maintain compliance.
How We Can Assist You
We committed to assisting SMBs in implementing the NIST CSF 2.0. We offer a range of services tailored to the unique needs of SMBs.
By partnering with us, you can leverage the power of the NIST CSF 2.0 to fortify your cybersecurity defences, mitigate risks, and ensure the continuity and success of your business in the face of cyber threats. Contact us today.
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