How Can an MSP Help with NIST Compliance?

How Can an MSP Help with NIST Compliance?

With cyberattacks costing businesses and governments billions of dollars every year, it’s never been more important to adopt a proactive approach to information security.

Although NIST compliance is voluntary, and it allows for a great deal of flexibility when it comes to implementation, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework has been widely adopted as the gold standard for information security.

On the other hand, adoption of the framework has often been hampered by costs. Even though security professionals almost unanimously consider it to be one of the best industry practices, business leaders frequently consider the high level of investment to be a barrier to adoption.

The flexibility of the framework can also make it difficult to determine which controls should be put in place and how. After all, the 48-page document covers 108 control subcategories and 23 primary categories spanning five main function areas, and that’s before myriad resources for each one.

Fortunately, NIST Cybersecurity Framework compliance doesn’t have to be this way. There’s no reason why smaller organizations shouldn’t be able to achieve the same degree of security and compliance as large enterprises and, in doing so, unlock lucrative new revenue streams. This is where managed services providers (MSPs) come in.

Here are the top ways that partnering with an MSP can help you implement your cybersecurity compliance framework:

#1. Assess your current security maturity

When aiming for NIST compliance, the first thing to do is determine where you currently are in your journey. This will help you build your current profile which, in turn, helps you prioritize your remediation strategies to address any vulnerabilities in your existing infrastructure.

External vulnerability scanning presents an obvious starting point, since it will evaluate your network from the outside looking in. This can also be done in conjunction with a NIST security assessment to evaluate how closely your strategy currently aligns with the framework.

#2. Provide security awareness training

One of the main aims of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is to create a common language concerning information security and how it ties into broader business risk management. This emphasizes the fact that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility – not just that of IT.

The framework addresses security awareness and accountability as much as it does technical controls and concepts. Thus, it is intended to be adopted organization-wide in a cohesive and comprehensive manner. An MSP that provides security awareness training helps that happen.

#3. Monitor security events in real-time

The ability to detect potential security incidents as they happen is one of the primary function areas of the framework. Protective measures are another, but they aren’t sufficient enough to protect against most emerging and unknown threats.

Your network needs round-the-clock monitoring everyday of the year. Chances are, however, that having a fully staffed 24/7 security team is impractical, especially for small businesses. A managed security information and event management (SIEM) solution can bridge that divide.  

#4. Implement better access management

In the age of the cloud, most business workloads are handled in remote data centers. Although these on-demand services enable practically limitless flexibility and facilitate remote work, they do require a rethink in security.

The traditional concept of a secure perimeter no longer applies in these distributed computing environments, hence why the emphasis should be on account-based security. Partnering with the right MSP can help protect online accounts with measures like multifactor authentication.

#5. Protect all your data-bearing assets

Although many organizations now store most, or even all, of their data assets in the cloud, the need to secure endpoints is greater than ever. Endpoints are any devices used by employees to access the resources they need to perform their roles, including employee-owned laptops and smartphones.

Should any such device be reported lost or stolen, it could put your business at a serious risk of a data breach. NIST compliance also addresses endpoint protection, and choosing the right MSP can help you meet its demands with measures like endpoint encryption.

Charles IT makes NIST compliance achievable for small businesses with expert guidance and dependable IT services. Get in touch today to schedule your first consultation!