One of the biggest challenges in building a sufficiently robust information security program is that there are so many guidelines and frameworks to choose from. Moreover, every business has a unique set of needs and a different technology infrastructure, which also means there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
That being said, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework serves as a starting point that can help businesses on their journeys to achieve better cybersecurity and streamline compliance with various industry regulations. Compliance with the framework is voluntary, which means it can be customized to fit the specific needs of your organization.
Since the framework was developed with critical infrastructure in mind following a presidential executive order, it also sets the highest standards for information security. This is why it has been adopted globally across almost all industry sectors – not just critical infrastructure. That doesn’t mean compliance is necessarily quick, cheap, or easy.
Overcoming the challenges presented by the NIST CSF requires investment of time and effort, hence why many smaller businesses choose to partner with a managed services provider to guide them through its implementation. The process begins with a benchmarking assessment to help you qualify and quantify the effectiveness of your existing security protocols.
What is a NIST CSF maturity assessment tool?
A NIST CSF maturity assessment tool typically takes the form of a questionnaire to help those just getting started with a NIST-based cybersecurity program. The tool should be built on the framework itself, incorporating its three main elements:
- The Framework Core addresses the five main function areas of risk management – Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. These function areas are broken down into 23 control categories, such as Identity and Access Management (IAM) and then into 108 subcategories. Each subcategory is accompanied by a set of resources, including compliance directives and specific security controls and standards.
- The Framework Profiles help you understand how your existing solutions compare to what you want to achieve. Completing a NIST CSF assessment questionnaire helps you build your current profile, after which you can build your target profile. Once you’ve built a target profile, you’ll be able to prioritize the security controls and protocols you want to add or improve upon.
- The Implementation Tiers help stakeholders determine the maturity of their existing cybersecurity protocols and programs. While they are not intended to be cybersecurity maturity levels like those mandated by regulations like CMMC, they provide guidance to help leaders coordinate between cybersecurity risk management and operational risk management.
A NIST Cybersecurity Framework maturity assessment serves as the basis for your strategy. Most importantly, it should be capable of enabling an organization-wide conversation around information security risk. After all, cybersecurity is no longer the sole responsibility of IT.
How a NIST Cybersecurity Framework maturity assessment drives business value
There has long been a divide between the demands of IT security professionals and the needs of the business. For example, business leaders are primarily interested in growth and things that add value to their business. Too often is cybersecurity considered a barrier to innovation.
On the other hand, risk management is something that most business leaders are very familiar with. The NIST CSF makes clear the correlation between risk-management and cybersecurity risk. Moreover, the latest edition of the framework addresses supply chain risk management in much greater detail than before. After all, security incidents affecting supply chains can have a serious knock-on effect on any business’s bottom line.
Now that cybersecurity is top of mind for many potential customers, especially in the case of B2B transactions, compliance with the NIST framework adds value to your business. Simply put, demonstrating your commitment and effort to protect customer data makes your company more attractive to do business with.
Rebooting your information security program by starting with a NIST Cybersecurity Framework maturity assessment doesn’t just reveal opportunities to improve your security posture. It can also reveal new business opportunities in itself. For example, improving and optimizing your security protocols according to the framework can open up new lines of revenue, especially those involving highly regulated industries like defense, healthcare, or finance. In other words, compliance with the NIST CSF makes sense not just from a security perspective, but from a business one too.
Charles IT can help your business achieve complete compliance with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, starting with a comprehensive assessment of your existing IT infrastructure. Get in touch today to schedule your first consultation!