Maximizing Security Frameworks for Organizational Safety

NIST framework

Why should an organization consider using a security framework?

Historically, organizations have invested significant time and budgets into their current security frameworks. Up until recently, that framework was primarily designed to protect the traditional office space. With more people working remotely than ever, the existing security framework and program may not align with the new requirements of safeguarding employees who may be working from anywhere at any time.

Security frameworks are designed to help organizations:

  • Understand their current cybersecurity posture
  • Define or update a cybersecurity program
  • Help communicate requirements and future state with stakeholders
  • Identify opportunities or needs for new or revised standards
  • Assists in prioritizing potential projects to help reduce risk to the company
  • Enables investment decisions to address gaps

What is NIST?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology developed its cybersecurity framework to strengthen the security of United States critical infrastructure.  Like most security frameworks, NIST can be applied to any sized organization in any industry.  The NIST framework includes five cores. 

Those are:  Identify, Protect, Detect, Response, and Recover.



Identify

Naturally, most security frameworks begin with the Identify stage.

  • Identify can include the review Inventory of assets, data, Users, Systems, and the boundaries of where all those items can be located.  After which, most will complete assessments, which may include gap analyses, a self-assessment or questionnaire, a review of the technical infrastructure, as well as potentially reviewing those of their supply chain vendors and partners. 
  • Assessments are performed to help define risks allowing the organization or that of its partners, to develop the appropriate security controls to address those risks.
  • Identify also includes the traditional governance process of building or revising security policies and procedures, change management processes, vendor management processes, and so on.

Protect

Once the identify process has been completed building a security program begins with defining and applying security controls to help mitigate the risks as well as help build processes to protect the organizations’ assets and people.

  • The Protect core focuses on building administrative and technical controls to protect data, identifiable information, and all company assets.
  • Some tools that assist with this function include building out Identity Management, applying a least privileged access model to limit users’ access to only what they need to complete their daily tasks.  Applying multi-factor authentication (MFA) on external-facing systems, limiting access to management interfaces, continuously reviewing and remediating vulnerabilities.
  • Building out a cybersecurity training program that should include training of current threats and should include frequent phishing simulations.
  • An example of administrative controls can include ensuring no one user can approve a wire transfer without a second person’s confirmation.
  • Physical controls can include physical access management through locked doors, badging as well as the use of security cameras.

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Detect

As organizations continue to mature Detection and response capabilities become a priority.  The detection core is designed to help build a formal detection process for the various threats organizations face every day. 

  • Advanced Detection tools help gather information from disparate systems across the network, from Cloud environments, 3rd party threat intelligence, and system vulnerabilities.  Correlate that information providing event alerts and insights on a variety of threats.  Such as external attacks on systems, anomalous user behavior as well as helping with Data Loss Prevention.  Common detection tools include SIEM solutions, Endpoint Detection, and Response tools.

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Response

As organizations mature their detection capabilities the next step would be to respond to detected threats.

  • Building out response processes and procedures is also a core capability of NIST. Cybersecurity Incident Response plan is a common 1st step in building out and formalizing response capabilities.  Understanding that over 94% of organizations had a security event in 2020, building a plan to respond is crucial to help the organization better understand their capabilities and outline how communications flow.
  • Once organizations have developed an Incident Response Plan, they can validate and test their plan and capabilities by working through a variety of tabletop exercises.
  • Every organization, regardless of industry or size, must budget for and deploy critical tools like Endpoint Detection and Response.
  • EDR tools detect and shut down malicious processes. They also quarantine files and provide logging for forensic investigation in some cases.

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Recover

Developing and implementation of a Disaster Plan is the final pillar of the NIST Framework.

  • If all the other tools and processes fail to prevent an event, every organization also needs a well-documented and tested disaster plan.
  • Every organization, regardless of whether they store their data in the cloud, must deploy backup solutions that validate backups, replicate data to the cloud, configure them properly, and test them. This requirement applies to any organization that has business-critical data. It ensures the security and integrity of the data. Even if your organization stores data in the cloud, it is still necessary to meet this requirement.

Regardless of whether or not compliance is a requirement for your organization, a security framework such as NIST can help provide a solid foundation, through the general guidance, for maturing your security posture.

Take the Next Step Towards a Secure Future: Contact CIT Today!

Whether compliance is mandatory for your organization or you simply strive to establish a robust security foundation, our team is here to guide you. Discover how a security framework like NIST, with its comprehensive guidance, can help you mature your security posture.

Contact us today and gain the reassurance of working with a trusted ally in technology.


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