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NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) 2.0

NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) 

In today's digital landscape marked by the endless rise of cyberattacks, it is imperative for organizations to prioritize the establishment, regular review, and continuous improvement of their cybersecurity posture. With cyber threats evolving in complexity and frequency, maintaining a robust defense mechanism is not an option but a need for safeguarding sensitive data, ensuring operational continuity, preserving customer trust, and mitigating financial losses. 


What is NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework (CSF)? 

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is a comprehensive guideline designed to help organizations manage and improve their cybersecurity posture. The first version was released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) back in 2014, in response to Executive Order (EO) 13636 issued by President Barack Obama in 2013, calling for the development of a framework to improve critical infrastructure cybersecurity in the United States. Initially composed of five key functions, the framework provides a structured approach to identifying, protecting, detecting, responding to, and recovering from cybersecurity threats and incidents. It was mainly targeting critical infrastructures. 


NIST CSF 2.0 introduces a new "Govern" function, focusing on the critical role of governance and supply chains in managing cybersecurity risks, as a cohesive element that enables organizations to prioritize and achieve goals outlined in the first five functions. It highlights the fact that cybersecurity is not isolated but an inherent aspect of enterprise risk, that senior leaders and decision makers must consider together with other well-known risks like financial and reputational. Also, CSF is now designed for all audiences, industry sectors, and organization types, not just critical infrastructures – its original target audience – aiming to help all organizations reduce cybersecurity risks. 

The Six Functions 

Each function represents a distinct aspect of cybersecurity management aimed at helping organizations understand their cybersecurity risks, implement protective measures, detect and respond to cybersecurity events, and recover from incidents effectively. 


1.     Govern 

Establish and monitor the organization’s cybersecurity risk management strategy, expectations, and policy. 


Organizations should establish criteria for accepting and mitigating cybersecurity risks across diverse data classifications, which involves defining thresholds based on data sensitivity, regulatory requirements, and potential impact on operations, allowing them to assess the level of risk tolerance for each data category, enabling informed decision-making regarding risk acceptance or mitigation measures. Similarly, they should consider investing in cybersecurity insurance, which requires evaluating the organization's risk profile, financial capabilities, and coverage adequacy. 


Organizations should also establish a plan to regularly inform senior executives, directors, and management about the organization’s cybersecurity status at specified intervals, defining communication channels among departments, including management, internal auditors, legal, acquisition, physical security, and HR, to collaboratively address cybersecurity risks. Additionally, they should also establish protocols for communicating with third parties to ensure effective relay of cybersecurity risks to the organization. 


Models such as NIST 800-53 and 800-171 give organizations frameworks with specific requirements to follow for proper protection of sensitive information and privacy. Depending on your industry, these may be mandatory so be sure to familiarize yourself with applicable regulations. 


2.     Identify 

Help determine the current cybersecurity risk to the organization. 


Organizations must understand their cybersecurity risk management posture by identifying and cataloging its assets, systems, data, and capabilities. This involves maintaining exhaustive inventories of all hardware, software, and services, both internal and external, covering a wide array of assets, spanning IT infrastructure, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, Operational Technology (OT) systems, mobile devices, commercial-off-the-shelf and open-source software, custom applications, API services, cloud-based applications, and third-party infrastructure and platforms such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings. Our Professional Services (PS) can assist you in conducting a cybersecurity risk review. 


They should continuously monitor networks, internal and external platforms, including containers and virtual machines to detect new hardware, software, and service inventory changes. Finally, have automated mechanisms in place to provide real-time updating of inventories, ensuring they accurately reflect the organization's current IT landscape. Organizations should also use vulnerability management technologies to identify unpatched and misconfigured software and assess network and system architectures for design and implementation weaknesses that affect cybersecurity. ISEC7 SPHERE, our customizable and versatile technology-agnostic platform, can provide an inventory of all the components, from users, mobile devices, SIM card, to desktop computers, back-end servers, network components like firewall or routes, and this internally (on-premises resources) or externally (cloud-based services). 


Performing a cryptographic discovery and risk assessment is also highly recommended, and this can easily be achieved with Quantum Xchange´s CipherInsights™, a solution that constantly monitors your network and identifies dozens of cryptographic vulnerabilities in real time, such as unencrypted traffic, clear-text passwords, or expired certificates, providing with a clear understanding of your cybersecurity posture and a prioritized list of risk mitigation to maintain compliance, pass audits, and better prepare for the inevitable migration to post-quantum cryptography. 


Finally, it is critical to keep track of specified data types of interest, including Personally Identifiable Information (PIA), Protected Health Information (PHI), financial account numbers or organizational Intellectual Property (IP), and apply data classifications accordingly. This can be achieved using ISEC7 CLASSIFY, our easy-to-use platform allowing employees to correctly mark and disseminate sensitive documents while using any office application on any device following data sensitivity regulations, ensuring compliance with data marking and data classification regulations. 


3.   Protect 

Use safeguards to prevent or reduce cybersecurity risk. 


Organizations must establish a strong defense against cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities, focusing on implementing safeguards to mitigate cybersecurity risks. This involves developing and implementing policies, procedures, and controls to protect critical assets and data from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. Protection measures may include access controls, encryption, secure configuration management, and employee training programs.  


Organizations must meticulously verify the identity of all individuals granted access, issuing unique credentials while strictly prohibiting credential sharing, and enforce strong password policies, requiring complex passwords. It is also highly recommended to use Multi-factor authentication (MFA), specially with privileged administrator accounts, to strengthen security by requiring additional verification steps beyond passwords, as well as implementing Single Sign-On (SSO) authentication, to streamlines access control by centralizing authentication, reducing the need for multiple passwords, and minimizing the risk of credential theft or misuse.  


Furthermore, comprehensive cybersecurity awareness training should be provided to all stakeholders, including employees, contractors, partners, suppliers, and any entity accessing non-public organizational resources, promoting security consciousness and proactive risk mitigation across the entire ecosystem. 


4.     Detect 

Find and analyze possible cybersecurity attacks and compromises. 


The fourth function emphasizes the importance of timely detection of cybersecurity events. Organizations must continuously monitor their systems, networks, and data for signs of suspicious or malicious activity. Detection capabilities include intrusion detection systems, security information and event management (SIEM) solutions, anomaly detection tools, and threat intelligence feeds. Early detection enables organizations to respond promptly to cybersecurity incidents and minimize their impact. 


ISEC7 SPHERE enables organizations to monitor their entire mobile infrastructure and network, and quickly identify and resolve issues—from one web-based, central console, by collecting, aggregating, correlating, and analyzing security event data from all possible sources, from hardware devices, virtual machines, security appliances, to software and services running within or outside of the organization’s network. 


5.   Respond 

Take action regarding a detected cybersecurity incident. 


The fifth function focuses on developing and implementing effective response plans to address cybersecurity incidents.  


Organizations must establish clear roles, responsibilities, and procedures for responding to incidents, including communication protocols, escalation processes, and coordination with relevant stakeholders. For instance, in the event of a data breach, designated personnel may be responsible for coordinating with the authorities, while others handle customer communications or others technical remediation. Communication protocols outline how information is shared internally and externally, ensuring transparency and consistency in messaging, while escalation processes establish criteria for when incidents require higher-level attention or intervention, facilitating timely decision-making and resource allocation. Coordination with relevant stakeholders, such as regulatory agencies or business partners, ensures a cohesive response effort and helps mitigate broader impacts. 


6.   Recover 

Restore assets and operations that were impacted by a cybersecurity incident. 


The sixth function emphasizes the importance of restoring operations and services affected by cybersecurity incidents, to minimize the fallout from incidents on various fronts, including business operations, customer satisfaction, and stakeholder trust. For example, in the case of cyberattacks compromising sensitive customer data, organizations must have a recovery plan in place to seamlessly restore systems, assess and mitigate potential damage, and communicate transparently with affected customers to maintain trust. Natural disasters or infrastructure failures can also disrupt business operations, requiring recovery strategies such as alternate work arrangements, backup power sources, or supply chain diversification to minimize downtime and ensure continuity. 


Recovery activities usually include restoring data from backups to recover critical information without paying the ransom, in parallel to repairing or in some cases, replacing compromised systems, such as servers or network infrastructure, to restore functionality in a timely manner while also prevent further exploitation from attackers. Finally, it is crucial to perform post-incident analysis to understand what happened, identify possible vulnerabilities, weaknesses and flaws that need to be address, and overall enhance preparedness for future incidents, that will unfortunately keep happening in the future. 


These six key functions provide organizations with a structured approach to managing cybersecurity risks and enhancing their overall security posture. By integrating these functions into their cybersecurity programs, organizations can better understand, mitigate, and respond to evolving cybersecurity threats and challenges. 


ISEC7’s long-standing relationships with government agencies prove our track record and trust factor. Counties, school systems and related state organizations depend on our proven expertise for secure protocols, management, and the ability to ensure communications during a crisis. For state and local environments, digital workplace strategies may be in their early stages; we assist with needs assessment, vendor selection, mobile strategy and ongoing support, and can help implement NIST’s cybersecurity framework to help improve security posture overall. 



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