Cybersecurity frameworks help countless businesses to better secure their IT systems. Two of the most widely known frameworks for information security are the Cybersecurity Framework, created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); and the ISO 27001 standard, created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

How do the NIST cybersecurity framework and ISO 27001 differ? How do you decide which one is best for your business – or could you even use pieces from both at the same time?

Read on to learn more about these important cybersecurity risk frameworks, their differences, whether you can combine them, and how to better protect your data.

What Is a Cybersecurity Framework?

A cybersecurity framework is a system for managing cybersecurity threats and risks. It is a set of guidelines, best practices, and standards that organizations can use to protect their data, systems, and networks from cyber threats.

Frameworks are designed to help organizations minimize the harm from cyber threats and to create a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. They typically include several components to aid organizations with assessing vulnerabilities, implementing security access controls, incident response procedures, cyber risk mitigation, and continuous monitoring practices.

Frameworks are also designed to be flexible. Any organization should be able to put one to use, regardless of your specific industry, size, or existing cybersecurity talent.

What Is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

The NIST cybersecurity framework (CSF) is a set of standards developed by the U.S. government to protect federal information and the country’s critical infrastructure. It has since been updated and adapted for the private sector and for global use.

The goal of the NIST CSF is to help organizations assess and respond to security incidents and threats. It has five main functions that guide the development and implementation of controls: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover.

Private enterprises only need to implement CSF if they are part of the federal government’s supply chain. For any other business that isn’t, compliance with CSF is wise – but not voluntary.

What Is the ISO 27001 Cybersecurity Framework?

The ISO 27001 framework defines a set of requirements and industry recommendations for managing information security risks. It is based on a systematic approach to managing security risks that includes cyber risk monitoring, remediation, and assessment.

ISO 27001 also includes a set of practices that organizations can use to protect their data assets from a wide range of cyber threats. It helps organizations to establish an effective information security program, demonstrate compliance with regulatory and legal provisions, and provide threat intelligence monitoring.

The goal of ISO 27001 is to build trust with consumers, associates, and other stakeholders about the threats and risks many industries face.

How Do NIST CSF and ISO 27001 Differ?

The CSF and ISO 27001 differ in several important ways. For example, the CSF focuses on self-assessment processes, which can be a great help for companies that are still trying to establish an effective cybersecurity program. Meanwhile, ISO 27001 is less technical and more risk-based for organizations of all shapes and sizes. It is also considered the “international” standard for cybersecurity, although either one can be used worldwide.

ISO 27001 compliance also includes an independent certification audit, which provides additional credibility and assurance that organizations have robust security systems in place. The CSF doesn’t require an audit.

ISO 27001 is ideal for organizations across a multitude of industries that need non-technical, yet comprehensive third-party cyber risk management guidance. It’s a solid way for an organization to ensure that specific criteria measures are met within its industry sector.

Can NIST and ISO Be Used Together?

Both the NIST and the ISO have highly regarded approaches to information security that help organizations across many industries. A common misconception is that an organization must choose between NIST or ISO to protect its systems and networks. You don’t. Unless you have some contractual or regulatory requirement to use one specific framework, nothing forbids a private enterprise from mixing and matching pieces of both to find the right approach for you.

Indeed, using the two frameworks together can deliver many synergies for managing risk and security controls. Both are valuable for data security, asset management, cyber risk analysis, risk assessments, and cybersecurity programs for countless industries.

The only concern here is that you don’t end up duplicating your cybersecurity efforts unnecessarily. For example, there could easily be situations where one control satisfies the demands for both frameworks. Compliance teams will want to know that so you can keep your control systems as simple as possible, rather than clogging your business processes with multiple controls all doing the same thing. (This point is true whether talking about ISO 27001 and CSF, or other, industry-specific security frameworks as well.)

Protect Your Data with the ROAR Platform

Many organizations using multiple frameworks use governance, risk, and compliance platforms such as ROAR to manage their risk more effectively. The RiskOptics ROAR Platform can help your organization implement multiple frameworks more efficiently. It can help you identify control gaps that need attention, or redundant controls that can be streamlined.

ROAR also provides actionable risk management solutions to better safeguard your organization’s critical infrastructure, assure business continuity, and create a more robust security posture. Schedule a demo with us today to get started.

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