The National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publications (NIST SP) primarily comprise recommendations and best practices for information security. Federal agencies are required to follow any NIST SP outlined in the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS).
The most applicable grouping of special publications for cybersecurity is the NIST SP 800 series. The NIST Special Publication 800 series contains industry-leading recommendations for information security including risk management frameworks, security requirements, and security controls.
The Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) is the research arm behind the NIST Special Publications and focuses on overall computer security. The NIST Special Publications 500 series represents a great deal of research and are comprised of guides on topics like software maintenance, prototyping software, and cloud computing security architecture.
The NIST Special Publications 1800 series is relatively new compared to the 800 or 500 series and represent practice guides for cybersecurity. The 1800 series can be thought of as the how-to guides for implementing NIST standards in organizations. Overall organizations are leveraging the NIST framework for security standards, cyber threat prevention, the basis for incident response, and how to conduct risk assessments. With the rise of cloud computing, practical guides on how to protect personally identifiable information (PII) is one of the key reasons why organizations are flocking to the NIST standards.