Cyber threats and attacks are becoming more common in all industries; organizations both large and small face daily risks of hacking and data breaches. The best way to address these challenges is to implement a strategic, well-developed cybersecurity plan to protect critical infrastructure and information systems.

To do that, you need to follow a cybersecurity framework.

What Is a Cybersecurity Framework?

A cybersecurity framework is a collection of best practices an organization should follow to manage its cybersecurity risk. The framework aims to identify the areas within a business enterprise that are most at risk for data breaches and other compromising activity; and then to implement policies, procedures, and other controls to reduce those risks to acceptable levels.

A strong cyber risk management framework aligns closely with the organization’s risk management strategy and risk management programs. The right framework, combined with modern IT and artificial intelligence, can be an excellent way to stave off cyber attacks.

Using the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as Your Baseline

If implementing a cyber risk management framework feels intimidating, fear not. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created many frameworks for security issues.

One of the best known is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), a set of guidelines originally developed for government entities that has since been adapted for private sector use. CSF provides a framework to understand cybersecurity risk management and includes guidelines to help companies prevent and recover from attacks.

NIST developed these standards – which are optional; some other NIST standards are required for certain businesses, but the CSF isn’t – at the direction of an Obama Administration executive order from 2013. The order aimed to establish a cybersecurity framework to help protect the country’s critical infrastructure and federal information.

5 Main Functions of NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework:

  1. Identify. Companies must first examine and categorize their supply chain and work environment to better understand which cybersecurity risks their systems, assets, data, and frameworks are exposed to. This process is also known as a cybersecurity risk assessment, and it provides a baseline for day-to-day risk.
  2. Protect. Organizations must develop and implement appropriate safeguards to limit the effects of cybersecurity events. Protection includes cybersecurity monitoring programs, firewalls, and physical security controls such as locking the door to your data center. Protection requires continuous monitoring to be efficient and safe.
  3. Detect. Organizations must implement appropriate procedures to identify cybersecurity events as soon as possible. A clear methodology should be established, so everyone within the organization knows what to do in case of a cyber attack.
  4. Respond. Have an incident response team in place before you need it. Assure that all stakeholders are involved in this part of the planning and that a clear chain of command exists from the moment an attack has been identified until it’s mitigated.
  5. Recover. Mitigation is a big part of recovery. It includes plans for how you will restore crucial functions and services, as well as a catalog of temporary security controls to implement as soon as a cybersecurity event has compromised your systems.

Compliance and Industry-Specific Requirements

The risk management process and the tools you use to determine cybersecurity risk may be the same across industries. Still, some businesses – such as those that manage healthcare or human resources or credit card payments – have specific requirements for their cybersecurity programs and also for response and recovery.

For example, a company that handles credit card transactions must prove it complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) framework. This would require the company to pass an audit. Companies that handle personal health information must adhere to security standards from HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; it too requires an audit.

A strong cybersecurity framework can provide excellent guidance as you work through the layers of risk assessment. When applied properly, a cybersecurity framework allows IT security leaders to manage enterprise risks more efficiently. The NIST model allows an organization to adapt an existing cybersecurity framework to meet its needs or guides the organization to develop one internally.

Top Cybersecurity Risk Frameworks

Let’s review the six most common cybersecurity frameworks.

  1. NIST Cybersecurity Framework

    The NIST Cybersecurity Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, for short) focuses on protecting critical infrastructure such as power plants and dams from cyberattacks, but any organization that wants to improve its cybersecurity can apply the CSF principles.

    The core of this cybersecurity framework follows the standard pattern of cyber defense: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. It provides an organized mechanism to identify risks and assets requiring protection and lists how an organization can protect these assets in the event of a security incident through effective risk detection, threat response, and asset recovery.

  2. ISO 27001 and ISO 27002

    Established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO 27001 and ISO 27002 are together the international standard for validating an organization’s cybersecurity program both internally and across third parties. If a vendor is ISO 27001/2-certified, it has mature cybersecurity practices and controls in place.

    Under this framework, it’s assumed an organization already has an Information Security Management System (ISMS) in place. First, management must consider all threats and vulnerabilities to manage the organization’s information security risks systematically. Then the company should design and implement coherent, comprehensive security controls to mitigate the identified risks effectively.

    The framework also encourages organizations adopting ISO 27001/2 to implement an ongoing risk management process.

  3. SOC2

    Established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), Service Organization Control (SOC) Type 2 is a trust-based cybersecurity framework and auditing standard that can be used to verify that vendors and partners manage client data securely.

    SOC 2 audits have more than 60 compliance requirements and extensive auditing processes for third-party systems and controls. These audits can take about a year to complete, after which a report is issued attesting to a vendor’s cybersecurity posture.

    SOC2 is also one of the toughest cybersecurity frameworks to implement, especially for organizations in the banking or finance sector since they face a high standard for compliance. Regardless, SOC 2 audits should be a critical part of your third-party risk management program.

  4. HIPAA

    The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) includes a cybersecurity framework for healthcare organizations, helping them to implement the required controls for securing and protecting the privacy of personal health information. In addition to demonstrating compliance against cyber risk best practices (for example, user authentication, training employees, and setting strong passwords), this framework also outlines the importance of conducting risk assessments to manage and identify emerging risks.

  5. GDPR

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) focuses on privacy protections for citizens of the European Union (EU).

    The GDPR covers all organizations established in the EU, or any business that collects and stores the private data of EU citizens, including businesses based in the United States or elsewhere.

    Similar to SOC2, GDPR is another comprehensive cybersecurity framework. It includes 99 articles outlining an organization’s compliance responsibilities, such as consumer data access rights, data breach notification requirements, and data protection policies and procedures.

    What’s more, failure to comply with GDPR can lead to hefty fines; up to 4 percent of global revenue or €20 million, whichever is greater – and the EU is quite strict when handing out punishments.

  6. FISMA

    The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is a law intended to protect federal government information and systems, as well as third parties and lenders working on behalf of federal agencies, against cyber threats.

    Under the FISMA framework, agencies and third parties are required to maintain an inventory of digital assets and identify any integration between networks and systems. All sensitive information should be categorized according to risk, and security controls must meet minimum security standards as defined by NIST guidelines and Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS).

Use the ROAR Platform to Manage Your Cybersecurity Framework

Reciprocity’s ROAR Platform provides real-time visibility into your organization’s risk and compliance, giving you contextual insights to make sound IT and cyber decisions. It can show you where your business is complying with various security frameworks you are trying to implement – and where the business isn’t.

You can also automate time-consuming workflows and integrate them with your most critical systems, eliminating manual work and streamlining collaboration.

Schedule a demo to experience first-hand how Reciprocity can help your organization.