The COVID pandemic was a major driving force for digital crime. According to the annual Internet Crime Report released by the FBI, the 2021 edition, Internet and digital crime went, pardon the pun, viral. It grew over 50%, from $4.2 billion to over $6.9 billion.
That’s why it’s essential to have customizable security, one that adapts to your business, when it comes to your digital channels and software – mainly if your software or app is part of a greater platform, supply chain, or pipeline.
Knowing that, how can you get a grasp on your cybersecurity posture? Start with a security framework like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF). We’ll tell you what it is, how it works, and why it’s critical to your overall success and business health.
What is NIST?
NIST is a non-profit organization that works on developing standards and guidelines. They are also responsible for developing the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, which is a set of standards to help organizations manage cybersecurity risk. NIST was founded in 1901 and has been in existence for more than 100 years. The organization focuses on research, development, and dissemination of measurement standards and other technologies. NIST has spearheaded some of today’s biggest metrics – including time.
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework was created in 2014. It’s a set of guidelines that helps organizations reduce cybersecurity risk. The NIST CSF is continuously updated on how to mitigate risk, react to a threat and counteract an attack.
There are other frameworks, like ISO and COBIT, but none are as easy to use or understand as NIST. Plus, the latter gives you more bang for your buck. The framework, as it states on its website and whitepapers, “provides a high level of taxonomy of cybersecurity outcomes and a methodology that assesses and manages those outcomes.”
In 2016, a study found that more than 70% of organizations surveyed believe that the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is the best methodology and practice right now for computer security.
But why is a framework of this kind so important?
Well, because you’re protecting your products, your clients, and your clients’ products right now. Thanks to APIs – application programming interfaces – shared coding, plugins, and hundreds of other features, there’s an intermingling of software. Up until recently, software was not only proprietary but insular.
Today’s software has become more inclusive, your code and/or your apps may be linked to someone else’s and vice-versa. This intermingling has had an adverse effect on cybersecurity. In what sense? Because now, crooks and criminals are targeting the digital supply chains and “supply chain” attacks are at an all-time high.
Breaches of this kind, in essence, target the weakest link of a chain to gain access to the whole system. When someone uses your software, you’re exposing them to your vulnerabilities. And when you use a third party vendor’s app and assimilate it into your systems, you are, in turn, exposed to their vulnerabilities.
In 2013, Target – the retail store – was breached in what is considered one of the biggest supply chain attacks in history. It not only hurt their brand, but it ended up costing them $18.5 million in settlements.
Another more recent attack, the Solarwinds breach, also held the media spotlight. Its consequences are still being felt and are far more disruptive and far-reaching than the Target breach.
Benefits of NIST vs. Other Control Frameworks
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a set of standards, guidelines, and practices that provide organizations with the building blocks to construct an effective cybersecurity program. The framework helps organizations identify and address cybersecurity risks.
The most significant benefit of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is that it provides a common language. This systematic methodology is the same for your business, competitors, or allies:
- Its common language means that it was built for all users; this, in turn, means that it can communicate ideas rapidly
- It’s industry agnostic – easy, flexible, and adaptable
- It’s a long-term approach to the issue of cybersecurity risk, one that is frequently updated
How Does the NIST Cybersecurity Framework Work
The NIST CSF is considered to be the gold standard when it comes to cybersecurity. It takes into account the managing of assets, the business environment, governance issues, risk assessment, and risk management strategies.
The NIST CSF’s core functions are:
Identify weak spots by analyzing your assets, products, environment, and governance issues. It considers parameters such as supply-chain risk, risk strategies, and other points of interest. What do I have to protect within my environment?
Once identified, an organization can develop plans, pinpoint possible cyber risks and evaluate its overall coverage. How am I protecting the assets I have identified?
There are six (6) categories to safeguard and improve:
- Access control
- Awareness training
- Data security
- Information protection
- Protective technology
This stage defines the ability of the organization to detect a cybersecurity event and understand the speed of said detection. How do I detect anomalies within my environment?
During this stage, the NIST CSF takes into account:
- What anomalies and types of events are you facing?
- What are your detection processes?
- What sort of continuous monitoring do you have in place?
This function details the actions once an anomaly is detected — the organization’s ability to take arms against it. How do I respond to detected events?
The five (5) categories that make up this function are:
- Response planning
This last function identifies the activities and protocols you will need to have and maintain to get off the ground and dust yourself off. In other words, how fast and with what alacrity you can recover from a breach or attack. How do I effectively bring business back to normal after an anomaly?
The three (3) main categories of this function are:
- Recovery planning
- Communication channels to talk to externals that may have been affected by the breach
Why you need NIST
More people and companies have been migrating to the cloud and most folks don’t know how to address risk when it comes to cybersecurity. NIST CSF provides a simple but effective approach to addressing risk.
According to reports, an average breach may end up costing a company over $4 million; that includes the cost of patching the vulnerability, dealing with the attack, the stock price plummeting, brand image triaging, and the days offline. The average downtime after an attack is 21 days. And, of this $4 million, sometimes the crooks get away with 20% worth of the suggested price.
One attack like that can net them $800k. Is it any wonder that “criminals” of this type are proliferating?
This is why you must have a framework in place — and NIST is the industry standard. It’s easy, it’s affordable, and it’s efficient. Get in contact with our experts and let us help.