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Three Steps To Implement the NIST Security Framework
If your federal agency is working toward NIST compliance, but you aren’t sure where to start – don’t fret. It only takes three steps to begin the process.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a Risk Management Framework (RMF) that assists agencies in protecting against cybercrimes. Most recently, federal agencies began to bring the light the fire need to develop and deploy new cybersecurity solutions by utilizing the NIST security framework.
The RMF is incredibly important for federal agencies because it outlines a formal process for identifying potential system risks, designing necessary controls, and implementing newly designed controls in the most efficient way possible.
Leaders who do not have extensive experience with RMF implementation may feel overwhelmed, as they are the individuals responsible for ensuring their agency’s cybersecurity program is in compliance with NIST’s requirements. Fortunately, implementing RMF takes three steps to begin a cybercrime prevention program that has significant benefits.
Step 1: Understand Your Current IT Systems
Before any steps can be made, your federal agency must identify all parts of the current system, including components hosted on-site and off-site managed clouds. Without taking this time to understand the network, computer storage, and security components, agency leaders cannot effectively implement the RMF.
In addition to understanding what it on- and off-site, a detailed inventory must be created so it’s easy to see what is where. This inventory will aid in understanding the devices’ configurations and the roles they place in the operations of the agency.
Step 2: Categorize Your Risks
Federal agencies must categorize their respective systems of information based on their risk levels. Each risk level is based on three standard pillars of cybersecurity:
- Confidentiality Risk: individuals without authorization view sensitive information
- Integrity Risk: information regarding the agency is changed without authorization
- Availability Risk: information cannot be accessed by authorized individuals in a specific manner
This triad of risks allows agency leaders to fully understand the cybersecurity threats that may leave the agency vulnerable. Combined with information security officials evaluations of IT systems can helpfully identify the low, medium, and high-risk categories. Once the level of risk is determined, the security controls that are required to protect against cybercrime can then be implemented.
Step 3: Identify Regulatory Frameworks
After the systems are understood and the level of risks are assigned, federal agency leaders must then complete the final step: identify the regulatory frameworks in the agency environment. Many agencies will begin implementing NIST cybersecurity controls. However, this is usually not the end-all-be-all solution. Most will need to implement their own control standards that fully protect against cybersecurity threats and fully protect their sensitive information.
One example of independent control systems is the Department of Defence’s Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIGS). They “contain technical guidance to “lockdown” information systems/software that might otherwise be vulnerable to a malicious computer attack,” should the agency’s system be compromised.
Once these three steps are completed, your federal agency will be well on its way to creating a robust and complete system that is RMF and NIST compliant. Combined with services from William Ives, you can rest assured that your agency has protocols in place to keep secure information away from unauthorized individuals.