How to create a practical cybersecurity framework

Implementing robust data security measures is the only way to ensure your organization is protected against increasingly prevalent cyberattacks and data breaches. Cybersecurity begins with creating an effective security framework.

A cybersecurity framework is a pre-defined set of proven practices that organizations can follow to keep their IT resources and digital assets safe. Think of a cybersecurity framework as a set of guidelines or instructions towards implementing proactive security measures.

In 2014, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a government agency involved in promoting innovation and industrial competence, particularly in the tech sector, released the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to help both private and government organizations realize their data security goals.

Implementing NIST’s cybersecurity framework

Compliance with the NIST’s framework is not a legal requirement, but rather a recommendation for businesses and institutions looking to maintain cybersecurity standards and mitigate the risks associated with weak data and network security. The framework has five main functions that encompass all the crucial data protection processes:

  • Identify
  • Protect
  • Detect
  • Respond
  • Recover

The implementation of the NIST security framework follows five distinct steps.

Set your targets and goals

Before thinking about any data security protocols, you first have to figure out the level of security needed in the organization. Upper management and department heads all have to agree on the acceptable level of risk and the security priorities for the various departments. The hardest part is working out what’s relevant for every department, and aligning the security objectives with the available resources.

Create a detailed profile

Every business has unique cybersecurity needs. The framework’s implementation tiers help you determine your cybersecurity requirements and come up with ways of taking your business where it needs to be.

  • Tier 1 – Partial: describes firms with a cybersecurity strategy that is reactive to the prevailing threats
  • Tier 2 – Risk-Informed: refers to organizations that regularly make plans to mitigate identifiable threats
  • Tier 3 – Repeatable: defines companies with repeatable and consistent cybersecurity practices
  • Tier 4 – Adaptive: these are companies with proactive security measures that prevent threats rather than respond to them

Asses your current position

Conduct a thorough risk assessment to determine your data security status. Doing this helps you figure out what works and the crucial areas that need security reinforcement. An effective way of gauging your security position is to have your employees use tools to score your security efforts. Essentially, this step is all about identifying, evaluating, and documenting vulnerabilities and risk factors throughout the organization.

Examine security gaps and identify the action required

Having identified potential threats and their severity, you can then compare the assessment results to the target scores to see how divergent your security efforts are from the intended goals. From there, you can identify the hot zones that require immediate remedies and decide on how to close those gaps efficiently. Remember, different areas usually require different solutions.

Roll out an action plan

Finally, with a comprehensive risk analysis and a set of proposed solutions to seal off security loopholes, it’s time to implement active measures to strengthen your cybersecurity. Implementation of an action plan is a continuous process; you’ll have to assess its effectiveness and continuously adjust some of the practices, especially during the infancy stages.

Why is a cybersecurity framework important?

Apart from NIST, there are other popular cybersecurity frameworks, including ISO’s, and PCI’s frameworks. But they all follow the same fundamental principles; it really doesn’t matter which path you take as long as you arrive at the desired results. The important thing is to make an effort to create a cybersecurity framework in the first place.

A security framework provides the basic building blocks to support your cybersecurity strategy. It forms the structure that determines your digital security performance.

In the current data-dependent business environment, it’s becoming increasingly important with each passing day to develop a proactive approach to data and IT security. Data breaches and other cybercrimes are growing more sophisticated and devastating, further fueling the need for defensive action. On top of all that, both local and international data laws require organizations to implement acceptable data protection systems, not to mention the monetary cost and business loss implications of falling victim to cyberattacks.

A robust cybersecurity framework is an essential part of any modern business handling sensitive or valuable data over digital platforms. If you’re struggling with formulating a security framework, get in touch with us today, our data security professionals will offer you a helping hand.