What CEOs Have to Know About NIST

Our growing, connected business world is fantastic for reaching new clients and markets. However, that connectivity also opens up businesses to cyberattacks. In fact, almost 60% of small businesses have been affected by some sort of cyberattack.

When people think of businesses being targeted by cyberattacks, they often believe that hackers are only interested in attacking large, well-known businesses. The truth is, smaller businesses with less developed cybersecurity plans may be more at risk than large companies.

In response, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework was created to help businesses in the United States better prepare for growing online threats. In this article, we will explain more about NIST and how it may relate to your business.

An Introduction to NIST

NIST is short for National Institute of Standards and Technology. This is an organization within the United States Department of Commerce and their focus is very broad. NIST is responsible for setting weight and measurement standards, calibration standards for lab equipment, and much more.

Small and medium businesses may interact with NIST in a variety of ways, depending on the industry they operate in. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a development that is designed for all businesses regardless of area of focus or industry.

What Is NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

Over several years, NIST worked with experts to develop a framework that could help businesses better prepare for cybersecurity threats. The newest version of this framework was released in April of 2018. Ultimately, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a set of guidelines that businesses can use when looking to assess, improve, and detect cybersecurity threats.

By using the NIST cybersecurity guidelines, businesses can develop a plan to ensure that their own network security measures are adequate. There are five main areas covered by the NIST cybersecurity guidelines.

  • “Identify” is designed to help organizations develop their understanding and identify areas of risk.
  • “Protect” lays out guidelines for developing plans to protect business infrastructure.
  • “Detect,” outlines how businesses can identify a cybersecurity attack.
  • “Respond” is the fourth section that outlines planning for responding to an attack, communicating with stakeholders, and more.
  • “Recover” provides guidelines for developing a plan regarding overcoming an attack and restoring services.

Of course, that was a basic outline of the NIST cybersecurity guidelines. Following the framework is a detailed, intense process that is designed to help businesses take control of their own cybersecurity plans.

Why Is NIST Important for Businesses?

It is virtually impossible to operate a business today without some form of connection to clients using the internet. This means that hackers may be able to find a way to disrupt business operations. Without some sort of framework, many small and medium-sized businesses may have no idea how to begin protecting their operations from cybersecurity threats.

By developing this framework, NIST has clearly outlined the best practices that businesses can put in place for proper protection. In addition, since these guidelines are meant to be used across several businesses and industries, they create a standardized method that can continually be adapted to changing needs and threats. Businesses that implement plans based on the guidelines can trust that they will be able to change their plans seamlessly as changes are made to the NIST cybersecurity guidelines.

The one downside to the NIST framework is its complexity. Many small or medium businesses are simply not equipped or staffed to walk through the guidelines and implement suggestions in a timely manner. The cost of hiring dedicated employees for this may be prohibitive as well. There is no doubt that the NIST cybersecurity guidelines are important, but their implementation may be difficult for some businesses with time and/or budget concerns.

NIST and Your Business

What is NIST? Why is NIST important? We have answered these questions and explained why franchise development consultant should consider using the NIST cybersecurity guidelines to ensure adequate protection and cohesiveness with national standards.

Of course, implementing the suggestions and findings that come from doing a complete assessment may be difficult for some businesses. That’s where managed IT services from expert providers could prove to be helpful.

At Smile Business Products, we offer managed IT services for small and medium businesses. Using the NIST cybersecurity guidelines, we can help implement a nationally recognized cybersecurity standard and maintain security as updates and changes are implemented.

If you would like to learn more about NIST or our managed IT services, contact us today.