What Are Cybersecurity Frameworks?

Cybersecurity frameworks are utilized to add structure and methodology to the protection of digital assets.

Written by Anthony Corbo
Published on Dec. 16, 2021
What Are Cybersecurity Frameworks?
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Mitchell Telatnik | Aug 10, 2022

Cybersecurity frameworks contain a system of standards, guidelines and practices that manage risk in digital environments. These frameworks match key security objectives with controls that require permissions set for specific users to pass through. Ultimately, cybersecurity frameworks provide security managers with a reliable and systematic way to mitigate cyber risks in increasingly complex environments.

What do cybersecurity frameworks do?

Cybersecurity frameworks provide a method of protecting digital assets through systematic means to mitigate cyber risks.

Cybersecurity frameworks provide organizations with a workable methodology when optimizing cybersecurity capabilities to mitigate cyber risks and emerging risks. There are several varieties of cybersecurity frameworks, each containing several components for mitigating risk in specific ways. Some of these frameworks include the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, ISO 27001, ISO 27002, SOC2, NERC-CIP, HIPAA, GDPR and FISMA.

In addition to merely protecting data and company assets, cybersecurity frameworks also allow organizations to comply with state, industry and international regulations put in place to protect users. For instance, a business must pass an audit that attests to their compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) framework in order to handle credit card transactions. The HIPAA framework operates similarly and requires a specific set of regulations and frameworks to be implemented in order to comply with patient privacy and confidentiality laws.

What are the 3 key ingredients in a security framework?

The 3 key ingredients common to the NIST cybersecurity framework are the Core, the Implementation Tiers and the Profiles.

Cybersecurity frameworks are intended to provide a set of guidelines for organizations to implement. As an example, within the NIST Cybersecurity Framework are three main components: the Framework Core, the Framework Implementation Tiers and the Framework Profiles.

The Framework Core is intended to provide a set of cybersecurity activities and outcomes in a common language that allows organizations to easily implement them. A Core is designed to guide the management and reduction of cybersecurity risks while complementing an organization’s existing cybersecurity and risk management process. The Framework Implementation Tiers help an organization understand cyber risk management, providing a guide for how rigorous a cybersecurity program should be and acts as a useful communication tool for discussing risk appetite, mission priority and budget amongst team members. Framework Profiles are used to identify and prioritize cybersecurity improvement opportunities by examining an organization’s unique security requirements, objectives, risk appetite and resources in relation to the Framework Core.

What are the five elements of the NIST cybersecurity framework?

NIST’s cybersecurity framework includes five primary elements: identification, protection, detection, response and recovery.

Throughout its existence, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued many frameworks to offer a method of protection against cyber threats to both organizations and their users. Its most well-known framework, NIST CSF, is often considered the gold standard of cybersecurity frameworks. The NIST CSF provides a set of guidelines that were originally intended for government use and have since been adapted for the private sector. This framework includes standards for various industries and was created when President Barack Obama signed an executive order to establish a cybersecurity framework that would protect federal data and the country’s critical infrastructure.

The five main functions included within NIST CSF include:

  • Identification, in which companies organize their supply chains and business environments to understand and mitigate the cybersecurity risks their systems, data, assets and frameworks face.
  • Protection is the next function, which calls on organizations to develop and implement safeguards that limit the effects of cybersecurity incidents, such as firewalls, security monitoring programs and physical security measures.
  • The detection function mandates that an organization must implement competent procedures for identifying cybersecurity incidents with haste through proactive monitoring.
  • The response function ensures organizations have capable incident response plans and teams in place before any incident occurs.
  • Finally, the recovery function mandates that organizations have a plan for mitigating the effects of an incident and restoring crucial functionality and services.
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