NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF)

As cyber threats and attacks become increasingly sophisticated, protecting your organization’s critical infrastructure and sensitive data has never been more important. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) can help guide your cyber risk management efforts. The Framework consists of standards, guidelines and the best practices to help organizations manage and reduce cybersecurity risks both internally and externally. By adopting the CSF, you can improve your ability to prevent, detect and respond to cyber attacks that can negatively impact your business, customers, partners and employees. The CSF aligns well with other standards and regulations, but also provides flexibility to adapt to your organization’s specific risks and needs. Using the CSF, you can take a strategic, risk-based view of your cybersecurity program to better protect what matters most. Overall, the CSF provides a pragmatic approach to reducing cyber risks in a cost-effective way based on business needs.

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is widely considered the top-tier standard when putting together a cybersecurity program. The framework provides a structured approach for organizations to assess and enhance their cybersecurity capabilities, regardless of their organization’s size, sector or level of cybersecurity maturity. It involves a risk-based approach that encourages organizations to identify, protect, detect, respond to and recover from cyber threats/ incidents. The NIST CSF is aligned with various other NIST security standards and models, such as the NIST Special Publication 800-53 and the Risk Management Framework (RMF). Organizations can use the framework to develop and implement tailored cybersecurity profiles aligning with their specific business objectives, risk tolerance and available resources. By adopting the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, organizations can establish a strong foundation for managing cybersecurity risks, improving their resilience to cyber threats and effectively safeguarding their information assets. Federal agencies and their contractors, partners and their vendors are required to utilize NIST CSF. Often private enterprises choose to implement NIST CSF principles for their security programmes and into their compliance. There are no accrediting bodies that award certificates for compliance, therefore self- attestation does not require an audit.

Five core functions intended to mitigate safety risks:

  1. Identify: Security risks (relate to a company’s processes, technology and people)
  2. Protect: By using cybersecurity protocols and principles (actively and passively defending an organisation from security breaches)
  3. Detect: Malicious activity or any weaknesses through continuous monitoring
  4. Respond: By having a well-established response strategy.
  5. Recover: Being able to recover from attacks or breaches while maintaining all system’s integrity, allowing a stronger operation to return.

Who needs to use NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF)

Federal Agencies

U.S. federal agencies are mandated to use the NIST CSF to manage their cybersecurity risk. The CSF meets requirements under the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) for managing unclassified federal information systems. Agencies can use the CSF to develop their own tailored cybersecurity risk management programs, supporting policies and procedures.


The NIST CSF is designed to be used by organizations of any size, degree of cybersecurity risk, or sophistication. This includes businesses, government agencies and other types of organizations like educational institutions, non-profits, etc. Using the CSF will help these organizations identify and prioritize actions to strengthen their cybersecurity risk management processes.

Critical Infrastructure

Operators of critical infrastructure are encouraged to use the NIST CSF. This includes entities in sectors like banking, telecommunications, energy, water and transportation. Adopting the NIST CSF can help critical infrastructure operators manage cybersecurity risks and meet regulatory obligations. Regulatory bodies may even require use of the CSF or a compatible framework.

Small Businesses

Small businesses can also benefit from using the NIST CSF. The CSF Core aligns well with fundamental information security practices that smaller organizations should follow. The Implementation Tiers provide a mechanism for small businesses to evaluate and improve their cybersecurity risk management over time as their needs and sophistication evolve. With the CSF, small businesses have a practical roadmap to help strengthen their cyber defenses, even with limited resources.

In summary, the NIST CSF is broadly applicable and can be used by nearly any type of organization – large or small, public or private – to establish or improve their enterprise cybersecurity risk management program. Widespread adoption of the CSF will help strengthen cybersecurity across entire sectors and the economy as a whole.


As threats continue to evolve, protecting your critical infrastructure and assets is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and improvement. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides an effective approach to identify, evaluate, and manage cyber risks to your organization. By leveraging the Framework, you can determine your current cybersecurity posture, set target profiles aligned with your risk management priorities, and make incremental progress to close any gaps. While technology solutions are an important part of an organization’s cyber defenses, people and processes are equally important. Developing a culture of cybersecurity awareness and vigilance across your workforce is key. The CSF was designed to complement your existing cyber risk management programs and provide a common language for cybersecurity. By implementing the voluntary guidance of the Framework, you can strengthen your cyber resilience and better protect your most valuable resources.