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What are the 6 steps of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

Kyle Morris

Kyle Morris Answered

Senior Compliance Success Manager


In February 2024, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) revamped the Cyber Security Framework (CSF), marking its first significant update since 2014. The revamped NIST Cybersecurity Framework  addresses evolving cybersecurity challenges and introduces a methodical approach to assessing and strengthening an organization’s cybersecurity health. One of the most notable changes in this update is the revision of the framework’s core functions.

The Six Steps to Enhancing Cybersecurity

If you’re already familiar with the original framework’s five functions, you’ll find the new framework builds on that foundation. Now known as The NIST Cybersecurity Framework 2.0, six essential steps have been introduced that guide organizations through the process of enhancing their cybersecurity measures.

  1. Govern: This focuses on enabling organizations to prioritize, communicate, and monitor their cybersecurity risk management strategy, policies, and processes. By doing so, it strengthens strategic planning and secures data in alignment with business objectives. This step ensures that cybersecurity considerations are integrated into the organization’s overall governance structure. It involves setting clear responsibilities, establishing risk management strategies, and ensuring continuous oversight of cybersecurity practices.
  1. Identify: The Identification step refers to an organization’s comprehension of its current cybersecurity risks. It involves understanding the risks posed by systems, data, services, people, and suppliers. This step is critical for identifying ways to improve policies, plans, processes, procedures, and practices. Effective identification requires a thorough assessment of potential vulnerabilities and threats that could impact the organization.
  1. Protect: This refers to the safeguarding of an organization from cyberattacks and managing cybersecurity risks effectively. This step involves implementing measures to protect important information through identity management, access control, data security, and other protective technologies. It encompasses a broad range of activities designed to prevent cybersecurity incidents from occurring. This includes the deployment of protective technologies and establishing protocols for data protection. The goal is to build a robust defense system that minimizes the risk of a potential cyberattack.
  1. Detect: This involves monitoring procedures and systems to identify and analyze possible cybersecurity attacks, vulnerabilities, and compromises. This includes the timely discovery, analysis, and response to potential threats. Effective detection requires continuous monitoring and analysis of network traffic, user behavior, and system activities. By identifying threats early, organizations can respond more quickly and mitigate potential damage. 
  1. Respond: This step is about ensuring a timely and effective response to cybersecurity incidents. It involves streamlining communication, response management, and mitigation efforts. This step is crucial for minimizing the impact of a cybersecurity incident. It includes developing and implementing incident response plans, conducting regular response drills, and ensuring clear communication channels during an incident. The goal is to contain and remediate incidents swiftly to reduce their impact on the organization.
  2. Recover: This step focuses on helping organizations restore assets and resume normal operations after a cybersecurity incident. This involves developing and implementing recovery plans, maintaining backups, and ensuring business continuity. Effective recovery strategies help organizations bounce back quickly from incidents and minimize downtime. This step emphasizes the importance of having a well-prepared recovery plan that can be activated immediately after an incident to restore normal operations.

Benefits of the New Approach

The updated framework offers several benefits for organizations. It provides a well-structured and easily replicable approach to cybersecurity, making it easier for organizations to adopt and implement best practices. The framework aligns with federal regulations and best cybersecurity practices, ensuring that organizations are compliant with legal and regulatory requirements. It also promotes a proactive approach to risk identification and prioritization, helping organizations to address potential threats before they become significant issues. By selecting and implementing appropriate security controls, organizations can build a robust defense system. Additionally, the framework emphasizes continuous monitoring and improvement, ensuring that cybersecurity practices evolve in response to new threats and challenges.

Benefits of NIST Cybersecurity Framework Certification and Training

Pursuing a NIST Cybersecurity Framework certification can be highly beneficial, offering formal recognition of expertise in aligning the framework with organizational practices. Additionally, participating in NIST Cybersecurity Framework training equips teams with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively apply the framework’s principles. Understanding and effectively mapping NIST Cybersecurity Framework components to an organization’s specific needs can significantly enhance their cybersecurity measures.

So, there you have it. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework 2.0 represents a significant advancement in cybersecurity practices. By following its six steps, organizations can enhance their cybersecurity health, align with regulatory requirements, and build resilience against evolving cyber threats.

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