Preparing for the NIST Cybersecurtiy Framework 2.0

The cybersecurity industry is on the cusp of a big change, one that’s going to cause many organizations to reevaluate their practices and reshape how we communicate core aspects of what we do.

The buzz around the NIST Cybersecurity Framework 2.0  is beginning to heat up, and for good reason. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework has been integral in shaping how organizations approach cyber risk management. The updates will introduce significant improvements and changes to organizations’ cybersecurity risk management strategies.

But what will it mean for your team? How will the changes in the Framework influence your cybersecurity strategies and compliance efforts?

In this article, we delve into the heart of the NIST 2.0 update. Whether you’re a cybersecurity veteran or new to the field, understanding these changes is crucial in a landscape where the only constant is change.

Overview of the Key Changes in the NIST 2.0 Cybersecurity Framework

The proposed changes to the NIST 2.0 Cybersecurity Framework include significant updates and changes to how the Framework is organized and intended to be used by organizations.  

The Govern Function

The most striking change is the introduction of a sixth function to the Framework Core, marking a significant structural evolution. The new “Govern’ function encompasses a comprehensive set of practices, including organizational context, risk management strategies, and cybersecurity supply chain risk management.

It extends to defining roles, responsibilities, policies, processes, and oversight mechanisms. The inclusion of “Govern” underscores the growing awareness of cybersecurity as a governance and risk management issue, not just a set of technical challenges. In order to remain relevant as the comprehensive cybersecurity communication and management standard, the NIST Framework needs to bridge the gap in both directions between executive management and cybersecurity teams. Cybersecurity must align with overall business objectives, ensuring that investments and policies are technically sound and support the organization’s broader goals and risk appetite. effective cybersecurity governance guided by the NIST Framework involves a balanced approach to people, processes, and technology.

Several categories related to risk management have been moved from other functions to the “Govern” function, and several new categories have been created. In the current 2.0 draft, the main categories of Govern are Organisational Context; Risk Management Strategy; Cybersecurity Supply Chain Risk Management; Roles, Responsibilities, and Authorities; Policies, Processes, and Procedures; and Oversight. 

This function aims to foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness and accountability at all levels of the organization, from executive leadership to operational staff. 

A New Emphasis on Supply Chain Risk Management

Supply Chain Risk Management has become an increasingly critical concern for cybersecurity teams, especially with the increasing reliance on third-party vendors and cloud-based services. The 2.0 version of the Cybersecurity framework dedicates a category specifically to this topic in the new “Govern” function.

Supply Chain Risk Management is about vetting suppliers for security compliance and continuously monitoring and managing supply chain risks. As organizations are increasingly dependent on third-party solutions and systems, such as SaaS tools and Cloud Platforms, their security and business operations is increasingly dependent on the resilience of their providers.

This involves developing robust processes for vendor selection, contract management, and ongoing oversight. It also encourages understanding the interconnected nature of supply chain risks and how they can impact an organization’s cybersecurity resilience.

Expanded Scope

The original Cybersecurity framework was initially conceived as a guideline and regulation for government agencies, contractors, and guidance for critical infrastructure organizations. However, Cybersecurity teams quickly embraced it in many different sectors and types of organizations.

NIST has recognized the broader applicability of the Framework and has intentionally developed the 2.0 draft with a much broader target audience in mind. 2.0 aims to be inclusive of all organizations, regardless of size or industry. This change acknowledges that cybersecurity is a universal concern not confined to specific sectors like government or critical infrastructure. 

The expanded scope is particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which often lack the resources for comprehensive cybersecurity programs. By making the Framework more accessible and relevant to SMBs, 2.0 helps these organizations build effective cybersecurity strategies tailored to their unique challenges and constraints.

Increased Accessibility and Specificity

As part of the push to make the Cybersecurity Framework more accessible and functional for organizations with limited resources, 2.0 provides detailed implementation examples and increased guidance on developing and using Framework Profiles.

These enhancements help organizations understand and apply the Framework more effectively and consistently, even with limited cybersecurity expertise. The examples offer step-by-step guidance for implementing specific cybersecurity tasks, making the Framework more practical and user-friendly.

Additionally, the enhanced guidance includes more explicit references to other cybersecurity standards, providing organizations with a more defined path to achieving specific tiers within the Framework. This alignment with other standards simplifies and clarifies compliance efforts and ensures a more comprehensive and cohesive cybersecurity strategy.

By incorporating these changes, CSF 2.0 demonstrates a commitment to evolving with the cybersecurity landscape, ensuring its continued relevance and effectiveness as a key tool for risk management and cybersecurity strategy development.

Implications for Security Teams and Organizations

The introduction of the NIST 2.0 Cybersecurity Framework may lead to a widespread industry shift in handling cybersecurity challenges and strategy. This update broadens the Framework’s applicability and enhances its utility in governance and risk management. Security teams and organizations must understand these changes to leverage the Framework effectively.

Impact on Cybersecurity Practices and Strategies

One of the critical implications of NIST 2.0 is the facilitation of more robust governance and risk management practices. The new “Govern” function and the enhanced specificity in implementation guidance will significantly aid organizations in measuring and quantifying their risk exposure. 

This is particularly crucial in today’s environment, where cybersecurity threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated and multifaceted. The Framework’s expanded scope means that it serves a broader range of organizations, including those that might not have previously considered it relevant, such as small and medium-sized businesses.

This comprehensive approach will help organizations develop a more holistic cybersecurity strategy, integrating technical measures with governance and policy aspects. The emphasis on supply chain risk management is especially timely, given the rising number of cyber incidents involving third-party vendors and service providers. Organizations will now have a more detailed roadmap for assessing and mitigating these risks.

Challenges and Benefits of Adaptation

Adapting to the NIST 2.0 framework presents both challenges and opportunities. One challenge is the need for awareness and understanding of the Framework from security teams. With the new Framework becoming relevant to a broader range of organizations, more security teams will be adopting the Framework and will need to be familiar with it. 

As business leaders become increasingly aware of the need to pay attention to cybersecurity, they will likely drive broader adoptions of the NIST Framework as a business risk management tool. Additionally, Cyber insurance firms may also require broader NIST compliance as part of their coverage conditions in order to account for the changing landscape of cyber threats. In either case, proactively embracing the NIST Framework and it’s updates will benefit security teams.

In addition to these opportunities, the 2.0 Framework promises to offer a more inclusive and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, making it easier for various organizations to develop effective security strategies. The Framework’s expanded guidance and examples provide practical implementation tools, enhancing organizations’ ability to address their unique cybersecurity challenges effectively.

Preparing for Change

The final version of the NIST 2.0 Framework will be published in the first quarter of 2024. So, while it is still some time off, security teams and businesses alike can begin preparing now in order to implement it effectively upon launch. 

The first step should be ensuring that all relevant team members know about the upcoming changes and their implications. Training and awareness sessions can ensure that all appropriate team members are up to speed with the new Framework’s requirements and recommendations.

The following steps should include assessing existing cybersecurity strategies against the updated Framework, taking particular care to incorporate the new “Govern” function. This will require a more integrated approach, blending technical security measures with governance policies and risk management strategies. 

Organizations should also use the Framework to evaluate their supply chain security practices in light of the enhanced focus in this area. 

Ultimately, the key is to adopt a flexible, iterative approach, recognizing that cybersecurity is an evolving field and that the Framework is a living document meant to adapt to changing circumstances.

Conclusion

As we anticipate the final release of the NIST 2.0 Cybersecurity Framework in early 2024, it’s clear that this update will be a significant change in cybersecurity and compliance. The expanded scope, enhanced governance, and practical implementation guidance are set to redefine how organizations of all sizes approach their cybersecurity strategies.

At Atlantic Data Security, we understand the complexities and challenges of navigating these changes. Our expertise in cybersecurity and compliance positions us as a trusted partner for organizations looking to transition smoothly between frameworks. We are committed to helping you harness the full potential of these updates, ensuring that your cybersecurity strategies are not only compliant with the latest standards but also robust, resilient, and aligned with your business objectives.

As the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve, staying ahead of the curve is more critical than ever. With Atlantic Data Security, you have access to a team of seasoned experts who are well-versed in the intricacies of the NIST Framework and adept at tailoring cybersecurity solutions to meet your unique needs.

Speak with one of our advisors today to explore how we can help you navigate this transition seamlessly, ensuring your organization is well-prepared to tackle the cybersecurity challenges of tomorrow.

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