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What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework ? (Best Practices). Many new organizations as well as old ones follow a new set of cybersecurity frameworks known as the NIST cybersecurity framework. It has become quite popular with a few businesses and organizations, but what does it mean?

If you have no idea what the NIST cybersecurity stands for and what it means, don’t worry because you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll give you a detailed explanation of what the NIST cybersecurity framework means and its different practices.

Shall we start with What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework ?

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

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The NIST cybersecurity framework is a set of guidelines to detect, identify and respond to cyber attacks. This framework was created by the national institutes of standards and technology (NIST) in the US to provide a solid roadmap that private sectors or organizations will use to strengthen their cybersecurity.

One thing to note is that the NIST cybersecurity framework is a completely voluntary framework that helps small businesses or start-ups. Most large organizations have a default security system to help them sustain their cybersecurity. This security system is one thing that many small businesses lack, hence the reason to implement the NIST cybersecurity framework. While, it serves mainly small businesses, large organizations can also implement the NIST cybersecurity framework, if they wish to strengthen their networks.

The history of NIST traces back to 2013 when Former US President, Barack Obama of the United States issued an order to help increase cybersecurity infrastructure. Consequently, the order led to the development of a voluntary cybersecurity framework with detailed guidelines to help organizations to understand the best approach to cybersecurity. The framework is also flexible and accommodates organizations from small private to large governmental sectors.

Since its introduction, the NIST cybersecurity framework has been a default and effective guide to many organizations to increase their cybersecurity quite easily. In the past, it was a bit difficult for organizations to understand what they needed to do regarding cybersecurity fully. But now, the NIST framework gives these organizations a good path to follow and the different things they need to do. 

What are the NIST Best Practices?

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The NIST cybersecurity framework follows a straight path to help a business easily strengthen its network. Therefore, after deciding to implement this framework, you need to follow a few practices. Let’s take a look at them:


An organization needs to identify all its network properties/characteristics. It should identify all the computers as well as other equipment on the network. This identification helps to develop an understanding of how the network is organized. And so from this understanding, you can easily manage different risks that might occur on the network.

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After identifying each computer and equipment on a network, it is also necessary to understand the type of information and data that each computer and equipment gathers. The vulnerabilities on the network should also be identified by following this practice. This identification helps an organization focus its efforts on mitigating the risk that might result from these vulnerabilities or the exposure of gathered information or data that might be confidential.


Protection involves implementing additional safeguards or measures to avoid an attack on a network. This practice limits access to certain network data, systems, and assets. Limiting access strengthens the confidentiality of the information as well as reduces its chances of falling into the wrong hands.

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You can also use security tools to protect the network and its data. These tools help alert organizations about different anomalies it finds on a network so that the organization can tackle them. Passwords are also essential in this practice, and it is best to implement authentication since it helps protect a network against sophisticated cyber attacks.

Protection also includes the segmentation of a network — protect sensitive information by breaking it down and storing it in different network sections. Segmenting data ensures that you do not lose confidential or sensitive information at once if you experience an attack on the network.


Organizations should implement cybersecurity systems or tools to help detect when there’s a network breach. Combined with the security tools, you’ll also need to monitor the network frequently. This way, detecting abnormal activities and eliminating them in time is easy. To effectively carry this out, it is necessary to monitor the different system logs and also search for new vulnerabilities that might pop up on a network.


After detecting malicious activities on a network, you must respond just in time to get rid of it. An organization needs to take action, or it will expose its network to attacks. The response may also involve using different security tools to eliminate the threat or a vulnerability if detected.

The response should always be swift. Because if an organization doesn’t swiftly respond to a vulnerability detected on a network, cyber threats can quickly pick on this vulnerability to attack and destroy a network. A quick response is mandatory once malicious activities or vulnerabilities are detected.


If a cyber threat attacks an organization’s network, it causes the network to lose most of its information and data. An organization should implement different activities that will help them recover all lost information on its network after an attack. If an organization loses all their data, it becomes difficult for its network to return back to its normal activities

Most of the activities on a network revolves around most of the stored data on the network. This stored data also helps the network to offer services to the public or anyone who uses the network. When this stored data is lost, the network will not be able to offer any service until it is restored. 

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This recovery practice or plan makes it easy for a network to recover easily from the attack and carry on with normal activities. Without this plan, it becomes very difficult to continue with their normal activities since they will have to start to rebuild what has been lost during the attack.

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Should You Implement the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

The NIST cybersecurity framework was designed for small businesses and organizations, as we said, but the framework is completely optional. Refusing to implement the framework will come at no legal cost to you or your organization. The decision is up to you.

Since it’s not mandatory, should you implement the NIST cybersecurity framework for your organization or business? If you are concerned about strengthening the security of your network, it’s advisable to implement the NIST framework because it helps protect your networks from fierce cyber attacks that will cost you.

The framework helps an organization to be completely aware of the different activities on its networks. With this knowledge, they can effectively use the framework guide to detect anomalies and effectively respond to them on time. Tighter security only gives way to more progress in an organization.

Implementing the NIST framework can be a bit challenging, but it is better than getting a security breach. Cyber attacks are getting more sophisticated and have easily destroyed different organizations and businesses. Recovering from a cyber attack is gruesome, and the best way to avoid this is to use the NIST framework. Other reasons you should apply NIST cybersecurity framework include:

  • It helps create a long term, responsive, and adaptive approach to the cybersecurity and risk management of your organization. 
  • It helps your business grow faster through effective relations with supply chains. 
  • The NIST framework is easily adaptable, making it extremely flexible, regardless of the type or size of your business.
  • It helps you reason about your program’s maturity, and it provides a framework for interactions with stakeholders including your organization’s senior management and board of directors.
  • NIST is considered by many businesses to be the benchmark when it comes to cybersecurity. As a result, it fosters trust among businesses, clients, and partners.

NIST Cybersecurity Framework Summary

The NIST cybersecurity framework (CSF) is US Government guidance for public and private sector organizations that own, run, or provide critical infrastructure. The aim of the NIST framework is to improve critical infrastructure cybersecurity, and provide a standardized security framework for all types and sizes of business organizations. 

The NIST cybersecurity framework is divided into five main functions also known as the Framework Core. They include:

  • Identify: This involves developing an understanding of how to manage cybersecurity risk to assets, systems, capabilities, and data.
  • Protect: This involves establishing and executing the necessary protections to ensure a safe and successful delivery of critical infrastructure services.
  • Detect: This function entails developing and implementing effective steps to identify the occurrence of a security anomaly or event as quickly as possible.
  • Respond: This involves carrying out the necessary actions when experiencing a detected security threat.
  • Recover: This has to do with the appropriate activities to restore any capabilities or services that were damaged during a security event.

The NIST CSF functions are further divided into 21 categories:


  • Asset management. 
  • Business environment.
  • Governance.
  • Risk assessment.
  • Risk management strategy.


  • Access control.
  • Awareness and training.
  • Data security.
  • Information protection processes and procedures.
  • Maintenance.


  • Anomalies and events.
  • Security and continuous monitoring.
  • Detection processes.


  • Response planning.
  • Communications .
  • Analysis.
  • Mitigation.
  • Improvements.


  • Recovery planning.
  • Improvements.
  • Communications.

NIST CSF delivers a suitable base level of cybersecurity by establishing fundamental processes and necessary controls for cybersecurity. It is an excellent method of converting the risk management and security posture of an organization from a reactive approach to a proactive one.

Thank you for reading What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework ? (Best Practices). We should conclude. 

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework ? (Best Practices) Conclusion

The NIST cybersecurity framework helps many organizations or businesses with guidelines on effectively strengthening their networks’ security. This framework was part of a plan the former US president, Barack Obama, implemented to help increase the critical infrastructure of cybersecurity. Since then, many private and governmental organizations have implemented the framework.

While the NIST cybersecurity framework isn’t mandatory, it’s advisable that organizations implement it to help strengthen their network. With the knowledge gained from following the NIST cybersecurity framework, it becomes easy to mitigate different attacks, no matter how sophisticated they seem. 


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Edyta Wisniowska

Edyta Wisniowska

I am a Linux and Windows enthusiast and cyber security researcher. Currently working as InfraSOS technical writer and content manager.

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