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NIST Cybersecurity Framework Explained
Martin Horan

By: Martin Horan on February 6th, 2019

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NIST Cybersecurity Framework Explained

Government Compliance

Is your organization working to align with NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Cybersecurity Framework? The objective of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is to identify “a prioritized, flexible, repeatable, performance-based, and cost-effective approach” to keeping data secure. This includes “information security measures and controls that may be voluntarily adopted by owners and operators of critical infrastructure to help them identify, assess, and manage cyber risks.” To put it simply, the NIST framework is a set of guidelines to help you protect sensitive government data.

These objectives outlined by the NIST provide cybersecurity standards and best practices with which government agencies and outside organizations can align. This ensures there is a single, established standard that applies to all organizations, cutting back on miscommunication or lack of alignment. Everyone knows the expectations for agencies working in the public sector, since those expectations are spelled out specifically in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

The NIST framework focuses on the five cybersecurity functions that participating organizations should have in place. These functions work in harmony to build a framework protecting your business. In this article, we’ll explore these measures and discuss how selecting a government compliant file sharing solution helps you align with these standards.

 

Identify

“Develop an organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risk to systems, people, assets, data, and capabilities.” – NIST Framework

To begin the process of aligning with the NIST framework, you must develop an organizational understanding on how you will manage cybersecurity risk to systems, people, assets, data, and capabilities. Outlining these risks gives you a better picture of what steps you must take to mitigate those vulnerabilities.

As part of your risk management strategy, you should consider adopting a secure file sharing solution. This tool helps your organization align with best practices, as many of are built into the solution, and it makes it easier to adhere to the NIST Framework and safeguard your systems. Once you’ve identified your organization’s vulnerabilities, you can use that list as a set of guidelines to consider when evaluating different file sharing solutions. 

Secure File Sharing: Answers to Common Questions

Are you trying to select a new file sharing solution, but you have a few questions first? Explore these common questions about file sharing solutions and find out their answers.

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Protect

“Develop and implement appropriate safeguards to ensure delivery of critical services.” – NIST Framework

Once you’ve identified the different risks associated with your organization, you need to devise a strategy to protect yourself from these risks. The objective is to mitigate risks and minimize the impact of a potential attack. As part of the Protect function, NIST identified some protection measures you can adopt, including identity management and access control, awareness and training, data security, information protection processes and procedures, maintenance, and protective technology.

There are two areas in particular where a secure file sharing solution can help you align with the Protect function of the NIST framework – identity management and access control, and data security.

Identity management involves verifying that the users attempting to log into your solution are properly vetted to ensure they are who they claim to be. With a secure file sharing solution, you can require employees to align with password security best practices (i.e., complex passwords, frequent password changes, etc.)

Another aspect of identity management is the use of tools like multi-factor authentication and multiple authentication methods. Multi-factor authentication requires users to input a one-time code sent to their mobile device or email, in addition to their login credentials. Multiple authentication methods require users to input a password or SSH-key to verify the user’s identity.

Access controls can take a number of forms. With a secure file sharing solution, you can control access to different functionalities within the solution, like limiting which users can download, upload, edit, or delete sensitive files. Access controls also refer to country access controls or IP address controls, allowing administrators to limit solution access based on the user’s country of origin or the IP address of the device they’re using to log into the solution.

Data security is the other area in which a file sharing solution can provide you the support you need to align with the NIST framework. When you adopt a secure file sharing solution, you can count on advanced encryption methods to protect your data. Data encryption protects data both in transit and at rest on your solution. This ensures that only the sender and the intended recipient can decipher the data, protecting it from hackers with nefarious motives.

 

Detect

“Develop and implement appropriate activities to identify the occurrence of a cybersecurity event.” – NIST Framework

Unfortunately, some cybersecurity breaches may be so clandestine that you don’t even know they have occurred. In some cases, it may take weeks or even months to identify a data breach. However, as part of the NIST framework, you need measures in place to detect a data breach as quickly as possible to prevent more damage from occurring. A secure file sharing solution is beneficial in this area, too. Your solution host will have numerous measures in place to help you detect and report cyber security events as they happen.

FTP Today uses proprietary Intrusion Detection and Prevention heuristics to immediately detect and blacklist any login attempted by unauthorized IP addresses. These IP addresses are added to a master list and offenders are blacklisted on every client solution. You can rest easy knowing that your file sharing host is constantly at work to protect your data.

 

Respond

“Develop and implement appropriate activities to take action regarding a detected cybersecurity incident.” – NIST Framework

Despite your best efforts, a data breach can still occur. Perhaps an employee sent a sensitive file via email or a password was compromised. Regardless of the cause of the breach, you need a plan in place to respond immediately to what occurred and contain the incident.

One of the best parts of adopting a secure file sharing solution is that the solution host will have procedures in place to respond quickly to any attempted breach of incident. This ensures that the hacker is stopped in their tracks, unable to steal more data from you organization.

 

Recover

“Develop and implement appropriate activities to maintain plans for resilience and to restore any capabilities or services that were impaired due to a cybersecurity incident.” – NIST Framework

Disaster recovery is a key aspect of the NIST framework. If a cybersecurity attack occurs and your organization has no disaster recovery methods in place, you could lose valuable data, in addition to valuable productive work time. A secure file sharing solution, like FTP Today for example, has disaster recovery procedures that can have your solution back up and running within hours of an event.

FTP Today ensures that their backup servers are thoroughly protected. These servers are housed in a different location than the primary servers, so any disaster that impacts the primary servers won’t impact the backup ones. Also, you can frequently backup your data, so in the event of a disaster, the most recent version of your solution and the data on it will be restored.

With the right secure file sharing solution, you are equipped to align with the NIST framework, without doing the heavy lifting yourself. Your file sharing host can help you meet these standards, as long as you choose the best partner.

Learn more about how choosing the best file sharing solution helps you protect your data. Explore this guide on secure file sharing now.

Secure File Sharing: Answers to Common Questions

Are you trying to select a new file sharing solution, but you have a few questions first? Explore these common questions about file sharing solutions and find out their answers.

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About Martin Horan

Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.

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