The flagship NIST Special Publication 800-53 helps US government to implement security and privacy controls imposed by FISMA, while the Special Publication 800-171 imposes mandatory cybersecurity program for US federal suppliers and contractors as required by FAR, DFARS and CMMC.
What is NIST and its role?
NIST’s role in cybersecurity is to develop and publish standards, guidelines, and best practices for organizations to follow in order to secure their information systems, networks, and data. These standards and guidelines are widely adopted by both public and private organizations, and they serve as a baseline for compliance with various regulatory requirements, such as the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Some of NIST’s most well-known cybersecurity publications include:
– NIST SP 800-53: Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations
– NIST SP 800-171: Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations
– NIST Cybersecurity Framework: A voluntary framework for improving cybersecurity risk management in critical infrastructure sectors
Overall, NIST plays a critical role in advancing the state of cybersecurity in the United States by providing guidance, standards, and tools that help organizations protect their information systems and data from cyber threats.
In summary, the NIST Special Publication 800 series is a set of guidelines and frameworks developed by NIST ITL primarily for the US government, its contractors, and suppliers, but also widely adopted by the private sector as an industry standard for cybersecurity. While not legally binding, some of the publications are incorporated into federal and state laws and regulations. NIST SP 800-53 for FISMA is a comprehensive data protection and cybersecurity framework required by the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA) for federal agencies to implement a cost-efficient and risk-based data protection program for their information systems and external systems where federal information is stored or processed. Compliance with SP 800-53 is reported to the US Office of Management and Budget on an annual basis as part of FISMA oversight responsibilities.
The SP 800-53 publication is a comprehensive framework that provides guidance on implementing and maintaining security controls to mitigate cyber threats. Part 3 of the publication, titled “The Controls,” outlines 20 sections with multiple subsections dedicated to required security controls and their practical implementation. In this article, we will discuss each of these sections in detail.
1. Access Control (Section 3.1): This section provides guidance on controlling access to information systems and data. It includes requirements for authentication, authorization, and accountability to ensure that only authorized individuals can access sensitive information.
2. Awareness and Training (Section 3.2): This section emphasizes the importance of training employees on security policies and procedures. It includes requirements for regular security awareness training to ensure that employees are aware of potential cyber threats and know how to respond to them.
3. Audit and Accountability (Section 3.3): This section provides guidance on monitoring and auditing system activity to detect and prevent unauthorized access or misuse of information resources. It includes requirements for audit logs, audit trails, and audit analysis tools.
4. Assessment, Authorization, and Monitoring (Section 3.4): This section provides guidance on conducting risk assessments, authorizing information systems, and monitoring their performance to ensure they meet security requirements.
5. Configuration Management (Section 3.5): This section provides guidance on managing the configuration of information systems to ensure they are secure and meet organizational needs. It includes requirements for vulnerability scanning and penetration testing to identify and remediate security vulnerabilities.
6. Contingency Planning (Section 3.6): This section provides guidance on developing contingency plans to ensure the availability of critical information systems in the event of a disruption or disaster.
7. Identification and Authentication (Section 3.7): This section provides guidance on identifying users and authenticating their access to information systems. It includes requirements for strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and biometric authentication.
8. Incident Response (Section 3.8): This section provides guidance on responding to cybersecurity incidents, including detecting, analyzing, containing, and recovering from them.
9. Maintenance (Section 3.9): This section provides guidance on maintaining information systems to ensure they remain secure and operational over time.
10. Media Protection (Section 3.10): This section provides guidance on protecting digital and physical media containing sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure.
11. Physical and Environmental Protection (Section 3.11): This section provides guidance on securing physical facilities where information systems are located, including access controls, environmental controls, and monitoring.
12. Planning (Section 3.12): This section provides guidance on developing a comprehensive cybersecurity plan that aligns with organizational goals and objectives.
13. Program Management (Section 3.13): This section provides guidance on managing cybersecurity programs effectively, including establishing roles and responsibilities, prioritizing resources, and measuring program effectiveness.
14. Personnel Security (Section 3.14): This section provides guidance on ensuring that personnel who have access to sensitive information are trustworthy and have undergone appropriate background checks.
15. Personally Identifiable Information Processing and Transparency (Section 3.15): This section provides guidance on protecting personally identifiable information (PII) from unauthorized access or disclosure and ensuring transparency in PII processing activities.
16. Risk Assessment (Section 3.16): This section provides guidance on conducting risk assessments to identify potential cybersecurity risks and develop strategies to mitigate them.
17. System and Services Acquisition (Section 3.17): This section provides guidance on acquiring information systems and services that meet security requirements while minimizing risks associated with procurement.
18. System and Communications Protection (Section 3.18): This section provides guidance on protecting information systems from cyber threats by implementing appropriate security controls for system components, communications channels, and remote access.
19. System and Information Integrity (Section 3.19): This section provides guidance on ensuring the integrity of information systems by detecting unauthorized changes or modifications to system components or data.
20. Supply Chain Risk Management (Section 3.20): This section provides guidance on developing a risk-based strategy to mitigate third-party risks associated with supply chain attacks.
In conclusion, the SP 800-53 publication is a comprehensive framework that brings a risk-based approach to implementation and continuous monitoring of security controls proportional to mitigate identified cyber threats adequately. The framework requires a set of written policies and procedures to be properly maintained, including regular vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, contingency planning, personnel security checks, among others mentioned above in the twenty sections of Part 3. By following the guidance provided in this publication, organizations can ensure that their information systems and data are adequately protected from cyber threats, and they can respond effectively to incidents when they occur. It is essential for organizations to understand the importance of cybersecurity and to implement the necessary controls to mitigate risks associated with cyber threats. The SP 800-53 publication provides a valuable resource for organizations to achieve this goal and maintain a secure and resilient cybersecurity posture.
Other NIST Special Publications 800 include:
– SP 800-53: Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations
– SP 800-171: Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations
– SP 800-37: Risk Management Framework for Information Systems and Organizations
– SP 800-30: Guide for Conducting Risk Assessments
– SP 800-63: Digital Identity Guidelines
– SP 800-137: Information Security Continuous Monitoring (ISCM) for Federal Information Systems and Organizations
– SP 800-171B: Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations – Enhanced Security Requirements for Critical Programs and High Value Assets
– SP 800-184: Guide for Cybersecurity Event Recovery
– SP 800-160: Systems Security Engineering – Considerations for a Multidisciplinary Approach in the Engineering of Trustworthy Secure Systems
– SP 800-171A: Assessing Security Requirements for Controlled Unclassified Information
– SP 800-90A/B/C: Recommendations for Random Number Generation Using Deterministic Random Bit Generators
These publications cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics, including risk management, identity management, continuous monitoring, and secure systems engineering.