NIST, or the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, dealing with accuracy in science and technology standards. If you are a federal government employee, you’ve likely heard of NIST and maybe even participated in NIST training. If you are unfamiliar with NIST, we’re taking today’s blog post to break down everything you need to know. With over 25 years of working with government institutions across the country, we know how important it is to maintain compliance and be aware of the changing technology landscape. Here, our team of government logistics software experts at SCLogic provides an overview of NIST, the importance of NIST understanding for government agencies, and how your team can develop a security plan for compliance using NIST tools.
How Does NIST Impact Government Agencies?
NIST was founded in 1901 under the U.S. Department of Commerce and was established to “remove a major challenge to U.S. industrial competitiveness at the time – a second-rate measurement infrastructure that lagged behind the capabilities of the United Kingdom, Germany, and other economic rivals.” NIST covers a variety of topics related to the technology and facilities management industry, including, but not limited to:
- Building and Construction
- Artificial Intelligence
- Information Technology
Because federal agencies play an integral role in ensuring standards are met amongst various industries, ensuring that the proper teams and individuals are trained through NIST on support and resources is important. NIST offers multiple federal resources to assist employees with training in technology industries, such as A.I. Standards Development, including topics such as Information Security, Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection, and I.T. Service Management & I.T. Governance. In a 2020 study by Stanford University and NYU, 45% of federal agencies are already using A.I./machine learning, while only 15% of those agencies have highly sophisticated A.I. technology. As a result, the risk of breaches due to outdated technology increases, which is why investing in proper training for the future of the government workforce is so imperative.
How Can Government Agencies Form a Cybersecurity Compliance Strategy?
Run Through the NIST Risk Management Framework
For agencies looking to modernize their compliance strategies, beginning with NIST compliance is a huge benefit. We understand that doing a thorough assessment can be a daunting task, especially for large-scale government agencies. However, working reactively to a security or data breach will ultimately cost your team excessive time, money, and potential legal repercussions. The first step in your NIST audit is obtaining the NIST Risk Management Framework (RMF). This approach uses a risk-based lifecycle status to help teams identify the effectiveness of their current policies, as well as the constraints to due current technology systems. Teams review internal activities through a 7-step process from preparation to implementation and finally monitoring current risks. This will provide a clear outline of the gaps within your agency so that solidifying solutions with the proper authorities is effective.
Gather Roles & Responsibilities Within Your Agency
After identifying current gaps and risks within your agency, the next step is solidifying roles and responsibilities for updating your cybersecurity plans once the audit is completed. The categorization for these role designations comes at both the organization and system level, depending on the agency’s unique needs. Common roles include:
- Head of Agency
- Chief Information Officer
- Mission/Business Owner
- Risk Executive
- Senior Agency Information Security Officer
- Senior Agency Official for Privacy
- Senior Accountable Official for Risk Management
- Enterprise Architect
- Information Owner
- Mission/Business Owner
- System Owner
- Senior Agency Official for Privacy
- System Security or Privacy Officer
Implementation and Benefits of NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework for Federal I.S.
The final step in developing a security plan for your federal agency is implementing training and providing additional resources under NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework. Currently, NIST’s framework for cybersecurity consists of five fundamental foundations to create a strong cybersecurity base for your organization.
- Identify – This allows organizations to determine how they will use systems, team members, and data to manage cybersecurity risks, which is why the Risk Management Framework and responsibilities outline are so important.
- Protect – The framework’s protection aspect refers to the safeguards put in place for your agency to protect from a potential cyber threat.
- Detect – This function outlines the protocols that should be used in the event of a security threat to detect an issue as soon as possible.
- Respond – The Respond function provides requirements for acting swiftly after a cybersecurity breach.
- Recover – The Recover functionality provides teams with an outline of appropriate actions to begin cybersecurity recovery plans immediately to minimize damage to the organization and private files.
NIST compliance not only benefits federal organizations by reducing the risk of data breaches and allowing teams to work proactively to avoid long-term security repercussions but also ensures compliance with other regulatory agencies that oversee smaller government entities. NIST compliance assists with FISMA compliance, or the Federal Information Security Modernization Act. FISMA compliance codifies the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authority to administer security policies for non-national security Federal Executive Branch systems. Furthermore, NIST provides extensive resources for protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) so that businesses can assess security requirements and protect CUI information within their organization accurately.
Enhance Your Facility with SCLogic’s Intra Government Software
When identifying security threats within your federal agency, it is important to assess each point solution or platform within your facility to ensure it complies with current NIST standards. While many facilities’ software programs are created for generic industry use, Intra was designed with specific industries in mind, including government. We have a successful history with government agencies located right in the heart of Annapolis, MD; we have been in close proximity to numerous agencies for decades and are partnered with Colossal Contracting to meet SDVOSB requirements. We continuously review NIST policies to ensure that each installation with a new government customer exceeds security requirements, so your team can feel confident knowing that security is at the forefront of our entire operation. To learn more about how our workgroups can benefit your government facility, email [email protected] or schedule a demo with us today.