NIST Security Framework: There’s a lot to do – but don’t forget this one measure

With its step-by-step approach, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework offers very good guidance for the protection of IT systems. In our experience, one relevant point is often neglected during implementation. You can find out what this is here.

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a guideline developed by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The recommendations are designed to help companies and organizations across all sectors and industries prevent, detect and respond to cyberattacks.

The core of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework shows how you can successively improve the level of protection of your IT systems. It consists of these five building blocks:

    • Identify
    • Protect
    • Detect
    • Respond
    • Recover

In simple terms, this means: Develop a strategy to protect your hardware and software from A to Z – in a sustainable and well thought-out manner!


NIST Cybersecurity Framework Core in practical implementation

What sounds simple in theory can be quite complex in practice. Here are some examples of what you need to think about if you want to meet the requirements of the National Institute of Standards:

Step 1: Identify

Asset management
Create a detailed inventory list of all hardware and software components. This will give you an overview of everything that needs to be protected.

Risk assessment
Carry out regular audits and risk assessments to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities in your systems.

Business assessment
Evaluate the potential impact of cyberattacks on your business, its targets and your supply chains.

Step 2: Protect

Access control
Implement strict access controls to ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive information.

Data protection
Protect data through encryption and other security measures. Disable applications and services known as “data octopuses”.

Conduct regular training for employees to raise awareness of risks and cyber security. Communicate best practices for better information security behavior.

Step 3: Detection

Anomaly detection
Use advanced security systems and technologies to detect unusual activity and potential security breaches in real time.

Security monitoring
Implement measures to continuously monitor your IT systems and evaluate the effectiveness of your security measures.

Step 4: React

Response planning
Develop a detailed incident response plan that includes clear policies and procedures for dealing with security incidents.

Ensure you have effective communication strategies in place to keep internal and external stakeholders appropriately informed in the event of a security incident.

Step 5: Restore

Recovery planning
Develop plans for how you can quickly restore critical functions, important services and sensitive data after a security incident.

After an incident, make improvements to your security processes and security controls to increase resilience to future attacks.

Be transparent about recovery processes and times with affected stakeholders to maintain trust and credibility.

The application of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework

If information security and data protection are practiced in your company, numerous applications and measures will certainly be used – from anti-malware suites to MDR / XDR systems and SIEM solutions.

Most technical solutions focus on the “Detect” and “Respond” steps of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. In our opinion, there is often still some catching up to do when it comes to the “Protect” aspect.

This step is extremely efficient: if you close security gaps and reduce attack surfaces, your systems are well protected against attacks. Many attacks then come to nothing. Or hackers and malware can only develop their destructive power very slowly or not at all.

A building block for your “Protect” measures

System Hardening is a relevant protective measure for IT landscapes. This allows you to “harden” individual applications and entire operating systems by restricting convenience functions, deactivating services, tightening password settings and restricting user rights, among other things.

The good thing is that you don’t have to come up with the secure configuration yourself. When you harden your systems, follow established standards and recommendations – for example from the CIS, DISA, BSI, ACSC and Microsoft. On the one hand, this will bring your systems up to the state of the art techniques and, on the other, it will enable you to comply with increasingly stringent requirements, regulations, laws and standards.

Does automation help to harden operating systems?

Yes, definitely! If you configure an operating system securely by hand, you have to make at least 300 to 500 settings. Depending on your strategy and goal, this can be as many as 1,000 configuration changes (or more) – on one computer alone!

In large IT landscapes with dozens or even hundreds of systems, dedicated OS Hardening alone “eats up” gigantic resources. Resources that are usually in short supply in IT departments.

Automation is therefore a (necessary) obligation. If you use professional hardening tools for companies, you can save an enormous amount of time. Enforce Administrator, for example, provides you with fully automated “all-round protection”, as it creates a kind of “self-healing system”.

Enforce Administrator: More information

Do you need help or support with system hardening?

Would you like to know more about system hardening? Or do you need tangible support? Simply contact us, we will be happy to provide you with help and advice.

Make an appointment


Images: Adobe Firefly, TWL-KOM/FB Pro

Leave a Reply