What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

June 19, 2024

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a set of guidelines, designed to help organizations better understand and mitigate cybersecurity risks. It consists of industry standards, best practices, and six core functions that provide organizations with a blueprint on how to govern, identify, protect, detect, respond to, and recover from cyber incidents. NIST CSF 2.0, which was released in February 2024, introduced the “Govern” function as part of the updated framework.

Why Should NIST CSF Be Used?

Managing risk should be a priority, not an afterthought. But often, things aren’t as clear as they should be.

A study found that 54% of risk professionals wanted stronger relationships with senior executives for greater influence. This is a missing element from risk mitigation planning, highlighting the need for more integrated collaboration between risk management and leadership.

Aligning your business goals with NIST CSF can alleviate these issues because it provides a structured and systematic approach to cybersecurity that integrates risk management into the organization’s overall strategy.

Another way to safeguard against emerging threats is to perform a cybersecurity maturity assessment based on NIST CSF to identify any critical security gaps, prioritize risk mitigation efforts, and continuously measure progress over time.

Conducting a cybersecurity maturity assessment can also point out whether your current security controls and measures are up to par and what must be improved to minimize the threat surface, and ultimately prevent a potential breach.

Exploring the Six Core Functions of NIST CSF 2.0

NIST CSF 2.0 is broken down into six core functions. Each function is designed to help organizations improve their overall cybersecurity risk posture.

  • Govern: Govern is the latest function of the NIST CSF 2.0 and it outlines an organization’s cybersecurity risk management strategy. It also establishes how risk management policies are defined based on an organization’s objectives, risk environments, and history of prior incidents.
  • Identify: Identify all assets. It’s imperative to document where data is located, who uses it, and how it is used. Define who has access to your systems, applications, and third-party service providers to have an inventory of all assets.  A cyber risk assessment can help identify critical vulnerabilities, assess the impact of various threats, and prioritize mitigation strategies.
  • Protect: Implement appropriate safeguards to mitigate your organization’s cyber risks. This includes enforcing granular access permissions to security controls, employing multi-factor authentication, and regularly updating operating systems and applications.
  • Detect: Develop and test procedures for continuous monitoring to detect network anomalies, such as unusual spikes in traffic or other suspicious behaviors, that could indicate a potential compromise and disrupt business operations.
  • Respond: Organizations must be ready and have an incident response plan to take action if any suspicious activities are detected and an incident arises.
  • Recover: This function describes the importance of restoring systems and other critical assets that might have been impacted due to an incident. Are you able to retrieve lost data or is it gone forever? Organizations should note any improvements that can be made based on the lessons learned from the incident to strengthen cyber resilience against any future security incidents.

What is the Difference Between NIST CSF and ISO 27001?

ISO 27001 is an international standard for information security management systems (ISMS) developed jointly by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). It provides a framework of requirements and best practices for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving ISMS within organizations.


  • Based on six core functions (Govern, Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover)
  • Includes a maturity model broken down into four tiers (Partial, Risk Informed, Repeatable, Adaptive)
  • No certification required
  • Available for free

ISO 27001

  • Annex A contains 114 controls divided into 14 categories
  • Implemented by organizations with more advanced maturity requirements
  • Requires extensive audits to receive certifications and demonstrate compliance
  • Very costly

Which one is the right fit for your organization depends on the industry, regulatory requirements, risk tolerance, and existing cybersecurity maturity level.

How Can Organizations Align with NIST CSF?

There are a few ways in which an organization can align with NIST CSF.

Begin by conducting a thorough cyber risk assessment to uncover any high-risk vulnerabilities that require immediate attention. Next, map the organization’s existing cybersecurity controls, policies, and practices to the NIST CSF guidelines. Once the gaps are identified and categorized by severity levels, develop and implement action plans to effectively address them.

But it doesn’t end there. Organizations must continuously monitor and measure progress by tracking KPIs over time and by regularly reviewing their cybersecurity practices and controls.

KPIs to track can include: 

  • Number of Detected Incidents
  • Mean Time to Detect (MTTD)
  • Mean Time to Respond (MTTR)
  • Mean Time to Contain (MTTC)
  • Intrusion Attempts
  • Backup and Recovery Success Rate
  • Cost per Incident

Keep relevant stakeholders in the loop to foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness and trust.

How Does NIST CSF Help with Board Reporting?

CISOs and executive management should see eye to eye when it comes to having the best interests of the organization in mind. However, this isn’t always the case.

A study found that only 23% of companies say their cybersecurity metrics are well understood by the board and senior executives.

Board meetings should not feel like mandatory events, but more like strategic sessions where cybersecurity insights and risks are clearly communicated in financial terms rather than technical jargon.

One way of achieving this is by aligning with NIST CSF, as it helps ensure that cybersecurity metrics are tied to business objectives and financial impact, making it easier for the C-suite to approve any future cybersecurity initiatives.

How Does CRQ Relate to NIST CSF 2.0?

Cyber risk quantification determines the financial impact and probability of cyber risk to an organization, enabling the effective prioritization of mitigation efforts. It complements the NIST CSF 2.0 core functions by providing a clear picture in financial terms of all assets that negatively impact business operations. CRQ helps CISOs better communicate risk to the board, enabling them to govern more effectively.

For example, investing $300,000 in a robust incident response plan can reduce the average cost of a data breach from $4 million to $1.5 million. Saving the organization $2.5 million per incident is a metric any C-suite leader can appreciate and further complements the use case for a comprehensive cybersecurity risk management strategy.

CRQ also helps save costs when it comes to mitigation efforts, as it enables organizations to conduct detailed cost-benefit analyses of various security measures and ensures that mitigation strategies are proportionate to the financial impact. It also helps justify any investments executive management gives in the form of actual ROI.

How Hyver Aligns with NIST CSF

Do you know which assets are at the highest risk or where to begin focusing on mitigation strategies?

CYE’s cyber risk quantification platform, Hyver, helps you prioritize cyber risk remediation according to business KPIs, so you can make more optimized mitigation decisions based on outcome, not guesswork.

Hyver calculates your organization’s cybersecurity maturity by considering CYE’s continuous and objective data, along with input from your security team, and automatically maps your existing data to the appropriate subcategories in NIST CSF.

Learn how CYE can help align your organization’s goals to the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. Contact us.


  1. What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework? NIST CSF provides organizations with a set of guidelines and best practices on how to manage and reduce cybersecurity risks.
  2. What are the main functions of NIST CSF 2.0? Govern, Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover from cybersecurity incidents.
  3. What are the main updates of NIST CSF? NIST CSF 2.0 introduces the “Govern” function, which outlines an organization’s cybersecurity risk management strategy.
  4. What is the difference between NIST CSF and ISO 27001? NIST CSF provides guidelines, best practices, and standards for organizations to manage and reduce cybersecurity risk, while ISO 27001 involves extensive audits to remain compliant.