ISO & NIST Standards and Compliance
For organizations in which information security is paramount, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) publish key frameworks with which to build security and privacy controls. ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization comprising 167 national standards bodies, and NIST is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Pursuing compliance with the widely recognized standards published by ISO and NIST lets partners and customers know you have systems in place to protect sensitive information. Bookmark this guide as a reference for the following standards:
• ISO 27001
• NIST SP 800-53
• NIST SP 800-30
• NIST Cybersecurity Framework
and learn how Flexential Professional Services assesses and improves compliance with ISO and NIST standards to elevate your role as an industry leader.
Flexential also has you covered if you need help with PCI DSS and HIPAA compliance.
The Importance of Compliance with ISO & NIST Standards
The purpose of the standards published by ISO and NIST, like all major compliance standards, lies in security, safety and privacy. As the world becomes increasingly tech-connected, vast systems of data and information flow between nodes to servers to businesses to the cloud to home computers to smartphones and back again. And when that data is sensitive in nature–containing customer info, business financials, proprietary technology, intellectual property, or security information–standards like ISO and NIST provide the framework for baseline creating comprehensive security measures.
Maintaining compliance with the standards below keeps both individuals and business partners safe and signifies that your organization takes infosec seriously. Lacking compliance with these standards? Don’t be surprised if potential partners or customers look elsewhere for organizations with proven compliance.
Read on to learn more about the far-reaching standards of ISO 27001 or jump ahead to dive into NIST SP 800-53, NIST 800-30, and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) and their role in security.
ISO 27001 Compliance
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a international organization working with a global network of 167 national standards bodies. It first convened in 1954 and now boasts over 22,600 standards, covering products like camera film speed, child car seats, and food safety management.
However, they’re best known for standards like ISO 27001, for information security management systems (ISMS). In short, this standard “specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining and continually improving an information security management system within the context of the organization.” ISO 27001 certification indicates that an organization has clear information security controls that protect the organization’s data from unauthorized access.
ISO offers certification via third-party audit for ISO 27001, allowing you to showcase your commitment to information security to partners and customers.
1. Benefits of ISO 27001 Compliance
ISO standards serve as the global best practices across industries. Especially for growing organizations looking to move up as industry leaders and trusted partners, compliance with ISO 27001 can:
• Grow customer, investor and stakeholder trust in you organization by showing security is a priority with ISO certification
• Increase competitiveness with ISO certification that can set you apart from your competition on security
• Decrease customer audits as prospects and customers usually accept ISO certification as proof of adequate information security controls
• Prevent losses brought about by data breaches, cyber-attacks, or operation disruptions.
• Improve procedures and reaction times when sensitive information is breached or lost.
• Advance compliance with industry, legal or regulatory requirements.
• Enhance your company’s reputation as an industry leader and information security experts.
2. Penalties for ISO 27001 Non-Compliance
While ISO 27001 is not a legal requirement, lack of an ISMS can result in:
• The inability to even bid on certain commercial or government contracts that require ISO 27001 certification.
• More frequent and severe data breaches, losses, and attacks, resulting in personal harm to business partners or customers.
• Loss of reputation, future revenue, and key industry partnerships as a result of these data breaches.
• Additional work to meet related standards like NIST or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which can result in legal fines.
3. Requirements for ISO 27001 Compliance
Pursuing ISO 27001 compliance for the first time–or maintaining it–can be a major lift depending on your organization’s current documentation and processes. It requires at least an ISO 27001 employee “champion” and a solid understanding of 27001’s requirements. In addition, you’ll need to:
A. Establish context, scope, and objectives - will the ISMS extend throughout the entire organization, or only to specific departments? How will factors like risk acceptance criteria and existing systems affect compliance? Who are the internal stakeholders and subject matter experts?
B. Create an initial project scope - this includes management of activities, regular auditing, and accountability of the ISMS.
C. Conduct an initial assessment - ISO does not prescribe a specific methodology, but your risk assessment should be formalized and include baseline security criteria.
D. Produce an SoA and RTP - the statement of applicability and risk treatment plan document your organization's response to discovered risks and are required for third-party certification.
E. Design a training plan - policies and awareness programs can teach employees good security habits and reduce the risk of accidental non-compliance.
F. Meet documentation requirements – this includes formal policies like risk assessment process, infosec objectives, evidence of competence, operational planning and control, and more.
G. Perform audits and internal reviews.
H. Complete two stages of certification - an auditor will first assess documentation and then conduct a comprehensive assessment to ensure compliance.
4. How to Become ISO 27001 Compliant
You can devote in-house resources to pursuing ISO 27001 compliance. However, if you’re focused on key strategic initiatives as an infosec leader and lack internal experience in complying with ISO 27001, Flexential’s Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSPs) can provide assessments, verification and detailed guidance to establish and maintain compliance and certification. Specific Flexential services include the ISO 27001 Gap Analysis and ISO 27001 ISMS Maturity Assessment, as well as tailored engagements to specifically obtain ISO 27001 certification.
Flexential’s expertise in recommendations, guidance, remediation, and program development feature a prioritized roadmap and risk-based approach that maximizes your return on investment.
NIST SP 800-53 & 800-30 Compliance
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is focused on US organizations and federal agencies. While official certification for ISO 27001 requires a third-party audit, NIST compliance is voluntary and self-administered.
Two of the most common NIST standards are SP 800-53–a catalog of security and privacy controls–and SP 800-30, which provides guidance on preparing, conducting, and maintaining a risk assessment. Additionally, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) features five key functions for those in charge of cybersecurity:
• Respond, and
1. Benefits of NIST SP 800-53, NIST 800-30 and NIST CSF Compliance
Much like ISO 27001, NIST SP 800-53, NIST 800-30 and the NIST CSF best practices improve your organization’s information security controls, risk management, and cybersecurity. That means
• Better protection and resilience against cyber-attacks and data breaches that result in operational downtime and lost revenue.
• More comprehensive information security, privacy, risk management and cybersecurity that also makes compliance with regulations like GDPR or HIPAA easier to maintain.
• The chance to bid for U.S. government contracts, many of which require NIST compliance.
• A stronger competitive position and industry reputation as a leader in cybersecurity, infosec, privacy and risk management.
• A framework that you can adapt to as your organization grows in size and complexity.
• A trusted link in the chain that can improve security across supply and vendor lists.
2. Penalties for NIST SP 800-53 & 800-30 Non-Compliance
The risks of not using NIST standards are similar to ISO and many other infosec and cybersecurity best practices. They include:
• More frequent and severe security incidents and losses resulting in damages to the organization, business partners or customers.
• The inability to even bid on certain commercial or government contracts that require NIST compliance.
• Loss of reputation, future revenue, and key industry partnerships.
• Additional work for related standards and regulations like ISO, HIPAA, or GDPR.
And if your organization receives any kind of federal funding or subsidy, that support can be pulled as a direct result of NIST non-compliance.
3. Requirements for NIST SP 800-53 & 800-30 Compliance
NIST SP 800-53 has undergone five revisions and is currently composed of over 1000 controls. Ten of the most frequently mentioned controls include:
A. Access privileges - ensuring only authorized users have control of sensitive data.
B. Audit and accountability - the ability to review and verify using checks and balances.
C. Awareness and training - team members require up-to-date and pertinent training that affects the systems included in their work.
D. Configuration management - ensures that all needs of an iterative system are met without compromising security.
E. Contingency planning - in case security fails or does not perform as expected.
F. ID and authentication - ensuring key users have the appropriate rights needed to access systems and data.
G. Incident response - a formalized process including steps and tools when a data breach occurs.
H. Maintenance - keeping the security architecture up-to-date and functioning as intended.
I. Media protection - the safeguarding of physical media like hard drives and servers.
J. Personnel security - training and protection for those who manage sensitive systems.
4. How to Adopt NIST SP 800-53, NIST 800-30 and the NIST CSF
Adopting the NIST SP 800-53, NIST 800-30 or the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a voluntary decision for organizations that can be done at the speed and priority of the individual organization. Adoption challenges include If internal staff is not experienced with implementing similar standards, or don’t really have the time, due to other priorities and initiatives. And since these standards do get updated over time, and should be maintained, regular attention to them is needed.
To adopt NIST standards, you can DIY, or you can work with Flexential’s Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSPs) to provide a holistic, framework approach to security, risk and cybersecurity. Flexential Professional Services performs comprehensive and detailed assessments and provides actionable remediation guidance for NIST and ISO engagements.
Engaging certified and experienced experts expedites compliance preparation and maintenance and generates a strong return on investment as you’re free to focus on what matters most: priority initiatives and growth in a competitive field.
Reach out today to start the discussion and get a quote.
ISO & NIST Solution Overview
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