How to Address Cybersecurity Challenges Using the NIST Framework

People are doing a lot of prognosticating about what will happen in 2020, but one thing is certain: Cyberattacks will get worse.

Cybersecurity using NIST framework

For small businesses, this is cause for alarm. Lacking the time, IT expertise, and deep pockets of major companies, the small businesses that make up the foundation of the economy are sitting ducks — especially considering that 43% of all cyberattacks target small businesses specifically.

In order to help small and midsize businesses get ahead of this issue, Congress passed the Small Business Cybersecurity Act in 2018. In essence, the act required the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to make small business cybersecurity a bigger priority, offering free and accessible resources appropriate for companies of all sizes.

The act resulted in the Small Business Cybersecurity Corner website. Launched in 2019, it provides a centralized source of everything from information about dangerous cyberattacks to employee training tips. By all accounts, the NIST has met its mandate by making cybersecurity less confusing and risky for the businesses that suffer the most. Now it’s up to those small businesses to take that advice and run with it.

Why the NIST Framework Matters

The NIST framework is hardly the only place small businesses can turn for help defending themselves. In fact, the internet is full of resources, paid and free, that address this specific issue. So what makes the work the NIST has done so valuable?

First and foremost, it collects the most important information in one place. Because they lack extensive IT teams or in-house security experts, small businesses tend to have a lot of questions about cybersecurity. The website created by the NIST offers a one-stop shop for answers.

Being a government agency, the resources from the NIST are also free and unbiased. Plentiful as cybersecurity assistance may be, much of it comes at a high price or has dubious value. The NIST framework costs nothing to utilize and provides tips and tools that are proven to work.

Finally, all the resources are tailored to small businesses specifically. Much of the information online speaks to either individuals or imaginary enterprises, whereas everything from the NIST speaks directly to small businesses. That makes the advice especially easy to understand and implement.

Without a doubt, the NIST offers one of the most helpful cybersecurity resources available anywhere. Any small businesses feeling anxious about cybersecurity should rely on it substantially.

Embracing the Framework in 2020

Helpful as the NIST guidance may be, it still takes a careful effort for small businesses to boost their cybersecurity. That’s because it’s easy to take the path of least resistance, using whatever tool or workflow is most efficient instead of what’s most secure.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help small businesses institute the framework as easily and effectively as possible:

1. Work in the Cloud

Everything the NIST framework recommends is simpler to perform when working out of the cloud. Compared to on-premises software, the cloud offers the flexibility, scalability, and professional management small businesses need from IT, especially in terms of security. Anyone not currently operating out of the cloud should seriously consider migrating.

2. Stay Focused on Risk

Cyber threats are always evolving. Small businesses can stay ahead of these threats by tracking their evolution while also being conscious of the weaknesses within their own organization. The goal is to identify the most urgent threats at any given time.

3. Optimize Your Talent

Employees can either be a small business’s biggest cyber weaknesses or the foundation of their security strategy. Training employees how to spot and identify threats is a key part of the NIST framework. The framework also recommends working with a security expert, whether someone in-house or through a managed service provider.

4. Don’t Lose Focus

Small businesses need to take cybersecurity seriously, but they can’t let it consume their focus. It’s a problem that must be managed, but it can’t become a distraction, otherwise cyberattacks are the least of an entrepreneur’s worries. The goal should be to follow the NIST framework as faithfully as possible while using the fewest internal resources necessary.

No small business can afford to ignore cybersecurity moving forward. The size of the threat has never been bigger. Fortunately, the strength of the defense has never been greater because with the NIST framework in your arsenal, hackers lose the advantage.

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