Tue | Mar 5, 2024 | 4:19 AM PST

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released version 2.0 of its landmark Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), a comprehensive update aimed at helping organizations better manage and reduce cybersecurity risks across all sectors and sizes.

Since its initial release in 2014, the NIST CSF has become one of the most widely adopted cybersecurity frameworks globally. Version 2.0 builds on that success with several notable enhancements based on years of inputs and learnings from industry practitioners.

"The CSF has been a vital tool for many organizations, helping them anticipate and deal with cybersecurity threats," said NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio. "CSF 2.0 is not just about one document. It is about a suite of resources that can be customized and used individually or in combination as an organization's needs change."

Key updates in CSF 2.0

One of the headline additions is the new "Govern" function, which provides guidance on incorporating cybersecurity into an organization's broader governance and enterprise risk management strategy. As Richard Aviles, Senior Solution Architect at DoControl, explained: "The addition of Govern addresses a big piece that was previously missing. This function connects both the business/organizational aspect to cybersecurity, for relevance and prioritization."

Claude Mandy, Chief Evangelist of Data Security at Symmetry Systems, echoed this view: "The explicit inclusion of governance as a function elevates the importance of it. Mature and defensible security is only possible with clear governance to make decisions on what is required."

Another focal area in version 2.0 is supply chain risk management. The framework now includes comprehensive guidance under the Govern function for establishing processes to identify, assess, and mitigate risks stemming from suppliers and third-party relationships.

"The guidance related to supply chain appears well thought out and comprehensive," noted Aviles. This aligns with NIST's objectives of supporting the National Cybersecurity Strategy emphasis on securing supply chains.

[RELATED: NIST Framework Version 2.0 a Smart Evolution from 1.1]

Broadening relevance with resources

While previous CSF versions concentrated primarily on critical infrastructure sectors, version 2.0 expands the scope to be applicable across all industry verticals, organization sizes, and levels of cybersecurity maturity.

To facilitate broader adoption, NIST has developed an accompanying suite of implementation resources, such as quick start guides tailored to different audiences, examples illustrating ways to achieve desired outcomes, and a reference tool to navigate the framework.

"NIST includes identity management as a first-class citizen within CSF 2.0," said Jason Soroko, Senior VP of Product at Sectigo. "It is worth studying the rich resources available by NIST to help navigate to the most useful and relevant parts of the guidance."

Cementing a foundational role

Experts reinforced that CSF 2.0 cements the framework's position as a foundational cybersecurity roadmap that enables the implementation of more granular standards and risk reduction over time.

"The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is considered the grandfather of frameworks defining what must exist in a cybersecurity program," stated Ken Dunham, Cyber Threat Director at Qualys. "CSF is, and will continue to be, a strong foundation upon which any solid cybersecurity program may be built towards NIST 800-53 and other frameworks."

As organizations grapple with an intensifying cyber risk landscape, NIST's latest guidance arrives as a timely upgrade to a framework that has become deeply entrenched across public and private sectors. The challenge will be ensuring effective adoption of CSF 2.0's new concepts and implementation resources to truly elevate risk management capabilities.

[RELATED: How the NIST Cybersecurity Framework Maps to Cyber Attacks]

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