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Mastering NIST compliance with Vulcan Cyber

Learn how the comprehensive features of the Vulcan Cyber risk-based vulnerability management platform can help organizations stay in compliance with NIST requirements

Introduction


The
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been at the forefront of establishing comprehensive guidelines for cyber security practices. One of its seminal contributions is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, documented in Special Publication 800-53 (SP 800-53)

The NIST CSF is flexible and customizable, allowing it to be applied across various industries and organizational sizes. It provides a structured approach that helps businesses assess and improve their cyber security posture, making it an indispensable tool in the modern cyber security arsenal. Vulcan Cyber® recognizes the critical importance of aligning security efforts with established frameworks like NIST. 

This solution brief details the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (SP 800-53) and how the features and capabilities of Vulcan Cyber specifically align with and enhance NIST compliance efforts.

 

Understanding the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (SP 800-53)

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (SP 800-53) is a foundational document developed by NIST to guide organizations in managing and mitigating cyber security risks. While it is an incredibly valuable resource, its technical jargon and comprehensive nature can be overwhelming for many. This section aims to break down the complexities of the NIST framework, making it more accessible for readers.

5 functions of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework

The document consists of five core functions, each representing a different aspect of a comprehensive cyber security program:

1. Identify

This function involves the comprehension, classification, and supervision of cyber security threats targeting systems, individuals, assets, data, and capabilities. It includes asset management, business environment analysis, governance, risk assessment, and risk management strategy development.

2. Protect

This function is dedicated to putting in place defenses that guarantee the uninterrupted delivery of critical infrastructure services. This includes deploying measures to restrict or mitigate the impact of potential cyber security incidents. This encompasses activities like enforcing access controls, providing education and training, ensuring data security, implementing processes and procedures for information protection, conducting maintenance, and employing protective technology.

3. Detect

This function revolves around creating and executing processes to recognize the onset of a cyber security incident. It involves ongoing monitoring, identification of anomalies and events, continuous security surveillance, and detection procedures.

4. Respond

The Respond function outlines an organization’s actions once a cyber security event has been identified. This includes incident response planning, communication, analysis, mitigation, and improving response capabilities.

5. Recover

The Recover function restores any compromised capabilities or services resulting from a cyber security incident. It includes activities like recovery planning, improvements, and communications.

 

Core Principles of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework

NIST SP 800-53 encompasses over 1,000 controls organized into 20 distinct control categories, referred to as “families.” Here are 5 of the control categories out of the 20 mentioned in SP 800-53:

  • Access control: This principle limits system and data access only to authorized individuals or systems. It encompasses user authentication, role-based access controls, and encryption protocols.
  • Configuration management: This includes establishing and maintaining a secure baseline for hardware and software configurations. It ensures that systems are properly configured to minimize vulnerabilities.
  • Incident response: This says you need a clear plan to find, handle, and recover from cyber attacks. It includes processes for reporting incidents, investigating them, and implementing corrective actions.
  • Continuous monitoring: Continuous monitoring involves real-time tracking of security controls and activities to promptly identify and respond to potential threats or vulnerabilities.
  • Risk assessment: Organizations must regularly analyze cyber security risks to understand their potential impact and likelihood. This principle helps in prioritizing security efforts and allocating resources effectively.

 

Why NIST matters

 

Adhering to established standards is crucial, and NIST has emerged as a global authority in this domain. This section will elucidate the significance of adhering to NIST standards, emphasizing its substantial benefits in enhancing cyber security and safeguarding sensitive information.

1. Rigorous standards for cyber security

NIST standards provide a robust and comprehensive framework that addresses various cyber security challenges. Developed by experts in the field, these standards are continuously updated and refined to adapt to the evolving threat landscape.

2. Risk reduction and mitigation

Organizations can systematically identify, assess, and mitigate cyber security risks by adhering to NIST standards. A proactive approach like this can decrease the likelihood and impact of potential cyber security incidents, thereby safeguarding critical assets and data.

3. Protection of sensitive information

The lifeblood of many organizations is sensitive information, such as customer data. NIST compliance means that strong security measures are put in place to keep this information safe from people who don’t have permission or if someone takes it without permission.

4. Legal and regulatory compliance

Numerous industries are subject to strict guidelines from the authorities regarding cyber security. NIST standards serve as a comprehensive framework that often aligns with, and in some cases exceeds these industry-specific regulations. Additionally, compliance with NIST standards is mandatory for organizations working with the U.S. federal government or affiliated entities. It’s worth noting that adherence to FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) may also be necessary in certain cases.

Tips for navigating NIST requirements

 

Effectively navigating and meeting the requirements set forth by the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is essential for maintaining a robust cyber security posture. This section provides practical advice and strategies to help organizations succeed in compliance.

1. Identifying gaps

Before implementing NIST requirements, conducting a thorough risk assessment and gap analysis is crucial. This process involves:

  • Risk assessment: Check for weaknesses, threats, and how they might affect important things to decide which security measures to focus on.
  • Gap analysis: Compare the current state of cyber security measures against NIST requirements. Identify areas where existing controls may be insufficient or absent.

 

2. The power of asset inventory

The power of asset inventory lies in its ability to comprehensively understand and manage the various components that make up an organization’s digital infrastructure.

  • Asset discovery: Identify and catalog all organization hardware, software, and data assets. This includes servers, endpoints, applications, and sensitive information.
  • Categorization and prioritization: This enables focused protection efforts on the most valuable resources.

 

3. Decoding security coverage gaps

Identifying gaps in security coverage is essential for a robust cyber security program. This involves:

  • Vulnerability scanning and assessment: Scan systems and applications regularly to assess vulnerability. Prioritize patching or mitigation efforts based on severity and exploitability.
  • Patch management: Develop a systematic approach for promptly applying security patches and updates. This is critical in addressing known vulnerabilities.
  • Vulnerability remediation: Establish processes for efficiently addressing identified vulnerabilities, including testing patches before deployment.

 

4. Tracking risk levels

Continuous monitoring of risk levels is essential to adapting to the evolving threat landscape. This involves:

  • Real-time risk monitoring: Implement tools and processes for continuously monitoring security controls, network traffic, and system logs.
  • Threat intelligence integration: Stay informed about emerging threats and attack vectors. Leverage threat intelligence feeds to defend against evolving risks proactively.
  • Trend analysis and reporting: Analyze historical data to identify patterns and trends in cyber incidents. Use this information to refine security strategies and incident response plans.

 

Vulcan Cyber: Your compliance wingman 

 

Vulcan Cyber is a crucial ally in the journey towards NIST compliance, offering a range of features and capabilities that align seamlessly with the requirements of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (SP 800-53). Let’s explore how the Vulcan Cyber offerings enhance NIST compliance efforts:

CM-8: System component inventory

Vulcan plays a crucial role in maintaining an up-to-date inventory of all hosts, applications, and cloud resources. By integrating various security and IT tools, organizations can effectively keep track of their digital assets.

RA-3(1): Supply chain risk assessment

Vulcan takes a proactive approach to managing vulnerabilities in applications, thereby reducing the risk associated with the supply chain. It assesses supply-chain risks for organization-defined systems, system components, and system services, and ensures that the supply chain risk assessment is updated at organization-defined frequencies or when significant changes occur.

RA-3(3): Dynamic threat awareness

Using Vulcan threat intelligence capabilities, organizations can continuously monitor the cyber threat environment. This involves correlating the latest threats with existing vulnerabilities to prioritize high-risk vulnerabilities that are actively exploited in the wild or part of ongoing campaigns or malware.

RA-3(4): Predictive cyber analytics

Using advanced automation and analytics capabilities. Vulcan predicts and detects risks to organization-defined systems or system components. By leveraging risk scoring, organizations can prioritize remediation efforts toward vulnerabilities with the highest potential for exploitation and significant business impact. Additionally, with EPSS and MITRE ATT&CK mapping, organizations can focus their remediation efforts where they are most needed.

SA-11(2): Threat modeling and vulnerability analyses

Developers are required to perform threat modeling and vulnerability analyses during the development process. This ensures that potential risks and vulnerabilities are identified and addressed early in the system’s lifecycle.

RA-5(2): Update vulnerabilities to be scanned

Vulcan plays a crucial role in tracking new vulnerabilities and ensuring that vulnerability scans are up to date. It alerts organizations about zero-day vulnerabilities and ensures that scans are conducted based on organization-defined frequencies, prior to a new scan or when new vulnerabilities are identified and reported.

RA-5(3): Breadth and depth of coverage

Vulcan aids in tracking scanning coverage by correlating multiple asset sources, reporting, identifying unscanned assets, and monitoring scan coverage over time. This ensures a comprehensive and thorough assessment of vulnerabilities.

RA-5(6): Automated trend analyses

Vulcan analytics capabilities facilitate the comparison of results from multiple vulnerability scans using organization-defined automated mechanisms. It provides real-time automated trends, allowing organizations to pinpoint the root causes of vulnerabilities, such as operating systems, CWE, and applications.

RA-5(8): Review historic audit logs

Vulcan maintains a comprehensive historical audit log for all vulnerability detection and remediation activities, as well as risk exceptions and approval processes. This allows organizations to review audit logs to establish whether a vulnerability detected in an organization-defined system has already been exploited within an organization-defined time period.

CA-7(4): Risk monitoring

Vulcan provides continuous risk monitoring through its Security Posture Rating (SPR) and risk metrics, allowing organizations to track risk in real time and over time. This integral part of the continuous monitoring strategy encompasses effectiveness monitoring, compliance monitoring, and change monitoring.

 

 

SA-15(7): Automated vulnerability analysis

Vulcan automates the vulnerability analysis process, leveraging various tools and threat intelligence to assess exploitability potential, environmental impact, and potential risk mitigations for discovered vulnerabilities. It then delivers the outputs and results of the analysis to organization-defined employees or roles. Vulcan also orchestrates the remediation process by assigning tasks to remediation owners with all the relevant information.

CA-8: Penetration testing

Vulcan manages penetration testing results to provide organizations with an accurate assessment of risks and corresponding remediation efforts. This ensures that penetration testing is conducted at organization-defined frequencies, helping to maintain a strong security posture. 

Correlating scanning Results

Comprehensive vulnerability management

NIST emphasizes the importance of comprehensive vulnerability management. Vulcan Cyber excels in this aspect by consolidating, deduplicating, and correlating vulnerability data from various sources, including applications, cloud environments, and traditional infrastructure. This centralized approach ensures that no vulnerabilities go unnoticed, aligning with NIST’s objective of continuous monitoring.

Prioritizing vulnerabilities based on actual risk

Vulcan Cyber goes beyond conventional severity-based prioritization. It factors in actual business risk, providing organizations with a more accurate assessment of which vulnerabilities should be addressed first. This aligns perfectly with NIST’s principle of risk assessment and management.

Orchestrating and automating mitigation processes

Automation is a cornerstone of effective cyber security and plays a crucial role in NIST compliance. Vulcan Cyber enables organizations to orchestrate and automate the mitigation process, ensuring that identified vulnerabilities are addressed promptly and consistently.

 

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The Vulcan Cyber Attack Path Graph (APG)

 

Visualizing vulnerability prioritization

One of the key aspects of NIST compliance is effectively prioritizing vulnerabilities. The Vulcan Cyber Attack Path Graph visually represents potential attack paths, allowing organizations to focus on the most critical vulnerabilities first. This feature helps organizations find and fix vulnerabilities that pose the biggest threat to their critical assets.

Streamlining remediation efforts

The Attack Path Graph also streamlines the remediation process by offering clear insights into attackers’ steps to exploit vulnerabilities. This empowers organizations to implement targeted and effective mitigation measures, aligning with NIST’s incident response and recovery objectives.

 

Empowering your NIST compliance journey with Vulcan Cyber

 

Vulcan Cyber offers a comprehensive cyber risk management platform that connects seamlessly with your existing security tools. By centralizing vulnerability and risk management, Vulcan Cyber empowers organizations to consolidate their efforts and make more informed decisions about addressing vulnerabilities.

In today’s dynamic threat landscape, aligning with established frameworks like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is essential. The advanced features and capabilities of Vulcan Cyber align with NIST requirements and enhance the compliance process. By leveraging the Attack Path Graph and correlating scanning results, organizations can prioritize vulnerabilities effectively and streamline their remediation efforts, ultimately strengthening their cyber security posture and achieving NIST compliance with confidence.

Start owning your risk

 

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Vulcan Cyber Benefits

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About Mandiant

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Challenge

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Solution

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Results

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