Understanding the NIST’s Five Cybersecurity Functions for Incident Response Plan

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Over the years, cyberattacks have evolved manifold, with sophisticated cyber threats emerging every other day. Whether you are a small business or a multinational corporation, you are a target of cybercriminals. However, some of the most vulnerable companies prone to cybercrimes are in the financial sector. Since financial companies handle and process valuable financial data like credit card details, account data, customer details, and financial transactions, cybercriminals are always looking for ways to infiltrate their data systems. Thus, having an incident response plan or IRP is a must for financial companies. Besides finance firms, the CMMC security requirement mandates that DoD contractors have an IRP to be compliant. An effective Incident Response Plan allows businesses to alleviate risks pertaining to cyber attacks and cyber threats. And only an experienced MSP company can help you devise a well-structured Incident Response Plan.

In this blog, we have discussed the process of designing and deploying an IRP for financial organizations. 

NIST’s Five Cybersecurity Functions: A Framework for Your IRP

The National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework offers a common structure for companies to combat cyber threats and data security risks. The framework also guides companies on how to improve their cybersecurity stance. 

The NIST framework has five core functions – Identify, Protect, Detect, Response, and Recover. Each function has a set of activities that financial firms must perform to safeguard their data systems. 

1. Identify

When preparing an effective Incident Response plan, the initial step involves identifying your assets and resources and where they are stored. Identifying the assets helps in determining what data needs protection and which cybersecurity control measures need to be implemented. With a good understanding of your data systems and protection needs, you can proactively prevent cyber-attacks and data breach incidents from occurring. 

2. Protect

The Protect function of the NIST framework involves implementing control measures to secure data and assets from unauthorized access. Protect controls can be both physical and logical. Physical protection may include door locks, and CCTV surveillance cameras, while logical barriers may include firewalls and encryption. When choosing a control measure, one should ascertain the level of risk their data is exposed to and needs protection against.  

3. Detect

After identifying the assets and data at risk and choosing the controls, the next step involves detecting the threats. Organizations can detect the threat by monitoring their systems and tracking down any suspicious activities within the data system. another approach to detecting threats involves identifying any weaknesses in your data security system. Besides this, organizations should have a set procedure to investigate security breach incidents and determine whether they are an actual threat to the data or just a false alarm.

4. Respond

The Respond function is crucial in Incident Response Plan. Organizations should have the plan to respond to any data breach. The response plan should define how you will contain the breach, mitigate the threat, and recover the lost data. For this stage, you should also prepare a communication plan to inform all the external and internal stakeholders of the data breach incident and what steps you are taking to tackle it. 

5. Recover

The last function of NIST and CMMC regulation is Recover. The final stage requires organizations to form a plan of action as to how quickly they can return to normal operations. This involves restoring data, deploying new security measures, and creating new cybersecurity processes to prevent data breaches in the future.

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