The Ultimate Guide To NIST Cybersecurity Framework Training & Certifications

If you are looking to get into the cybersecurity field, or you are already working in cybersecurity and want to further your career, then getting certified in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a great idea.

In this blog post, we will discuss what the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is, why it is important, and how you can go about getting certified.

What Is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework Anyway?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework is a set of guidelines and best practices for managing cybersecurity risks.

The CSF was designed to be a voluntary, flexible tool that businesses could use to improve the cybersecurity posture within their organization. The framework consists of three parts: the Core, the Tiers, and the Profiles.

The Core is a set of five high-level functions that are essential for managing cybersecurity risks by providing a common language and common approaches for addressing those risks based on five functions:

  • Identify: Understanding an organization’s assets, vulnerabilities, and threats.
  • Protect: Placing safeguards to protect the organization’s assets.
  • Detect: Detecting when a cyber event has occurred.
  • Respond: Having a plan in place for how to respond to a cyber event.
  • Recover: Planning for recovery from a cyber event.

The Tiers provide guidance on how organizations can implement the Core functions in a way that is appropriate for their size, capability, and risk appetite.

The Profiles are snapshots of an organization’s current state of cybersecurity and can be used to track progress over time.

Originally released in 2014, the framework has been updated several times, most recently in 2020. The framework is voluntary, but many organizations choose to adopt it because it provides a comprehensive and well-tested approach to managing cybersecurity risks. In addition, the framework is flexible, allowing organizations to tailor it to their own specific needs.

Although the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is not required by law, it is increasingly seen as an essential tool for managing cybersecurity risks effectively.

NIST Framework Training & Certifications

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers a variety of training and certification programs related to cybersecurity. These programs are designed to help individuals and organizations enhance cybersecurity posture and better defend against cyber threats.

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a key part of many of these programs, as it provides a comprehensive set of guidelines for managing cybersecurity risks.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to cybersecurity, the framework can be customized to fit the needs of any organization. Getting training and/or certification from NIST can help you learn how to put the framework into practice and effectively manage your organization’s cybersecurity risks.

How Does NIST Framework Training & Certification Work?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a federal agency that promotes innovation and industrial competitiveness. One way it does this is by providing training and certification for businesses in the use of its Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.

NIST also offers a range of other resources, including guidance documents and case studies, to help organizations implement the framework successfully.

To become certified, businesses must first complete a training course on the Framework. After passing an exam, they can then apply for certification.

Once certified, businesses can use the NIST logo to demonstrate their commitment to cybersecurity best practices.

The NIST Framework has helped many organizations improve their cybersecurity posture, and the training and certification program provides an additional level of assurance for businesses and consumers alike.

Example 1: Intel

In order to communicate cybersecurity risks throughout the organization in a pilot project, Intel created a training program for all of its employees.

The project had three objectives: to increase awareness of cybersecurity risks, to help employees understand their roles in managing those risks, and to improve communication about cybersecurity risks across the company.

Since the Framework is both voluntary and flexible, the organization was able to tailor the program to its own specific requirements. They began with a four-step process for incorporating the Framework into their business.

Intel began by setting category-level target scores, then looked at their pilot department in key functional departments such as Policy, Network, and Data Protection in each category. These scores were used to build a comprehensive scorecard that compared target scores and highlighted outliers.

By using the Framework and scorecard to prioritize key issues and track their progress, Intel was able to improve its cybersecurity posture and better protect its critical infrastructure.

Example 2: The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago’s Biological Sciences Division (BSD) was one of the first academic institutions to adopt the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

BSD saw the value in using the framework as a way to ensure that its cybersecurity program met both regulatory requirements and best practices across several departments.

They began by examining the existing security posture in each of their departments. This included determining corporate goals and legal obligations, as well as reviewing current policies and procedures.

After documenting this information, they conducted a risk assessment to identify any gaps in their security posture. They then created a roadmap for implementing the Framework, which included milestones and timelines for each department.

BSD has been able to use the framework to improve communication and collaboration among its various departments, as well as to create a more comprehensive approach to cybersecurity for continuous improvement.

Example 3: International Applications

At the international level, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework has been adopted by several countries, including Switzerland, Bermuda, and Japan.

Switzerland was one of the first countries to adopt the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. The Swiss Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) worked with NIST to adapt the framework to the Swiss context.

The result was a set of guidelines that were specifically tailored to the needs of Swiss businesses and organizations. And by training individuals on the use of the Framework, BSI ensured that businesses would be able to implement it effectively.

Example 4: Small to Medium-Sized Businesses

The CSF was originally designed for large businesses, but it has also shown to be useful for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMBs). SMBs have far fewer resources than enterprise companies, making it difficult for them to invest in the cybersecurity they need.

However, the CSF can help SMBs prioritize their efforts and make the most of their limited resources. For example, by training employees in cybersecurity best practices, the organization as a whole is much better equipped to defend against attacks in an organized and strategic way.

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical example:

Your organization has just been hit by a ransomware attack. You’re scrambling to figure out what to do, and you’re not sure where to start. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework can help you in this situation.

The first step is to identify the assets that have been affected by the attack. Once you’ve done that, you need to assess the impact of the attack on those assets. This will help you determine what needs to be done in order to recover from the attack.

The next step is to create a plan of action. This plan should include steps for mitigating the damage caused by the attack, as well as steps for preventing future attacks. Finally, you need to implement the plan and monitor its effectiveness.

By following the steps outlined in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, you can be sure that you’re taking the necessary steps to recover from a ransomware attack.

How to Get Started With NIST Cybersecurity Framework Training & Certifications

If you are interested in getting started with NIST Cybersecurity Framework training and certifications, there are a few things you need to do.

Step 1: Get a Copy of the Framework and Educate Yourself

The first step is to obtain a copy of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. The current version can be found on the National Institute of Standards and Technology website as well as online learning modules and a simplified version for those who are new to the Framework.

If you want to achieve success working with the Framework, it is important that you also educate yourself about what it contains. This means taking the time to read through the document and understand the various components of the framework.

NIST offers several resources to help organizations learn about the framework, including an online training course, webinars, clickable resources, and downloadable PDFs. The training course covers the basics of the framework and provides an overview of how to use it in your organization.

The webinars offer more specific information on topics such as integrating the framework into your existing security program, using it to assess risk, and finding tools and resources to support implementation.

The PDFs and online clickable resources provide even more detailed guidance on topics such as conducting a self-assessment, developing a tailored implementation plan, and documenting your progress. By taking advantage of these learning resources, you can develop a better understanding of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and how it can benefit your organization.

Step 2: Find an Online Certification and Training Course

Once you have educated yourself on the basics of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, you can begin to look for online certification and training courses. These courses will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the framework in your organization.

There are a variety of online certification and training programs available, so it is important to choose one that is right for you and your organization. When selecting a course, be sure to consider the following factors:

  • The length of the course
  • The cost of the course (if any)
  • The format of the course (e.g., self-paced, instructor-led, etc.)
  • The delivery method of the course (e.g., online, classroom, etc.)
  • The level of detail covered in the course
  • The experience of the instructors

Once you have considered these factors, you can begin to narrow down your options and select a course that meets your needs.

Step 3: Gain Experience Working With the Framework

The best way to learn how to use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is to gain experience working with it. Training courses and certification programs provide you with the opportunity to learn about the framework in a controlled environment, and to get feedback from instructors and other students. However, working on projects within your organization allows you to put the framework into practice in a real-world setting.

If you are actively looking for a job, you can use your Framework certification to demonstrate your commitment to cybersecurity and your ability to work with the framework. Many employers are looking for candidates who have experience working with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, so having this certification can give you a competitive edge.

If you are working within or managing an organization, you can use your training with the framework to help improve your organization’s cybersecurity posture. By understanding how the framework can be used to assess risk and identify opportunities for improvement, you can make a positive impact on your organization’s security program while gaining relevant experience using it.

Step 4: Stay Up to Date on Cybersecurity News and Trends

The cybersecurity landscape is constantly changing, and new threats are emerging all the time. In order to keep up with the latest news and trends, it is important to stay up to date on cybersecurity news and information. There are a number of ways to do this, including:

  • Reading articles from reputable sources
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Attending webinars and conferences
  • Taking online courses
  • Engaging in online discussion forums

You can also check out the NIST website for updates on the Cybersecurity Framework, as well as other resources that can help you stay informed about cybersecurity news and trends.

Final Thoughts on NIST Cybersecurity Framework Training & Certification

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides a structure for organizations to manage and reduce cyber risks. While the framework is designed to be flexible and adaptable, it can be challenging to know where to start.

Online certification and training programs can provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the framework in your organization. And once you have gained some experience working with the framework, you can use it to improve your organization’s cybersecurity posture and stay up to date on the latest news and trends.

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Bryan Wise
Bryan Wise,
Former VP of IT at GitLab

Incredible companies use Nira