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Create a cybersecurity plan according to the NIST framework

Cyberattacks are a growing problem for business owners of all sizes. It is particularly difficult for SMEs to protect themselves against this.

It is important to create a cybersecurity plan as it will protect your business from cyber-attacks and data breaches. It ensures that important information and systems are secured and prevents confidential information from falling into the wrong hands. In addition, a cybersecurity plan strengthens the confidence of customers and employees in your company and contributes to the continuity of your business activities.

Without a good cybersecurity plan, you run the risk of financial and reputational damage. In short, a cybersecurity plan is crucial for protecting your company and achieving your objectives.

The NIST framework provides guidelines that SMEs can follow to improve their cybersecurity. In this article, we discuss how SMEs can prepare for a cyber attack according to the NIST framework.

Be prepared with a cybersecurity plan

A cybersecurity plan describes how an organization protects its IT systems and data against cyber attacks. It contains procedures and guidelines that help analyze risks, and prevent, detect and respond to cyber incidents. A cybersecurity plan should include:

  • Identification of critical systems and data, and the risks they face
  • Procedures for implementing and monitoring technical security measures, such as firewalls, anti-virus software and encryption
  • Guidelines for managing passwords and restricting access to systems and data
  • Procedures for detecting breaches and responding to incidents, such as calling up an incident response team
  • Guidelines for training staff on cybersecurity and social engineering
  • Procedures for regularly testing and evaluating the effectiveness of the cybersecurity plan.

It is important that a cybersecurity plan is adapted to the specific risks and requirements of an organization and is regularly reviewed and updated to keep up with changing threats and technologies.

There are several frameworks available for developing a cybersecurity plan, depending on an organization’s size, industry, and specific requirements. One of the most commonly used frameworks is the NIST framework.

This framework was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The NIST CSF is a framework that helps organizations identify, manage, and mitigate cybersecurity risks.

Why should you, as a company, draw up a cyber security plan?

There are several reasons why an organization should prepare a cybersecurity plan:

  • Protection of critical data: A cyber-attack can lead to the loss or theft of sensitive information, such as customer data, financial information and trade secrets. A good cybersecurity plan helps protect this data and can reduce the impact of a breach.
  • Prevent financial damage: A cyber attack can lead to direct costs, such as costs for restoring systems and data, and indirect costs, such as loss of revenue and reputational damage. A cybersecurity plan can help limit these costs.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Many countries and industries have information security laws and regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A cybersecurity plan can help organizations meet these requirements.
  • Property protection: Cybercriminals can gain access to corporate networks to steal information or interrupt business processes. A cybersecurity plan can help protect the organization’s property.
  • Strengthening the continuity of business operations: A cyber attack can lead to the interruption of business processes, jeopardizing the continuity of business operations. A cybersecurity plan can help mitigate the impact of a cyber attack and restore business processes quickly.
  • Strengthen reputation: Companies that have a cybersecurity plan and that protect their customer data well are often seen as more trustworthy by their customers. This can contribute to a more positive reputation.

The NIST framework

The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) framework is a set of guidelines that companies can use to prepare for cyber attacks. The framework consists of five steps: identity, protect, detect, respond and recover. Below we discuss how a small business owner can prepare for a cyber attack following these steps.

  • Identify: This is the first step in the NIST framework and involves identifying key assets, such as critical business processes, personal data, and other valuable information. This allows you to determine which assets are most vulnerable to a cyber attack and prioritize them for further steps.
  • Protect: After identifying your assets, you can take steps to protect them. This can be done, for example, by using cybersecurity software, restricting access to certain data or systems and implementing a strong password policy. A good way to protect is also through a backup system so that if something happens, nothing is lost.
  • Detect: It is important to detect if a cyber attack is taking place. This allows you to react quickly and limit the damage. This can be done, for example, by installing suspicious activity detection software such as Guardey.
  • Respond: When a cyber-attack occurs, it’s important to respond quickly. This can be done, for example, by isolating infected systems, blocking suspicious traffic or contacting an incident response team. It is also important to identify and analyze the cause of the attack so that you can prevent it in the future.
  • Recover: After a cyber-attack, it is important to recover assets and resume normal operations. This can be done, for example, by restoring data from backups, updating software or restoring normal access to systems.

The NIST framework provides a step-by-step plan to prepare SMEs for a cyber attack. By identifying, protecting, detecting, responding quickly and recovering the most important assets, you can limit the impact of a cyber attack and quickly resume normal activities. It is important to regularly check whether the measures are still effective and to adjust them where necessary. It is also advisable to have an incident response plan so that you can act quickly if something happens.

A good cybersecurity plan is not only important to limit damage to your company. The NIS2 guideline will come into force in 2024. This directive sets new requirements for companies when it comes to tightening cyber security. A cybersecurity plan according to the NIST framework is a good step in complying with these requirements. Would you like to learn more about the NIS2 guideline? Then read our article “The NIS2 guideline is coming. But what is that?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Guardey in short?

You just want to know what Guardey is, in a few lines, not scrolling through the whole website. We got you covered. Here you are:

Guardey focuses on three parts of your cyber security:

A safe and encrypted VPN connection via Guardey’s secure infrastructure or a Site-to-Site VPN.

We analyze information packages from the data going through the VPN tunnel, give clear insights into your data infrastructure, and provide alerts in case of threats like ransomware, viruses, and irregularities in your network.

Your cyber security is as strong as your weakest link. With Guardey, you can educate your whole team and increase awareness in a fun and efficient way through gamification.

It’s an advanced software as a service with applications for Windows and Mac OSX and an online platform for reporting and managing your teams and company policies.

How does the free trial works?

Your free 14-day trial with Guardey is based on our Basic plan. In our basic plan, all the alarms will only be available for yourself or your own company, and you manage the alarms in-house. We don’t need any payment information to start your trial, and you can invite as many users as you want.

The majority of SMEs don’t have an in-house IT department or a team of cyber security specialists. Therefore we also offer Guardey co-managed and Guardey custom. In both plans, you are able to connect Guardey to a preferred Guardy IT partner or, of course, your own IT partner.

They can semi or fully manage the alarms and the health of your infrastructure so that you can focus on your business.

After your 14 days of the free trial, you can decide if you want to continue with a paid plan. Upgrading during your trial period means you stop your trial and upgrade to a paid plan. You need a verified payment method to upgrade.

How can I pay after the trial period?

We don’t ask for any payment information to start your trial.

If you want to upgrade during or after your free trial to a paid plan, you can use one of the below payment methods:

  1. Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro, PostePay, Cartes Bancaires)
  2. PayPal
  3. Direct Debit (iDeal SEPA)
Can I up- or downgrade to a different plan?

Yes you can! You can always upgrade immediately and costs are calculated pro-rata on your next invoice. A downgrade will be effective from your next payment period.

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Anouk ter Harmsel

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