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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?

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