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Protecting The Cloud: How NIST 800-53 Risk Assessment Ensures Compliance, Business Growth, and Security for The Technology Sector

Posted September 17, 2020

It’s no secret that more businesses are increasingly shifting to XaaS services, also known as cloud computing, for tools and services delivered over the internet. Unfortunately, while the shift is excellent for fulfilling cost-effectiveness and storage needs, it comes with significant risk. All businesses, especially those in the tech world, are susceptible to cyberattacks.

For many businesses, finding solutions for preventing and mitigating risks is the only way to ensure progress. It’s imperative to find strategies that keep your information security systems safe from attacks, compliant with relevant regulations, and attractive to current and potential clients.

Fortunately, the NIST Framework exists for this purpose. It provides guidelines that organizations can follow to avoid cybersecurity mistakes that may damage a company by violating cybersecurity regulations, penalties, lawsuits, reputation damage, and business loss.

The NIST SP 800-53 Risk Assessment, in particular, addresses the need for evaluation and a risk mitigation plan for information security systems. It ensures that you protect your systems through operative, technical and managerial precautions. By following the guidelines, you can ensure your information systems’ safety, integrity, and confidentiality.

Topics we’ll be covering in today’s post:

  • The NIST SP 800-53 Risk Assessment- definition, controls, and guidelines
  • How the NIST SP 800-53 Risk Assessment helps technology companies protect their information security systems
  • Best practices for NIST SP 800-53

Let’s dive in and see how GreyCastle Security can help.

Introduction to the NIST Cybersecurity Framework

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) sought to create a standard for operations in the cybersecurity field in the United States and help governments and private organizations cope with threats in the cyber world. The NIST Framework provides guiding principles and best practices businesses in the tech space can follow to prevent, detect, and respond to cybersecurity threats.

NIST compliance also helps you remain compliant with other regulations such as:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA
  • Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement, DFARS
  • Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, GLBA
  • New York State Department of Financial Services, NYS DFS
  • Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, CMMC

What Is A NIST Risk Assessment?

If you’re a tech business working in cloud computing’s fundamental components, namely SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, assessing and mitigating your cybersecurity risks is essential for business operations.

Why? Working primarily on the cloud and providing services that require off-site servers make you an ideal target for cybercriminals. Without a reliable risk assessment and management plan, you set yourself up for potential business loss, license losses, penalties, and lawsuits from frustrated clients that may also lose business.

NIST Risk Assessment ensures compliance with regulations that govern cybersecurity in government agencies, health care providers, insurance companies, financial institutions, and businesses in the education industry, among others. With the relevant compliance, you assure clients of your information security, enabling them to select you for business. It improves your reputation and helps you pass the standard criteria for selecting partners and vendors. What’s more, compliance proves that you’ve done your part to provide a safe environment, which is crucial for reducing liability if an incident happens.

What a NIST SP 800-53 Risk Assessment Covers For Tech Companies

The NIST SP 800-53 Risk Assessment is essential for tech companies, especially in SaaS, because it provides controls for information systems that store, process, and transmit company data. It addresses three fundamental classes of risks based on their level of impact- high, moderate, and low. The framework further splits the classes into 18 components for detailed assessment.

  1. Access Control
  2. Audit and Accountability
  3. Awareness and Training
  4. Configuration Management
  5. Contingency Planning
  6. Identification and Authentication
  7. Incident Response
  8. Maintenance
  9. Media Protection
  10. Personnel Security
  11. Physical and Environmental Protection
  12. Planning
  13. Program Management
  14. Risk Assessment
  15. System and Services Acquisition
  16. Certification, Accreditation, and Security Assessments
  17. System and Communications Protection
  18. System and Information Integrity

The NIST SP 800-53 sets the baseline for secure information systems. Once you determine the right security category for your information system, you can choose an objective. The three main objectives are integrity, confidentiality, and security.

NIST SP 800-53 then breaks down the standards needed to achieve each objective and the guidelines to implement each control. It doesn’t specify applications or software you need to achieve compliance -the decision remains within your discretion.

However, if you establish rules to meet the 18 components listed in the framework, you stand out from your competition and pass audits. You also ensure that you align your business with the NIST Risk Management Framework and NIST Incident Response.

Best Practices for NIST SP 800-53

Perform An Analysis

Begin by running an analysis of your information security systems to identify the risks your institution faces, their impact, and your preparation level for handling each risk. It’s wiser to use tools that automate risk assessment to save time and produce accurate and timely results.

Educate All Employees

It’s critical to liaise with the top management to ensure that all employees, from the highest to the lowest ranking, understand the steps to be taken for NIST compliance. Each control laid out in the NIST SP 800-53 affects all workers in an organization, and hence, their contribution is the best way to ensure you stay protected and remain compliant. Outsourcing the training to cybersecurity experts can help you inform each employee properly and advise them on mistakes that make your institution vulnerable to attacks.

Evaluate Your Security Protocols

Take a look at your cybersecurity processes and policies to identify gaps and restructure all rules to fit your new cybersecurity measures. Detailed procedures are also excellent for encouraging compliance among employees by providing a clear path. Also, remember that while the NIST Framework provides a guideline for all organizations, it should not be the end of your cybersecurity measures. It’s essential to conduct continuous assessments to ensure that all your policies, processes, and controls protect your assets.

Why Working with GreyCastle Security Is Excellent For You

Let’s face it- ensuring compliance, running regular NIST 800-53 risk assessments, and managing incidence response is a lot to handle for an IT department. It costs money, time, and resources you may not have at your disposal. However, when you outsource an expert organization that understands the cybersecurity landscape, you can manage your cyber assets cost-effectively.

Contact GreyCastle Security to ensure your virtual assets are protected and that you are remaining compliant. Looking for more information on Cybersecurity Risk Assessments? Download our Free Infographic!


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