Security Frameworks 101: What to Know

by Trava, Cyber Risk Management

Our guide about security frameworks explains everything about these essential tools for building a strong cybersecurity posture.

Your organization's information is its most important asset—after your people, of course. Managing and protecting the information of your employees, customers, and others in your network can't be left to chance. Cybersecurity compliance frameworks offer IT security standards and best practices to help you protect your sensitive data. Please keep reading to learn what security frameworks are, what popular security framework examples are, and how you can best follow them.

What are Security Frameworks?

According to TechTarget, an IT security framework is a series of documented processes for implementing and managing information security controls. Its purpose is to provide blueprints for managing risks and vulnerabilities.

Security frameworks help organizations define and prioritize security management tasks, compliance, and IT audits. Organizations can customize frameworks to solve information security problems or satisfy industry-specific requirements.

A couple of security standards examples are:

1. The ISO 27000 series. The International Organization for Standardization developed the ISO 27000 standards. Its primary two standards, ISO 27001 and 27002, establish the requirements and procedures for creating an information security management system. The series encompasses other security standards for cloud computing, storage security, healthcare data, and more.

2. SOC 2. System and Organization Controls 2 is a compliance standard that shows an organization's dedication to providing top-notch security and service. For many clients, working with a SOC 2-compliant business is a prerequisite for a partnership. It's advantageous for organizations to demonstrate compliance through SOC certifications.

ISO 27001 or SOC2? We help you navigate this maze in the guide below!

Is NIST a Security Framework?

The FTC defines NIST as the National Institute of Standards and Technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework allows organizations of all sizes to understand better, manage, and reduce their cybersecurity risk. It's a voluntary set of IT security standards and best practices to protect your networks and data.

NIST has Five Principles:

1. Identify: List all of the equipment, software, and data your organization uses. This includes laptops, smartphones, tablets, and point-of-sale devices. Create a companywide cybersecurity policy for the roles and responsibilities of those with access to sensitive data, like internal employees and vendors. Next, establish how you'd protect yourself against an attack and what you'd do if you experienced one.

2. Protect: Manage who logs onto your network and uses your network computers and other devices. In this stage, you implement security software and encrypt sensitive data. Regularly backup your data and update your security software. Automate the updates if possible. Remember to have formal policies for safely eradicating old electronic files and devices. This stage also presents an opportunity to train everyone who uses your devices and network on cybersecurity.

3. Detect: Monitor your network for unauthorized users, devices, or software. Check for unusual activity on your network or among your staff.

4. Respond: Establish a plan for security breaches, cyberattacks, and emergencies that risk data. Figure out how you will notify customers, employees, and others who may have data at risk. Decide how you'll report the attack to law enforcement and how you'll investigate and suppress an attack. Remember to have a plan for how you'll keep your business running in the meantime.

5. Recover: Decide how to repair and restore equipment that an attack compromised. Keep your customers and users in the loop of your recovery activities.

What are Common Security Frameworks?

One popular security framework is from the Center for Internet Security (CIS). It published 18 security practices called CIS Security Controls. They are safeguards to reduce cyberattacks on systems and networks. The latest iteration of CIS Controls is CIS Controls Version 8. They keep up with evolving technology, threats, and virtual environments like cloud and mobile technology.

Another is the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). This certification is for contractors who work within the US Department of Defense and assesses an organization's cybersecurity. The model depicts how mature an organization's cybersecurity program is. Its lower levels from 1-3 show that an organization has Basic, Intermediate, or Good Cyber Hygiene. Level 4 means an organization has proactive cybersecurity, and Level 5 means an organization is advanced or progressive.

Security certifications are a way to demonstrate compliance and commitment to the highest service levels. Organizations should decide what certification matches their business's goals and needs. Determine if certain clients require a certification for partnership or if a regional law requires it. Next, carve out enough time to pursue it. Preparing policies, controls, and procedures for different certifications can take several months or over a year.

In the later certification stages, an official auditor will typically perform an audit over a few weeks. After a successful audit, an organization will receive a certification like ISO 27001. Mark renewal dates in your calendar since certifications usually need renewals for up-to-date compliance.

Use Frameworks to Organize and Manage Security

Following IT security standards and best practices means avoiding hefty fines, cyberattacks, reputational damage, and lost revenue. A framework is a structured approach for organizations to manage risks and secure their systems and data. Compliance means your employees, customers, and anyone in your network can rest easy knowing you've gone the extra mile to protect your most sensitive information.


We can help!  Talk to the Trava Team and see how we can assist you with your cybersecurity needs.