What is NIST Compliance?

Files folders titled violations, compliance, regulation, and documentation

If you own or operate a business in the US, then you’re probably familiar with the word “compliance”. Information exchange between the government and private entities is not taken lightly because, if not done properly, it could lead to hacking and proliferation or loss of important data. NIST compliance is one form of IT compliance that is particularly critical.

What is NIST Compliance?

The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) is a division within the Department of Commerce that is mandated to set regulations of IT services, especially security control.

These regulations are set to ensure technology standards are uniform across all government agencies and companies doing business with the federal government.

Now that we know what NIST is, we can discuss what NIST compliance is. Simply put, NIST compliance is the process of complying with the technology standards that are set by the NIST publication.

What are the Benefits of NIST Compliance?

1. Helps Protect the Integrity and Security of Data

Securing your network and/or system ensures that your data is less prone to cyberattacks, ransomware, and malware.

2. Ensures Your Organization Complies With Industry or Government Regulations

NIST compliance can also help you comply with other industry standards and practices such as SOX, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

3. Allows you to bid for Federal Government Contracts

Companies that want to do business with the federal government are required to comply with NIST publications. Otherwise, their contracts will be revoked.

Steps to Ensuring NIST Compliance

There are 6 steps through which a business can ensure NIST compliance.

1. Develop a risk management assessment on NIST compliance

To do this, the NIST 800-53 publication comes in handy. It will guide you on how to create a risk management assessment.

2. Design and apply Access Controls That Comply With NIST

NIST 800-171 and NIST 800-53 publications provide comprehensive information on how to design and apply access controls. The controls should be based on the individual company’s risk assessment.

3. Manage Third Party Auditing

NIST 800-171 and 800-53 require third-party auditing. Compare and contrast third parties to understand which one works best for you.

4. Create a Compliance Management plan

The plan should highlight the milestones you’ve achieved and outline compliance gaps if any. This means you’ll be better prepared and know what to implement at each stage of the process.

5. Apply for an Authorization to Operate

It’s one of the most important steps because it calls for a complete NIST audit of your organization. Once you’re successful, you acquire the ATO.

6. Monitor the Risks

It’s important to note that NIST compliance does not mean you’re immune to cyber-attacks. You should continue monitoring your system and networks to ensure you have an upper hand over the criminals.