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What are the NIST 800 standards?


What are NIST 800 standards?

NIST 800 standards, also known as the NIST Special Publication 800 series, are a set of guidelines developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States. These standards provide federal agencies, private organizations, and other entities with a framework for ensuring the security and privacy of their information systems. The NIST 800 series covers a wide range of topics, including risk assessment, access control, security control families, cybersecurity risk management, incident response plans, and cloud computing. By following these standards, organizations can implement effective security practices that protect against cyber threats, insider threats, and other risks. The NIST 800 series is widely recognized and adopted by federal government agencies, defense contractors, critical infrastructure operators, and cloud service providers, among others. It provides a comprehensive approach to risk management and helps organizations in managing their cybersecurity programs to safeguard sensitive government and organizational information.

Origin and purpose of the NIST 800 standards

The NIST 800 standards, originally developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), are a series of documents that outline security and privacy controls for federal information systems. These standards were created to provide guidance and establish security requirements for federal government agencies and non-federal organizations that handle sensitive government information.

The primary purpose of the NIST 800 standards is to ensure the protection of federal information systems by implementing robust security controls. These controls address various aspects of cybersecurity such as access control, risk assessment, incident response planning, and protection against insider threats. By adhering to these standards, federal agencies can safeguard critical infrastructure, defend against cyber-physical systems attacks, and mitigate the impact of natural disasters.

In addition to security control families, the NIST 800 standards also emphasize risk management and privacy. They provide a comprehensive approach to risk management, enabling organizations to identify and assess cybersecurity risks and determine appropriate security practices. Moreover, these standards encompass privacy risks and assist in the development of privacy programs that comply with relevant laws and regulations.

The NIST 800 standards play a crucial role in promoting the security and privacy of federal information systems. They provide federal agencies and non-federal organizations with a common framework for managing security, privacy, and risks. By following these standards, organizations can enhance their cybersecurity posture, protect sensitive government information, and contribute to national security efforts.

Overview of the NIST 800 standards

The NIST 800 series of standards, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), provides a comprehensive framework for securing federal information systems and organizations. These standards are designed to address the evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats and are applicable to federal agencies, defense contractors, and private organizations that work with sensitive government information. The NIST 800 standards cover a wide range of security requirements, including access control, risk assessment, incident response planning, and protection against insider threats. They provide a catalog of controls that help organizations implement robust security measures and establish security control baselines. Additionally, the NIST 800 standards emphasize the importance of risk management and privacy, providing organizations with a proactive approach to identifying and mitigating cybersecurity risks and complying with relevant laws and regulations. By adhering to these standards, organizations can enhance their security programs, safeguard critical infrastructure, and mitigate the impact of cyber attacks and natural disasters.

System security plan (SSP) requirements

The System Security Plan (SSP) is an essential component of adhering to the NIST 800 standards for federal agencies and organizations. It serves as a comprehensive document that outlines the security controls, policies, and procedures in place to protect federal information systems.

The SSP requirements mandate that organizations clearly define the system boundaries and identify the security control families that are relevant to their system. This requires a thorough assessment of the system's risk and the selection and implementation of appropriate security controls based on the NIST catalog of controls.

One crucial aspect of the SSP is establishing a baseline for normal behavior. This baseline serves as a reference point to detect deviations and potential security incidents. To achieve this, organizations are encouraged to strategically place Intrusion Detection System (IDS) nodes throughout their network infrastructure. These IDS nodes continuously monitor network traffic and raise alarms or alerts when abnormal behavior is detected.

In terms of communication security, the SSP requirements emphasize the use of secure communication protocols. This includes the use of a gateway URL to control access to the system, mutual authentication to verify the identities of both parties involved in the communication, and encryption to protect data confidentiality. Additionally, the use of keep-alive TLS connections helps maintain the integrity of the communication session.

Adhering to these SSP requirements ensures that federal agencies and organizations establish a robust security program that can effectively protect sensitive government information. By defining security controls, establishing baselines, and implementing secure communication protocols, federal agencies can mitigate the risk of cybersecurity threats and maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their information systems.

Information system inventory requirements

Information system inventory requirements are an essential component of the NIST 800 standards. These requirements aim to help federal agencies and organizations effectively manage and secure their information systems.

According to NIST guidelines, organizations must maintain an accurate and up-to-date inventory of their information systems. This inventory should include details such as the system name, description, location, and the individuals responsible for its management. It is crucial for organizations to regularly update this inventory to ensure that all systems are accounted for and properly secured.

The information system inventory requirements also emphasize the need for organizations to categorize their systems based on the three impact levels defined in NIST SP 800-53: low-impact, moderate-impact, and high-impact. This categorization helps in determining the appropriate security control baselines for each system.

Low-impact systems require a minimum set of security controls, while moderate-impact and high-impact systems require additional controls to address the increased risks associated with them. These security control baselines provide a starting point for organizations to implement necessary controls based on the impact level of their systems.

Having an organizational and operational structure in place is crucial to meet the information system inventory requirements. This includes establishing clear roles and responsibilities for system owners, administrators, and users. Additionally, organizations are encouraged to establish a DevSecOps group that integrates security practices throughout the development and operation of their systems. This group plays a vital role in implementing the inventory requirements by ensuring that new systems are properly documented and added to the inventory, and existing systems are regularly assessed and updated.

By fulfilling the information system inventory requirements, organizations can effectively manage and secure their systems in accordance with the NIST 800 standards. It enables them to have a comprehensive understanding of their system landscape, assess risks and vulnerabilities, and implement appropriate security controls based on the impact level of their systems.

Security control assessment requirements

Security control assessment requirements play a crucial role in ensuring the effectiveness of security controls within organizations. According to NIST guidelines, organizations must conduct regular assessments to evaluate the implementation and operational effectiveness of their security controls. These assessments help identify any vulnerabilities or weaknesses in the controls and enable organizations to take corrective actions.

NIST 800-53 provides a catalog of security controls that organizations can choose from based on the impact levels defined by FIPS 199. The impact levels categorize systems as low-impact, moderate-impact, or high-impact, depending on the potential harm that could result from the loss, misuse, or unauthorized access to the information.

In selecting appropriate controls, organizations must conduct risk assessments to identify and analyze potential risks associated with their information systems. By understanding the risks, organizations can make informed decisions about which security controls are necessary to mitigate those risks effectively.

The security control assessment requirements outlined by NIST ensure that organizations have a systematic and comprehensive approach to assessing the effectiveness of their security controls. By regularly assessing and analyzing the controls in place, organizations can continuously improve their security posture and protect their information systems from potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Risk assessment requirements

The NIST 800 series standards, specifically NIST 800-53 and NIST 800-171, outline the risk assessment requirements for federal agencies and organizations handling sensitive government information.

NIST 800-53 provides detailed controls and guidance for conducting a proper risk assessment. It offers a comprehensive catalog of security controls that organizations can select based on the impact levels of their federal information systems. By conducting risk assessments, organizations can identify and analyze potential risks associated with their information systems and make informed decisions about necessary security controls to mitigate those risks effectively.

On the other hand, NIST 800-171 provides limited information on the risk assessment process. However, organizations striving to comply with NIST 800-171 should still refer to NIST 800-53 for detailed guidance on conducting a thorough risk assessment. This ensures that organizations have a robust risk management framework in place and can implement appropriate security controls to protect sensitive government information.

By adhering to the risk assessment requirements outlined in the NIST 800 standards, federal agencies and organizations can effectively identify and manage cybersecurity risks, safeguarding their information systems and contributing to overall national security.

Authorization requirements

Authorization requirements for NIST 800 standards encompass several key aspects, including the access control model, the location of access control data, and the minimal set of policy elements specified by NIST.

Firstly, the access control model employed by an organization plays a crucial role in authorization. NIST emphasizes the need for a robust access control model that effectively manages user privileges and restricts access to sensitive information. This model should align with established security control families and ensure that only authorized individuals are granted access to federal information systems.

Secondly, the location of access control data is essential for effective authorization. NIST requires organizations to maintain access control data in secure repositories that are not susceptible to unauthorized modification or tampering. This ensures the integrity and confidentiality of access control data, preventing unauthorized access or unauthorized modifications.

Lastly, NIST specifies a minimal set of policy elements that must be included in the organization's authorization policy. These policy elements include factors such as user identification and authentication, role-based access control, least privilege, and separation of duties. By including these elements, organizations can establish a comprehensive authorization policy that aligns with NIST 800 standards and effectively mitigates security risks.

Additionally, NIST highlights the importance of configuring permissions for administrative operations with granular access control. This ensures that only authorized individuals have the necessary permissions to perform administrative tasks, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access or malicious activities. The configuration of permissions can be incorporated into installation software or orchestration software, streamlining the process and ensuring consistent and secure authorization for administrative operations.

Security awareness training requirements

Security awareness training is a crucial component of any organization's cybersecurity program, as it helps educate employees on the importance of safeguarding sensitive information and mitigating security risks. The NIST 800 standards provide guidance on the requirements for effective security awareness training.

According to NIST, organizations should cover a range of topics in their security awareness training programs. These topics may include but are not limited to: the organization's security policies and procedures, potential security threats and vulnerabilities, proper handling and protection of sensitive data, identification and reporting of security incidents, safe internet and email usage, and best practices for maintaining access control.

In terms of frequency, NIST recommends conducting security awareness training on a regular basis. The exact frequency may vary depending on the organization's risk tolerance, but it is generally advised to conduct training at least annually. However, organizations may choose to provide more frequent training sessions, especially in response to emerging threats or major security incidents.

By following these requirements and ensuring that employees have a solid understanding of security best practices, organizations can significantly enhance their overall security posture and effectively mitigate potential risks.

Security incident response plan requirement

The Security Incident Response Plan (IRP) requirement is a crucial component of effective cybersecurity and privacy risk management. It serves as a structured approach to detect, respond to, and recover from security incidents in a timely and efficient manner.

The primary objective of an IRP is to minimize the potential impact of security incidents on an organization's operations, assets, individuals, and reputation. It outlines the necessary steps and procedures to swiftly identify and respond to incidents, mitigate their impact, and restore normal operations.

Key elements and components of a comprehensive IRP include incident detection, analysis, containment, eradication, and recovery. Incident detection involves the timely identification and reporting of any suspicious or anomalous activity that may indicate a security breach. Once an incident is detected, thorough analysis is conducted to determine the nature, scope, and severity of the incident. This analysis enables the organization to make informed decisions regarding the appropriate response measures.

Containment involves taking immediate actions to prevent further damage and mitigate the impact of the incident. This may include isolating affected systems or networks and activating backup systems or redundancies. Eradication refers to the process of completely removing the threat or vulnerability that caused the incident. Recovery focuses on restoring affected systems, networks, and data to their pre-incident state and ensuring their integrity and availability.

By implementing a well-defined and regularly tested IRP, organizations can effectively manage security incidents, contain potential damages, and minimize the overall impact on their operations and stakeholders.

Contingency planning requirements

Contingency planning is a critical component of the NIST 800 standards for federal agencies and organizations. These standards outline the requirements for developing and implementing a comprehensive contingency plan to effectively manage cybersecurity and privacy risk.

One of the key requirements of the NIST 800 standards is the development of a contingency plan that includes procedures and controls to ensure the continuity of operations and the timely recovery of information systems. This includes identifying and prioritizing critical information systems and assets, assessing the potential impact of disruptions, and developing strategies to minimize the impact and recover from incidents.

Organizations need to develop a comprehensive contingency plan that addresses the full range of potential threats and vulnerabilities. This includes natural disasters, cyber-attacks, insider threats, and other incidents that could disrupt operations or compromise sensitive information. The plan should also consider the unique security requirements of the organization and its specific risk tolerance.

Regularly updating the contingency plan is crucial to protect against new and emerging threats. Cybersecurity threats evolve constantly, and organizations must stay abreast of the latest risks and vulnerabilities. By regularly reviewing and updating their plan, organizations can ensure that it remains effective and aligned with current best practices and industry standards.

Configuration management requirements

Configuration management is a crucial component of the NIST 800 standards when it comes to ensuring the security and integrity of federal information systems. The establishment of baseline configurations serves as the foundation for future builds and changes to these systems.

Baseline configurations provide a well-defined starting point for system configurations by specifying the desired state of security control implementations, operational procedures, system components, and network topology. These baseline configurations serve as a reference point for verifying the consistency and integrity of systems, as well as for detecting any unauthorized changes or deviations.

Logging capabilities play a vital role in configuration management, as they enable organizations to track and monitor changes made to system configurations. By maintaining detailed logs, it becomes easier to identify any potential security issues or breaches resulting from unauthorized or malicious configuration changes.

To achieve effective configuration management, it is essential to establish mandatory metrics that provide insight into the health and security of systems. These metrics enable organizations to evaluate the conformance of systems with established baseline configurations and identify any deviations or vulnerabilities.

In addition to logging and metrics, distributed tracing is another crucial aspect of configuration management. This capability allows organizations to track changes across multiple systems or components, ensuring the integrity and proper functioning of interconnected parts.

Lastly, high-level configuration parameters for applications need to be defined and managed effectively. These parameters govern the behavior and security of applications, and proper configuration management ensures that they are appropriately set and maintained.

System and services acquisition requirement

The system and services acquisition requirement is a critical component of the NIST 800 standards. It outlines the necessary steps and controls to ensure the secure acquisition and implementation of systems and services within an organization.

This requirement is of utmost importance in today's digital landscape, where organizations heavily rely on various systems and services to conduct their operations. By following the guidelines laid out in the NIST 800 standards, organizations can minimize the risk of introducing vulnerabilities or security gaps during the acquisition and implementation process.

One key aspect of this requirement is the need for a distributed registry. This registry acts as a central repository for recording information about the systems and services being acquired. It enables organizations to maintain a comprehensive and up-to-date inventory of their assets, including details such as vendor information, version numbers, and associated security controls. A distributed registry ensures that this information is accessible and consistent across different departments or locations within the organization, enhancing data integrity and reducing the potential for misconfiguration or unauthorized changes.

Data consistency is another crucial aspect addressed by the system and services acquisition requirement. By implementing standardized processes for acquiring and implementing systems and services, organizations can ensure that data is handled consistently across different platforms and applications. This is crucial for maintaining the integrity and reliability of information, as well as ensuring compliance with relevant regulations or industry best practices.

How organizations benefit from adhering to the NIST 800 standards

Organizations greatly benefit from adhering to the NIST 800 standards as they provide comprehensive guidelines and best practices for ensuring the security and integrity of their information systems and services. By following these standards, organizations can minimize the risk of vulnerabilities and security gaps, enhance data integrity, and ensure consistent handling of data across different platforms. This not only helps organizations comply with regulations and industry best practices but also reduces the potential for misconfiguration or unauthorized changes. Adhering to the NIST 800 standards enables organizations to protect themselves against insider threats, cybersecurity risks, and hostile attacks, while also promoting a robust cybersecurity program. Overall, incorporating the NIST 800 standards into their operations helps organizations maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information, safeguarding their assets and enhancing their overall security posture.

Improved cybersecurity posture

Adhering to the NIST 800 standards can greatly benefit organizations by leading to an improved cybersecurity posture. These standards, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), provide guidance and best practices for federal agencies, federal information systems, and even private organizations.

By adopting and implementing the security controls outlined in the NIST 800 standards, organizations can enhance their ability to protect sensitive government information and systems from cyber threats. These security controls cover a wide range of areas, including access control, risk assessment, insider threats, and security control families.

Following the NIST 800 standards allows organizations to create a comprehensive and robust cybersecurity program. It provides a clear framework for managing and mitigating cyber risk, ensuring that the organization is well-prepared to defend against cyber attacks, hostile attacks, and even natural disasters.

Moreover, these standards enable organizations to align their security practices with industry best practices, promote interoperability between different systems and networks, and maintain compliance with security and privacy requirements. This ultimately leads to an improved cybersecurity posture, reducing the likelihood and impact of security breaches.

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