The First Steps to Adopting NIST Guidelines

The First Steps to Adopting NIST Guidelines

The NIST framework is one of the most recommended sets of guidelines that aim to help users to protect their business infrastructures from cybersecurity threats. The framework consists of a variety of guidelines that will not only help you deal with the consequences of a cyberattack but also prevent security incidents in the first place. However, despite all the benefits that complying with the framework can bring, many business owners neglect the importance of cybersecurity simply because the framework seems too complex.

The truth is, the NIST framework is very simple and easy to understand once you learn its five core values and the basic guidelines and security measures. The National Institute of Standards and Technology published these guidelines along with over 100 security requirements to help users create a secure system. Otherwise, your business can easily fall behind when it comes to security, which might lead to unwanted consequences such as data breaches and cyber attacks.

Getting Started with the NIST Framework

The first steps to adopting the NIST guidelines are actually much simpler than you think. Before you can dive into the debts of the framework, you must understand some of its most important terms, such as controlled information. There are two types of controlled information referred to throughout the framework.

The first is controlled technical information or CTI, which relates to military and space applications. Thus, this is not of our interest if we are trying to build a security system for a business. Instead, you need to focus on controlled unclassified information or CUI, which includes all common and personal pieces of information such as financial data, court records, identifiable information, or any other data that needs to be protected.

Once you understand what kind of data needs to be protected, follow these steps to start adopting the NIST guidelines:

  • Start by locating the areas that need to be secured. In other words, find and identify all systems that contain the controlled unclassified information. These systems include local storage, portable hard drives, and cloud storage.
  • Then categorize the data according to importance and priority. For example, create separate groups for data that needs to be fully secured and data that does not need so much attention. Narrowing down your focus will make your security practices more effective.
  • Next up, business owners should limit access to only the authorized employees so that not everyone can view and access confidential data. This will prevent unwanted incidents.
  • Encrypt important data and every piece of information transferred from one device to another. This can be done through virtual private network services.
  • Finally, monitor your system at all times in order to spot changes and unwanted activities on time.


Following the NIST guidelines is not complex at all, as long as you understand the purpose of the framework and its importance in cybersecurity. Besides getting started with the guidelines, we highly suggest educating your employees and everyone involved with your network on the importance of cybersecurity and data protection.