Recognizing the national and economic security of the United States depends on the reliable function of critical infrastructure, the President issued Executive Order (EO) 13636, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, in February 2013. The Order directed NIST to work with stakeholders to develop a voluntary framework – based on existing standards, guidelines, and practices - for reducing cyber risks to critical infrastructure. The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014 reinforced NIST’s EO 13636 role.
Created through collaboration between industry and government, the voluntary Framework consists of standards, guidelines, and practices to promote the protection of critical infrastructure. The prioritized, flexible, repeatable, and cost-effective approach of the Framework helps owners and operators of critical infrastructure to manage cybersecurity-related risk.
The Framework Core and Informative Requirements are available as separate downloads in three formats: spreadsheet (Excel) , alternate view (PDF) , and database (FileMaker Pro). A companion Roadmap discusses future steps and identifies key areas of cybersecurity development, alignment, and collaboration.
The Department of Homeland Security's Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community C³ Voluntary Program helps critical infrastructure owners and operators align with existing resources to assist them in using the Cybersecurity Framework and managing their cyber risks.
NIST continues to welcome informal feedback about the Framework and Roadmap. Organizations and individuals may contribute observations, suggestions, examples of use, and lessons learned to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What is the Framework, and what is it designed to accomplish?
- Is my organization required to use the Framework?
- Does it provide a recommended checklist of what all organizations should do?
- Why should an organization use the Framework?
- When and how was the Framework developed?
- What is the purpose of Executive Order 13636?
- Who from the private sector helped to develop the Framework?
- Why is NIST involved? What is NIST’s role in setting cybersecurity standards?
The Cybersecurity Framework consists of three main components: Implementation Tiers, the Core, and Profiles.
The Framework Implementation Tiers assist organizations by providing context on how an organization views cybersecurity risk management. The Tiers guide organizations to consider the appropriate level of rigor for their cybersecurity program and are often used as a communication tool to discuss risk appetite, mission priority, and budget.
The Framework Core provides a set of desired cybersecurity activities and outcomes using common language that is easy to understand. The Core guides organizations in managing and reducing their cybersecurity risks in a way that complements an organization’s existing cybersecurity and risk management processes.
Framework Profiles are an organization’s unique alignment of their organizational requirements and objectives, risk appetite, and resources against the desired outcomes of the Framework Core. Profiles are primarily used to identify and prioritize opportunities for improving cybersecurity at an organization.
To learn more about the Framework’s three main components, see the Components of Framework online learning module, or to learn more about the how organizations are using the Framework and its potential benefits, see the Uses and Benefits of Framework module.