“There are many available standards our cybersecurity community may utilize to guide an agency in their quest for furthering its cybersecurity program. With NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) designated as a tool federal agencies should use, our local community, across the Nation, was incentivized to also follow the Framework. The NIST CSF has served as a superb standard to enable all agencies to be on the same ‘measurement’ page. This allows agencies to be measured and evaluated equally. The adoption of the NIST CSF for MS-ISAC’s Nationwide Cybersecurity Review (NCSR) was a huge step in improving our state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) communities’ metric of year-to-year and peer-to-peer comparisons on a national scale.
As CISO to both Napa and Mono Counties (California), I have greatly benefited by using NIST’s CSF in conjunction with MS-ISAC’s NCSR. The majority of California counties have also adopted NIST’s CSF as the appropriate tool for our statewide standard.”
- Gary Coverdale, CISO
Benefits from Using the Framework:
Enables agencies to develop a benchmark to gauge year-to-year progress across the Framework’s functions and categories.
Provides organizations with metrics to see how they rate compared to similar organizations.
Informs C-level/executive management about an agency’s security program/resource needs using the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) language.
Assists with security staff education and awareness.
Aids in setting priorities for security program tasks.
Allows an organization to manage cybersecurity risk more systematically.
Helps to standardize security requirements for collaboration (i.e., data exchange) among feds,
The Multi-State-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) helps State, Local, Territorial, and Tribal (SLTT) entities share best practices and provides guidance to help them improve their cybersecurity program.
In June 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was directed by Congress to develop a cyber-network security assessment that would measure gaps and capabilities of state, local, tribal and territorial governments’ cybersecurity programs. In 2011, this first version of the self-assessment became known as the Nationwide Cybersecurity Review (NCSR). The self-assessment allows SLTT governments to manage cybersecurity related risk through the NIST CSF, which consists of best practices, standards, and guidelines.
Through the NCSR, DHS and MS-ISAC examine relationships, interactions, and processes governing IT management and the ability to effectively manage operational risk.
Every other year, the NCSRS Summary Report, which is based on the CSF, is sent to Congress.
The CSF filled the need for a standardized language for reporting cybersecurity maturity to share implementation metrics across the SLTT community.
In 2013, DHS partnered with the MS-ISAC to annually conduct the NCSR. The MS-ISAC was selected because it collaborates with SLTT governments on cybersecurity risk and incidents.
In 2014, after the NIST Cybersecurity Framework was released, the 2015 NCSR was updated to align with the CSF in an effort to increase standardization and use of a common language across the SLTT community.
The CSF was selected as it provides a concise, easy-to-use language that was already validated and supported by a community of cybersecurity experts.
Organizations have a desire and need to understand, strengthen and/or sustain their level of cybersecurity maturity.
The NCSR assessment is available on an annual basis, from October 1 through December 15.
Users complete the NCSR self-assessment by assessing how their organization is addressing the different activities within CSF.
They use the risk assessment and identified gaps to determine priorities within a security program.
By relying on the Cybersecurity Framework core, agencies ensure they are tracking year-to-year and peer-to-peer progress.
Framework Implementation Overview:
DHS, through the MS-ISAC, leverages the Cybersecurity Framework to standardize cybersecurity concepts to measure cybermaturity of an SLTT.
SLTTs use the Framework through the NCSR self-assessment to monitor improvements year-over-year.
MS-ISAC coordinates with SLTTs to register them for the NCSR and to assist in reviewing the results of their assessment.
Results and Impacts:
The results of the NCSR are frequently used to measure compliance within an organization’s security and privacy programs
By developing a cybersecurity maturity baseline against the Cybersecurity Framework core, many organizations reported that they are able to use the NCSR to measure their Cybersecurity posture/maturity.
Participating SLTT agencies have reported that they are able to use the NCSR metrics and the common language of the Cybersecurity Framework core to effectively convey their cybersecurity status and/or need to C-level executives and/or board members.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognizes the use of the NCSR, based on the Cybersecurity Framework, as a tool for evaluating applications for cybersecurity grant funding opportunities.
Continue to educate and assist the SLTT community in understanding the gaps and capabilities within their cybersecurity programs.
The MS-ISAC and DHS will continue to work together to assist the SLTT community in improving agencies’ overall cybersecurity posture.
Continuously work with NIST to reflect the changes and additions to the Cybersecurity Framework within the NCSR question set.