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Success Story: Multi-State - Information Sharing and Analysis Center

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 “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,

Situation: 

  • 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.

Drivers: 

  • 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.

Process:

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.

What’s Next: 

  • 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.

Contact Information & Resources: 

Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) 
https://www.cisecurity.org/ms-isac/services/ncsr/ 
NCSR@cisecurity.org or 518-880-0736 

Cybersecurity Framework website: https://www.nist.gov/cyberframework 
NIST contact: cyberframework@nist.gov 


A downloadable version of this Success Story is available here .

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NIST does not validate or endorse any individual organization or its approach to using the Cybersecurity Framework.

Created November 6, 2018, Updated February 21, 2019