Applying the NIST Cybersecurity Framework for Effective Third-Party Risk Management

Running a business in the internet age means taking on the critical task of protecting sensitive data from cybersecurity attacks. Last year, data breaches exceeded the total number of 2020 events by September, setting a new record for breaches occurring in a single year (Identity Theft Resource Center). With this marked increase in cybersecurity threats, businesses must take proactive steps to mitigate risks and protect their data.


In an effort to provide organizations with the tools they need to maintain top-notch cybersecurity, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed the Cybersecurity Framework (CSF). This framework serves as guidance for organizations to assess their security measures and develop appropriate policies and protocols to protect their data.


While the framework can be applied to internal policies, CSF is also an important tool in assessing third-party vendor risk. The cybersecurity measures your third party vendors employ will be the same measures they apply to data your organization shares with them. Ensuring that your vendors live up to a standard of cybersecurity that will keep your organization safe is an essential part of managing third-party risk.


Designed to be applicable across multiple industries and organizational structures, CSF brings structure and clarity to the often repetitive and demanding process of evaluating vendor risk. The framework identifies several functions of cybersecurity activities, making your organization’s risk management process simple and effective.


Understanding the framework


The Cybersecurity Framework is divided into five functions:


Identify: Develop an organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risk to systems, people, assets, data, and capabilities.


Protect: Develop and implement appropriate safeguards to ensure delivery of critical services.


Detect: Develop and implement appropriate activities to identify the occurrence of a cybersecurity event.


Respond: Develop and implement appropriate activities to take action regarding a detected cybersecurity incident.


Recovery: Develop and implement appropriate activities to maintain plans for resilience and to restore any capabilities or services that were impaired due to a cybersecurity incident.


These functions provide a standardized method for assessing existing reports generated through other risk assessment tools and questionnaires. The framework allows for efficient and highly-effective evaluation of a vendor’s critical cybersecurity standards.


Applying CSF in third-party risk assessment


Third-party risk management is a vital part of protecting your organization against vulnerabilities. The process can be time-consuming, and evaluating countless assessments may prove difficult and repetitive. With CSF, understanding and reviewing the results of any third-party risk assessment becomes simple, approachable, and effective.


Within each function of the framework, there are additional categories and subcategories, which identify various outcomes and controls to provide a more specific understanding of targeted areas of need. As a tool for third-party risk assessment, CSF can help your organization define areas of high and low value to your cybersecurity standards and easily locate gaps in a vendor’s internal processes and security measures.


The Cybersecurity Framework is not a checklist, but instead a tool to help your organization determine the measures needed both internally and with external vendors in order to maintain a desired standard of cybersecurity. Using CSF uncomplicates an otherwise confusing process of ensuring third-party vendors are prepared to protect your data and systems, even in the event of a breach.


Privva can help


Privva has extensive experience with third-party risk management tools, including NIST CSF. Protecting your organization from the rise in cybersecurity threats is critical to your success. Here at Privva, we know how to help streamline your risk management process for best results. Reach out today to learn more about how we take the headache out of third-party risk assessments.



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