Why Businesses Can't Ignore US Cybersecurity Framework - InformationWeek
Government // Cybersecurity
09:25 AM
Wyatt Kash
Wyatt Kash
Connect Directly
Out of the Black Box: Selling Security to your C-suite
Jul 20, 2017
To maximize the return on cloud security investments, CISOs need a seat at the table. Unfortunatel ...Read More>>

Why Businesses Canít Ignore US Cybersecurity Framework

Industry leaders and President Obama call the framework just a first step in creating a cybersecurity playbook for 16 US critical infrastructure sectors. But this is more than just a reference manual.

Cauley also maintains that NIST and the Department of Homeland Security, which plays a lead role in coordinating national cybersecurity efforts, must do more to clarify incentives for following the framework, and how organizations can benefit from them, before companies will invest in them.

Russell Schrader, senior associate general council for Visa, voiced support for NIST's efforts to centralize best-practices, but cautioned NIST "to avoid centralizing implementation of security measures across a diverse economy." Schrader warned of "unintended consequences that inhibit innovation," particularly for global companies. "The ability to globally scale an effort like cybersecurity [makes it] important to avoid confusing, duplicative, or contradictory standards," he said.

Even Defense Department experts, in pre-release comments about the framework, observed that it "does not address the cybersecurity challenges of industries or sectors as a whole." The DoD recommends that NIST encourage "threat sharing" across sectors and greater attention to privacy concerns.

Though not highlighted in the final version of the framework, the preliminary draft acknowledged a number of other issues, including the need for better authentication practices, guidance on sharing threat alerts automatically, and establishing assessment activities that affirm practices conform with industry standards. Meeting the demand for workers skilled in cybersecurity and big data analytics remains another concern.

Questions also remain on how to align US and global cybersecurity practices and divergent privacy standards and manage the risks inherent in today's global, just-in-time supply chains. NIST left these issues out of its final release, characterizing them as "important but evolving areas."

White House officials said the framework would continue to evolve. They also envision it will eventually be turned over to industry, or an industry-led not-for-profit group, to administer.

"The administration was very clear that they are not looking to expand regulations," one senior official said, "but instead want to align the regulatory structure to support the adoption of the framework."

Find out how a government program is putting cloud computing on the fast track to better security. Also in the Cloud Security issue of InformationWeek Government: Defense CIO Teri Takai on why FedRAMP helps everyone.

Wyatt Kash is a former Editor of InformationWeek Government, and currently VP for Content Strategy at ScoopMedia. He has covered government IT and technology trends since 2004, as Editor-in-Chief of Government Computer News and Defense Systems (owned by The Washington Post ... View Full Bio

2 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
2/16/2014 | 6:24:44 PM
Physcal Security Systems are also following the Cyber Security Framework
Not only are logical security systems providers such as web site developers, firewall, and other IT components joining the bandwagon.  But physical security systems providers and manufacturers are following its guidance for implementation.  SecureXperts is currently working with groups from the Physical security community in Identity Management, biometrics, access control, video surveillance, and other technologies to make their products more secure and resilient against cyber attack.
User Rank: Author
2/14/2014 | 5:39:15 PM
What others are saying
The White House provided a long list of comments about the framework from top industry executives and from members of Congress.  Of course it reads like the copy on a book jacket: Lots of praise for the private-public effort that went into creating the framework and nary a word of criticism.

But there's also a clear sense CEOs and public leaders see the seriousness of the threats -- and the importance of having the framework.  For what it's worth, here are a few excerpts of what others are saying:

Renee James, President, Intel:
"Improving cybersecurity in ways that promote innovation and protect citizens' privacy is the only way to preserve the promise of the Internet as a driver of global economic development and social interaction. Intel applauds the Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology for constructing the cybersecurity framework hand-in-hand with industry and other stakeholders, building a model of a voluntary, risk-based tool that can be utilized by a broad array of organizations. "

Steve Bennett, President & CEO, Symantec Corporation:
"The effort to develop the NIST Cybersecurity Framework has been a model of public-private partnership. Symantec believes the Framework will be useful to all organizations, whether they have well-developed cybersecurity programs or are looking to start one.  Symantec has already begun to incorporate the Framework into our internal security program, and I expect that many of our customers will use it as well."

Joseph Rigby, Chairman and CEO, Pepco Holdings Incorporated:
"We believe the partnership between the government and affected industries is critical to ensure preparation and readiness; this Framework is evidence of the commitment of stakeholders to work together to protect against cyber threats."

Charles W Scharf, CEO, Visa:
"Visa supports a standards-based approach, and we're encouraged by the final framework issued by the Administration which promotes the adoption of existing security best practices. We also support robust information sharing programs with appropriate liability protections to further bolster global cyber security."

Edward Amoroso, Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer for AT&T Services:  "Effective cybersecurity presents a complex challenge requiring collaboration from across the entire Internet ecosystem. The Cybersecurity Framework builds in the necessary flexibility for effective implementation and continued innovation.... and shows international leadership by demonstrating that an effective partnership between government and industry is the most effective way to combat cyber-attacks."

Doug Wylie, Director, Product Security Risk Management, Rockwell Automation: "As the world's largest company dedicated to providing industrial automation solutions, Rockwell Automation strongly supports this voluntary Cybersecurity Framework because it helps to amplify the importance of protecting national critical infrastructures and related industrial control systems."

Terry Rice, CISO, Merck & Co, Inc: "Merck has begun adoption and implementation of the Cybersecurity Framework.... Merck commends NIST's superior leadership in advancing the foundation of cybersecurity through this new Framework."

Marilyn Hewson, Chairman, President and CEO, Lockheed Martin: "Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility between government and industry, and we applaud the Administration for making it a priority. We support the Administration's voluntary, transparent and flexible approach to developing the Cybersecurity Framework, and believe it will enable American businesses—large and small—to do their part."

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation:
"The recent data breaches at Target and other retailers are a stark reminder that our networks continue to be vulnerable to cyber attacks. The Cybersecurity Framework NIST released today represents a major step forward in improving our cyber defenses.  It should become an essential touchstone, not just for critical infrastructure operators, but for all companies and government agencies that need to protect their systems and their data."

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: "This voluntary framework provides a much needed roadmap for improving the cybersecurity of our most critical infrastructure. Companies now have a common, but flexible path forward to better secure their systems, and also a meaningful way to measure their progress. We must now focus like a laser on ensuring widespread implementation of the framework in order to effectively protect our national and economic security."
User Rank: Author
2/14/2014 | 5:07:37 PM
Re: Better than Nothing?
NIST is skilled at collating and vetting recommendations. They've perfected crowd sourcing. But their reports  often yield what amounts to the lowest common denominator, with some useful recommendations. The value of NIST's work is the rigor with which they gather and publish best practices. If you considered the work companies would have to go through to create a comparable body of work, the framework is a pretty valuable tool.  
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
2/14/2014 | 12:52:26 PM
Re: Better than Nothing?
Many of these complaints follow the tired "we have a big, intractible problem, but your solution doesn't solve it 100% with no inconvenience to anyone, so it stinks" logic that plagues the ACA and other programs. No, this isn't the end all. But its focus on not telling companies what to do or what tools to buy but instead giving a policy template seems like the exact right tack.
User Rank: Author
2/14/2014 | 11:05:07 AM
Re: Better than Nothing?
Seems like another government roadmap formulated by committee, but at least this committee consisted of private sector experts as well as government ones. The key is for those companies that haven't even taken these basic steps to get going -- before the government whips out its big stick by way of a bunch of new regulations.
User Rank: Author
2/14/2014 | 10:52:40 AM
Re: Better than Nothing?
Comparing the Cybersecurity Framework release 1.0 with the preliminary draft, one gets the sense that a lot of useful ideas and tools were cut out, presumably to satisfy many conflicting complaints and to meet the President's deadline.  There is definitely a case to be made that other guidelines, recommendations, such as SANS 20 critical security controls guidelines, are more practical, and that a guidelines for everyone are not as useful as guidelines for specific industries.  That said, business leaders would do themselves a favor to see if their operations meet these basic practices/guidelines.

User Rank: Ninja
2/14/2014 | 10:01:14 AM
Better than Nothing?
I've seen more practical guidelines for firms to follow.  Like so many government things, it's a lot of words and not so much practical advice.  Friends have joked about how it's very much a 1.0 thing, and we all know to avoid ".0" releases.  Some of it is too simplistic, but for an organization that has nothing, it's something.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
IT Strategies to Conquer the Cloud
Chances are your organization is adopting cloud computing in one way or another -- or in multiple ways. Understanding the skills you need and how cloud affects IT operations and networking will help you adapt.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll