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Guide to updating from NIST CSF 1.1 to 2.0

John Waller

Mar 29, 2024 / 7 min read

The newly released update in early 2024 of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) from 1.1 to 2.0 represents a significant step forward in cybersecurity management and reflects the latest advancements in technology and threat mitigation. As organizations prepare for this transition, understanding the changes that will be required is critical for crafting an actionable transition plan that ensures operational continuity, maintains alignment with up-to-date cybersecurity practices, and fortifies defenses in response to a dynamic threat landscape. Additionally, the update to CSF 2.0 will necessitate a re-evaluation of current security measures and allow for a more proactive approach to integrate new best practices and standards. What follows is a guide on how to accomplish these objectives.

What are differences between NIST CSF 1.1 and 2.0

CSF 2.0 is not merely an update; it is more of an evolution that encapsulates the progressive insights in cybersecurity today with an eye toward adapting to the unknown challenges of the future. One expert summarized the differences as a major remodel—an evolution to keep up with the changing cyber risk landscape. The major changes in CSF 2.0 are outlined below.

Increased scope

The first change is apparent in the name of the framework itself; the phrase “critical infrastructure” from versions 1.0 and 1.1 has been dropped. While the framework was initially created by NIST through a mandate to protect America’s critical infrastructure, version 2.0 broadens the scope by focusing on all organizations, not just those operating in critical sectors. This is an acknowledgement that the CSF has become the most widely adopted cybersecurity standard in use today, a fact underscored by a SANS Institute finding that 74% of organizations employing a security framework utilize the CSF.

Govern function

The introduction of the govern function in CSF 2.0 represents a strategic pivot toward solidifying the role of governance within the cybersecurity domain. It emphasizes the need for a cohesive strategy and policy-making approach that aligns cybersecurity initiatives with organizational objectives. While most of the categories and subcategories that make up this function previously existed under other functions, incorporating them into their own component of the CSF encourages executive leadership to actively engage in cybersecurity decision-making, thereby fostering a top-down commitment to securing information assets.

Supply chain risk management

CSF 2.0's expanded guidance on supply chain risk management acknowledges the critical importance of securing increasingly complex and interconnected supply chains. Organizations are urged to scrutinize their suppliers' cybersecurity practices and develop comprehensive risk management strategies that extend beyond their immediate operations. A holistic approach is crucial in safeguarding against the ripple effects that a breach in any part of the supply chain could have on the entire ecosystem.

Measuring cybersecurity outcomes

With the update to CSF 2.0, there is an intensified focus on the measurement of cybersecurity outcomes. Organizations are provided with more detailed guidance on how to develop metrics and benchmarks that accurately reflect the effectiveness of their cybersecurity practices. These metrics enable a data-driven strategy to security, where decisions are informed by quantifiable achievements in protecting against cyberthreats.

Organizational risk management

The enhanced emphasis on integrating cybersecurity risk management into the broader organizational risk strategies marks a shift toward a more unified approach to risk. CSF 2.0 encourages organizations to not view cybersecurity in isolation but as an integral component of the overall risk landscape, influencing a wide range of business decisions and objectives. This integration ensures that cybersecurity risk is given due consideration in the context of enterprise-wide risk management.

Implementation examples

The addition of practical implementation examples to core subcategories in CSF 2.0 is a significant benefit for practitioners seeking tangible guidance. These examples serve as reference points for what successful implementation can look like and provide organizations with a clearer path to achieving desired outcomes. This practical advice is instrumental in helping entities of varying sizes and sectors to navigate the framework's application.

Framework tiers clarification

CSF 2.0 provides clear definitions and articulated purposes for the use of framework tiers, i.e., maturity levels, resolving any ambiguities in the previous version. These tiers aid organizations in understanding and plannig their strategy for cybersecurity, aligning their practices with their risk management processes and business needs. Clarification of these tiers ensures organizations can more accurately assess their current capabilities and plan for progression.

Profile development guidance

The updated framework offers increased support for developing profiles, including new templates and examples that streamline the process. This augmented guidance assists organizations in tailoring the CSF to their specific circumstances, creating a customized roadmap for improving their cybersecurity posture. Such support is invaluable for organizations seeking to align their security measures with the unique risks they face.

Alignment with other NIST guidance

CSF 2.0 ensures that its guidelines are in harmony with other NIST publications, such as NIST Privacy Framework, Secure Software Development Framework (SP 800-218), and Cybersecurity Supply Chain Risk Management Practices for Systems and Organizations (SP 800-161r1). This alignment helps organizations create a more cohesive and comprehensive approach to both cybersecurity and privacy, recognizing the interdependencies between the two domains. It simplifies compliance and fosters a more integrated strategy to managing information-related risks.

How to transition to NIST CSF 2.0

The next crucial step is to develop a comprehensive transition plan. This plan will be pivotal in guiding organizations through a structured and effective conversion to the updated framework. Consider the following when preparing a transition plan for your organization.

Understanding the core changes

The first step is to thoroughly understand the core changes introduced in CSF 2.0. This understanding is critical for aligning existing cybersecurity practices with the updated framework. Key updates include the introduction of a govern function, emphasizing senior leadership accountability and a risk-aware culture, along with measurable cybersecurity program outcomes. Additionally, CSF 2.0 places increased focus on supply chain risk management and secure software development practices, integrating threat intelligence with SIEM systems, and enhancing data security and incident recovery processes​​. This foundational knowledge will inform the subsequent steps in the transition process.

Preparation is key

Effective preparation is essential for a successful transition to CSF 2.0. This involves conducting a thorough gap analysis between the current CSF 1.1 implementation and the requirements of CSF 2.0. Organizations must evaluate their existing cybersecurity measures, identify areas requiring enhancement, and prioritize these changes. Additionally, preparing for the transition includes resource allocation, staff training, and ensuring that the organization’s leadership is fully aware of and committed to the changes. A well-prepared transition plan will minimize disruptions and facilitate a smoother adaptation to the updated framework​​.

Implementation strategy

Developing a robust implementation strategy is crucial for effectively adopting CSF 2.0. This strategy should include a detailed timeline, clear milestones, and assigned responsibilities to ensure accountability throughout the process. While it is important to integrate the implementation plan into existing cybersecurity operations to avoid disruptions, this moment presents an opportunity to initiate or enhance modern security concepts like zero-trust architecture, security automation and orchestration, and transitioning to a cloud-native infrastructure. Regular progress reviews and adjustments to the plan as needed are essential to address any emerging challenges, and effective communication across all levels of the organization is vital to ensure that everyone understands their role in the transition and the benefits of the updated framework​.

Leverage automation

Automating security operations plays a pivotal role in aligning with CSF 2.0, enhancing both efficiency and compliance. Through automation, repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as vulnerability scanning, log analysis, and threat detection are streamlined, allowing for more consistent and reliable adherence to the framework's standards. Automated tools facilitate real-time monitoring and rapid response to security incidents, aligning with the CSF's focus on proactive threat management. Furthermore, automation aids in the continuous assessment and improvement of security measures, a key aspect of CSF 2.0, by providing up-to-date data and insights for better decision-making. This not only ensures ongoing compliance with the evolving framework but also allows organizations to swiftly adapt to new security challenges, maintaining a robust cybersecurity posture.

Optional compliance software

The implementation of CSF 2.0 can be greatly facilitated by the use of specialized compliance software such as SecurityGate, Sprinto, 6clicks, and Vanta. These tools provide comprehensive solutions for managing compliance, risk assessment, and cybersecurity governance with features like customizable compliance dashboards, real-time monitoring, and reporting capabilities, enabling organizations to efficiently track their progress in meeting CSF 2.0 standards. While not required, by leveraging such tools, organizations can achieve a more streamlined and effective transition, ensuring compliance and enhancing their overall cybersecurity posture.

Stay informed and agile

The field of cybersecurity is in constant flux, and staying informed is critical. Regularly engaging with updates from NIST, cybersecurity forums, threat intelligence sources, and industry leaders ensures that organizations are not only compliant with the latest standards but also proactive in their defense strategies. Organizations should embrace agility in cybersecurity management and be prepared to swiftly adapt to new information, strategies, and emerging threats by continuously revising and updating security protocols, training staff on the latest cybersecurity trends, and be ready to pivot strategies as the cybersecurity landscape evolves. Such adaptability is essential not only during the transition to CSF 2.0 but also in maintaining ongoing compliance and resilience in the face of new challenges. The Synopsys Software Integrity Group, a trusted global partner in application security testing and cybersecurity consulting, offers several CSF-based assessment and advisory services to assist in any organization’s transition to CSF 2.0 and stands ready to help guide the adoption of this agile approach.

The move from NIST CSF 1.1 to 2.0 represents an essential step forward in the collective cybersecurity posture for organizations of all sizes. As the cybersecurity environment continues to evolve, the updated framework provides a more robust set of tools and practices to keep pace and to mitigate risks effectively. “CSF 2.0, which builds on previous versions, is not just about one document. It is about a suite of resources that can be customized and used individually or in combination over time as an organization’s cybersecurity needs change and its capabilities evolve,” remarked NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio in the 2.0 announcement. By preparing thoroughly, conducting a detailed gap analysis, and fostering an environment of continuous learning and agility, organizations can transition to CSF 2.0 confidently, ensuring they are well-equipped to face the cybersecurity challenges of tomorrow.

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