What Does a NIST Compliance Audit Look Like? Is Your Business Prepared?

NIST compliance auditor conducting an audit

Data breaches have become increasingly common and they’re not something to take lightly. With cybercriminals developing sophisticated tactics, compliance regulations like NIST have become essential for businesses to protect themselves from these threats.

And if NIST compliance is new to you, you should know that it’s a set of standards created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to protect organizations from data breaches and other security threats. 

All businesses must be compliant with NIST if they store or process any kind of sensitive information, otherwise, you could be facing an abundance of fines and possibly imprisonment.

Because of the importance of compliance, a NIST compliance audit is a way to ensure your company is following all necessary regulations.

NIST Compliance Frameworks

When it comes to NIST compliance, there are three major frameworks that organizations must adhere to:

1) The NIST 800-53 Security and Control Framework

In this framework, organizations must implement the necessary security measures and controls to protect their systems and data, which in turn protects their organization from a potential data breach.

2) The NIST 800-37 Risk Management Framework

Organizations are expected to identify potential risks, as well as manage those risks continuously. Without continuous risk assessments, organizations can easily be taken by surprise when faced with a major security threat.

3) The NIST Cybersecurity Framework

This outlines best practices for cybersecurity and requires organizations to measure their cybersecurity posture and take appropriate steps to protect their data.

What a NIST Compliance Audit Looks Like

When it comes to an audit, businesses need to demonstrate that they have strong security in each area. A NIST compliance audit covers five areas from the frameworks mentioned above: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. 

Depending on the organization’s size, scope, and industry, a NIST compliance audit can be done in-house or by an independent external auditor. Let’s get into the details of the steps this audit will conduct:

1. Identify

When an organization identifies security risks, it needs to document them and have plans in place against these risks. Not knowing what your business is up against is like going into battle without protection—a surefire way to ensure you won’t come out on top.

2. Protect

The auditor will evaluate the existing security measures implemented by the organization to protect its data. If it proves to be insufficient, the organization needs to take further steps to ensure its data is secure. 

This means more than a simple password—encryption, multi-factor authentication, and patch management policies need to be in place.

3. Detect

In the NIST compliance audit, they will assess how quickly a potential incident is detected and whether or not the appropriate controls are in place. On average, it takes 197 days for businesses to identify a data breach and 69 days to contain it. 

If your organization isn’t prepared to detect and respond quickly, you risk more than an unsecured system—you risk a loss of reputation, compliance fines, and an excessive amount of money trying to get back to where you once were.

4. Respond

Organizations must have a plan of action ready to respond swiftly and effectively in the event of an incident. For example, if your system is breached, you should be able to quickly identify the source and limit the damage. The auditor will assess your response plan and make sure it is up-to-date and effective for all potential threat scenarios.

5. Recover

The auditor will look at the organization’s ability to recover from any security incident, as well as its capacity to return to normal operations quickly and securely. When you’re unprepared for a data breach, the recovery process can take weeks and even months. But with a NIST compliance audit, you’re prepared for the worst.

Prepare the Right Way with Simple Systems

NIST compliance isn’t something you have to tackle alone. Simple Systems is here to help you with the process. We know how overwhelming and complex it can be to get your organization up-to-date with the latest compliance requirements that are constantly changing. 

That’s why we provide an easy-to-use platform designed to make NIST compliance simple, independent of your organization’s industry or size. With Simple Systems, you’ll receive the security assessments, audit trails, and reports needed to keep your organization compliant. Start your NIST compliance journey today with Simple Systems!