NIST wants to know how cybersecurity framework is used

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants to know more about how companies, government agencies and other organizations are using its voluntary cybersecurity framework, with an eye to updating the document.

Driven by President Barack Obama's 2013 cybersecurity executive order, the framework was released in early 2014 for use by federal agencies and later opened up to industry. It contains standards, guidelines and practices to help organizations tackle cybersecurity risks with more potent policy, business and technological approaches.

NIST posted a request for information in the Federal Register on Dec. 10 seeking input from framework users. The comment period runs through Feb. 9, 2016.

"We're looking forward to receiving feedback on specific questions about its use and how it might be improved," said Adam Sedgewick, NIST's senior IT policy adviser.

In the announcement, NIST officials said an increasing number of critical infrastructure providers have been using the resource to better manage their cyber risks, including members of the energy and financial sectors.

NIST wants specifics about how organizations are using the framework and sharing best practices, the relative value of different parts of the framework, and the need for updates and longer-term management of the resource. The agency will hold a workshop April 6-7 at its Gaithersburg, Md., headquarters to discuss the feedback.

Although officials say some companies have been wary about adopting the framework, many of them are willing to use it to help protect their operations.

For instance, during a National Cybersecurity Policy Forum in October, Clete Johnson, chief counsel for cybersecurity at the Federal Communications Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said there was a "delicate and important balance in how NIST interfaces with the regulatory and commercial."

The FCC, which works with critical telecommunications infrastructure providers, emphasizes the framework's voluntary nature and its ability to work in a company's best interests.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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