A beginner’s guide to information security frameworks

Information security is a broad umbrella term that covers everything from application security to encryption and recovery. An information security framework is a compilation of documents that allow an organization to manage its data security. But that’s just the cream on the surface; if you truly want to become well versed in information security frameworks, then there’s a lot to uncover. The following article will help you understand everything you need to know about information security.

What are information security frameworks?

A framework, as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, is “a structure around or over which anything is created,” An Information Security framework helps the company steer, manage, implement, and manage security controls for the information it possesses. There are now ten primary information security frameworks, also known as cyber security frameworks, in use to decrease enterprise risks.

Information security professionals use frameworks to describe and prioritize the responsibilities involved in managing corporate security. Frameworks are also used to help with compliance and other IT audit preparation. As a result, the framework must be able to accommodate the standard or regulation’s unique needs.

So to put it simply, the framework comprises various documents that clearly outline your company’s chosen rules, procedures, and processes. It successfully communicates how information, systems, and services are managed inside your organization to all internal, divergent, and external customers, stakeholders, and partners.

Benefits of Information Security (IS) frameworks

The role information security plays in the digital age is no surprise, and therefore, information security frameworks hold a vital position. Frameworks are a beginning point for building information security management procedures, rules, and administrative operations. Each framework is customized to fit the requirements of a company based on the industry. This in itself makes it an effective compliance strategy. However, here are some other reasons you can benefit from having IS frameworks in place;

  • You can use the security frameworks to perform a control-gap analysis. It will enable you to compare current security measures to an industry-standard reference, thereby providing a structured way of strengthening your Infosec posture.
  • This gap analysis between current and industry-standard controls helps you analyze which controls need prioritizing over the other. It is an effective way to work on the existing gaps and increase maturity levels.
  • There are rules in each framework that specify the minimum criteria for suppliers. This provides the organization a head start in developing adequate vendor risk controls and reduces third-party risks.
  • The collaboration between different business divisions in a large firm is not coherent. The framework’s guidance will guarantee that all business units follow the same requirements.
  • Implementing an information security framework is to decrease risk and reduce the organization’s vulnerability exposure.
  • Compliance towards globally recognized information security frameworks also serves as market indicators for existing and potential customers that you can be trusted with their data. Often times, such compliances become a mandatory part of the vendor qualification process. In such cases, adherence to IS frameworks acts like an active enabler for revenue growth.

12 key information security frameworks

Compliance does not guarantee safety. Even if a firm complies with all legislative and industry requirements mentioned in a compliance framework, it can still be exposed to cyber-attacks.

There are certain key areas where both compliance and security differ. These are as follows;

  • Enforcement: A third party enforces compliance on an organization, primarily to regulate industry standards. On the other hand, security is often practiced by the organization for its benefit.
  • Motivation: The fundamental reason for compliance activities is to avoid penalties. Nobody likes to get fined a lot of money. Security measures are put in place to safeguard an organization’s most valuable assets: data, money, and intellectual property.
  • Nature of evolution: Compliance is relatively stable. While frameworks are updated, they are not updated daily as new risks develop. Security measures, on the other hand, need to evolve in tandem with threats regularly.

Click here to know more about the differences between security and compliance.

Commonalities between compliance and security

There are hundreds of information security framework options available today. Finding the proper one for your company is not always simple, especially for the inexperienced. They aren’t all grouped together in a single matrix. Naturally, there is significant overlap across frameworks, but that is a benefit. Once you’ve chosen your preferred framework, you’ll find it much easier to align with others. Let’s start with becoming acquainted with some of the more well-known available frameworks, as listed here.

  1. ISO 27001

The ISO series is one of the most common information security frameworks you’d come across. The International Organization for Standardization was responsible for originating the ISO 27000 Series. The two main standards that explain the requirements and techniques for developing an information security management system are ISO 27001 and ISO 27002. (ISMS). Implementing an ISMS is a critical audit and compliance responsibility. This framework outlines corporate information security standards and management practices, such as control selection, implementation, and administration.

  1. SOC 2

Service Organisation Control 2 (SOC 2) is an auditing standard developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). It ensures service providers and third-party vendors protect sensitive data and personal information from unauthorized access. Security, Availability, Confidentiality, Processing Integrity, and Privacy are the five trust principles of this framework. SOC 2 examines a company’s Information Security controls in relation to a system’s principles and practices.

  1. GDPR

This framework includes a set of security rules that global businesses must implement in order to preserve the security and privacy of EU individuals’ personal data. Controls for prohibiting illegal access to stored data and access control methods such as least privilege, role-based access, and multifactor authentication are all required under GDPR.

  1. CIS Controls

The Critical Security Controls, Version 8, originating from the Center for Internet Security (CIS), offers technical security and operational controls that may be used in any setting. It does not cover risk analysis or risk management in the same way as the NIST CSF does; instead, it focuses only on lowering risk and improving the resilience of technological infrastructures.

  1. HIPAA

Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996. The bill was approved in order to improve the efficiency of the US healthcare system. It accomplishes this by establishing best practises for ensuring the security and privacy of healthcare information. Any company that handles healthcare data or personal health information (PHI) must verify that their security programme and software controls meet the HIPAA Security and Privacy Rules.

  1. NIST SP 800-53

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) maintains a large collection of IT standards, many of which are connected to information security. The NIST SP 800 Series, which was initially published in 1990, covers almost every facet of information security, with an increasing concentration on cloud security. NIST SP 800-53, which is also widely used, is the information security baseline for US federal agencies.

  1. NIST SP 800-171

The NIST SP 800-171 framework controls are similar to those in NIST SP 800-53, except they are broader and less comprehensive. If an enterprise needs to demonstrate compliance with NIST SP 800-53, a crosswalk between the two standards can be created using NIST SP 800-171 as a starting point. Smaller businesses benefit from this flexibility because they may demonstrate compliance as they develop by implementing the extra controls specified in NIST SP 800-53.

  1. NIST Cyber Security Framework

This framework is praised for its ease of use and comprehensive approach to comprehending a wide range of businesses. The NIST CSF, unlike other NIST frameworks, focuses on risk analysis and management. The framework’s security measures are built on risk management’s five phases: identity, protect, detect, respond, and recover.

  1. NIST SP 1800 Series

The NIST SP 1800 Series is a series of guidelines that operate in conjunction with the NIST SP 800 Series of standards and frameworks. The SP 1800 Series of documents explains how to develop and use standards-based cybersecurity technology in real-world settings.

  1. COBIT 5

COBIT 5 is a collection of guidelines for governing and managing business information technology. Unlike previous frameworks, the newly updated version of COBIT 5 includes IT, Assurance, Compliance, IT Operations, Governance, and Security and Risk Management.

  1. CCPA

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) provides customers more control over the personal data that businesses gather about them. The CCPA rules outline how to provide better security, and is applicable to many business, including data dealers.

  1. PCI-DSS

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is required by contract for anybody managing cardholder data. It requires that your organization must be reviewed for compliance on an annual basis. Credit card firms often require it, and it is mentioned in credit card network agreements as well.

Final word

There are too many information security frameworks present today, and undoubtedly, finding the right one for your organization is like picking the suitable stone at the shore. All of them are not divided under one umbrella as they have different focuses. A variety of variables can influence the decision to choose a particular IT security framework. The sort of industry or the regulations that must be followed might be decisive considerations.

This guide will allow you to understand the requirements, benefits, and disadvantages that come with undertaking each security framework, so make your decision wisely!

Scrut Automation is an innovative and radically simple governance, risk, and compliance automation platform for growing startups and mid-market enterprises. With Scrut, compliance teams can reduce ~70% of their manual effort in continuously maintaining compliance towards SOC 2, ISO 27001, GDPR, PCI DSS, HIPAA, and CCPA. Schedule your demo today to see how it works.

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