NIST Readiness Assessment – The Roadmap to Improving Your Cybersecurity Program

Welcome back! In our previous post on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), we explained how the core functions of the framework act as universal guidelines for enhancing an enterprise’s cybersecurity practices. In this post, we’ll go over how an enterprise is categorized based on the NIST CSF assessment. When it comes to cybersecurity, there is no guarantee that a company is completely safe. It all depends on the measures it takes. Therefore, security leaders of companies must prioritize conducting a cybersecurity readiness assessment to identify the flaws in their cybersecurity practices and develop a robust strategy to go up the maturity curve.

The NIST CSF facilitates cybersecurity readiness assessment based on the core functions—Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover. NIST classifies each company under relevant categories based on the results of the assessment.

NIST CSF Readiness Assessment - Its Stages

Reshaping the cybersecurity landscape of a company is important to ensure that the business can create value consistently. The NIST CSF assessment is aimed at helping CISOs and security teams understand their enterprise’s cybersecurity maturity level. The assessment provides a structured approach around each of the core functions to get an overall understanding of where that company stands in terms of cybersecurity management.

The results of the NIST CSF risk assessment classify companies into the following four categories:

nist csf assessment

Level 1 - Reactive

In the ‘Reactive’ stage, the company’s readiness posture may be defined, but the organization may be unable to put the plan into action unless a unless a major mishap takes place. The existing risk management practices may be inconsistent. A reactive approach to risk management that solely focuses on the company’s past encounters may be unworthy considering the current business complexities. Therefore, the company should raise its cybersecurity standards through relevant expertise and assistance. In other words, enterprises at this stage should improve their cybersecurity practices and become more flexible through prediction and forecasting capabilities.

Level 2 - Informed

Companies in the ‘Informed’ stage are one step ahead of the ‘Reactive’ stage. They may be aware of the cybersecurity risks, whether internal or external, that could threaten their company. But they may still struggle to implement a proactive risk management strategy due to a lack of resources or inexplicable reasons. The usage of modern technologies may be minimal, and periodical risk assessment practices may be missing.

Level 3 - Proactive

Based on the NIST CSF assessment results, at this stage, enterprises may proactively, or ahead of time, seek out to mitigate risks and threats. Their processes are better implemented through modern technologies and solutions that enable prediction and monitoring capabilities to manage and tackle cybersecurity risks efficiently. The combined analysis of the company’s past and potential future risk encounters helps ensure there’s little to no operational disruption. Companies in the ‘Proactive’ stage are better equipped to minimize the impact of cybersecurity incidents. They can seamlessly prioritize cybersecurity incidents.

Level 4 - Adaptive

In the ‘Adaptive’ or the final stage, companies may be adaptive to the ever-changing landscape. They are agile and able to respond to risks as they appear, but not after a breach or security event occurs. They may be able to realign their practices and objectives easily. The involvement of advanced strategic planning would be high at this stage, and companies may be well aware of adversary tactics. There wouldn’t be any room for questions on the lack of interconnectedness within the enterprise. Overall, the company would have built sophisticated cybersecurity capabilities.
NIST cybersecurity framework helps eliminate the difficulties involved in securing a company’s data and processes. The NIST CSF assessment lays out a roadmap for analyzing and adopting the right methodologies to raise a company’s cybersecurity maturity level.
Now that we have understood how the NIST CSF assessment works, let’s take a look at how ServiceNow SecOps brings in the technology advantage and what makes it a good combination with NIST CSF for enterprises to implement to achieve their cybersecurity goals.

ServiceNow Security Operations (SecOps) - End-to-End Cybersecurity Solution

With ServiceNow, enterprises have been able to transition from their age-old processes to a modern way of carrying out business operations through AI and machine learning capabilities. They have been assisting enterprises in reaching the highest level of maturity, not just in terms of cybersecurity but the overall organizational aspects.
For companies that follow the NIST framework, ServiceNow Security Operations can help them advance their security framework to the next level and enable them to tackle cybersecurity risks efficiently. ServiceNow SecOps helps enterprises reach the “Proactive and Adaptive” stage of cybersecurity management through its solutions. Companies can get an overall view of their systems on a single platform. Here are some benefits of ServiceNow SecOps that help enterprises improve their cybersecurity posture:
  • Quick Response to Security Incidents: Companies can leverage automation to cater to and resolve security incidents within a short time.
  • Detailed Guidance on Solving Cybersecurity Incidents: Security teams can get their hands on playbooks that can provide guidelines on how common security incidents can be resolved.
  • Prompt Prediction of Cybersecurity Threats: Enterprises can predict adversary tactics and prevent potential cybersecurity incidents with the MITRE ATT&CK framework.
  • Easy Resolution of Application Vulnerabilities: The security risks involved during the development stage of applications can be resolved easily through continuous monitoring processes.
  • Advanced Cybersecurity Insights to Stakeholders: Security teams can explain the state of the company’s security and the investments required through advanced analytics dashboards.
Final Words
Building a strong cybersecurity posture requires consistent efforts and constant analysis of the company. As technologies and businesses evolve, companies should be able to adapt to the growing complexities in cybersecurity management. Along with adopting the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, implementing ServiceNow SecOps helps enterprises accelerate cybersecurity transformation and be future-ready.
KANINI, as a ServiceNow Premier Partner and an experienced Managed Services Provider (MSP), helps enterprises implement ServiceNow SecOps efficiently and extract maximum benefits. KANINI can guide you too on how to progress from “Reactive” level to reach an ‘Adaptive’ state, improve cybersecurity maturity through a robust strategy, and succeed. Reach out to us at to know more.

Joshua Smith

Joshua is a process improvement thought leader and digital transformation expert at KANINI. Over the past 15 years, his focus has always been on achieving organizational maturity and enhancing business processes through implementing tools and workflows to drive transformation initiatives. With experience in multiple verticals from – manufacturing to healthcare, Joshua brings a practitioner’s perspective when working on business solutions and goals to allow him to advise and guide on industry and process best practices.

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