NIST Security Standards and MDM

Sep 28, 2021 | 42Gears Team

NIST Security Standards

If your work is related to cybersecurity in any way, you've likely heard of NIST security standards. They represent an important set of best practices for managing and securing a business. Still, you may not know how to get started with compliance.

While there's no substitute for viewing the standards directly yourself, if you need a high-level overview, you've come to the right place. This article will help you get a better sense of what NIST standards stipulate, and the complex strategy you'll need to implement for compliance. Specifically, you'll see how mobile device management (MDM) software can help as one part of a bigger effort across every department of your company.

Introducing NIST Security Standards

In order to provide best practices for government partners, the American government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released an extensive series of cybersecurity guidelines. For example, NIST SP 800-171 focuses on the way entities handle CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information). Still, this is just one of many guidelines.

NIST standards are important for several reasons. For one, any company that serves as a contractor to the US government must follow NIST guidelines. Plus, NIST standards are quite rigorous. This means adhering to them will prepare an organization to uphold major industry-specific standards like HIPAA (in healthcare), FISMA (for sensitive government data), or SOX (in finance). This applies even outside the US, as prominent international legislation often overlaps heavily with NIST standards. Thankfully, NIST has released a high-level overview it calls the Cybersecurity Framework. This provides a bird's-eye view of the steps needed to keep the workplace safe. Specifically, the framework includes five major components:

  • Identify what assets your business has, what data you need to protect, and what threats exist to target that data
  • Protect devices and assets, as well as access to those devices
  • Detect potential threats as soon as they appear
  • Respond to breaches and threats, and prepare to respond to potential future breaches and threats 
  • Recover from breaches to resume normal operations, and prepare to recover from future breaches

It's important to recognize this framework requires many steps for adherence. No one security measure, and no one technology, will ever be sufficient. This means you need to be willing to integrate a lot of practices and technologies - including MDM.

Mobile Device Management: One of Many Innovations Needed for NIST Compliance

Let's take a look at the role MDM can play in meeting NIST standards. MDM software allows you to secure, monitor, and manage mobile devices and laptops. Particularly for aspects of the Cybersecurity Framework that focus on identifying and protecting assets, MDM is essential.

For example, MDM software can:

  • Maintain an inventory of your company-owned devices from a central console. You can also mandate specific usage mobile device guidelines. If the MDM detects that a user is in violation of these compliance policies, it can notify admins and automatically revoke access to sensitive resources. These features can help you to be in compliance with NIST guidelines surrounding CUI - for example, guideline 3.4.1 of the NIST 800-171 standards, which calls on organizations to create and maintain "baseline configurations and inventories of organizational information systems."
  • Manage user access. IT admins can remotely allow or revoke device access as needed. If multiple users need to share a single device, they can use multi-user profile features to maintain separate access. This can help organizations comply with NIST 800-171 guideline 3.1.2, which emphasizes the need to “limit system access to the types of transactions and functions that authorized users are permitted to execute.”
  • Hide and block access to applications and content that are not relevant for work, and limit users to a set of pre-approved applications and content. This aligns with NIST 800-171 guideline 3.4.8, which states that organizations should “apply deny-by-exception (blacklisting) policy to prevent the use of unauthorized software or deny-all, permit-by exception (whitelisting) policy to allow the execution of authorized software.”

Conclusion

Complying with the NIST Security Standards requires your entire organization to contribute. You'll need to pull together a holistic strategy in order to identify and protect assets, detect and respond to threats, and recover from security incidents.

Every part of your organization will need to contribute. This includes frontline workers, IT teams, and C-Suite executives alike. Software like endpoint security software and device management tools will also be essential.If you need to implement an MDM solution, 42Gears SureMDM is a great choice. It includes industry-leading proprietary mobile threat defense capabilities, and the tools you need to manage and secure Internet of Things (IoT) devices alongside phones and tablets.

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