What Is NIST 853?

InfoSec, SOC 2, ISO 27001, NIST 853—when it comes to technology standards and compliance, there are so many acronyms and frameworks. It can make your head spin!

The compliance space is constantly evolving, and it’s crucial to stay on top of new compliance measures. NIST 853 is an acronym worth knowing though. It’s a VIP (very important protection), and we’ve got all the deets RTG (ready to go). 

Learning about compliance is challenging. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into NIST SP 800-53, more commonly referred to as NIST 853. 

What Is NIST SP 800-53? 

NIST SP 800-53 stands for the National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-53. NIST 800-53 is a security compliance standard created for all U.S. federal information systems and is technology-neutral. Technology Neutrality is the freedom of individuals and organizations to choose the most appropriate and suitable technology to meet their needs. 

This special publication offers guidance on security and privacy controls for federal information systems and organizations. However, NIST 853 can be adopted by any organization operating with sensitive or regulated data. It provides a catalog of privacy and security controls for protection against various threats, from natural disasters to hostile attacks.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a non-regulatory government agency. Founded to inspire innovation and cooperation between industries and government agencies, it uses regulated compliance standards. 

NIST SP 800-53 is like FedRAMP, which you might be familiar with, but has some important distinguishing features. FedRAMP stands for the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program. Fedramp is used to promote the adoption of secure cloud services across the Federal Government by providing a standardized approach to security and risk assessment. It applies to federal government vendors. FedRAMP is based on NIST 800-53, and they’re complementary like bread and butter or sprinkles and cupcakes. 

The Purpose of NIST 853

NIST 800-53 was explicitly set up to help federal agencies and contractors meet the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requirements for guidelines and security controls that uniquely impact federal information systems. 

Another acronym—sorry! 

FISMA is a data security compliance act passed in 2002. Developed to strengthen information security within federal agencies, NIST 853 remains vital to FISMA compliance. 

Together NIST and FISMA heighten security for information systems used and maintained by the federal government. Ultimately, this leads to a more secure environment and reduces the risk of sensitive information and personal data breaches. 

There are three main goals of NIST 853:

  1. Provide a comprehensive and flexible catalog of controls for current and future protection based on changing technology and threats.
  2. Develop a foundation for assessing techniques and processes for determining control effectiveness.
  3. Improve communication across organizations through a common language

The controls established by NIST 800-53 improve risk management for any organization or system that processes, stores, or transmits information.

NIST SP 800-53 Basics

These compliance mechanisms might seem to be constantly changing names or updating. That’s because they are. Updating guidelines to keep up with ever-evolving security threats, which grow more severe by the day, is central to a robust InfoSec framework. 

The specific mechanisms of NIST SP 800-53 have a layered approach to risk management through control compliance. It’s like a control catalog. It defines 3 security baselines for a multi-tiered approach. 

Tier 1 provides a prioritization of business functions which in turn drives investment strategies and funding decisions. Tier 2 includes defining the business processes needed to support the organizational functions and determining the security categories of the information systems required to execute the processes. The Risk Management Framework (RMF) is the primary means of addressing Tier 3 and includes the security control selection process.

The RMF process is from NIST 800-30, Guide to Conducting Risk Assessments, but applies to many NIST publications.

The security controls addressed in NIST are designed to be policy and technology-neutral. Security controls may involve policy, oversight, supervision, manual processes, actions by individuals, or automated mechanisms implemented by information systems. 

NIST SP 800-53 addresses 322 controls that are broken down into 20 control families and broken down further into low, moderate, and high impact security control baselines. There’s also a privacy control baseline to protect individual privacy in the processing of personally identifiable information. 

Who Needs to Be NIST 853 Compliant

All federal agencies and organizations must follow NIST SP 800-53. Compliance is optional for organizations that don’t conduct business with the federal government, but it is in your best interest. Meeting the NIST 853 standard helps you establish a strong foundation for other regulations, like HIPAA and GDPR. Having the framework saves you time, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every standard you pursue.

Benefits of NIST 853

Becoming NIST 853 compliant helps improve the security of your organization’s information systems by providing a fundamental baseline for developing secure organizational infrastructure. 

NIST 853 compliance gives your clients the reassurance they need to know their data is in the right hands. You’re safeguarding their private and sensitive information from unauthorized eyes. 

While there are many benefits of NIST 853, especially for FISMA compliance, it’s essential to remember that NIST 853 isn’t a standalone framework. Integrating NIST 853 compliance with other security measures boosts your safety and reputation. 

To facilitate your NIST 853 compliance and overlapping, similar frameworks, partnering with a security provider that you can trust will save you time and headaches. That’s where Tugboat Logic comes in. 

How Tugboat Logic Can Help

Tugboat Logic’s integrated platform, easy-to-use workflow, and diverse security solutions help you manage your organization’s security risks. Our security veterans can facilitate your organization’s recommended and legally required compliance guidance so that you can focus on what you do best. We take care of the hard stuff. 

Want to get in touch with us and make a game plan for combatting your unique compliance needs? Prefer to explore on your own? Sign up for a free trial today.