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Our previous blog introduced the significant updates in the 2.0 draft release of the Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This eagerly anticipated release introduces the new ‘Govern’ function, tailored to establish an organization’s enterprise risk management strategy that covers risks due to cyber, supply chain risks, and privacy risks.The ‘Govern’ function covers people, process, and technology elements that cover the roles, responsibilities, policies, procedures, and oversight in addition to the technology throughout the implementation of CSF 2.0.

This blog focuses on the ‘Govern’ function and examines what makes it indispensable and why it merits a dedicated position within this framework.

Why is Governance Critical?

The absence of a governance structure exposes organizations to a multitude of challenges, including:

  • Chaotic Decision-Making: Without governance, decisions may become arbitrary, driven by personal preferences rather than the organization’s best interests. This can lead to sub-optimal choices with far-reaching consequences.
  • Lack of Accountability: When a clear governance framework is absent, holding individuals or teams accountable for their actions and decisions becomes formidable. This void in accountability stifles transparency and impedes the critical process of learning from mistakes and improving continuously.
  • Confusion and Inefficiency: A clear governance framework is essential for defining organizational roles and responsibilities. When this structure is absent, it can create confusion in ownership of risk, hindering effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Reputational Damage: Public perception and trust are critical for the function of any organization. Inadequate governance can lead to decisions that irreparably damage an organization’s reputation due to the impact of Cybersecurity risks. The repercussions of such damage can be severe, impacting customer trust, investor confidence, and employee morale, sometimes taking years to rebuild.

Organizations must navigate myriad laws and regulations in today’s complex regulatory landscape. Without a well-defined governance structure, it is hard to understand the risks resulting from non-compliance. Lack of a governance structure can lead to legal consequences, financial loss, and reputational damage.

The “Govern” function highlights the significance of governance in overall enterprise risk management. Effective governance forms the backbone of successful organizations, providing a framework for order, transparency, and accountability. It ensures responsible decision-making and guarding against potential pitfalls.

Importance of Framework Tiers in Implementing the ‘Govern’ Function

The landscape of cybersecurity is in a constant state of flux, with evolving threats, changing business environments, and corresponding application and infrastructure changes. To keep up with these changes, it’s critical for your cybersecurity strategy to evolve as well. The first step to creating an effective cybersecurity strategy is to establish a clear organizational policy outlining the desired outcomes based on risks.

This is where governance plays a pivotal role. Governance ensures that your cybersecurity strategy aligns with your mission, business goals, acceptable risk(s) and stakeholder expectations while addressing the five NIST CSF core functions. Appendix B of the CSF 2.0 draft describes the ‘Tiers’ to gauge the alignment of an organization’s cybersecurity risk management practices with the framework. These Tiers indicate increasing rigor and integration into broader risk management practices, including third-party risk assessment. They represent maturity levels and offer organizations the flexibility to select a Tier that aligns with their goals, making it possible to address cybersecurity risks in a practical and cost-effective manner. The Tiers include:

Source: NIST CSF 2.0

The Tiers act as benchmarks and provide clear indicators of the organization’s cybersecurity readiness, helping to set expectations across the team, management, and the board. The tiers are indicators of the integration of the Cybersecurity risks into broader risk management decisions for the organization and the external parties it interacts with. The Tiers also represent the organization’s level of maturity in managing risks through automation, technology, people, and processes and being able to adapt to evolving threats.

How Caveonix Aligns with all Aspects of the ‘Govern’ Function

Caveonix’s AI-driven platform for hybrid multicloud effortlessly allows organizations to align with the six key aspects of the ‘Govern’ function. Therefore, streamlining compliance, security, and governance for improved risk management.

1. Organizational Context (GV.OC): Understanding Your Mission and Stakeholders

The first aspect of governance revolves around understanding the broader organizational context. This entails recognizing the organization’s mission, the expectations of various stakeholders, and the legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements that impact decisions related to managing cybersecurity risks. It also involves identifying and communicating essential goals and services expected by stakeholders and identifying the capabilities and outcomes that the organization depends on.

Caveonix’s risk dashboard serves as a valuable tool for stakeholders to gain a clear understanding of their organization’s risk status. It provides a structured evaluation of each organizational unit and presents attribution of the risks and detailed assessments for enterprise applications through a visual risk heat map. It classifies application risk based on their Business Impact Analysis (BIA) of critical, high, medium, or low. The assessments are represented by cloud, asset types, and regulatory compliance requirements. Furthermore, the dashboard actively tracks the impact of emerging trends in known exploits based on vulnerabilities and configuration issues in existing deployments.

The platform’s continuous monitoring, assessment, and reporting capabilities, coupled with real-time 360° visibility, empower organizations to thoroughly comprehend their risk posture. Every assessment results in the reporting of security and non-compliance risks across 45+ local and global regulations. The role-based dashboards allow different stakeholders within the organization to personalize their default dashboards and rearrange widgets according to their specific requirements.

2. Risk Management Strategy (GV.RM): Setting the Foundation

Your organization’s risk management strategy sets the tone for your cybersecurity approach. It establishes priorities, constraints, risk tolerance, and assumptions that inform operational risk decisions. In simpler terms, it functions as a guiding blueprint for your cybersecurity endeavors. Key actions in this process encompass setting explicit objectives, conveying risk parameters, incorporating cybersecurity seamlessly into broader risk management, articulating response strategies, facilitating effective communication, standardizing risk assessments, and identifying strategic opportunities.

Caveonix encourages a quantitative approach to risk management strategy rather than a qualitative one. For a robust cybersecurity risk strategy, it is good to start with clear priorities, constraints, risk tolerance levels, and assumptions that guide your operational risk decisions. After establishing the strategy, the next step is to implement it and assess its effectiveness based on quantitative assessments rather than qualitative methods. Quantification is vital for accurately assessing risk and identifying its contributing factors. It facilitates the analysis of organizational risk components and identifies attribution by departments, applications, and infrastructure, all of which influence the overall risk analytics. Setting risk thresholds helps prioritize risks that cross the tolerance levels. Over time, continuous monitoring and use of quantitative data provide insights into evolving risks, enhancing understanding of the enterprise risk landscape and alignment with its strategy.

The Caveonix platform offers quantitative risk analysis due to non-compliant controls and security issues (For example, vulnerabilities, code-related or configuration issues of cloud-native services). It helps to prioritize issues for mitigation based on the temporal risk (contextualized) score to create maximum impact in improving its risk posture with targeted efforts. Additionally, these scores generate heatmaps to pinpoint high-risk applications and trend data to track the improvements or lack thereof, resulting in valuable insights.

3. Cybersecurity Supply Chain Risk Management (GV.SC): Guarding Against Third-Party Risks

The cyber supply chain risk management subcategory involves identifying, establishing, managing, monitoring, and improving cybersecurity supply chain risk management processes. In an interconnected world, understanding the risks posed by suppliers, partners, and third parties is critical, as is integrating these risks into your broader risk assessment and improvement processes. This approach involves establishing a clear cybersecurity supply chain risk management program, defining roles, prioritizing suppliers based on criticality, integrating security requirements, assessing risks, and ensuring ongoing security and resilience in post-partnership activities.

Supply chain risk analysis involves two key aspects: identifying vulnerabilities in the vendor environment and managing associated risks. Caveonix provides a comprehensive asset inventory and the Software Bill of Material (SBOM) details. This allows Caveonix to identify all software components deployed in the environment and assess their vulnerability to new threats. Caveonix’s audit module allows organizations to conduct vendor risk assessments of people, processes, and technology in supplier organizations. This includes documentation of software assessment, external penetration testing, and secure coding practices. Additionally, the module provides vendor-specific reports and dashboards based on continuous monitoring and overall risk management.

4. Roles, Responsibilities, and Authorities (GV. RR): Accountability and Leadership

Establishing clear roles, responsibilities, and authorities is crucial for accountability in cybersecurity. It’s essential to ensure that organizational leadership takes responsibility for cybersecurity risks and fosters a culture that prioritizes risk awareness, continual improvement with adequate resource allocation, and integration of cybersecurity into human resources practices.

Caveonix’s platform offers a comprehensive overview of your risks at various levels, including application, departmental, and overall enterprise risk. By representing risk at various organizational levels, Caveonix’s platform empowers risk managers to hold individuals and organizations accountable. Additionally, the platform can establish and track specific milestones for accountability and help facilitate the tracking of continuous improvements.

The platform dashboard is fully customizable and provides tailored views to match different organizational roles and responsibilities, ensuring that individuals at varying levels have access to information pertinent to their duties. It implements attribute-based access control (ABAC) and custom role-based access control (RBAC) for robust authentication and authorization, allowing only authorized personnel to access and act upon the reported information.

5. Policies, Processes, and Procedures (GV.PO): The Foundation of Cybersecurity Governance

Organizations need comprehensive policies, processes, and procedures for effective cybersecurity governance and a foundation on which the cybersecurity strategy is built. These policies, once established, need to be communicated and enforced. They also must be flexible enough to adapt to changing requirements, threats, technology, and organizational missions.

The platform allows organizations to create and manage repositories of policies, processes, and procedural documentation. Caveonix also provides quick-start templates that organizations can customize based on their needs.

6. Oversight (GV. OV): Reviewing and Adjusting Your Strategy

The ‘Oversight’ category allows organizations to customize and adjust their strategies based on a continuous improvement process. The stakeholders must continuously review and adjust the strategies based on changing circumstances.

Caveonix governance, security, compliance, and risk dashboard provides near-real-time views of the organization’s performance against established metrics and facilitates data-driven decision-making processes to adjust the cybersecurity risk strategy to increase its effectiveness and stay aligned with organizational governance and risk management goals.

Discover how Caveonix can enable you to align with the six key aspects of NIST CSF 2.0’s new ‘Govern’ Function.

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Discover how Caveonix can enable you to align with the six key aspects of NIST CSF 2.0’s new ‘Govern’ Function.