CFO Focus on Cybersecurity: NIST and Ntirety

C-Levels, and specifically CFOs and other financial executives, have increasingly used NIST standards to respond to cybersecurity requirements and the significant data risks they address. This transition of framework practices is possible in large part due to the existence of similar controls and measures in traditional finance operations. 

The NIST framework helps organizations define full-cycle solutions for assisting in planning and management, measurement and analysis, and response systems. The systems can provide answers and refinement to issues such as: 

  • Defining asset protection in strategy and planning 
  • Plans to meet the requirements of critical infrastructure operations 
  • Evaluation of incident response capabilities  
  • Evaluation of incident communication plans
  • Identification of critical assets, along with risks and vulnerabilities 
  • Plans to meet the standards of regulatory requirements 

The list expands from there and, as described in the previous article, an organization can use the NIST framework to quickly build a roadmap to better security. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that effective cybersecurity programs are proactive and continuous, aligning with operational strategies throughout. Additionally, frameworks can serve as a specific backbone towards maintenance and improvement.  

NIST Highlights 

Let’s dig into the tenants of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, which is composed of the following five elements: 

  • Identify: Identify the cybersecurity risk (vulnerabilities) to systems, people, assets, data, and capabilities 
  • Protect: Safeguard to ensure delivery of critical services 
  • Detect: Identify the occurrence of a cybersecurity event 
  • Respond: Take action regarding a detected cybersecurity incident 
  • Recover: Support timely recovery to normal operations to reduce the impact from a cybersecurity incident 

The framework helps companies create measures for practical cyber-incident prevention, response, and overall security design.  

Ntirety: Beyond NIST 

At some point, cybersecurity framework outcomes need to align with efforts. Cybersecurity is unique because of the systems and requirements involved; when cybersecurity is applied in a company environment, it is always layered through activities that build towards a complete solution. Complete is what we should all strive for, where nothing is left unmonitored, unverified, or unanswered. 

Ntirety answers the total solution by leveraging its approach to NIST outcomes. Ntirety groups the five elements outlined above into two broad categories: Protection and Recovery. It wraps the elements within an Assurance service designed to ensure the enterprise meets any outside requirements and the standards it has set for itself.

Figure 1: Ntirety Cybersecurity Framework Grouping – Comprehensive Compliant Security

Finance leaders will recognize the following categories, which are contextually analogous to NIST frameworks. First, we can regroup the NIST framework elements by dividing them into the two primary categories that define Internal Control frameworks, which are: 


  • Identify: Finding the vulnerabilities 
  • Protect: Implementing the systems and applications to close the identified vulnerabilities

Detective or Mitigating

  • Detect: Identify the occurrence of cybersecurity events 
  • Respond: Take action against the CS event 
  • Recover: Timely return to normal operations, minimizing the impact of the cybersecurity incident

Most Competitors are Single Track 

By comparison, every competitor falls into an approach that offers these general services: 

Protection Focus

  • Assessment Firms: Primarily do project-based work to identify cybersecurity vulnerabilities 
  • Protection Technology Firms: Often hardware or application vendors (i.e. firewall firms, endpoint protection technology companies)

Detection/Mitigation Focus

  • Managed Detection & Response (MDR) Service/Technology Providers  
  • Firms that specialize in mitigating cybersecurity incidents by identifying and addressing the cybersecurity event.  These firms are mix of technology providers to facilitate MDR and service providers

DRAAS & Backup Service Providers

  • A mix of application and service providers, providing technologies or the DR or backup service.  These are often not focused on security, but only in providing recovery from a platform or application failure 

COMPREHENSIVE Compliant Security is Different 

Unlike the competition, Ntirety’s comprehensive security solutions encompass both Protection and Mitigation in the context of financial controls. Further, unlike MDR firms Ntirety provides Secure Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) and Backup services. The competition generally addresses only a portion of the five elements of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, leaving the enterprise to manage the interoperation of various services, technologies, and applications – and often to execute the response actions provided by their MDR service providers.

Ntirety: NIST Foundation and Financial Sanctity 

Corporate governance, auditing, and frameworks allow executives, employees, and shareholders to keep financials in line with expectations. In cybersecurity, similar measures help guide a countless number of companies on their journey to improved operations and capability to respond and recover from cybersecurity incidents. Ntirety has built an industry-unique Comprehensive Compliance Security system that covers the complete NIST framework, adding Assurance to its features. With comprehensive Ntirety services, clients excel on their cybersecurity initiatives and benefit from more than 25 years of experience in designing, building, operating, and securing client environments.

CFO Focus on Cybersecurity: Why NIST Cybersecurity Frameworks Matter

From the moment any data system comes online, it is at risk of breach. Modern workloads and data reside, change, and grow in a medium of capabilities and simultaneous risk. In the wild, more than a million cyberattacks occur on the web on average each day. The odds of avoiding becoming a target are simply not very good. The need for continual cybersecurity measures is extremely prevalent, and there is a call for programs that feature heightened vigilance and performance in the face of modern threats.

Threats to Financial Teams

Financial teams are in an especially exposed position. Their data is a high-value target treading in a mass of computing largesse, and any leak could pose an existential threat to their careers, not to mention the company itself. The implications of just one successful attack could cost millions, and thus CFOs have grown to be shared custodians of cybersecurity initiatives. CFO executives have started to focus on cybersecurity solutions with more emphasis than ever before, and to explore the depths of current cybersecurity threat conditions. What this exploration has revealed is that the familiar benefits of frameworks can be applied towards solutions.

The Familiarity of Frameworks

Framework systems build on basic concepts and controls, and work as scaffolding systems that guide efforts through reporting, analysis, and workflows. Financial professionals are familiar with frameworks, as the framework is the core of financial operations. Without it, a business would lose control over finances and ultimately fail to succeed.  

Over the years, as threat and risk conditions have escalated, the setting for advanced cybersecurity measures has moved out of the server room (and the hands of information technology teams) and to the executive table. Championed by the CFO and other executives, this change demands direct access to the board and the budget planning process. Cybersecurity investments are critical and significant, and along with those characterizations the familiar standards of frameworks have proven to provide valuable measurement of risks, controls, and performance.

The NIST Standard 

One of the most accepted cybersecurity frameworks is the NIST standard known as the “NIST Cybersecurity Framework.” The NIST Cybersecurity Framework covers five key functions:

  • Identify
  • Protect
  • Detect
  • Respond 
  • Recover

Organizations are leveraging this framework as an anchor to build an approach that is repeatable, flexible, prioritized, cost-effective, and based on performance. In other words, the NIST framework checks all the boxes as it offers guidance and assistance toward the management of cybersecurity risks. Prevention, ruling measures, and the ability to recover in the event of an attack are all rolled into the framework.  

The NIST framework has gained merit with C-suites, boards, and CFOs, and it’s important to recognize its value in the cybersecurity conversation – and in providing a high-level overview of the business and its protections. Digging deeper, specific NIST publications (SP 800-171 and SP 800-53, as examples) offer more than 100 controls and measures and provide a roadmap to a better secured, lower risk future. These serve as the vehicle of justification for cybersecurity initiatives, creating greater success in the mission and for the business. 

Cybersecurity as Business Imperative 

Once relegated to information technology teams, cybersecurity has taken on an appropriate scope of enterprise-wide focus. Financial executives have stepped up to the risks and challenges of an age where traditional security mindsets cannot meet the standards of acceptance. Due to its existential nature and massive financial implications, cybersecurity has become the most significant risk to the business. Security frameworks have created a consumable channel at the executive table, providing valuable guidance towards better security practices and technologies.  

With any framework in place, the business begins to gain insight into and confidence in its measures. This applies in both financial matters and cybersecurity. With cybersecurity frameworks, organizations can leverage the virtual blueprints that emerge to create effective actions that feed directly into their cybersecurity infrastructure. These frameworks can take their place in technology decisions, as planning plus action equals results and improvements. Cybersecurity frameworks such as NIST help organizations assess and build actionable plans and determine exposure to risks.  

Cybersecurity guidance that is derived from a framework approach offers the most value when tactical points are matched up to actions. Organizations can pragmatically build out on a custom cyber-resilience strategy that aligns with the extremely individual context of an organization’s assumption of risks.  

How Ntirety Can Help 

Ntirety Compliance Services provide a comprehensive and reliable solution for ensuring your business remains compliant with industry regulations and NIST standards. Our team of experienced compliance experts will work closely with you to assess your current compliance posture, identify any potential gaps, and develop a customized plan to help your organization achieve and maintain compliance. With Ntirety services, you can feel confident your business is meeting all the necessary requirements and avoid costly penalties or other negative consequences. By choosing Ntirety Compliance Services, you can focus on running your business while we take care of the complicated compliance issues.