With cyber attacks on the rise, a proactive cybersecurity management program is essential to securing your systems and safeguarding your business. But how do you go about developing one? While some businesses choose to create one in-house, many choose to leverage one (or more) of the standard security frameworks.

Read on to get our top tips on how you can select the framework that’s best for your business.

What Is a Security Framework?

Cybersecurity frameworks are sets guidelines, standards, and best practices for organizations to follow in order to manage vulnerabilities, measure performance, and execute other key security functions. While different frameworks support different requirements, such as compliance and audit needs, they all share a common goal: to help businesses minimize their cyber risk.

Common Frameworks

NIST: Businesses across all industries leverage NIST to build or evaluate the effectiveness of their cybersecurity programs. The framework organizes security goals into five core stages: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover.

PCI DSS: PCI DSS is a framework designed to protect credit card data and applies to any business that accepts, transmits, or stores cardholder data. The framework provides detailed security standards on how businesses can tackle the unique threats facing payment environments.

HIPAA: HIPAA is a set of federal regulatory standards created to protect sensitive patient health information and focuses on three key areas: administrative safeguards (policies and procedures), physical safeguards (physical access control), and technical safeguards (hardware and software protection).

GDPR: The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation is a legal framework for any person, business, or organization (whether or not they’re physically located in the EU) that collects data from EU residents.

Establishing the Right Framework According to Your Goals


The first step in finding a framework fit to your needs is identifying what those needs are. What are the benefits you’re hoping to gain from your framework? Are you more concerned with boosting your incident response capabilities? Or do you need to improve your compliance? Whatever the case, gathering key stakeholders and identifying your priorities will help guide you in determining the right framework for your organization.


Security frameworks are placed within three main categories that are designed according to different functions. When narrowing down your choices, consider how each classification aligns with your needs.

Control frameworks are designed to help businesses implement baseline security controls, assess their current security capabilities, and create a basic roadmap for IT and security teams.

Program frameworks provide a higher level of control and are generally focused on evaluating and developing complete cybersecurity programs. They also help streamline communication between an organization’s management and cybersecurity teams.

Risk frameworks provide policies and procedures to help businesses understand, and manage cybersecurity risk. Functions of these frameworks often include creating risk management programs, defining key steps for handling threats, and prioritizing security activities.


Choosing a cybersecurity framework doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In fact, leveraging multiple frameworks is often a more effective approach. A healthcare organization, for example, needs to comply with HIPAA, but it may also leverage NIST for a more comprehensive approach to managing their security.


Once you’ve selected a framework, or potential framework, performing a gap analysis will give you needed insight into the current state of your cybersecurity compared to its target state. The result is a clear picture of what would need to change in order for your business to meet the expectations set out in your framework.


Pilot programs are a valuable tool for evaluating the fit of your chosen framework. Even in cases where your framework is legally mandated, running a pilot program will help your business determine the tools and practices needed to successfully deploy your framework at scale.

Start Shoring Up Your Cybersecurity.

As an award-winning Managed Security Service Provider with a customer-first attitude, we’re here to meet any of your unique cybersecurity needs. Contact us today to learn more about how our team of experts can help you find and deploy the framework that’s right for you.