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What’s the difference between NIST CSF and NIST 800-53?

Both the NIST 800-53 and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) are widely used cybersecurity frameworks developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Both frameworks offer guidance on how organisations can secure their IT infrastructure to prevent, control, mitigate, and respond to cyber threats and incidents.

While NIST CSF provides a broader framework for enhancing cybersecurity practices and policies, NIST 800-53 is a more comprehensive standard that provides specific security controls for each IT system.

Despite their commonalities, NIST CSF and 800-53 include some key differences. Continue reading to understand the difference between NIST CSF and NIST 800-53.

NIST CSF overview

NIST CSF is a voluntary framework designed to help organisations, regardless of size or industry, develop and implement comprehensive cybersecurity protocols and practices. It is intended to help organisations audit their existing cybersecurity practices, identify potential oversights and weak points, and build procedures and policies that enable agile threat detection and response procedures.

CSF is organised into five key functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. These functions are designed to include a set of outcomes that organisations can use to assess and improve their existing cybersecurity posture.

Because CSF is not geared towards any one industry or entity size, it is designed to be flexible and scalable. Therefore, while it provides a solid framework on which organisations can build their cybersecurity management programs, it lacks the comprehensive aspects of other standards.

NIST 800-53 overview

NIST 800-53 is an information and cybersecurity standard that provides guidelines for federal agencies, information systems, and third-party contractors that work with the United States government. While NIST 800-53 is a mandatory standard for these entities, many outside organisations choose to adhere to its standards and best practices to bolster their cybersecurity and information security policies and procedures.

NIST 800-53 includes a list of controls to support the development of resilient and secure federal information systems. It provides guidance to these entities on how to select, implement, and assess these provided security and privacy controls.

NIST 800-53 vs. NIST CSF: Similarities

The main similarities between these two standards are:

  • Both standards are developed and updated by NIST.
  • Both include guidelines for protecting information, IT, and security systems.
  • Both provide security controls and implementation guidance.
  • Both are designed to be adaptable to meet the specific needs of an organisation.
  • Both enable organisations to assess the effectiveness of their security controls.
  • Both include frameworks for continuous security development.

NIST 800-53 vs. NIST CSF: Differences

The primary differences between NIST 800-53 and NIST CSF are:

  • CSF is a voluntary framework for organisations, whereas NIST 800-53 is mandatory for federal information systems, agencies, and contractors with the US government.
  • CSF is a framework, while NIST 800-53 is a set of standards.
  • CSF is more focused on risk management, while NIST 800-53 provides detailed security controls.
  • CSF provides cybersecurity best practices, while NIST 800-53 provide security controls.

Learn more about NIST 800-53 and NIST CSF

Both NIST 800-53 and NIST CSF can be used by organisations to assess and enhance their cybersecurity practices, protocols and policies. To learn more about these frameworks and standards, please visit:

Contact Hicomply to learn more about compliance with these standards.