NIST Penetration Testing Framework: A Cybersecurity Strategy

Cybersecurity is a hot topic these days. With all of the new cyberattacks and data breaches, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your business is safe from hackers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a penetration testing framework for this purpose, which we will discuss in detail below.

What is NIST?

NIST is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that provides guidelines and standards for practices in various industries, including cybersecurity. NIST has created Special Publications (SPs), which are publications on information technology topics, such as this penetration testing framework called “the Cybersecurity Assessment Tool”. The NIST Special Publication (SP 800-115) defines what types of security controls must be included when performing a penetration test

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration tests have been defined to include assessments or scans for vulnerabilities or violations against computer systems with special attention given to external attack surfaces. Penetration tests are often used to identify network weak points or vulnerabilities. In cybersecurity, penetration testing can be a useful way to determine how vulnerable an environment is to these types of attacks.

The NIST has developed a Cybersecurity Framework with federal agencies in mind, but it has many applications for other companies as well. For example, this framework could help a company comply with standards set forth by government regulations such as HIPPA, GLBA, FISMA, PCI DSS, etc.

What’s The Difference Between Compliance And Security?

Compliance means that your organization meets certain requirements while security means you have taken steps to protect yourself from cyber-attacks. Compliance is not the same thing as security, but having a high level of compliance can be an indicator that your organization takes its cybersecurity seriously.

What’s The NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) created this cybersecurity framework to help companies or organizations create their own customized plan for information technology security based on industry best practices. The goal was to reach businesses of all sizes with different levels of resources available. By helping smaller companies implement these standards, it means they are less likely to fall victim to cyberattacks than larger corporations who have more money invested in IT infrastructure. In addition, some state governments offer tax incentives when companies meet certain requirements for information technology security outlined by frameworks such as NIST.

What You Can Do Now

Penetration testing can give your company a good idea of where it stands in terms of security and help you implement the NIST Cybersecurity Framework so that you are protected from cyberattacks as much as possible.

What’s NIST Penetration Testing?

NIST penetration testing in the cybersecurity framework is a way to show that you are compliant with government regulations or can be used as an effective tool for assessing your security. This NIST Cybersecurity Framework was designed so companies of all sizes could implement it to test their web apps or IT networks, which means if your company falls under these guidelines it’s likely well protected from cyberattacks. Penetration tests can help determine whether there are any vulnerabilities within an environment and provide insight into implementing the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

Basic Steps Involved in NIST penetration testing

  • Consulting with subject matter experts
  • Identifying assets to be included in the assessment
  • Defining system boundaries and penetration testing scope
  • Developing a plan for each asset that includes threat scenarios, vulnerabilities, attack vectors (direct vs indirect) etc.
  • Conducting the penetration tests using automated tools or manual processes as required by your organization’s security policy.
  • The NIST Cybersecurity Framework uses risk mitigation strategies that can reduce exposure of systems to threats without disrupting business operations so it is critical you have comprehensive documentation during this process about what testing was done for compliance purposes.
  • After conducting penetration testing against all identified assets within an environment, you should use vulnerability management reporting software to store detailed results from scans performed on these different environments because having this documentation will help you meet compliance standards set forth by government regulations.


If you want to stay compliant with regulations and keep your company secure, NIST penetration testing is an excellent way to ensure that all of the holes in your cybersecurity are covered. NIST penetration testing also helps you stay secure and compliant with industry standards. I hope this blog post has given you some valuable information about the process and its benefits for security and compliance.

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