Incidents of corporate cyber attacks are rising. In fact, they’re up by fifty percent in the past year. 

It’s a sad truth that the more vital data your organization has, the more bad actors out in the world will take steps to steal, alter, or hold it for ransom. As a result, you need to have the processes and practices in place to protect your data and mitigate the impact of a cyber attack. You can use cybersecurity frameworks for this purpose.

This post will dive into the details of cybersecurity frameworks. We’ll discuss what they are, why they’re important, and then dive into seven of the most common frameworks—and how you can maintain compliance.

What Are Cybersecurity Frameworks? 

Let’s begin with some essential context. What are cybersecurity frameworks? The standards, guidelines, and best practices your organization follows to mitigate and manage digital risk fall into your cybersecurity framework

Your cybersecurity framework shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. Instead, you’ll build and follow a framework that aligns with your organization’s security objectives. Your security objectives are the security-related goals your organization wants to—or must—achieve. 

Related Read: 4 Critical Proactive Cybersecurity Measures You Need in 2023

Most organizations strive for confidentiality, integrity, and availability. These objectives mean that organizational data is kept secure, accurate, and available to use and reference appropriately. 

You can also improve your security rating or security posture using various cybersecurity frameworks. Following the best practices and processes laid out by industry experts is the best way to ensure your organization takes all necessary steps to keep your data and network secure.  

Why Are Cybersecurity Frameworks Important? 

We’ve established what a cybersecurity framework is. Now, let’s take a moment to examine why they’re important for you and your organization to understand and implement appropriately. 

In today's world, digital assets are crucial to any organization. Protecting these assets is more important than ever, considering the increasing reliance on online operations. Cybersecurity frameworks have become a necessity to safeguard digital assets and mitigate the risks of cyber attacks. These frameworks provide a set of guidelines and best practices to ensure the security and privacy of digital assets.

How important is security to your customers? It turns out that it is incredibly important. In fact, sixty percent of small businesses that suffer a cyber attack go out of business within six months. But it’s not just small businesses that are in danger. Facebook and Google lost upwards of $100 million after an attack in 2017.

Additionally, many cybersecurity frameworks are mandatory. The government or other regulatory bodies require organizations to meet certain security standards related to customer and payment card data. Failure to comply with these mandatory frameworks can result in hefty fines, legal action, or even loss of business. Noncompliance can also lead to reputational damage and loss of customer trust, which can hurt your organization’s bottom line.

Related Read: 3 Hidden Costs of Cyber Security Compliance (and How To Mitigate Them)

Moreover, organizations can choose to become "certified compliant" with cybersecurity frameworks, which can improve their reputation and attract more customers. By adhering to these frameworks, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to protecting sensitive information, building consumer trust. 


Types of Cybersecurity Frameworks 

This post will cover seven different cybersecurity frameworks, but before we discuss the frameworks in detail, we must first establish the different types of frameworks. 

Cybersecurity frameworks fall into one of three categories. Frank Kim, former CISO for SANS institute, set forth these categories. According to Kim, all cybersecurity frameworks can be split into three types, separated by their purpose. 

Control Frameworks 

Control frameworks provide a baseline strategy for your cybersecurity team. This type of framework can be used to assess the current state of your organization and establish your present security posture. 

Example: CIS Controls

Program Frameworks 

A program framework is a cybersecurity framework you can use to build a full, comprehensive security program. You can use this type of framework to measure program security and streamline communication within your organization.

Example: NIST 800-171

Risk Frameworks 

Lastly, you must familiarize yourself with risk frameworks. This type of framework is all about risk assessment and best practices for risk management. Using a risk framework, you can manage cybersecurity risks in your organization.

Example: PCI-DSS

7 Most Important Cybersecurity Frameworks 

1. NIST 800-171

NIST 800-171 is an important cybersecurity framework that provides guidelines for the protection of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in organizations outside the federal government. Any information that is sensitive but unclassified is considered CUI. Though unclassified, you must keep this data confidential.

The NIST 800-171 framework outlines fourteen control families and 110 controls designed to protect CUI. These controls cover a wide range of areas, including:

  • Access control
  • Incident response
  • Media protection

If your organization handles CUI, you must comply with the controls outlined in NIST 800-171. Failure to comply with the framework can result in penalties, fines, and potentially even the loss of government contracts.

NOTE: NIST 800-171 compliance is not just limited to government contractors or organizations that work with the government. Any organization that handles CUI, whether it is a small business or a large corporation, must comply with this framework. 

Following these guidelines can help your organization improve its cybersecurity posture and reduce the risk of cyber attacks. You can use a solution like CimTrak to simplify your cyber hygiene and infrastructure management processes. Features such as compliance auditing, continuous data monitoring, and more can help you manage vulnerabilities.

2. ISO 27000 Series 

The ISO 27000 Series is a comprehensive cybersecurity framework that provides guidelines for information security management systems (ISMS) to protect sensitive information. 

This framework was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and is one of the world's most widely recognized and respected cybersecurity frameworks. The series consists of several standards, including ISO 27001, the main ISMS standard.

The purpose of the ISO 27000 Series is to provide a systematic approach to managing sensitive information, regardless of organization size, industry, or nature. The framework covers a wide range of areas, including:

  • Risk management
  • Asset management
  • Access control

This framework can help your organization protect its sensitive information from a wide range of cybersecurity threats, including data breaches, malware attacks, and social engineering attacks. Any organization that wants to improve its cybersecurity posture can benefit from implementing the framework. 

If your organization becomes certified compliant with this framework, you can demonstrate to customers and stakeholders that cybersecurity is a priority. As a result, you can more easily build trust with your customers.  

Conducting a risk assessment is one of the crucial steps you must take toward ISO 27001 compliance. A tool like CimTrak can help log, track, and improve any security risks in your network. 


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced by the European Union (EU) in 2016 to provide greater protection for the personal data of individuals within the EU. 

The purpose of the GDPR is to ensure that organizations are transparent in their use of personal data and that individuals have greater control over how their data is collected, processed, and stored. The framework applies to any organization that handles the personal data of EU-based individuals, even if the organization itself has no ties to the EU. 

One of the key requirements of the GDPR is that organizations must obtain explicit consent from individuals before collecting or processing their personal data. Additionally, organizations must implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data from unauthorized access, disclosure, or loss.

Noncompliance with the GDPR can result in significant fines and reputational damage for organizations. CimTrak’s complete integrity monitoring, automated configuration monitoring, and perimeter protection tools make GDPR compliance far simpler and more manageable for your organization. 


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was introduced by the United States government to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information (PHI) in the healthcare industry. 

The purpose of HIPAA is to ensure that individuals' medical information is secure and that they have control over how their information is used and disclosed. The framework applies to any organization that handles PHI, including healthcare providers, health plans, and more.

HIPAA comprises two main rules, the Privacy Rule and the Security Rule. 

  • The Privacy Rule sets standards for how healthcare providers must protect the privacy of individuals' medical information.
  • The Security Rule outlines the administrative, physical, and technical safeguards that organizations must implement to protect PHI from unauthorized access, disclosure, or loss. 

Noncompliance with HIPAA can result in significant fines and reputational damage for organizations. Using a cybersecurity solution with administrative safeguards, transmission security measures, and cyber resiliency features can help your organization manage HIPAA requirements with ease. 


COBIT, or Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology, is a well-known framework designed to provide comprehensive guidelines for IT governance and management. 

This framework was created by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), an independent, non-profit association, and is intended to apply to organizations of all sizes and industries that use IT systems.

COBIT provides a set of best practices organizations can use to streamline IT strategies and business objectives to ensure that security and compliance are at the heart of all your operations.

COBIT is based on five principles underpinning effective IT governance and management: 

  1. Meeting stakeholder needs
  2. Covering the enterprise end-to-end
  3. Applying a single, integrated framework
  4. Enabling a holistic approach
  5. Separating governance from management.

Organizations that adopt COBIT can benefit from improved IT governance and management, reduced risk, and increased compliance with regulatory requirements. 

COBIT provides a comprehensive set of controls that organizations can use to manage their IT risks, along with guidance on how to implement those controls effectively. Robust file integrity monitoring and system integrity assurance, supported by a tool like CimTrak, is the surest way to comply with COBIT’s requirements and guidelines. 


Standing for “Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard,” PCI-DSS is a comprehensive framework comprising 12 requirements, each with its own sub-requirements. 

The requirements of PCI-DSS cover a wide range of security measures, including:

  • Data encryption
  • Network segmentation
  • Access control
  • Regular vulnerability assessments

Compliance with PCI-DSS is essential for any organization that accepts payment cards, as failure to comply can result in costly fines, legal actions, and reputational damage.

Related Read: Why a Firewall & Antivirus are not enough for PCI Compliance

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number and sophistication of cyberattacks targeting payment card information. As a result, compliance with PCI-DSS has become more important than ever. 

Cybersecurity professionals have a critical role to play in helping organizations achieve and maintain PCI-DSS compliance. This includes conducting regular security assessments, implementing security controls and tools designed to help with PCI-DSS compliance, and providing ongoing security training to employees.

7. CIS Controls

Lastly, you must understand CIS Controls. CIS Controls is a comprehensive framework consisting of twenty different prioritized actions. The aim of these actions is to improve your organization’s security posture.

CIS Controls fall into one of three categories:

  1. Basic Controls
  2. Foundational Controls
  3. Organizational Controls

Basic Controls are essential for any organization seeking to establish a strong cybersecurity foundation, while Foundational and Organizational Controls provide a roadmap for more advanced security measures. 

Compliance with CIS Benchmarks is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended for organizations that want to improve their overall security posture, improve their reputation with customers and stakeholders, and reduce their risk of cyber attacks.

The CIS Controls framework is based on real-world data and insights from actual cyber attacks, making it a highly effective framework for improving an organization's security posture. The controls are continuously updated to reflect the latest threat intelligence, ensuring that organizations have the most effective security measures in place to defend against cyber threats. 

Implementing CIS Controls requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach involving all organizational stakeholders, including IT teams, management, and employees. You must also utilize a tool that can assist with system hardening and vulnerability management to comply with CIS Benchmarks and Controls. 

How to Maintain Compliance with Your Cybersecurity Frameworks 

In the modern environment, every business should strive to comply with any cybersecurity frameworks that might protect their business’s and customers’ data. As a result, you’ll likely need to comply with multiple frameworks simultaneously.

Managing the necessary reporting and security procedures can be challenging. However, with the right tools in place, you can maintain continuous compliance and keep your data secure.

CimTrak can help your security and compliance teams achieve continuous full system protection with features like automated detection, dynamic version control, change prevention, and robust automated change logs. 

To see how CimTrak can help you manage all the cybersecurity frameworks that apply to your business, check out a free Instant Preview of CimTrak today. 


Lauren Yacono
Post by Lauren Yacono
April 6, 2023
Lauren is an IU graduate and Chicagoland-based Marketing Specialist.

About Cimcor

Cimcor’s File Integrity Monitoring solution, CimTrak, helps enterprise IT and security teams secure critical assets and simplify compliance. Easily identify, prohibit, and remediate unknown or unauthorized changes in real-time