What Is the NIST Penetration Testing Framework?

Table of Contents

When an organization’s system is under attack, it must quickly identify which component is vulnerable to repairing the source. This process not only works but also gives a positive outcome, meaning there won’t be any more attacks.

Professionals within cybersecurity might perform what’s called “penetration testing.” The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides guidelines on how businesses should manage their risks regarding hacking attempts.

One way you could do yours would involve performing pen tests and assessing compliance with standards set out by these policies through scientifically conducted tests.

What is the NIST Framework?

The Cybersecurity Framework from NIST is a roadmap to help organizations identify their cyber risks and commit themselves fully to the best cybersecurity risk planning practices.

NIST Framework components

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a way to help organizations identify their cyber risks and prepare them for attacks. The new Framework was published as “The Architecture Framework.”

It guides what types or activities should take place during cybersecurity planning sessions and instructions on how best to handle incidents once something happens. The process can be broken down as follows:


When management doesn’t understand the risks they’re facing, it creates gaps in their security posture. We discover identified vulnerabilities and fill them with knowledge so that you can better protect your business from external threats by leveraging best practices internally too.

Organizations must develop deep knowledge of their environment with so many risks to manage. This enables them to take actions based on risk exposure and understanding to mitigate these threats before they harm systems or assets.


When protecting your company, it is essential to be comprehensive. There are many different ways of doing this. One way might include ensuring that all employees know about security procedures and having regular meetings where data protection issues could again come up for discussion.

Having a friendly yet firm policy regarding data protection is also essential. This will show employees that the company cares about their security and is serious about enforcing the rules.


To keep your organization safe and secure, you need a way for employees and clients to communicate securely. A well-implemented encryption system will not only protect data, but it’s also easy on the eyes.

By installing measures to detect an attack instantly, you’ll be able to maintain visibility on networks and thus respond quickly. By constantly monitoring for threats, prepare yourself against future ones, even if they are unknown.


Your organization needs to have plans to prevent further damage when a cyber breach occurs. Your response plan should detail who will be running the show and what measures they’ll take during an event and after it’s over so you can identify where improvement might need some work.


You can’t be too careful when recovering from an attack. You need a plan that allows quick access and easy restoration of critical activities, so think about what needs the highest priority in your recovery – this should help get things back on track quickly!

Importance of NIST Framework

Cyberspace is an increasingly dangerous place. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework helps organizations identify and prioritize their cyber risks to enable them with the tools they need for successful planning in this constantly changing environment.

The Framework demands quick action and thoughtful consideration of potential impacts across different areas within your business.

What is NIST 800-171?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published 800-171, a set of standards that help to protect classified information from leaking out of the computer system.

NIST developed this publication for companies or organizations operating legally with federal civilian departments within America, as well as non-federal country entities who are also complying under the law, can comply accordingly without fretting about violating anyone’s privacy laws.

They have been adequately trained to safely handle this type of sensitive data during transmission via email attachments sent over unsecured networks such as Gmail.

NIST penetration tests with RSI Security  

It’s never too early to start planning for a pen test. By mimicking actual world attacks, you can get an idea of how well your organization protects itself from cybercriminals and enhance its efforts by doing regular exercises in cybersecurity defense.

The penetration testing scenarios can be daunting, but protecting your company from hackers is essential. Luckily for you, there are professionals at RSI Security who will put into perspective what happens in the mind of a hacker so that we’re always one step ahead.

RSI Security controls can help you identify vulnerabilities and security-related weaknesses and gaps and prioritize your risks to ensure that the most important ones get attention in case of a breach.

NIST Penetration Test Framework

NIST CSF provides three functions we can use when you perform penetration tests.

The first is to identify all the devices on your network and understand business processes to determine which assets are most critical or vulnerable based on their importance within this overall process. So it’s crucial not only to know what systems need penetration testers but also how those things function.

Secondly, use technology to help keep your company safe. This includes implementing technical security controls measures such as firewalls and anti-virus software on all devices to protect against cyber threats while also making sure employees have strong passwords for their accounts that are constantly updated with new information about known attacks or precautions taken by hackers themselves if they’re trying to go unnoticed online.

Lastly, detect malicious activity early enough so you can take steps back before any irreversible damage has been done.

Phases implemented to perform penetration testing

Planning Phase

The planning phase of penetration testing is a time for the tester to meet with your organization and outline specific details about what they will be doing during their pretest analysis and penetration testing attempts. These meetings include discussing expectations, objectives, and goals that need to be achieved within specific timelines, depending on organizational policy.

Also, exploring the legal implications and any risks involved so you can make an informed decision when approving each stage will not come back later because someone forgot something.

After rules have been identified following management preferences, it’s important not only do we get clearance but also documentation showing how these tests will not violate any laws.

Discovery Phase

The discovery phase of an attack can be broken down into two subphases: testing and scanning. The tester begins by gathering information, which may include using various techniques to gather crucial details about hosts on the network, such as their open ports and services currently running in them; this process is known as “scanning.”

Testers conduct extensive, non-routine discovery during the first phase. They use hostname and IP address information to discover DNS queries and network sniffing or interrogations for learning hosts’ names and their corresponding server addresses.

In addition, you might want to check out company servers such as email, backups, and authentication for any information gathered about systems or users on the network. Pen testers also check for weak passwords by performing brute force attacks on systems.

Attack Phase

To execute an attack, four steps must be completed. These include gaining access and confirming vulnerabilities if successful with possible mitigating responses afterward, depending on how much skillful work was put into exploiting them during this process.

Also, identifying what additional tools need installation onto your system or networked devices might help you further explore its inner workings. Those steps are:

1. Reconnaissance

2. Scanning

3. Gaining Access

4. Maintaining access

Reporting Phase

As the final step of your penetration test, you will need to document any findings and provide regular status updates on progress. This includes written logs and periodic reports, so risk ratings can evolve six months or one year after completion, depending on what’s best for the business.


The NIST Framework is a comprehensive and detailed guide that organizations of all sizes can use to improve their cybersecurity posture.

While it may seem daunting, the Framework comprises modular components that can be tailored to your organization. Using the NIST Framework will significantly help you demonstrate due diligence in protecting your customers’ data and complying with relevant regulations.

For more information on how the NIST Framework can benefit your organization, check out our website, where we have a wealth of resources, including case studies and webinars. Thanks for reading.`

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