NIST draft report: international cybersecurity standardization needed

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An interagency working group led by The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and The Department of Commerce recently published a draft report (the “Report”) recommending that the U.S. government increase its efforts to develop international cybersecurity standards by coordinating with other governments and the private sector.

Historically, U.S. standard setting efforts have been led by private organizations, with invited participation from government officials, industry and academia. With the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014 and President Obama’s executive order directing NIST to coordinate with other federal agencies on cybersecurity strategies, NIST has been at the forefront of cybersecurity standards development in the U.S. For example, the private sector is using and quoting the principles for the development of proper information security practices that were developed by NIST for the federal government. Meanwhile, in the Report and elsewhere, NIST continues to advocate for more participation and collaboration between government and the private sector on cybersecurity standards. 

The Report advocates for international cybersecurity standards to be developed through active participation and collaboration among the U.S. government, foreign governments and domestic and foreign private industry. The Report identifies four key reasons why the U.S. government should want to develop and use international cybersecurity standards:

• To enhance national and economic security and public safety

• To ensure standards and assessment tools for the U.S. government are technically sound

• To facilitate international trade

• To promote innovation and competitiveness

The Report includes a helpful supplement (the “Supplement”) which summarizes current international cybersecurity standardization efforts and catalogues U.S. government and private-sector engagement in these efforts. The Working Group also makes suggestions on how federal agencies can more effectively participate in these ongoing international efforts.

Public comments on the Report are due by September 24, 2015. The Report and the Supplement can be found on the NIST website. http://www.nist.gov.

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