As mentioned in our previous Alert, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently released the long-anticipated “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity" (FICIC). Yesterday, the Director of the NIST, Peter Gallagher, answered questions about the Framework and its creation, goals, and future use.

In a nationally-broadcast panel discussion, Gallagher emphasized that the FICIC is industry-driven, industry-focused, and industry-friendly. Gallagher commented that, after a decade of failed federal legislation, the Framework offers much needed guidance in the area of cybersecurity. It was drafted with full and open collaboration with industry professionals, and it was built upon practices that had already been tried and proven in the market.

While Gallagher described the FICIC as a flexible, living document, he stated that did not mean that the Framework is a preliminary model that can be set aside until a more permanent model comes along. "If you’re waiting for this to settle down before you do anything about it, you’re going to miss the train," said Gallagher. "[T]he Framework will actually be driven by those who are the users and adopters of it."

Although the FICIC itself is not mandatory, it is expected to set the standard for vague terms such as "reasonable" and "adequate" that are scattered throughout preexisting data security laws and regulations. The FICIC should be welcomed by anyone who has had to determine the "reasonableness" or "adequacy" of their company’s security policy, training, response plan, etc.

Our Data Security, Privacy and Cyberliability team has extensive experience counseling clients on cybersecurity policies and practices, and representing clients who have been affected by a security breach or other cyber incident. We welcome your questions about the FICIC, as well as any other aspect of cybersecurity risks, principles, or procedures.