Demystifying cybersecurity terms: Policy, Standard, Procedure, Controls, Framework, Zero Trust

I am often asked what is the difference between Policy, Standard, Procedure in cybersecurity.

Well, here it is:

1. Cybersecurity Standard

A cybersecurity standard is a set of guidelines, criteria, or best practices that organizations follow to ensure that their security controls and procedures align with industry standards or regulatory requirements. Standards provide a benchmark for measuring security maturity and often serve as a reference for audits and assessments. Common cybersecurity standards include ISO 27001, NIST Cybersecurity Framework, and CIS Controls.

2. Cybersecurity Framework

A cybersecurity framework is a structured approach to managing and improving an organization’s cybersecurity posture. It’s a comprehensive set of best practices, guidelines, and tools designed to help organizations assess, develop, and enhance their cybersecurity programs. Frameworks provide a strategic perspective and often include a collection of policies, procedures, controls, and standards. Prominent frameworks include NIST Cybersecurity Framework, CIS Critical Security Controls, and ISO 27001.

As can be seen, a standard often doesn’t come alone, it comes with a framework, which allows the implementer to start quickly and create a basis for the cybersecurity implementation.

3. Cybersecurity Policy

A cybersecurity policy is a foundational document that sets the overarching principles and guidelines for an organization’s security posture. It is a high-level, strategic document that outlines the organization’s commitment to security, the roles and responsibilities of individuals and departments in safeguarding assets, and the consequences of non-compliance. Cybersecurity policies are essential for aligning security efforts with business goals and regulatory requirements.

4. Cybersecurity Procedure

While policies provide a high-level framework, procedures are the detailed step-by-step instructions that help employees or security personnel implement the policies effectively. Procedures are specific and actionable, often detailing how to respond to security incidents, configure software securely, or conduct security audits. They ensure consistency and best practices are followed in day-to-day operations.

5. Cybersecurity Control

Controls are measures, safeguards, or countermeasures that organizations put in place to protect their information systems and data. Controls can be technical, administrative, or physical in nature. They are designed to mitigate risks by preventing, detecting, or responding to security threats. Examples include firewalls, access controls, encryption, and antivirus software.

In summary, these four terms play distinct but interrelated roles in the world of cybersecurity. Policies set the overarching goals and principles, procedures provide the detailed instructions for implementation, controls are the measures and safeguards in place to protect against threats, and standards offer a reference point to ensure compliance with established best practices.

Effective cybersecurity requires a holistic approach that encompasses all these elements. By establishing clear policies, well-documented procedures, robust controls, and adherence to industry standards, organizations can better defend themselves against the ever-evolving threat landscape and protect their sensitive data and digital assets.

6. Zero Trust

Zero Trust in Cybersecurity: from myth to the guide


7. Authentication and Authorization


The post Demystifying cybersecurity terms: Policy, Standard, Procedure, Controls, Framework, Zero Trust first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.

Zero Trust in Cybersecurity: from myth to the guide

Every single day I read news on various portals and on LinkedIn and I encounter a lot of buzz words.

Most of the time I just smile recognizing the marketing b**it, and continue to scroll…

This time, I found an article from the Germany’s Federal Bureau of Information Security (BSI) and it was about Zero Trust (DE). Note, this is summary, meant to be full of buzzwords, not a guide or anything similar.

I have to say that Zero Trust used to be a lot more prominent in the Corona years, between 2020 and 2022 than it is now. This shows also the history on IT Security News and Google Trends.


What is Zero Trust?

Zero Trust is a cybersecurity framework designed to address the limitations of traditional perimeter-based security models. Oh, if you didn’t read the article on cybersecurity framework, go there and give it a try.

In the past, companies would rely on firewalls and trust the inside network while treating the outside as a potential threat.

Zero Trust, on the other hand, assumes that threats can originate from both inside and outside the network. It promotes a “never trust, always verify” approach or how we usually say, to be politically correct, “trust is good, but control is better”.


Core principles

1. Identity Verification

Before granting access every user, device and application attempting to access network resources must go through a verification process.

2. Limited Access Privileges

Users and systems should only have access to the resources, for their tasks; nothing

3. Micro Segmentation

The network is split into separate sections to limit the spread of threats.

4. Continuous Monitoring

Constantly observing and analyzing network activity, user actions and system well being, in time.

5. Flexible Access Control

Access permissions can adjust dynamically depending on the users actions, device security status and contextual factors.


Why Zero Trust is such a popular term

Zero Trust is not exclusive to any industry or company size. It can be implemented by any organization looking to enhance its cybersecurity posture. Whether you’re a business or a multinational corporation Zero Trust can be tailored according to your requirements.

Due to the COVID 19 restrictions, all companies had to increase the reliance on cloud services, implement remote work, and proliferate mobile devices, which resulting in an expanded traditional network perimeter.

This transformation has made organizations more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

To summarize, these are the main reasons why Zero Trust has become so popular:

1. Changing Nature of Cyber Threats

With cyber threats becoming advanced and unpredictable organizations need to take measures to defend against them.

2. Impact of Remote Work

The COVID 19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of work rendering traditional network perimeters ineffective.

3. Embracing Cloud Services

As businesses shift towards cloud computing, data and applications are no longer limited to, on premises environments.

4. Adherence to Data Privacy Regulations

Compliance with data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA necessitates the implementation of data protection measures.

Implementing the Zero Trust framework

There is nothing new here, the same steps apply as to any other cybersecurity framework and ISMS.

I will not go into details about it, just go back and read these articles on ISMS and NIS2.

1. Identify and classify your digital assets

2. Implement strong user authentication methods, verify their identities before granting access

3. Ensure that users and systems have the minimum necessary access permissions.

4. Segment your network into smaller zones to limit lateral movement in case of a breach.

5. Deploy real-time monitoring and analysis tools to track anomalies

6. Implement Adaptive Access Control

7. Encrypt data both in transit and at rest

8. Conduct regular security audits

9. Educate employees about the importance of security

10. Develop an Incident Response Plan


The post Zero Trust in Cybersecurity: from myth to the guide first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.

NIS2: 3.Establish a cybersecurity framework

We wrote here that the 3rd  step in implementing the requirements of the directive is to establish a cybersecurity framework.

If you haven’t read what a cybersecurity framework means, then you should read article: .


Establishing a cybersecurity framework is critically important for organizations of all sizes and types because it is the basis on which you build your cybersecurity. The cybersecurity framework is the basis of the ISMS, which represents the plan of your cybersecurity strategy.


Why it is essential to have a cybersecurity framework

In case you still wonder if you need a cybersecurity framework, here are several key reasons why it is essential:

  1. Protection against Cyber Threats
    Cyber threats are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated. A cybersecurity framework provides a structured approach to identifying and mitigating these threats, reducing the risk of data breaches, cyberattacks, and other security incidents.
  2. Risk Management
    Cybersecurity frameworks help organizations assess their cybersecurity risks and prioritize their efforts to address the most critical vulnerabilities. This risk-based approach ensures that resources are allocated where they are needed most.
  3. Compliance and Legal Requirements
    Many industries and regions have specific cybersecurity regulations and legal requirements that organizations must adhere to. A cybersecurity framework provides a roadmap for meeting these compliance obligations, reducing the risk of fines and legal repercussions.
  4. Business Continuity
    Cybersecurity incidents can disrupt business operations, leading to downtime, financial losses, and damage to reputation. A well-structured cybersecurity framework helps organizations prepare for and respond to incidents, minimizing their impact and ensuring business continuity.
  5. Protection of Sensitive Data
    Organizations store vast amounts of sensitive and confidential data, including customer information, financial records, and intellectual property. A cybersecurity framework helps safeguard this data from unauthorized access or theft.
  6. Preservation of Reputation
    A security breach can seriously damage an organization’s reputation and erode customer trust. Implementing a cybersecurity framework demonstrates a commitment to security, which can enhance the organization’s reputation and instill confidence among customers, partners, and stakeholders.
  7. Cost Savings
    Proactively addressing cybersecurity through a framework can ultimately save an organization money. Preventing security incidents is more cost-effective than dealing with the aftermath of a breach, which can involve significant financial and legal expenses.
  8. Consistency and Standardization
    Cybersecurity frameworks promote consistency and standardization of security practices across an organization. This is especially important in larger enterprises with multiple locations, business units, or teams, ensuring that security measures are applied uniformly.
  9. Continuous Improvement
    Cyber threats and technology evolve rapidly. A cybersecurity framework emphasizes the importance of ongoing monitoring, assessment, and improvement, helping organizations stay ahead of emerging threats and vulnerabilities.
  10. Competitive Advantage
    Having a robust cybersecurity framework can be a competitive advantage. It can differentiate an organization in the eyes of customers, partners, and investors who prioritize security when choosing business partners.

Steps to Choose or Create a Cybersecurity Framework

Choosing a cybersecurity framework is a tedious process and potentially long. If you want to succeed, then you need to plan for it. In order to create a project plan, follow these milestones:

  1. Assess Organizational Needs and Objectives
    Begin by understanding your organization’s specific cybersecurity needs, objectives, and goals. Consider the industry you operate in, the types of data you handle, and your organization’s size and complexity.
  2. Identify Relevant Regulations and Standards
    Determine which cybersecurity regulations, standards, and compliance requirements are applicable to your organization. These may include GDPR, HIPAA, ISO 27001, NIST, CIS Controls, TISAX, ISO 21434 and industry-specific regulations.
  3. Conduct a Risk Assessment
    Perform a comprehensive risk assessment to identify potential cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, and the potential impact of security incidents. This assessment will help you prioritize security measures.
  4. Define Your Scope
    Clearly define the scope of your cybersecurity efforts. Consider which systems, data, and assets are in scope for protection and compliance efforts. Document this scope in detail.
  5. Research Existing Frameworks
    Investigate existing cybersecurity frameworks and standards that align with your organization’s needs and objectives. Consider well-established frameworks like NIST Cybersecurity Framework, ISO 27001, CIS Controls, and others.
    Have a look here to view a comparison. Consider country-specific frameworks like the recommendations or requirements from your country’s information security agency.
  6. Evaluate Framework Alignment
    Evaluate how closely each candidate framework aligns with your organization’s requirements, risk assessment findings, and compliance obligations. Consider factors like ease of implementation and ongoing maintenance.
  7. Customization vs. Adoption
    Decide whether to adopt an existing framework as-is or customize it to fit your organization’s specific needs. Customization may be necessary to address unique risks or industry-specific requirements.
  8. Engage Stakeholders
    Involve key stakeholders, including senior leadership, IT teams, compliance experts, and legal advisors, in the decision-making process. Ensure their input and buy-in throughout the framework selection or development process.
  9. Develop Framework Documentation
    If you choose to customize or create a framework, develop comprehensive documentation that outlines the framework’s policies, procedures, controls, and guidelines. This documentation serves as a roadmap for the implementation of the ISMS.
  10. Implement and Test
    Begin implementing the selected or customized framework within your organization. Test its effectiveness in addressing cybersecurity risks and compliance requirements.
  11. Training and Awareness
    Train employees and raise awareness about the cybersecurity framework, its policies, and best practices. Ensure that everyone in the organization understands their role in maintaining security.
  12. Continuous Monitoring and Improvement
    Establish ongoing monitoring and assessment processes to ensure the framework’s effectiveness. Regularly review and update the framework to adapt to evolving threats and technology.


Key Considerations When Choosing or Creating a Cybersecurity Framework

There are some things to keep in mind when implementing the project plan for choosing the cybersecurity framework. The project can easily go out of scope because of the security landscape continuously changing.

Please review regularly these considerations and make sure you go through the list before taking any big decisions.

  1. Alignment with Objectives: Ensure that the chosen framework aligns with your organization’s cybersecurity objectives, risk profile, and compliance requirements.
  2. Applicability: Consider the framework’s applicability to your industry and specific business needs.
  3. Resource Requirements: Assess the resources (financial, human, and technological) required for framework implementation and maintenance.
  4. Scalability: Determine whether the framework can scale with your organization’s growth and evolving cybersecurity needs.
  5. Integration: Ensure that the framework can integrate with existing security technologies and processes within your organization.
  6. Cost vs. Benefit: Evaluate the cost-effectiveness of implementing and maintaining the framework relative to the expected security benefits and risk reduction.
  7. Accessibility of Expertise: Consider the availability of expertise and training resources related to the chosen framework.
  8. Audit and Certification: If compliance or certification is a goal, verify that the framework is recognized and accepted by relevant certification bodies or authorities.
  9. Legal and Privacy Considerations: Ensure that the framework supports compliance with relevant data protection and privacy laws.
  10. Flexibility: Assess the framework’s flexibility to adapt to changing threat landscapes and emerging technologies.



Having a robust cybersecurity framework can be a competitive advantage. It can differentiate an organization in the eyes of customers, partners, and investors who prioritize security when choosing business partners.

Remember that selecting or creating a cybersecurity framework is not a one-size-fits-all process. It should be a thoughtful and strategic decision that aligns with your organization’s unique needs and circumstances.

Establishing a cybersecurity framework is essential to protect an organization’s digital assets, manage risks effectively, comply with legal requirements, and maintain the trust of stakeholders.


The post NIS2: 3.Establish a cybersecurity framework first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.

How to implement an Information Security Management System (ISMS)

We wrote here that the 3rd  step in implementing the requirements of the directive is to establish a cybersecurity framework.

If you haven’t read what a cybersecurity framework means, then you should read article: .

An ISMS is typically based on the ISO 27001 standard, which provides a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving information security within an organization.

Establishing a cybersecurity framework is usually achieved together with, or while implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS) based on a standard like ISO 27001. So, before going to the NIS2 Step 3, I must explain why is it important to have a “good” ISMS.

This article will guide you through the steps to create a solid foundation for the ISMS which uses a cybersecurity framework.


Here are the steps you must follow to implement your ISMS:

  1. Get Top Management Support
    • Before you start, synchronize with the top management in order to define company’s goals in this regard. Usually it should be clear, since the company strives to receive a certification like ISO 27001, ISO 16949, TISAX, CSMS, etc..
    • Then secure the commitment and support of senior management by helping them understand the necessary resources and efforts.
    • In all standards that require an ISMS it is imperative to have the commitment of the management because their feedback and support are required in several places along the way.
  2. Scope Definition
    • Define the scope of your ISMS: determine which assets, processes, and locations will be covered by the ISMS.
    • This will help in setting boundaries for your security efforts. Some certifications require an assessment per location and scope, so this needs to be developed properly and in accordance with company’s goals.
  3. Risk Assessment
    • Create policies that help identify and assess information security risks.
    • This involves:
      • How to identifying assets: List all the information assets your organization handles, such as data, hardware, software, and personnel, intellectual property.
      • How to identify threats and vulnerabilities: Determine potential risks and vulnerabilities that could impact your assets.
      • How to assess risks: Analyze the likelihood and potential impact of these risks.
      • How to calculate risk levels: Prioritize risks based on their severity.
  4. Risk Treatment
    • Develop a policy for risk treatment plan:
      • How to implement controls: Select and implement security controls and measures to mitigate identified risks.
      • Document policies and procedures that enforce the creation of security controls.
      • Allocate responsibilities: Assign roles and responsibilities for managing and monitoring security measures.
      • Set risk acceptance criteria: Determine which risks can be accepted, mitigated, or transferred.
  5.  Establish the ISMS Framework
    • Establish the ISMS framework based on ISO 27001:
      • Define information security objectives.
      • Develop an information security policy.
      • Create a risk assessment methodology.
      • Define criteria for risk acceptance.
      • Develop and implement security controls.
  6. Implementation
    • Execute the ISMS based on the established framework:
      • Train employees: Provide information security training to all staff members.
      • Implement security controls: Put in place the technical, administrative, and physical controls identified in your risk treatment plan.
      • Monitor and review: Continuously monitor the effectiveness of your controls and review your risk assessment.
  7. Measurement and Evaluation
    • Regularly measure and evaluate the performance of your ISMS to ensure that it remains effective and aligned with your objectives.
      • Conduct internal audits.
      • Perform security testing (e.g., penetration testing, vulnerability scanning).
      • Analyze security incident data.
  8. Management Review
    • Conduct regular management reviews to assess the ISMS’s performance and effectiveness.
      • Ensure that the ISMS is aligned with the organization’s strategic goals.
      • Make improvements based on review findings.
  9. Continual Improvement
    • Use the results of audits, reviews, and incidents to continually improve the ISMS.
      • Update policies and procedures as needed.
      • Enhance security controls based on new threats and vulnerabilities.
      • Maintain employee awareness and training.
  10. Certification (Optional):
    • If your organization desires ISO 27001 or any other certification, engage an accredited certification body to perform an external audit and certification assessment.
    • Be careful because several certification require a pre-certification or pre-assessment performed either with in-house auditors (internal) or external auditors.
  11. Documentation
    • Maintain detailed documentation of all ISMS activities, including policies, procedures, risk assessments, and audit reports.
    • Maintain a log of all changes in time, because this demonstrates continual improvement and usage.
  12. Training and Awareness
    • Continuously educate and raise awareness among employees regarding information security policies and best practices.
  13. Incident Response and Recovery
    • Develop an incident response plan to address security incidents promptly and effectively.


Remember, and make sure that your management remembers as well, that implementing and maintaining an ISMS is an ongoing process. Even if certifications are renewed only after 3 years (usually) it is important that in these 3 years the ISMS is lived.

Regularly update your risk assessments and adapt your security controls to evolving threats and business needs. Continuous improvement is key to the success of your ISMS.


The post How to implement an Information Security Management System (ISMS) first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.