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ISO 27001 vs NIST CSF: Different yet complement each other?

Dr. Heather Buker Aug 07, 2021
ISO 27001 vs NIST CSF: Different yet complement each other?

The NIST frameworks were designed as flexible, voluntary frameworks. The fact that they are flexible makes it relatively easy to implement them in conjunction with ISO 27001.

This is largely due to both standards having a number of common principles, including; requiring senior management support, a continual improvement process, and a risk-based approach.

In fact, the risk assessment process specified by ISO 27001 takes a very similar approach to the NIST Risk Management Framework: identify risks to the organization’s information, implement controls appropriate to the risk, and finally, monitor their performance.

However, because the NIST Cyber Security Framework and Risk Management Framework were designed to be voluntary, it is difficult to prove compliance. There is no formal NIST certification (yet). This is particularly unfortunate for organizations that must comply (as mandated by former US President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13800).

ISO 27001, meanwhile, has an international presence that many organizations recognize and trust. Moreover, organizations can achieve external, accredited certification to the standard – an excellent way of demonstrating at least partial compliance with the NIST frameworks.


ISO 27001 vs NIST CSF - key differences


  • NIST was primarily created to help US federal agencies and organizations better manage their risk.

  • NIST frameworks have various control catalogs.

  • The NIST CSF contains three key components: the core, implementation tiers, and profiles with each function having categories, which are the activities necessary to fulfil each function.

  • NIST has a voluntary, self-certification mechanism
    The NIST framework uses five functions to customize cybersecurity controls.

ISO 27001

  • ISO 27001 is an internationally recognized approach for establishing and maintaining an ISMS.

  • ISO 27001 Annex A provides 14 control categories with 114 controls.

  • ISO 27001 is less technical, with more emphasis on risk-based management that provides best practice recommendations for securing all information.

  • ISO 27001 relies on independent audit and certification bodies.

  • ISO 27001 has 10 clauses to guide organizations through their ISMS.


Conclusion: ISO 27001 relies on independent audit and certification bodies

If you want to know how these ISO 27001 controls may relate to those in other frameworks like the NIST Cyber Security Framework or others, you can always get the NIST CSF to ISO 27001 mapping from Hailey.

If you would like more details on how ISO 27001 will benefit your organization, then contact 6clicks today. Here's how 6clicks automates your ISO 27001 compliance automation, quickly.

How about a whistle-stop tour with one of our 6clicks maestros? Easy, just click the button below and let the good times roll.


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Related useful resources

  • What do we know about NIST CSF 2.0?

  • Addressing the cybersecurity and GRC gaps for organizations

  • ISO 27001 vs NIST CSF (cybersecurity framework)

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