ISO Vs. NIST: Similarities and Differences

Posted by Tonni Islam

Businesses must have frameworks and benchmarks to align their work with. This is especially true when it comes to digital security. 

There are two important guidelines toward this aim: the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) cybersecurity framework (CSF) and the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) CSF. 

But what are these two frameworks, and what’s the difference between them? That’s what we’ll cover right now in this article. 

NIST Vs. ISO 27001

Let’s explore the primary distinctions between the NIST cybersecurity framework vs. ISO 27001:

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework? 

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) cybersecurity framework was created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This is a U.S. non-regulatory governmental agency. This agency is within the Department of Commerce. 

It helps organizations maintain cybersecurity from information technology to nanotechnology. The CSF was developed in 2013 to keep organizations abreast of technological changes. 

How NIST is Used

NIST has three primary components. It allows you to understand the risk levels of your system and identify issues that need to be improved.

Framework core

Everything is built from the framework core. The core comprises: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. 

Implementation tiers

Each core function has a zero to four ranking scale. This helps you understand the risk maturity. 


Each tier has a profile that lets you understand the current risk level. It also informs the right actions to take to enhance security

What is ISO 27001? 

The NIST CSF’s sister framework is ISO 27001. ISO is also a non-governmental body. However, it’s located in Geneva, Switzerland. 

It was founded in 1954 and set standards for a variety of industries, of which cybersecurity is one of them. In particular, ISO 27001 helps create robust IT security systems. 

How ISO 27001 is used

It’s possible to get certification for ISO 27001 compliance. You can do this via ISO or a third-party auditor. First, you’ll go through a documentation review stage. Then you’ll go through a stage two audit. This is the certification audit. 

This involves an on-site assessment to make sure that your systems comply with ISO 27001 completely. Once this has been verified, you’ll receive your verification.

The Difference Between NIST And ISO

Risk maturity

More mature systems may need an ISO 27001 certification. Newer systems can get by with a NIST CSF system. 


ISO offers a formal certification and NIST CSF does not. 


A big difference between NIST and ISO is the cost. NIST is free. Therefore, many new healthcare organizations take advantage of it. ISO 27001 has fees associated with the documentation. 

Difference Between ISO 27001 And NIST: Summary

Now that you understand the main differences between NIST and ISO, it’s time to determine which is more appropriate for your healthcare organization. Reach out to ComplyAssistant for state-of-the-art healthcare compliance solutions

Our solutions are designed for managing compliance around almost any framework. Our flexible, task-oriented software can help you promote an agile compliance program that matches the framework(s) you adhere to.