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National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF)

NIST CSF overview

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) promotes and maintains measurement standards and guidance to help organizations assess risk. In response to Executive Order 13636 on strengthening the cybersecurity of federal networks and critical infrastructure, NIST released the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (FICIC) in February 2014.

The main priorities of the FICIC were to establish a set of standards and practices to help organizations manage cybersecurity risk, while enabling business efficiency. The NIST Framework addresses cybersecurity risk without imposing additional regulatory requirements for both government and private sector organizations.

The FICIC references globally recognized standards including NIST SP 800-53 found in Appendix A of the NIST's Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. Each control within the FICIC framework is mapped to corresponding NIST 800-53 controls within the FedRAMP Moderate Baseline.

Microsoft and the NIST CSF

NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is a voluntary Framework that consists of standards, guidelines, and best practices to manage cybersecurity-related risks. Microsoft Cloud services have undergone independent, third-party FedRAMP Moderate and High Baseline audits and are certified according to the FedRAMP standards. Also, through a validated assessment performed by HITRUST, a leading security and privacy standards development and accreditation organization, Office 365 is certified to the objectives specified in the NIST CSF.

Learn how to accelerate your NIST Cybersecurity Framework deployment with Compliance Manager and our Azure Security and Compliance Blueprint:

Microsoft in-scope cloud platforms & services

  • Azure Government
  • Dynamics 365 for Government
  • Office 365

Azure, Dynamics 365, and NIST CSF

For more information about Azure, Dynamics 365, and other online services compliance, see the Azure NIST CSF offering.

Office 365 and NIST CSF

Office 365 environments

Microsoft Office 365 is a multi-tenant hyperscale cloud platform and an integrated experience of apps and services available to customers in several regions worldwide. Most Office 365 services enable customers to specify the region where their customer data is located. Microsoft may replicate customer data to other regions within the same geographic area (for example, the United States) for data resiliency, but Microsoft will not replicate customer data outside the chosen geographic area.

This section covers the following Office 365 environments:

  • Client software (Client): commercial client software running on customer devices.
  • Office 365 (Commercial): the commercial public Office 365 cloud service available globally.
  • Office 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC): the Office 365 GCC cloud service is available for United States Federal, State, Local, and Tribal governments, and contractors holding or processing data on behalf of the US Government.
  • Office 365 Government Community Cloud - High (GCC High): the Office 365 GCC High cloud service is designed according to Department of Defense (DoD) Security Requirements Guidelines Level 4 controls and supports strictly regulated federal and defense information. This environment is used by federal agencies, the Defense Industrial Base (DIBs), and government contractors.
  • Office 365 DoD (DoD): the Office 365 DoD cloud service is designed according to DoD Security Requirements Guidelines Level 5 controls and supports strict federal and defense regulations. This environment is for the exclusive use by the US Department of Defense.

Use this section to help meet your compliance obligations across regulated industries and global markets. To find out which services are available in which regions, see the International availability information and the Where your Microsoft 365 customer data is stored article. For more information about Office 365 Government cloud environment, see the Office 365 Government Cloud article.

Your organization is wholly responsible for ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Information provided in this section does not constitute legal advice and you should consult legal advisors for any questions regarding regulatory compliance for your organization.

Office 365 applicability and in-scope services

Use the following table to determine applicability for your Office 365 services and subscription:

Applicability In-scope services
Commercial Activity Feed Service, Bing Services, Delve, Exchange Online, Intelligent Services, Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Customer Portal, Office Online, Office Service Infrastructure, Office Usage Reports, OneDrive for Business, People Card, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, Windows Ink

Office 365 audit cycle and certification

The NIST CSF certification of Office 365 is valid for two years.

Frequently asked questions

Has an independent assessor validated that Office 365 supports NIST CSF requirements?

Yes, Office 365 obtained the NIST CSF letter of certification from HITRUST in July 2019.

How do Microsoft Cloud Services demonstrate compliance with the framework?

Using the formal audit reports prepared by third parties for the FedRAMP accreditation, Microsoft can show how relevant controls noted within these reports demonstrate compliance with the NIST Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. Audited controls implemented by Microsoft serve to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data stored, processed, and transmitted by Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365 that have been identified as the responsibility of Microsoft.

What are Microsoft's responsibilities for maintaining compliance with this initiative?

Participation in the FICIC is voluntary. However, Microsoft ensures that Office 365 meets the terms defined within the governing Online Services Terms and applicable service level agreements.

Can I use Microsoft's compliance for my organization?

Yes. The independent third-party compliance reports to the FedRAMP standards attest to the effectiveness of the controls Microsoft has implemented to maintain the security and privacy of the Microsoft Cloud Services. Microsoft customers may use the audited controls described in these related reports as part of their own FedRAMP and NIST FICIC's risk analysis and qualification efforts.

Which organizations are deemed by the United States Government to be critical infrastructure?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, these include organizations in the following sectors: Chemical, Commercial Facilities, Communications, Critical Manufacturing, Dams, Defense Industrial Base, Emergency Services, Energy, Financial Services, Food and Agriculture, Government Facilities, Healthcare and Public Health, Information Technology, Nuclear (Reactors Materials and Waste), Transportation Systems and Water (and Wastewater).

Why are some Office 365 services not in the scope of this certification?

Microsoft provides the most comprehensive offerings compared to other cloud service providers. To keep up with our broad compliance offerings across regions and industries, we include services in the scope of our assurance efforts based on the market demand, customer feedback, and product lifecycle. If a service is not included in the current scope of a specific compliance offering, your organization has the responsibility to assess the risks based on your compliance obligations and determine the way you process data in that service. We continuously collect feedback from customers and work with regulators and auditors to expand our compliance coverage to meet your security and compliance needs.

Use Microsoft Purview Compliance Manager to assess your risk

Microsoft Purview Compliance Manager is a feature in the Microsoft Purview compliance portal to help you understand your organization's compliance posture and take actions to help reduce risks. Compliance Manager offers a premium template for building an assessment for this regulation. Find the template in the assessment templates page in Compliance Manager. Learn how to build assessments in Compliance Manager.