National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is one of the oldest and most prestigious organizations dealing with standards on digital data. Founded in 1901, NIST is a chain of physical laboratories charged with researching best practices on a wide variety of technical and applied sciences. Today NIST is most known for its publications on information technology. Although they often influence United States regulations at different levels, from local to federal, NIST guidelines themselves are non-regulatory and do not have the force of law. Still, the guidelines of NIST almost always become policy for federal agencies and other affiliated bodies and are used as a framework in both health and financial industries. Additionally, due to the weight of NIST as an authority, achieving compliance with their recommendations is considered industry standard throughout the world of IT.
NIST guidelines are by in large non-industry specific; rather they address the general application of different information technologies. Thus NIST recommendations are relevant to any organization utilizing modern data tools and systems–which pretty much means every enterprise today. Recently, NIST has begun to put a stronger emphasis on best practices in the realm of digital identity management as well as assessing the platforms used in identity security.
The mandate of NIST is to provide the US government as well as the general public, with the knowledge that will “enhance economic security” with new insights into the use of technology. To this end, NIST scientists produce regular publications assessing the digital security landscape. What’s important to note about these publications is that new reports almost always update and modify older guidelines as threat trends and relevant technologies evolve.