What is NIST?

NIST stands for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, it was founded in 1901 by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The National Institute of Standards and Technology aims to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness within the United States through measurement science, standards, and other technology. To do this, NIST activity is broken up into several different sectors. The six laboratory programs that the agency has set up are as follows:

  • Communications Technology Laboratory
  • Engineering Laboratory
  • Information Technology Laboratory
  • Center for Neutron Research
  • Material Measurement Laboratory
  • Physical Measurement Laboratory

NIST also has several other programs they manage on the side that mainly focus on business and manufacturing innovation. Some of these are the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Technology Innovation Program.

One of the things NIST is responsible and well known for is cybersecurity. They provide standards and guidelines that outline security measures for businesses or other agencies that work for the U.S government. The outcome of compliance with these standards is uniformity in how sensitive data, also known as controlled unclassified information (CUI), is protected from people such as hackers.

If NIST guidelines for cybersecurity are not followed, consequences such as a loss in productivity, criminal charges imposed on the business for losing sensitive data, gaining a negative reputation, and in the worst-case scenario the business could be closed. Records in 2018 have shown that there were an average of 5 billion digital records were subjected to a data breach. This happened probably because those companies in charge of that data most likely weren’t complying with NIST guidelines.

Overall, NIST’s end goal is to improve the quality of life with new technology as well as provide economic security for the U.S.


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