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NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework

About the NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework

The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (CWF), NIST Special Publication 800-181, is a national, public resource that categorizes and describes cybersecurity work. It allows job seekers, educators, and employers to view the knowledge, skills, and abilities tied to specific work roles in the cybersecurity workforce sector. CyberKnights™ is designed to follow the standards and practices outlined by the NICE CWF.


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Competency Groups of the NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework

A collection of core capabilities required to succeed in the cybersecurity workforce, measured by the pre-defined, standard, performance criteria of NICE CWF.


  • Project Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Teaching Others
  • Workforce Management


  • Business Continuity
  • Client Relationship Management
  • Contracting/Procurement
  • Data Privacy and Protection
  • External Awareness
  • Legal, Government, and Jurisprudence
  • Organizational Awareness
  • Policy Management
  • Process Control
  • Risk Management
  • Third Party Oversight/Acquisition Management


  • Conflict Management
  • Critical Thinking
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Oral Communication
  • Presenting Effectively
  • Written Communication


  • Asset/Inventory Management
  • Collection Operations
  • Computer Forensics
  • Computer Languages
  • Computer Network Defense
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Data Analysis 
  • Data Management
  • Database Administration
  • Database Management Systems
  • Encryption
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Identity Management
  • Incident Management
  • Information Assurance 
  • Information Management
  • Information Systems/Network Security 
  • Infrastructure Design 
  • Intelligence Analysis
  • Knowledge Management
  • Mathematic Reasoning
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Network Management
  • Operating Systems
  • Operations Support
  • Problem Solving
  • Requirements Analysis 
  • Software Development
  • Software Testing and Evaluation
  • System Administration
  • Systems Integration
  • Systems Testing and Evaluation
  • Target Development
  • Technology Awareness 
  • Telecommunications
  • Threat Analysis 
  • Vulnerabilities Assessment
  • Web Technology

Categories of the NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework

A grouping of 7 common cybersecurity functions, comprised of specialty areas that are broken down further into a multitude of work roles.

Performs highly-specialized review and evaluation of incoming cybersecurity information to determine its usefulness for intelligence.


Specialty areas:

  • All-Source Analysis
    Analyzes threat information from multiple sources, disciplines, and agencies across the Intelligence Community. Synthesizes and places intelligence information in context; draws insights about the possible implications.
  • Exploitation Analysis
    Analyzes collected information to identify vulnerabilities and potential for exploitation.
  • Language Analysis
    Applies language, cultural, and technical expertise to support information collection, analysis, and other cybersecurity activities.
  • Targets
    Applies current knowledge of one or more regions, countries, non-state entities, and/or technologies.
  • Threat Analysis
    Identifies and assesses the capabilities and activities of cybersecurity criminals or foreign intelligence entities; produces findings to help initialize or support law enforcement and counterintelligence investigations or activities.

Provides specialized denial and deception operations and collection of cybersecurity information that may be used to develop intelligence.

Specialty Areas:

• Collection Operations
Executes collection using appropriate strategies and within the priorities established through the collection management process.

• Cyber Operational Planning
Performs in-depth joint targeting and cybersecurity planning process. Gathers information and develops detailed Operational Plans and Orders supporting requirements. Conducts strategic and operational-level planning across the full range of operations for integrated information and cyberspace operations.

• Cyber Operations
Performs activities to gather evidence on criminal or foreign intelligence entities to mitigate possible or real-time threats, protect against espionage or insider threats, foreign sabotage, international terrorist activities, or to support other intelligence activities.

Investigates cybersecurity events or crimes related to information technology (IT) systems, networks, and digital evidence.

Specialty Areas:

• Cyber Investigation
Applies tactics, techniques, and procedures for a full range of investigative tools and processes to include, but not limited to, interview and interrogation techniques, surveillance, counter surveillance, and surveillance detection, and appropriately balances the benefits of prosecution versus intelligence gathering.

• Digital Forensics
Collects, processes, preserves, analyzes, and presents computer-related evidence in support of network vulnerability mitigation and/or criminal, fraud, counterintelligence, or law enforcement investigations.

Provides the support, administration, and maintenance necessary to ensure effective and efficient information technology (IT)
system performance and security.

Specialty Areas:

• Customer Service and Technical Support
Addresses problems; installs, configures, troubleshoots, and provides maintenance and training in response to customer requirements or inquiries (e.g., tiered-level customer support). Typically provides initial incident information to the Incident Response (IR) Specialty.

• Data Administration
Develops and administers databases and/or data management systems that allow for the storage, query, protection, and utilization of data.

• Knowledge Management
Manages and administers processes and tools that enable the organization to identify, document, and access intellectual capital and information content.

• Network Services
Installs, configures, tests, operates, maintains, and manages networks and their firewalls, including hardware (e.g., hubs, bridges, switches, multiplexers, routers, cables, proxy servers, and protective distributor systems) and software that permit the sharing and transmission of all spectrum transmissions of information to support the security of information and information systems.

• Systems Administration
Installs, configures, troubleshoots, and maintains server configurations (hardware and software) to ensure their confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Manages accounts, firewalls, and patches. Responsible for access control, passwords, and account creation and administration.

• Systems Analysis
Studies an organization’s current computer systems and procedures, and designs information systems solutions to help the organization operate more securely, efficiently, and effectively. Brings business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.

Provides leadership, management, direction, or development and advocacy so the organization may effectively
conduct cybersecurity work.

Specialty Areas:

• Cybersecurity Management
Oversees the cybersecurity program of an information system or network, including managing information security implications within the organization, specific program, or other area of responsibility, to include strategic, personnel, infrastructure, requirements, policy enforcement, emergency planning, security awareness, and other resources.

• Executive Cyber Leadership
Supervises, manages, and/or leads work and workers performing cyber and cyber-related and/or cyber operations work.

• Legal Advice and Advocacy
Provides legally sound advice and recommendations to leadership and staff on a variety of relevant topics within the pertinent subject domain. Advocates legal and policy changes, and makes a case on behalf of client via a wide range of written and oral work products, including legal briefs and proceedings.

• Program/Project Management and Aquisition
Applies knowledge of data, information, processes, organizational interactions, skills, and analytical expertise, as well as systems, networks, and information exchange capabilities to manage acquisition programs. Executes duties governing hardware, software, and information system acquisition programs and other program management policies. Provides direct support for acquisitions that use information technology (IT) (including National Security Systems), applying IT-related laws and policies, and provides IT-related guidance throughout the total acquisition life cycle.

• Strategic Planning and Policy
Develops policies and plans and/or advocates for changes in policy that support organizational cyberspace initiatives or required changes/enhancements.

• Training, Education, and Awareness
Conducts training of personnel within pertinent subject domain. Develops, plans, coordinates, delivers and/or evaluates training courses, methods, and techniques as appropriate.

Identifies, analyzes, and mitigates threats to internal information technology (IT) systems and/or networks.

Specialty Areas:

• Cyber Defense Analysis
Uses defensive measures and information collected from a variety of sources to identify, analyze, and report events that occur or might occur within the network to protect information, information systems, and networks from threats.

• Cyber Defense Infrastructure Report
Tests, implements, deploys, maintains, reviews, and administers the infrastructure hardware and software that are required to effectively manage the computer network defense service provider network and resources. Monitors network to actively remediate unauthorized activities.

• Incident Response
Responds to crises or urgent situations within the pertinent domain to mitigate immediate and potential threats. Uses mitigation, preparedness, and response and recovery approaches, as needed, to maximize survival of life, preservation of property, and information security. Investigates and analyzes all relevant response activities.

• Vulnerability Assessment and Management
Conducts assessments of threats and vulnerabilities; determines deviations from acceptable configurations, enterprise or local policy; assesses the level of risk; and develops and/or recommends appropriate mitigation countermeasures in operational and nonoperational situations.

Conceptualizes, designs, procures, and/or builds secure information technology (IT) systems, with responsibility for aspects of system and/or network development.

Specialty Areas:

• Risk Management
Oversees, evaluates, and supports the documentation, validation, assessment, and authorization processes necessary to assure that existing and new information technology (IT) systems meet the organization’s cybersecurity and risk requirements. Ensures appropriate treatment of risk, compliance, and assurance from internal and external perspectives.

• Software Development
Develops and writes/codes new (or modifies existing) computer applications, software, or specialized utility programs following software assurance best practices.

• Systems Architecture
Develops system concepts and works on the capabilities phases of the systems development life cycle; translates technology and environmental conditions (e.g., law and regulation) into system and security designs and processes.

• Systems Development
Works on the development phases of the systems development life cycle.

• Systems Requirements Planning
Consults with customers to gather and evaluate functional requirements and translates these requirements into technical solutions. Provides guidance to customers about applicability of information systems to meet business needs.

• Technology R&D
Conducts technology assessment and integration processes; provides and supports a prototype capability and/or evaluates its utility.

• Test and Evaluation
Develops and conducts tests of systems to evaluate compliance with specifications and requirements by applying principles and methods for cost-effective planning, evaluating, verifying, and validating of technical, functional, and performance characteristics (including interoperability) of systems or elements of systems incorporating IT.

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