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  • Writer's pictureAli Assareh

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in charge of cybersecurity & peanut butter.

Did you know the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) sells peanut butter, and slurried spinach, to industry?!


I first learned about NIST in the context of my work helping set up Splunk's Cybersecurity & Data Responsibility Committee of the Board of Directors.


One of NIST's mandates is to develop cybersecurity standards and best practices for US industry and government. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is the leading framework for managing cyber risk and has been adopted by most major organizations.


So I was shocked to find out that NIST also sells:

- Peanut butter ($1,069 for 510 grams)

- Baking chocolate ($1,069 for 455 grams)

- Breakfast cereal ($1,064 for 40 grams)

- Dry cat food ($1,064 for 50 grams)

- Also New Jersey soil, whale blubber, urban dust, and mussel (not muscle) tissue, among others.


Why?


NIST's overarching mission is standardization.


NIST's samples serve as a reference point: They contain exactly so many micrograms of this and percent-by-weight of that, and manufacturers can use them to produce their own products.


Why provide samples, instead of just the requirements?


Because to calibrate industrial machines, you don't have to just get the end result right -- you have to also get the *measurement* right. The samples provide a reference point to standardize the measurement itself.


Should the same agency be in charge of managing cybersecurity risk and the percentage of preservatives allowed in peanut butter?


🤷🏾‍♂️




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