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What are the requirements? Who came up with it? Does my organization have to comply?

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) released its Special Publication 800-171, addressing the protection of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in non-federal information systems.

The goal? To ensure that all systems that store, process, or transmit CUI are secured and hardened. 

Full DFARS NIST SP 800-171 Overview on our WebPage: The Definitive DFARS Guide

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Here’s some background:

April 2013. The Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), the organization exercising Executive Agent responsibilities for the CUI program, issued a memorandum that directed the heads of government agencies on how to manage CUI.  

September 2016. In consultation with the Office of Management and Budget and affected agencies, ISOO released a notice detailing guidance for implementing the CUI program and the phased implementation deadlines. Another notice was issued June 2017 giving recommendations for implementation.

What is CUI exactly? CUI is the information that supports the business functions or missions of the government, affecting national security interests of the country. More on who deals with CUI below...

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NIST SP 800-171 is the outline of technical policies that enforce compliance to the memorandum for non-federal information systems.

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There are 14 control groups that make up NIST SP 800-171:

  1. Access Control
  2. Audit and Accountability
  3. Awareness and Training
  4. Configuration Management
  5. Identification and Authentication
  6. Incident Response
  7. Maintenance
  8. Media Protection
  9. Physical Protection
  10. Personnel Security
  11. Risk Assessment
  12. Security Assessment
  13. System and Communications Protection
  14. System and Information Integrity

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What non-federal organizations must comply?

If an organization stores, processes, or transmits CUI, then it must comply. Non-compliant organizations risk business with the federal or state agencies that they have contracts. Therefore, any individual business or government contractor that does business with a government agency is part of that group. Don't comply and contacts could be dropped, with customer agencies finding new compliant contractors.

Non-federal organizations such as universities and manufacturers who work with major contractors, defense contractors, and other government contractors, often times deal with CUI whether they know it or not. 

  1. If you are a small manufacturer who deals with prime government contractor, you are most likely in contact with CUI.
  2. If you are a government contractor that doesn't deal with classified information, chances are you’re still dealing with CUI. 
  3. If you are a higher education institution or healthcare institution that is using federal data for research, you might have to deal with CUI as part of your contract.

If you're starting to get concerned about the cost, time, and energy that will go into this project, take a breath. Our CyberStrong™ platform gives our customers a roadmap to compliance. The platform makes managing compliance more time efficient and recommends the next steps that have the largest impact on your overall CyberStrong™ score* for the lowest cost for your company. Chances are, you already have a foundation of security measures in place to build on. 

Manage your compliance journey efficiently and securely from one platform, and continuously manage, mitigate and improve your cyber posture in real time.

Imagine telling your superiors and customers that you are compliant, and have even improved your cybersecurity posture by 10%, 20% or more within a short timeframe, giving you a leg up on your competition. Reassure them that you know exactly what boxes are checked to protect their information and that of your organization.

If you’re wondering if NIST SP 800-171 applies to you, and what you can do about it, reach us at info@cybersaint.io or fill out the form on our homepage for more resources to help you on your compliance journey.

*Your CyberStrong™ score is a metric, like a 78 or 85, that tells you the strength of your cyber posture, whether for DFARS & NIST SP 800-171, the whole NIST CSF, and others depending on your organization's needs. It gives you a full report of how complaint you are and where.

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