NIST SP 800-171: Protecting Federal CUI in Non-Federal Organizations

Tami Gallegos, April 18th, 2017

When most of us think of “Federal Information” we think of data stored by federal agencies. We don’t generally think of the vast amount of federal information that exists outside of the walls of these agencies. Contractors, State and Local Governments, Manufacturers, and Higher Education entities regularly store, process or transmit federal information. Everything from mission critical information, to research data, even student PII related to federal loans. Historically these entities have not applied universal cybersecurity practices to their information systems, nor have they been closely regulated by government mandate. It didn’t take long for malicious actors to figure this out, and begin to target these organizations as a pathway to federal information and systems. One of the most widely publicized breaches of this kind was the OPM breach that exposed the sensitive data of thousands of federal employees. A wakeup call to federal agencies, mandates and compliance requirements for these non-federal organizations is now top of mind.

What does this mean for organizations with Federal CUI?

If your organization stores, processes or transmits federal government Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) then get friendly with NIST SP 800-171. These guidelines were created to provide recommended requirements to secure and protect the confidentiality of CUI when it resides in a non-federal system.

Under FISMA, government agencies are required to address the security of agency information held by their non-federal partners. DoD, NASA and GSA have all updated their Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requirements to enforce implementation of these standards. The December 31, 2017 deadline for compliance is looming.

Being prepared to meet these standards could be the difference in winning the program, receiving the grant, getting paid, or not.  Worse, by not meeting requirements organizations can face litigation and fines costing a fortune.

Implementing NIST SP 800-171

With 80 pages of information and 14 security families, implementation of NIST guidance isn’t something that can be done overnight. Nor will an organization do it with a one size fits all solution.  It requires a layered approach of best practices and planning.  The clock is ticking towards December!

In Mapping BeyondTrust Solutions to NIST SP800-171 Requirements learn how BeyondTrust capabilities align to the requirements related to privilege access and vulnerability management. BeyondTrust can help your organization secure federal information and support compliance with these requirements.

If you are working on your required security plan, check out the guide and then contact us for a strategy session. Getting in front of these requirements makes good business and risk management sense.