What exactly is NIST 800-171?

What exactly is NIST 800-171?


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is the federal agency in the United States in charge of safeguarding sensitive government information kept or handled by third parties, partners, and contractors. To that purpose, the NIST 800-171 paper was developed to provide government partners with a standard for protecting private information and conducting cybersecurity.

NIST 800-171 focuses primarily on how defence contractors and subcontractors handle “controlled, unclassified information,” or CUI. This includes personal information, intellectual property, equipment specifications, logistics plans, and a variety of other strictly private federal defense-related information. In summary, NIST 800-171 instructs contractors on how to handle sensitive information that is not classified.

The NIST body is a non-regulatory United States government institution in charge of developing standards on a number of areas, including cybersecurity. The NIST 800-171 paper, which is a companion to NIST 800-53, specifies how federal contractors and subcontractors should maintain Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). It is also intended for non-federal information systems throughout the world.

Executive Order 13556, signed by President Obama in 2010, mandated that all federal agencies in the United States preserve CUI more stringently. The objective was to create a consistent strategy for data sharing and openness that all agencies could adhere to. Following a number of high-profile breaches of government entities, the federal government increased its attention on cybersecurity.

What is the goal of NIST 800-171?

NIST 800-171’s primary purpose was to standardize how federal agencies define CUI. This was done by classifying CUI as any data that is private and sensitive but not classified under federal law in the United States. CUI, in general, does not contain nuclear launch codes or a list of CIA operations in other nations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rule would include more along the lines of personal bank account data or health records.

The NIST SP 800-171 framework specifies key areas of cybersecurity controls that contractors and partners must adhere to as a minimum. If you, your firm, or any other company with which you do business has a government contract, you must need  nist 800-171 compliance checklist  Certain federal agencies, it is true, may incorporate particular control criteria in their contracts. Even if they don’t, the fact that you’re doing business with a federal agency and maybe dealing with CUI means you must follow NIST 800-171.

To begin, NIST 800-171 compliance is critical since it is a legal requirement for doing business with the federal government.This is because if CUI falls into the wrong hands, the federal government’s capacity to carry out its continuous activities might be seriously disrupted.For example, if a government employee’s CUI is compromised and subsequently subjected to a ransomware assault, the department for which they work may suffer significantly.


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