What Is NIST 800-171?

The National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, serves to support all sizes of information and technology properties under a variety of conditions.

NIST published Special Publication 800-171 (NIST 800-171) Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), which is also known as Covered Defense Information (CDI).

The goal of NIST 800-171 is to offer guidance to federal agencies to protect sensitive federal information and data assets when it undergoes processing, storage and use outside of its primary federal government location and in non-federal information systems.

Why Is NIST 800-171 Needed and What Does It Cover?

The federal government often works with non-governmental institutions and private entities in order to acquire knowledge, achieve a task or complete a project. In such cases, it is important that the various entities share data across networks, meaning that federal CUI is sometimes temporarily housed in places like higher education institutions. The NIST 800-171 addresses the IT systems of the non-federal entities that store federal CUI or sensitive but unclassified information.

Any data related to the performance of the contract between the two entities must be accounted for under NIST 800-171. A few of the many categories of CUI include the following:

  • Agriculture
  • Controlled Technical Information
  • Emergency Management
  • Export Control
  • Information Systems Vulnerability Information
  • Intelligence
  • International Agreements
  • NATO Information
  • Patents
  • Transportation

Who Needs NIST 800-171?

Organizations impacted by NIST 800-171 regulations may include those that meet any of the following criteria:

  • Entities that handle Controlled Unclassified Information.
  • Organizations that produce, maintain and/or export items on the United States Munitions List (USML).
  • Businesses that provide defense articles and services, such as civilian agencies working to provide parts or specialized knowledge to the Department of Defense (DoD).
  • Companies that produce items or knowledge on the Commerce Control List (CCL).

Is NIST 800-171 a Required Regulation?

Federal entities like the DoD and NASA require contractors to learn, adopt and implement specific security measures. These non-federal entities must also report all non-compliance to the CIO by designated date.

What Value Does a NIST 800-171 Assessment Offer Your Business?

Working with important federal CUI is important to your organization, but you want to make sure you do everything in your power to make sure you have peak security when handling that information.

A NIST 800-171 Assessment can help you and your staff feel more confident handling valuable federal data, thanks to the detailed standards of the regulation to help you achieve full compliance.

The 14 detailed standard of NIST 800-171 are:

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

How Is a NIST 800-171 Assessment Performed?

Contractors often find it best to reach out to professional auditing firms to perform a NIST 800-171 Assessment for a thorough and objective assessment of their system and internal controls. These firms have experience with all types of regulations—HIPAA, GDPR, PCI, ISO and much more—that may affect your own assessment in some way you might not otherwise know of.

With their experience and confidence with NIST 800-171 and various other regulations, they can catch everything that may affect the important federal data for which you are responsible.

You may also appreciate the following value points that a professionally performed NIST 800-171 Assessment provides:

  • Your team can focus on daily work instead of working through the framework.
  • The clarity of seeing the NIST 800-171 compliance requirements assessed gives you guidance on how to catch issues and mitigate deficiencies.
  • It lays out your system and offers an objective and informative view of how the requirements affect your organization and your project with the federal entity.

Let Us Know How We Can Help You with Your NIST 800-171 Compliance

Our I.S. Partners, LLC. NIST Team can help make sure you achieve and maintain full NIST 800-171 compliance for the duration of your contracting engagement with a federal body.

We can start by performing a gap analysis using the NIST 800-171 publication to guide us, using the previously mentioned 14 standards as controls. We can also help with strategic advisory to answer any questions you have in simply getting your system ready for such an engagement.

Let’s start the NIST 800-171 assessment process today. Request a quote below – we look forward to working with you!

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