What Is NIST?
If you have established and are running your business in the United States, you are probably aware of the specific industry regulations you must abide by. If you are working with the government, these regulations become more rigid, especially when data security is involved.
Improved data handling and record-keeping have always been vital to instilling confidence in your contractors, partners, and customers. However, this importance is magnified when the federal government shares any sensitive data with you, as it commands high cybersecurity levels. To cater to this command, NIST has outlined several security standards and guidelines to enable businesses to protect government data. But what exactly is NIST?
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What Is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?
As part of its mandate, NIST develops and maintains an extensive collection of guidelines, standards, and research. This is aimed at helping federal agencies and commercial industries to meet the requirements of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). FISMA is a federal law in the United States that made it compulsory for government agencies to develop, document and implement a data security program. However, FISMA guidelines currently apply to organizations in both the public and private sectors.
The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides guidelines on what security controls and measures should be implemented to ensure data safety. According to a report, 50% of companies are projected to use the cybersecurity Framework as their cybersecurity benchmark. NIST-outlined standards have created a level of uniformity across all organizations when it comes to cybersecurity. Before the NIST standards, each organization had a unique set of regulations for handling, processing, and discarding data. These inconsistent cybersecurity standards posed a challenge and a potential data security threat.
The NIST 800 Series publications were developed and have progressed due to research to find more efficient solutions for enhancing IT systems’ security. The publication entails all NIST-recommended procedures for tracking and assessing risks and threats for implementing IT security controls to minimize attacks.
In May 2015, NIST released Special Publication 800-171, a publication that guides non-governmental organizations looking to protect sensitive unclassified federal information stored in non-federal IT systems and environments and help protect Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). The document clarified these organizations’ roles in data breach incidents and offered guidance on the kind of data they were to protect and how to protect it.
What Is Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)? Controlled Unclassified Information is data that is unclassified, sensitive, and relevant to the interests of the United States. The federal government, however, does not strictly regulate this data.
Some of the data that falls into CUI territory includes:
- Government financial information.
- Research data.
Every company must create a public registry of CUI categories and define why the data is considered CUI.
What Is NIST 800-171? NIST 800-171 provides both federal and non-federal agencies with recommended guidelines for protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) confidentiality. It was designed to improve cybersecurity, especially after several well-documented data breaches in the previous years. It was developed after FISMA was passed in 2003, resulting in several security standards and policies.
NIST 800-171 Compliance: Although every organization should be concerned about cybersecurity, NIST compliance is particularly crucial for companies that conduct business with the U.S. government. Being 800-171 compliant enables you to meet the cybersecurity standards set by the government.
Compliance may require you to dive deep into your networks and controls to ensure appropriate security procedures are implemented. For this, you’ll need an expert.
Looking to Leverage the Services of a NIST 800-171 Compliance I.T. Partner?
Although the process of becoming NIST compliant may seem long, tiresome, and daunting, the right IT partner makes the process easier.
At 360 Smart Networks, we offer years of expertise and experience in helping businesses in Atlanta and Charlotte become and remain compliant.
Consult with us today, and let us help you keep your company compliant and data safe.