How Does NIST Help Your Data Security?

As often as you hear about data breaches in news reports, data security is a priority for your business. You know you need several layers of security to protect your data, but it’s hard to know where to start and it’s confusing to know what to protect.

NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is the agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that oversees technology standards. When NIST was first formed in 1901 – as the National Bureau of Standards – its purpose was to maintain a strong competitive position for the U.S. with innovation and modern ideas among international rivals. To this day, NIST still reinforces innovation in technology, including cybersecurity standards. So, how does this relate to your business?

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What Is NIST 800-171?

The idea behind NIST remains unchanged and is the primary push for innovations in technology we depend on every day. That smartphone you depend on for mobile communications, the Amazon Echo Dot – and the enabled skills – that delivers your news updates, cooking timers, and helpful reminders, and the controllers used for televisions and game system consoles all rely on innovative technology with standards-driven by NIST.

NIST will release publications to address specific topics, including NIST 800-171 in 2015, to detail how controlled unclassified information (CUI) needs to be protected. Controlled unclassified information is anything that is deemed sensitive to the future or interests of the United States. Super clear, right?

First of all, you already know if you work with CUI – but it’s good to know that it’s not considered to be so sensitive that it needs to be handled like “state secrets” or restricted beyond reasonable means. If you store, access, or share CUI, NIST 800-171 outlines the minimum technology security requirements with which your business will need to be compliant to avoid fines – or worse. How? NIST 800-171 was established after large-scale data breaches made the news, further confirming the need for increased technology security for CUI.

What Do You Need to Know About NIST 800-171?

The NIST 800-171 publication outlines a set of guidelines for tighter cybersecurity measures to protect the data from unauthorized access, controlling how CUI is stored, accessed, and shared.

These security standards cover four key technology concerns:

  • Information management and cybersecurity protocols
  • Processes for monitoring IT systems and networks
  • Control procedures for anyone accessing and/or using the data
  • Physical and technological security measures

These security protocols not only safeguard CUI, your business benefits from added security measures for your IT systems and environment.

Are You Ready to Become NIST 800-171 Compliant?

First, you’ll want to:

  • Identify your data that is considered CUI
  • Determine each location CUI is stored or accessed
  • Categorize your data and separate CUI
  • Encrypt CUI
  • Track and log all access to CUI
  • Define clear policies and training procedures for all matters relating to storage, access, and sharing of CUI

Taking these steps will ensure consistency where CUI is concerned, which is a crucial aid in the compliance process.

NIST 800-171 compliance protects CUI, but increased security protects your business.

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