Today, there is a pressing need for non-federal networks to utilize efficient cybersecurity measures to protect the controlled unclassified information (CUI). CUI is delicate yet unclassified government information involving matters like military equipment specifications. Although this information is unclassified, unauthorized access can have extreme economic and national security implications.
Due to the increase in alarming cyber attacks, the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology released the NIST Special Publication 800-171 to safeguard CUI in non-federal organizations and information systems. NIST 800-171 is a noteworthy framework that empowers organizations to have a firm cybersecurity posture. As you interact with this article, you will learn how the publication has successfully harnessed data security in non-federal organizations.
Awareness and Training
Awareness and training are critical components of the NIST Special Publication 800-171 that guides non-federal organizations in working with CUI. It ensures that the personnel within these organizations get educated on the policies that revolve around information security, procedures, and best practices. It ensures that they are well informed about their roles in protecting CUI. They should also be able to recognize threats and respond to incidents.
The NIST 800-171 ensures that all non-federal organizations safeguard CUI by only allowing access to authorized persons in the organization. According to the publication, organizations must manage and restrict access to data, systems, and resources. They apply controls like:
User authentication: The personnel must always use multi-factor authentication to access the information.
User authorization: Even though the personnel can access data, it is only restricted to the information relevant to their roles and responsibilities (the principle of least privilege).
Access permission: The publication dictates that organizations must have set parameters that dictate who views, modifies, or deletes CUI. Again, access depends on the roles and responsibilities of the staff.
Configuration management is another safeguard in the NIST 800-171 publication. It guides non-federal networks in establishing and maintaining secure software and hardware systems configurations. It ensures that the organizations have maintained an inventory of all the authorized devices within every network that is up-to-date. Devices include workstations, servers, switches, routers, and others.
Non-federal organizations should also keep an inventory of all the authorized devices and software applications in every network device. That way, the system can automatically detect and remove any unauthorized software.
Audit and Accountability
The special publication requires that non-federal organizations follow the stipulated guidelines for securing controlled, unclassified information. In this safeguard, strong audit and accountability techniques are established to monitor and keep track of the activities and events related to security.
These organizations should establish and implement audit policies and configurations for their systems. These policies should specify the event to be audited, the information to be collected, and the appropriate place to store the audit logs. There should also be audit trails whose purpose is to record security-related activities and events. Non-federal organizations should also store the audit logs securely to ensure no one can access them unauthorizedly, tamper with them, or delete anything from them.
The NIST 800-171 publication is keen to ensure non-federal networks adhere to the incident response security guidelines. It prepares organizations to have effective responses to arising security threats. The publication requires organizations to create a well-organized incident response plan outlining how it is supposed to handle security incidents as they arise. It should have procedures for detecting, reporting, and responding to security threats.
The NIST 800-171 special publication requires that these networks conduct continuous monitoring to ascertain the safety of CUI. Continuous monitoring is about organizations having ongoing surveillance and assessing their security posture to determine and respond to possible security threats. The process involves risk assessment, where organizations must identify and assess potential vulnerabilities and risks to help prioritize monitoring efforts.
Also, organizations should constantly monitor security controls to ascertain their reliability in CUI protection. It involves monitoring access controls, detecting intrusions, and monitoring encryption. The organizations should also have ways to gather threat intelligence to stay informed on any vulnerabilities. They should be able to scan the systems using different scanning tools to help identify the weaknesses that attackers can maximize in their attempts to penetrate the systems.