A BASIC GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING NIST 800-171

A BASIC GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING NIST 800-171

While setting up and running a successful business involves paying attention to the needs of your customer and offering them quality service, there is another element that you need to pay attention to – compliance! This involves meeting current data security regulations. In a healthcare setup, for instance, the hospital needs to be compliant with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) software. Since healthcare is a highly regulated industry, it needs protection from powerful cyber attacks that are taking place more frequently. If you take a look at healthcare data breach statistics, around 2,550 healthcare data breaches have put over 189 million healthcare records in danger in the last decade.

While security regulations continue to work towards addressing data security threats, one thing is certain. All businesses need to fulfil at least basic security standards. With this view in mind, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) enforced the NIST 800-171. It is also referred to as NIST SP 800-171.

Here is a basic guide to better understand NIST 800-171.

WHAT IS NIST 800-171?

NIST 800-171 is a set of government regulations that work to make certain the confidentiality and safety of controlled unclassified information (CUI) is protected. CUI refers to any controlled unclassified US government data that is sensitive. In other words, it is a set of data security guidelines letting organizations know how they can safely access, transmit and store CUI in nonfederal information systems and organizations. This information usually consists of product patents and financial details and is shared with government contractors, subcontractors and government agencies.

HOW NIST 800-171 CAME ABOUT?

The baseline version of NIST SP 800-171 was initially published in June 2015. The set of guidelines was written by NIST, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies after careful deliberation and years of effort. It has been updated over the years and revised a few times as per the growing cyber threats and risks that came into existence. The deadline for companies to be NIST 800-171 compliant was December 31, 2017. Even so, a majority of companies missed the deadline while some matched up to only a few of the compliance requirements.

WHY IS NIST 800-171 REQUIRED?

The security controls over CUI are fewer especially when it is compared to classified information. As a result of this, carrying out data breaches by taking the route of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) becomes easier. This is why companies and organizations that are compliant with NIST 800-171 are a frequent target for cyberattacks. Since the loss of aggregated CUI is one of the most vital risks to national security, the healthcare and finance sector needs to be NIST 800-171 compliant.

Besides this, if your organization is noncompliant with NIST 800-171 and a data breach does take place, you are liable for serious non-compliance fines. These fines can cost you millions of dollars. You can also face undesirable consequences if you work with a subcontractor who does not comply with NIST regulations. So taking the required measures to be compliant ensures you are not subjected to extravagant fines and also do not fall victim to attacks.

A FEW THINGS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND NIST 800-171 BETTER

If you or a company that you are a part of has a contract with a federal agency, you need to comply with NIST 800-171. This allows your organization to take advantage of some of the most secure methods for storing as well as sharing information (CUI). The process to become compliant with the standards of NIST 800-171 can usually take around 6-8 months to implement so it is essential to get started today to safeguard your business from data breaches and cyberattacks of any kind.

While being NIST 800-171 compliant gives you the satisfaction that the infrastructure of your organization is secure, it does not completely guarantee that your data is safe. NIST guidelines start by informing companies to inventory their cyber assets with the help of a value-based approach. With this approach, they can pay attention to data that is most sensitive to you and program protection efforts by emphasizing this data.

We hope this guide to NIST 800-171 helped you understand the basics of what it entails. We have also answered some  frequently asked questions about NIST 800-171 in our next blog post. If you have any questions, we’d be happy to help. Tweet to us or send us a message on Linkedin, or email us at support@sure-shield.com

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