Preparing for NIST Special Publication 800-171Compliance
Because the US federal government is now outsourcing service providers to assist in carrying out a wide range of federal projects and business activities, using the federal government’s information system, and due to the sensitive information being used in the projects, the Department of Defense is now requiring service provider operators, contractors and subcontractors, dealing with Covered Defense Information (CDI) to take protective and preventive measures on their cyber security, such that the Defense Department requires that outsourced operators be NIST Special Publication 800-171 compliant as early or before December 31, 2017.
NIST Special Publication 800-171 is an outlined general procedure and information that delineates how information systems and policies are to be set-up and complied by service operators to protect government information, particularly called Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), which can directly affect the normal activities of the federal government to successfully deliver its operations. These outsource service providers are hired to perform many routine works, such as the processing, storing and transmitting of federal information in their information computer system, delivering these data information (for example, providing credit card and financial services, providing Web and electronic mail services, conducting background investigations for security clearances, processing healthcare, providing cloud services, developing communications satellite and weapons systems) to federal agencies and, therefore, it is of paramount importance that a system be adopted to protect the sensitivity of this form of work by way of requiring all outsourced service providers to be compliant to NIST Special Publication 800-171.
If you are one of these hired contractors, you need to comply with the requirement or else you lose your precious contract, thus, here are suggested steps that can be taken to start in the compliance procedure: perform a gap analysis and establish an incident response plan.
When you, as a government contractor, have to comply on your own on the NIST Special Publication 800-171 requirement, the first important step is to conduct a security analysis through all your control systems and compare the analysis results to the policies of the NIST Special Publication 800-171and determine which areas need to be worked on so they can be compliant, which requires discussing this with your staff, investigating on your company’s network maps and configurations especially related into the treatment process of Controlled Unclassified Information. It is important that you have a thorough gap analysis and report of the overall investigation of your system so that changes can be introduced such as a two factor authentication to make sure that there are no shared passwords and that an incident response plan will also be required which is providing solutions in situations when there is a cyber intrusion or when there is an insider investigation.