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How to be NIST Special Publication 800-171 Compliant

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. Because outsourced service providers are given tasks that carry sensitive information by the federal government some of these are the following: processing, storing and transmitting of data information that involves the following services – financial, healthcare, cloud services, Web and electronic mail, security clearances with prior background investigations and even as serious an information as communications satellite and weapons system, it is important that they comply to the NIST Special Publication 800-171 requirement set up by the Defense Department.

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.

By conducting a security analysis of your system processing, of which this is referred to as gap analysis, you need to check and go over all the control gaps of your network based on the policies of NIST Special Publication 800-171 and find out if your current projects and systems used comply and finding out which areas need to be compliant, such that in doing so you have to work this out with your staff by helping them investigate on the network map, as well as configurations, and thorough checking on the compliance checklist especially with respect to the processing treatment of Controlled Unclassified Information. When you have gotten the results of your gap analysis, it is suggested that a two factor authentication be added into your processing system to ensure that there are no shared passwords and come up with an incident response plan which requires for a well-explained plan on what to do during a cyber intrusion or attack or when there is an insider investigation.

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