NIST 800-171 Compliant File Sharing—What You Need to Know

NIST 800-171 Compliant File Sharing—What You Need to Know and How Kiteworks Can Help

In response to intensifying security threats from nation states, hacktivists, and other malicious parties, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has been raising the bar on its cybersecurity standards.

An amendment to DFARS 252.204-7012, a regulation addressing “Safeguarding Covered Defense Information and Cyber Incident Reporting,” requires DoD contractors and subcontractors to implement all the security requirements listed in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-171, “Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Information Systems and Organizations.”

NIST SP 800-171 is a set of guidelines created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to protect the confidentiality of controlled unclassified information (CUI) in non-federal systems and organizations. This set of standards highlights the need to protect CUI from most threats, outlined in the document, including unauthorized access, disclosure, or modification.

NIST 800-171 lists more than 100 different security requirements, covering 14 different areas of cybersecurity. Contractors and subcontractors were required to implement all these requirements on their “covered systems” by December 31, 2017. Noncompliance can lead to the DoD terminating contracts.

NIST 800 Series Compliance

The NIST 800 series is a set of NIST publications that set the standards for protecting information systems in the United States. The standards are especially important for organizations working with the federal government, as they are used to ensure that information is properly managed and protected.

The 800 series covers areas such as risk management, cryptography, access control, and monitoring. The 800 series is updated regularly to ensure that all of the standards remain relevant and up to date. In addition, the 800 series provides guidance on selecting the appropriate security controls for each system. This helps organizations understand what steps they need to take to ensure that the system remains secure.

Organizations that wish to become NIST 800 compliant must take several steps. First, they must review the standards and make sure that their system is meeting all of the requirements. Next, they must have their system audited by an independent third party to ensure that the security controls meet the NIST 800 standards. Finally, organizations must implement any necessary changes to ensure compliance.

NIST 800 compliance is essential for any organization that handles sensitive data or processes transactions on behalf of the federal government. Compliance with the 800 series of standards demonstrates that an organization is taking the necessary steps to protect their information and keep it safe. This helps organizations earn the trust of their customers and partners, and allows them to have greater confidence when dealing with sensitive data.

The 14 Requirement Families of NIST 800-171

NIST Special Publication 800-171 lays out comprehensive guidelines for protecting the confidentiality of CUI within non-federal information systems. These guidelines consist of 14 requirement families that organizations must address to enhance the security of CUI.

By effectively implementing these requirements, organizations can fortify their defenses and safeguard sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure, ensuring the protection of critical data.

NIST 800-171 Requirement Families

Section Key Requirements
Access Control Implement access controls to protect sensitive content and systems.
Awareness and Training Provide security awareness training to employees to ensure understanding of security policies and procedures.
Audit and Accountability Establish audit and accountability measures to track and monitor access to sensitive content.
Configuration Management Manage and control configurations of systems and devices to prevent unauthorized access or changes.
Identification and Authentication Implement strong authentication mechanisms to verify the identity of users accessing sensitive content.
Incident Response Develop and implement an incident response plan to effectively respond to security incidents.
Maintenance Regularly maintain the system in order to keep it secure and up to date.
Media Protection Protect and control physical and digital media containing sensitive content.
Personnel Security Establish personnel security policies and procedures to safeguard sensitive content.
Physical Protection Implement physical security measures to protect sensitive content and systems.
Risk Assessment Conduct regular risk assessments to identify and mitigate security risks.
Security Assessment Perform security assessments to ensure compliance with security requirements.
System and Communications Protection Implement security controls to protect systems and communication channels used for sensitive content.
System and Information Integrity Implement measures to ensure the integrity of systems and information containing sensitive content.

How to Implement NIST SP 800-171

The first step organizations must take in implementing NIST SP 800-171 is to identify CUI in their ecosystem, as well as its sensitivity level and existing protection measures. Once CUI has been identified, they must assess their current security controls to determine whether any of the security measures outlined in SP 800-171 are already in place.

Next, organizations should develop the necessary security protocols for CUI, such as limiting physical access, creating access control measures, and implementing encryption. Additionally, organizations should assess the risk of potential threats and develop an incident response plan to address any security incidents that may occur.

Organizations also need to ensure that all users of their systems or networks understand their roles and responsibilities for protecting CUI. This includes providing training on proper security protocols and conducting regular security audits to make sure the measures are being implemented properly.

Organizations should also monitor their systems regularly, checking for any unauthorized access or suspicious activity. They should also provide additional cybersecurity training to staff and update security protocols as necessary.

Finally, organizations should document their preferred methods of protecting CUI and submit the documentation to NIST for review. This will help to ensure that NIST SP 800-171 requirements are met and that the organization is compliant with the standards.

Kiteworks Empowers Organizations to Comply With NIST 800-171

Kiteworks helps organizations demonstrate compliance with NIST 800-171, ensuring the protection of CUI. With robust security and governance capabilities, Kiteworks addresses the specific requirements outlined in NIST 800-171, thereby enabling organizations to comply with this rigorous security standard.

The Kiteworks Private Content Network provides organizations security, governance, and compliance over the sensitive content they share with trusted third parties by email, file sharing, file transfer, and other channels.

Kiteworks features a hardened virtual appliance, which minimizes the attack surface of vulnerable third-party communication channels. Security measures such as automatic, end-to-end encryption, multi-factor authentication (MFA), granular access controls, and integrations with data protection technologies like data loss prevention (DLP), advanced threat protection (ATP), content disarm and reconstruction (CDR), and security information and event management (SIEM) protect an organization’s most sensitive content from cyberattacks and unauthorized access. Kiteworks ensures that sensitive information remains secure, meeting the encryption requirements set forth by NIST 800-171.

Granular Access Controls: Kiteworks offers granular access control, allowing organizations to define and manage user permissions, ensuring that only authorized individuals can access sensitive CUI. With fine-tuned access control mechanisms, organizations can implement a secure environment that aligns with NIST 800-171 guidelines.

Audit and Accountability: Kiteworks generates comprehensive audit logs, capturing user activity and system events. These logs provide organizations with the necessary information to monitor and review system activity, meeting the audit and accountability requirements of NIST 800-171.

Identification and Authentication: Kiteworks implements strong user identification and authentication mechanisms, such as MFA, to verify the identity of users accessing CUI. By adhering to the identification and authentication requirements of NIST 800-171, Kiteworks provides an additional layer of security to prevent unauthorized access.

To learn more about Kiteworks’ FedRAMP-authorized secure file sharing platform and how it meets FedRAMP’s rigorous requirements and helps organizations achieve NIST 800-171 compliance, schedule a custom demo today.

Additional Resources

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