Covered Defense Information (CDI) refers to unclassified controlled technical information or other information with military or space application that has been identified in the “Controlled Technical Information” or the “DoD Critical Infrastructure Information.” The Federal Government relies heavily on external service providers and contractors to help carry out a wide range of federal missions as well as business functions. Many of these services and functions include access to, or generation of, sensitive federal information, which can create potential vulnerabilities to the federal information and federal information systems.

Covered Defense Information

CDI plays a critical role in maintaining national security and safekeeping military intelligence. It can be anything from training manuals and blueprints for aircraft to intelligence briefs. It’s vital that this type of information is handled and shared properly to ensure that it doesn’t get into the wrong hands. The improper handling and dissemination of CDI can lead to severe consequences, including damaging the country’s national security, legal implications, and reputational risks for the handlers.

In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of CDI, including how it’s defined, why it needs to be protected, and what are the repercussions in the event of unauthorized access, leading to a data breach and/or compliance violation.

Key Features of Covered Defense Information

One of the key features of Covered Defense Information is its scope. It’s not confined to classified or secret information, but also includes unclassified information that is sensitive and requires protection. Such information pertains to the technical, operational or scientific areas of defense that provides a strategic advantage.

Another important element of CDI is its protected status. CDI is subject to Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) rules, which mandates mandatory safeguard standards for the defense contractors and subcontractors. Noncompliance with these protocols can result in severe penalties, including but not limited to losing the ability to bid on future defense contracts.

What’s the Difference Between CDI, CUI, and FCI?

Covered Defense Information or CDI is a term adopted by the Department of Defense (DoD) to label unclassified controlled technical information. It applies to any unclassified information that falls under the jurisdiction of the DoD’s safeguarding regulations, including all forms of data related to military or defense applications.

Contrarily, Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) refers to information that requires safeguarding or dissemination controls pursuant to federal law, regulation or government-wide policy. CUI is not classified information, but is sensitive enough to warrant a higher level of protection than normally afforded to unclassified information.

Federal Contract Information (FCI) refers to information not intended for public release. It is provided by or generated for the government under a contract to develop or deliver a product or service to the government. FCI doesn’t include information provided by the government to the public or simple transactional information.

Both CDI and CUI require a certain level of protection, which is determined by the government and certain regulatory bodies. The data under these categories cannot be freely disseminated without implications. However, the main difference lies in the application of these labels. CDI is specifically focused on defense-related information, while CUI is a broader category encompassing a range of sensitive information. FCI, on the other hand, is a subset of CUI, primarily concerning with information related to federal contracts.

In summary, while CDI, CUI, and FCI all represent forms of sensitive, unclassified information that must be handled with care, the key differences lie in the nature of the information they encompass and the contexts in which they are used.

The Importance of CDI to Organizations and Consumers

Covered Defense Information enhances the security posture of an organization by providing guidelines on how to handle sensitive information. Adherence to these protocols not only ensures security but also proves an organization’s commitment to the safeguarding of critical information. For consumers or constituents, the proper handling of CDI guarantees that their sensitive data, when it falls under the category, is handled with utmost care and security, thereby ensuring their privacy and protection.

However, the failure to protect CDI presents numerous risks. Regulatory risks include punitive measures from regulatory bodies. Financial risks might entail hefty penalties or loss of business due to breach of contracts. Legal risks could lead to potential lawsuits, while reputational risks could damage the public perception of an organization. Hence, it is essential to implement best practices for handling and sharing Covered Defense Information properly.

Handling and Sharing of Covered Defense Information

The handling and sharing of Covered Defense Information are governed by a set of stringent requirements. These include employing adequate security systems, using encryption for the storage and transit of information, and conducting regular audits to ensure regulatory compliance. Employees must receive adequate training on the importance of CDI and the repercussions of mishandling such information.

Enforcing these requirements is equally crucial. Organizations must have strict disciplinary measures in place for any non-compliance. Regular reminders about the importance of following these protocols, coupled with a culture that values security and discretion, can help enforce the proper handling and sharing of CDI.

Best Practices for Implementing CDI Protocols

Handling and protecting Covered Defense Information (CDI) is a critical aspect of maintaining national security and complying with governmental regulations.

Covered Defense Information (CDI) is umbrella terminology that encompasses unclassified controlled technical information of military or space application not already protected by another category of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). CDI also includes all of the information protected under the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations Supplement (DFARS).

Implementing CDI protocols is a vital measure in ensuring the safety of critical defense information. CDI requires secure storage, processing, and transmission to protect the data from unauthorized access and cyber threats. Leveraging cybersecurity frameworks like the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s NIST 800-171 recommendation is a best practice for implementing CDI protocols.

This framework promotes proactive measures such as system maintenance, continuous monitoring, and persistent data protection. Regular software updates, antivirus scanning, and data backups are essential maintenance tasks. In addition, continuous monitoring enables detection of any anomalous activities or security breaches, facilitating quick reactions to minimize damage.

A core practice in implementing CDI protocols is employee training. All staff members who interact with CDI should have a nuanced understanding of the CDI protocols, including the stages of classification, handling, and declassification. Proper security awareness training minimizes risk of inadvertent data leaks.

Adhering to these best practices for implementing CDI protocols significantly reduces the risk of cyber-attacks, ensuring data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. It assures the DoD contractors and subcontractors that they can safely handle sensitive defense information. Moreover, it aligns organizations with the DFARS 252.204-7012 clause, fostering regulatory compliance and protecting them from potential civil and criminal penalties.

Regulatory Measures Regarding Covered Defense Information

Understanding the regulatory measures concerning Covered Defense Information is critical. The government has outlined certain rules in the DFARS, designed to ensure the safety and security of CDI. DFARS mandates contractors and subcontractors, entrusted with CDI, to implement specific security measures. These measures are designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and overall security of the CDI. Contractors and subcontractors are required to report any cyber incidents that could potentially affect CDI within 72 hours from discovery.

Another important regulatory measure is the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), a unified cybersecurity standard for future DoD acquisitions. The CMMC 2.0 framework includes three cybersecurity maturity levels ranging essentially from basic to advanced, ensuring all organizations dealing with CDI have an appropriate level of cybersecurity controls and processes in place. Thus, complying with these standards and regulatory measures is crucial in ensuring the security and integrity of CDI, protecting not only national defense information but also maintaining trust in defense industry relationships.

Best Practices for Handling and Sharing of CDI

It is critical for organizations dealing with CDI to follow best practices for its secure handling, sharing, and storage. The first step towards effective CDI management is developing and maintaining a comprehensive information security policy. This policy should outline the nature of the CDI that the organization handles, the responsibilities of individuals who interact with this data, and the procedures for secure data management. Having a robust policy in place not only ensures compliance with DoD’s stipulations but also fosters a culture of security awareness within the organization.

In addition to a solid security policy, organizations need strong technical measures to protect CDI. This involves implementing secure networking and information systems that comply with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) cybersecurity framework. Ensuring secure encryption, robust access controls, and regular system audits are crucial components of this strategy.

Next, organizations should enforce a need-to-know principle when it comes to CDI access. This essentially means that only individuals who require access to specific CDI for their job functions should be granted that access. Further, it is vital to ensure that employees understand their responsibilities regarding CDI and are regularly trained on the organization’s information security policies and procedures.

When it comes to sharing CDI, it is vital to ensure secure communication channels. CDI should be transmitted over encrypted connections and sensitive data should be redacted wherever possible. In addition, organizations dealing with CDI should thoroughly vet their partners and vendors to ensure they also follow secure data handling practices.

Lastly, effective CDI management involves regular evaluation and updates to the security policies, procedures, and systems. With the fast-paced evolution of threats and vulnerabilities, it is essential for organizations to stay abreast of the latest cybersecurity trends and implement necessary updates to secure their CDI. This includes performing regular risk assessments, audits, and penetration tests to identify and address potential security gaps.

Ultimately, handling, storing, and sharing CDI necessitates a comprehensive approach that includes robust policies, secure technical measures, regular training, secure communication channels, and constant vigilance. By adhering to these best practices, organizations can ensure the security and integrity of their CDI, thus protecting their operations while complying with regulations that mandate CDI protection.

Kiteworks Helps Organizations Protect CDI With a Private Content Network

In summary, Covered Defense Information (CDI) is a crucial aspect of national security that encompasses a wide range of sensitive information relating to defense and space applications. It is essential for organizations and individuals involved in handling CDI to adhere strictly to regulatory measures, including DFARS and NIST regulations. The proper management of CDI not only fortifies the security posture of an organization but also fosters trust and reliability among consumers. However, not protecting CDI can expose organizations to a myriad of risks, including legal, financial, and reputational damage. Thus, stringent handling and sharing requirements are vital. By implementing and maintaining best practices such as regular training, audits, encryption, and continuous monitoring, organizations can ensure the secure handling of CDI while minimizing potential threats.

The Kiteworks Private Content Network, a FIPS 140-2 Level validated secure file sharing and file transfer platform, consolidates email, file sharing, web forms, SFTP and managed file transfer, so organizations control, protect, and track every file as it enters and exits the organization.

Kiteworks supports organizations’ data governance and CDI protection efforts by providing granular access controls so only authorized individuals have access to specific data, reducing the amount of data each individual can access. Kiteworks also provides role-based policies, which can be used to limit the amount of data accessible to each role within an organization. This ensures that individuals only have access to the data necessary for their specific role, further minimizing the amount of data each person can access.

Kiteworks’ secure storage features also contribute to data governance and CDI protection by ensuring that data is securely stored and only accessible to authorized individuals. This reduces the risk of unnecessary data exposure and helps organizations maintain control over their data.

Kiteworks also provides a built–in audit trail, which can be used to monitor and control data access and usage. This can help organizations identify and eliminate unnecessary data access and usage, contributing to data minimization.

Finally, Kiteworks’ compliance reporting features can help organizations monitor their data minimization efforts and ensure compliance with data minimization principles and regulations. This can provide organizations with valuable insights into their data usage and help them identify opportunities for further data minimization opportunities.

With Kiteworks, businesses utilize Kiteworks to share confidential personally identifiable and protected health information, customer records, financial information, and other sensitive content with colleagues, clients, or external partners. Because they use Kiteworks, they know their sensitive data and priceless intellectual property remains confidential and is shared in compliance with relevant regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, U.S. state privacy laws, and many others.

Kiteworks deployment options include on-premises, hosted, private, hybrid, and FedRAMP virtual private cloud. With Kiteworks: control access to sensitive content; protect it when it’s shared externally using automated end-to-end encryption, multi-factor authentication, and security infrastructure integrations; see, track, and report all file activity, namely who sends what to whom, when, and how. Finally demonstrate compliance with regulations and standards like GDPR, HIPAA, CMMC, Cyber Essentials Plus, NIS2, and many more.

To learn more about Kiteworks, schedule a custom demo today.

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