What Is NIST-800-171? All That You Need to Know

NIST SP 800-171 is actually a set of requirements that every non-Federal computer system should follow so as to transmit, store, or process CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information) or offer protection for these systems. Improving record keeping as well as data handling is important when it comes to enhancing the trust of vendors, customers, contractors, and customers. Involving the federal government in these practices is important. It creates a culture of cybersecurity, which secures information or data of citizens, government, and businesses.

NIST-800-171 provides directives to the federal agencies for safeguarding the privacy of the Controlled Unclassified Information when it is being dealt with by nonfederal organizations. It places an important responsibility to agencies and contractors that transact with the government of U.S. It outlines cybersecurity safeguarding mechanisms the contractors should put in place within their systems, organization as well as system components that deal with the CUI.

Controlled Unclassified Information

This is unclassified information, which the government of the United States has considered necessary to protect because it directly affects the ability of the U.S government to perform business operations and other designated missions. Controlled Unclassified Information can appear in data formats like electronic files, digital media, and paper documents. If you offer products or services to the federal government of U.S, you need to know whether you process, store or transmit Controlled Unclassified Information. If yes, you should indicate how your company is protecting it. In other words, you must be prepared to show documentation indicating your policies, technical solutions as well as the capability of responding and detecting incidents associated with the security of Controlled Unclassified Information.

NIST SP 800-171 provides a disciplined as well as a structured approach when it comes to protecting and handling CUI which is shared as organizations and federal agencies work together. Threats facing information safety have been increasing day by day. This is because several organizations store data digitally, offer more services online, and rely on contractors as well as other third parties when it comes to outsourcing technology services. A list of 14 security controls as outlined in NIST SP 800-171 is provided below.

  • Access Control
  • Audit and Accountability
  • Awareness & Training
  • Identification & Authentication
  • Configuration management
  • Maintenance
  • Incident response
  • Personal Security
  • Media protection
  • Risk assessment
  • Security assessment
  • Physical protection
  • System & information technology
  • System & Communication protection

The benefits of complying with NIST 800-171 standards

Besides maintaining funding eligibility and deflecting fines, there are several benefits that come with NIST 800-171 compliance. These requirements are actually good practices that a company must utilize when providing trustworthy services. Some of these benefits are outlined below.

  • Protects essential assets like proprietary information, sensitive systems, and PII
  • Prevents loss for customers
  • Prevents damage to reputation
  • Meet the requirements for transacting with Federal agencies as well as receiving financial help from them
  • Prevents legal as well as financial repercussions


NIST SP 800-171 plays an important role when it comes to minimizing cybersecurity risks. It provides a well-structured approach for safeguarding CUI, which is shared as organizations and federal agencies work together. It has fourteen security controls to enable it to get into its dreams-reducing cybersecurity risks.





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