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The Importance of Information Security Requirements for Federal Contractors

The federal government upholds strict information security requirements for federal contractors to comply to through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 800-171. These measures have been implemented to prevent federal government data from being exposed on contractor networks.

Previously, proprietary information was susceptible to exposure due to two trends.

Contractor-Owned Information Systems

Federal contracts often require the use of contractor-owned information systems to process federal information. These information systems historically have not meet the government’s requirements resulting in information being exfiltrated by nation-state attackers.

Complacency with Information Security

Complacency from an information security perspective across all business sectors, including federal contracting, has resulted in organizations that are simply not prepared to address the serious threats that exist in our modern era.

The United States Capitol

Federal contractors have a large role to play when protecting federal government information. These companies must take necessary steps to protect themselves and their clients from potential threats or attacks.

The federal government has established guidance requiring all federal contractors to implement a minimum set of information security controls on systems that process and store Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).

CUI can exist throughout a contractor’s financial, customer relation management, and project management systems. Therefore, the scope of a NIST 800-171 implementation project should address capabilities such as:

  • Establishment of an enterprise information security program with the necessary authority to make organizational change. This includes strong support from your organization’s senior leadership.
  • Conducting regular internal and third-party audits to assess the organization’s security posture.
Computer open showing data and statistics
  • Development of plans of actions and milestones to mitigate vulnerabilities and discrepancies discovered during internal and external security audits.
  • Development of enterprise-wide policies and procedures to govern information security across the organization.
  • Development of a risk management program that advises senior leadership on the risks present in the organization and steps to reduce that risk.
  • Implementation of enterprise-wide information security tool sets and controls to protect the organization.
  • Development of an organizational change management and training program designed to train organizational users on security responsibilities.
  • Development of a security architecture and advisory program that ensures all IT projects have security designed into the solution.

The steps needed to protect federal information are the same steps that an organization should be taking to protect it’s property and data. An organization should be prepared to endure potential attacks from adversaries seeking to undermine the business.

People working together

The implementation of an enterprise information security program, strong information security controls, and organizational change management practices is necessary to implement the NIST 800-171 guidance. Fully committed executive leadership must be committed to the implementation of NIST 800-171 to help ensure a resilient organization as well as adherence to government requirements.

H2L Solutions implements, tests, administers, and sustains cybersecurity solutions. We have a staff of information security professionals skilled in the development and management of cybersecurity programs. Our professionals assist our clients with multiple layers of information assurance and cybersecurity requirements.