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Unsure About Your Cybersecurity Network? Here’s What You Need

Cybersecurity Network

Cyberspace is a key strategic interest for the Department of Defense. While it makes operations more dynamic and efficient, the digital realm opens up the potential for risk. Criminals and adversaries of the United States devote countless resources to exploiting vulnerabilities in the cybersecurity apparatus. For this reason, contractors like yourself have an obligation to ensure that your systems are prepared to meet the challenge.  

When you’re focused on day-to-day operations, it’s not hard to let your cybersecurity slip. This is especially true if Information Technology is not your strong suit. Still, this is a mistake you can not afford to make. So, how exactly do you know what healthy cybersecurity looks like? While there are certainly a number of ways to answer that question, much of it comes down to NIST compliance. Having a strong grasp of this concept will set you up for success down the road. 

What is NIST Compliance 

NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology. Established in 1901 by the US Department of Commerce, the NIST is a scientific organization that is devoted to promoting American competitiveness in industry and innovation. In the context of cybersecurity, NIST compliance refers to a document called NIST 800-171.

Formally known as National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-171, this document is manual for approved cybersecurity practices according to the DoD. NIST 800-171 is referenced by the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement as the set of standards necessary for DIB contractors to manage their risks in cyberspace. The publication consists of 110 requirements that are organized into 14 categories. Ensuring that your firm’s systems are compliant with this document is the foundation of adhering to DFARS and CMMC. 

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Why Is NIST Compliance So Important? 

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the jargon and acronyms associated with cybersecurity across the DIB. Familiarizing yourself with NIST 800-171 can help you bypass this frustration. The publication is the most concrete part of your cybersecurity obligation to the DoD. The document lays out exactly what you need to do to prepare your systems to fend off potential attacks. 

Aside from the practical application, being compliant with the standards outlined in NIST 800-171 means that you’ll also be in compliance with DFARS and CMMC. For example, CMMC simply requires you to verify your compliance with the publication in context to the information your firm handles. Additionally, complying with DFARS is predicated on complying with the NIST guidance and submitting to CMMC. Thus, if your cybersecurity systems reflect the guidance in NIST 800-171, you’ve already completed the heavy lifting. 

How Do I Comply? 

As previously discussed, managing your cybersecurity network can be tough to do alone if you don’t have an IT background. Consulting with an established compliance manager is a great strategy to fast-track your adherence to the DoD’s cybersecurity requirements. Having them look over your network and provide guidance can save you time and money. Most importantly, they’ll give you the freedom to focus on the foundational aspects of your business.

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