Safeguard Sensitive Information With NIST 800-171

In an era where cyber threats are rampant, and data breaches seem all too common, safeguarding sensitive information has become an absolute necessity. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has stepped up to the plate by introducing a comprehensive set of guidelines known as NIST Special Publication 800-171 (NIST 800-171).
Purple-hued clouds against a blue sky.

What is NIST 800-171?

NIST 800-171 is a publication developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to provide cybersecurity guidelines for protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in non-federal systems and organizations. CUI is any information that is not classified but still requires protection from unauthorized access or disclosure under law, regulation, or government policy.

First released in December 2016, NIST 800-171 is a framework of 14 families of security requirements. Each family addresses a specific aspect of information security, ranging from access control and incident response to risk assessment and system maintenance. 

There are 14 families of security requirements in NIST 800-171, listed as follows:

  • Access Control: Controlling access to CUI based on least privilege and need-to-know.
  • Awareness and Training: Ensuring employees are educated about their roles in protecting CUI and potential security risks.
  • Audit and Accountability: Implementing auditing capabilities to monitor and track system activities related to CUI.
  • Configuration Management: Establishing and maintaining secure configurations for information systems and assets handling CUI.
  • Identification and Authentication: Employing secure authentication methods to verify the identities of users accessing CUI.
  • Incident Response: Developing and executing an incident response plan to address and recover from security incidents.
  • Maintenance: Ensuring the regular maintenance and timely resolution of information systems to reduce vulnerabilities.
  • Media Protection: Protecting and controlling media containing CUI to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Physical Protection: Implementing physical security measures to protect CUI against unauthorized access, theft, or damage.
  • Personnel Security: Screening personnel with access to CUI to minimize the risk of insider threats.
  • Risk Assessment: Conducting regular risk assessments to identify and prevent potential vulnerabilities.
  • Security Assessment: Evaluating and testing information systems to ensure compliance with security controls.
  • System and Communications Protection: Protecting information systems and communications handling CUI from unauthorized access.
  • System and Information Integrity: Monitoring and protecting information systems from unauthorized changes or tampering.

By adhering to these guidelines, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and bolster their cybersecurity resilience.

NIST 800-171 graphic

NIST 800-171 Offers Many Benefits For Salesforce Users

For Salesforce users, adhering to NIST 800-171 guidelines can yield numerous advantages, helping them strengthen data protection, foster customer trust, and maintain regulatory compliance. Some of the benefits include:

Enhance Data Security

Salesforce environments often contain a ton of sensitive customer data, making it a prime target for malicious attacks. By adopting NIST 800-171 security controls, Salesforce users can fortify their data protection measures, implementing access controls, encryption, and monitoring mechanisms to safeguard against unauthorized access and data breaches.

Mitigate Insider Threats

One significant risk to data security is an insider threat –– or, in other words, a threat posed by an organization’s internal personnel. NIST 800-171 emphasizes personnel security measures, such as background checks and security clearances, to help mitigate insider threats. Salesforce users can implement these controls to create a secure environment for handling sensitive customer information.

Ensure Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with NIST 800-171 is not only a good cybersecurity practice but also often a contractual requirement for organizations dealing with federal contracts. Salesforce users working with government agencies can demonstrate their adherence to these guidelines, ensuring continued eligibility for valuable contracts.

Incident Response Preparedness

Even with strong measures in place, security incidents can still occur. NIST 800-171 encourages organizations to develop and maintain an incident response plan. For Salesforce users, this means having a structured approach to detect, report, and address security incidents, minimizing their impact and potential damage.

Supply Chain Assurance

NIST 800-171 emphasizes the importance of secure data handling throughout the supply chain. For Salesforce users working with vendors or subcontractors, adhering to these guidelines ensures a higher level of data protection across the entire business ecosystem.

Adhering to NIST 800-171 guidelines is essential, especially for Salesforce users dealing with sensitive customer information.

How Can Businesses Implement NIST 800-171?

Implementing NIST 800-171 involves a multi-faceted approach to cybersecurity. Here are some key steps to get started:

  • Assess the current state of cybersecurity Begin with a thorough assessment of the organization’s current cybersecurity plan. Identify areas that need improvement to meet NIST 800-171 requirements.
  • Develop a plan – Once you know which areas need to be changed or improved upon, create a detailed plan that outlines the steps needed to meet the guidelines. Assign responsibilities and set timelines to ensure timely and efficient implementation.
  • Update user access controls – Strengthen access controls to limit data access to authorized personnel only. This may involve implementing multi-factor authentication, role-based access controls, and strong password policies in your organization.
  • Provide training and awareness to staff – Educate employees about cybersecurity best practices and their role in safeguarding data. Regular training sessions and awareness programs can reinforce good cybersecurity habits.
  • Develop an incident response plan – Test this new plan periodically in order stay informed on how to handle data breaches or cybersecurity incidents effectively. Quick response and containment are crucial in mitigating potential damage.
  • Continue to monitor and improve as needed – Cybersecurity is an ongoing process. Implement continuous monitoring within your organization to identify any potential vulnerabilities and update your security measures accordingly.

By following these guidelines for implementation, businesses can ensure continued protection of sensitive data, and comply with regulatory requirements.

CapStorm Solutions Help You Maintain NIST 800-171 Compliance

Data security is not just a legal requirement but a proactive and ethical commitment to safeguarding sensitive information. By integrating NIST 800-171 principles into your data protection strategies, Salesforce users can confidently navigate the ever-evolving cybersecurity threats and protect the most valuable asset – customer data

That’s where CapStorm comes in. Our experts have designed a Salesforce data governance solution that preserves granular control over data classification while empowering regulatory compliance. As technology and cyber threats evolve, embracing NIST 800-171 with a partner like CapStorm is a proactive approach to data security, empowering organizations to stay one step ahead in safeguarding their data and building a resilient cybersecurity foundation.

Ready to take the next step? Our team is standing by.

Steven Welch

Steven Welch

Steven has over a decade of experience with content writing and design, and works to bring CapStorm's stories to a wider audience.

About CapStorm

CapStorm is the most technologically advanced Salesforce data management platform on the market. Billions of records per day flow through CapStorm software, and our solutions are used in every industry from credit cards, telecom providers, insurance agencies, global banks and energy providers.

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