Misconceptions about NIST 800-171 and NIST Compliance That DoD Contractors Should Stop Believing

Now that the cutoff date for complying with the NIST 800-171 requirement has passed let’s hope you are hunkering down, content in the thought that you have implemented the appropriate steps to make sure your organization is meeting the Department of Defense (DoD) cybersecurity guidelines. No doubt, acquiring cybersecurity compliance gives DoD contractors a comparative benefit over other vendors. Since cybersecurity compliance is rapidly evolving, there are myths and misconceptions about various compliance requirements. Thus, one must hire DFARS consultant to ensure they don’t lose on prospective deals pertaining to misconceptions.

If not, you may be wondering, “Now what?” What will transpire? Will your DoD contract be terminated?

There are consequences for non-compliance, but it is not too late to begin the process of becoming NIST compliant. In reality, you may reap benefits from complying with the NIST 800-171 regulation as soon as you do so.

What is the NIST 800-171 Mandate?

If you are a military or federal supplier or a subcontractor that sells to a government vendor, you must examine and abide by the NIST 800-171 obligation.

NIST is an acronym for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST Special Publication 800-171 addresses the security of “Controlled Unclassified Information,” which is identified as data developed by the government or an organization acting in its direction that is unclassified but requires protection. The NIST 800-171 requirement offers a set of standards outlining the methods and procedures businesses must use to protect this information. 

What are the areas covered in NIST?

NIST 800-171 is divided into 14 distinct families. These families can be divided into four categories for ease of reference:

  • Controls
  • Management and monitoring
  • Practices of end users
  • Security precautions

As of December 31, 2017, entities dealing with federal CUI should be in compliance with NIST 800-171. Universities, research institutes, consulting firms, network operators, and industries are often victims.

This rule will affect manufacturing organizations that are prime contractors or subcontractors and have CUI in their systems and applications. However, there is a lot of misinformation out there concerning NIST.

Myth #1: It’s costly to become NIST compliant 

No, it is not. There are affordable plans for getting NIST compliant. Don’t think that you need to hire a huge consulting firm and pay big bucks to become NIST compliant. Also, be aware of fraudulent merchants who may use intimidation tactics to get you to join up with them without first thoroughly investigating reliable vendors.

There are costs associated with being NIST compliant; however, they may not be as high as you believe.

Myth #2: Companies not working with or for the government are not required to be NIST compliant.

This is not correct. If you work in the government supply chain, you must almost comply with the NIST 800-171 and DFARS compliance regulation. As previously noted, NIST applies to manufacturers selling directly to the government and any subcontractor supplying to a government contractor. And, although if you do not now supply components to any government supplier, do you want to rule yourself out of any future opportunity to sell to a government supplier? 

Myth #3: Becoming NIST compliant is a lengthy procedure.

This is not correct. It’s quicker and simpler than you think. Most firms can make substantial progress toward NIST compliance within 30 days.

Many businesses already have part of the technology necessary for NIST compliance, which helps shorten the evaluation process. In certain circumstances, the evaluation will concentrate on what process adjustments are required to satisfy NIST compliance.…

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