What Exactly is NIST?

What Exactly is NIST?

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NIST stands for The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is set up by Congress as a federal agency in 1901. NIST's main target is to make sure the environment of healthy competition and fair play in the science and technology fields. NIST reviews the growth of science and technology from the U.S. Department of Commerce and plays its part towards better living standards. But how NIST is relevant to your business and what measures you have to ensure its compliance? Keep reading this blog to clear out your concerns.

NIST Compliance and your Business

With the inclusion of computers and the internet as a part of daily lives and a major contributing factor to the economy, the federal government realized the need to have control over their usage. The task was given to NIST to set up practices and standards to monitor the creation, utilization, and distribution of technology all across the United States.

In this blog, we are keeping our focus on one of the common NIST standards, i.e., NIST 800-171. It is the most common NIST standard in cybersecurity protection protocols. NIST 800-171 provides agency control for every federal unclassified data that is under the hands of non-governmental organizations. Basically, it provides a set of procedures on how to protect and distribute data that is sensitive to the government but not classified (Controlled Unclassified Information). It is created to improve cybersecurity, as the breaches count triggered the need for such standards. Whenever NIST compliance is talked about, the majority of people focus on NIST 800-171.

The NIST website official statement says that Congress has issued responsibility to NIST for disseminating concise, clear, actionable, and consistent resources to small businesses. But as per the present actions and the past history of the agency, the small businesses term basically includes all sizes of businesses.

For all those organizations that are directly or indirectly working with the government, they must ensure NIST compliance. Besides that, if your organization has no interaction with the government, still having all the knowledge about NIST is quite essential. But the big question is, how you can stay NIST compliant?

Before answering it, you must clear your concept about Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). CUI is an important government data that is not mandatorily classified, but it is still valuable. For example, a project drawing such as railways and roads or census reports. So, if your organization is associated with such data sets, then it is your responsibility to ensure that it remains protected from bad people.

Following are the different practices that can help in achieving complete NIST compliance:

  • Make sure your organization identifies and classifies all CUIs.
  • Perform encryption of CUIs.
  • Only authorized employees should have access to CUIs.
  • Set up a proper monitoring system, where you are aware of who tried to access CUIs, both successful and denied. In addition, monitoring should also be able to record the activities, such as who and when accessed CUIs, etc.
  • Make your employees well-aware of NIST compliance with regular training sessions.

Is the IT Team Capable to Handle NIST Compliance?

NIST seems to be simple and complex compliance, but with the right knowledge and resources, its compliance isn't much of a hassle. So, the IT team must be able to manage NIST compliance if they are well-trained and experienced to do it. Otherwise, it can become a time-consuming and costly process. Alternatively, you can opt for third-party NIST compliance services to meet the compliance goals.

SunTel Technologies is one of Toronto's leading IT Companies. We offer leading IT solutions including Managed IT Services, Managed Security Services, Cloud Services, Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR), Cyber Security Training and Dark Web Monitoring, IT Support Services, IT Consulting and IT Outsourcing Services.