What Is NIST 800-171, and Why Is It Important to Your Business?

Protecting sensitive data and information is vital to every business. Proper cybersecurity protocol is vital for every company to grasp, no matter how large or small. Yet, those who are not technologically inclined may get lost in some of the jargon used in this industry. Here is a look at one of the most important cybersecurity organizations, NIST, and its central document, NIST 800-17. Understanding this one document will give you a better insight into keeping your important data safe and secure.

What Is NIST?

NIST stands for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It’s a science laboratory and non-regulatory agency founded by Congress in 1901 to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness. They offer guidelines on technology-related matters to enhance the cybersecurity of U.S. companies. While they perform various functions, the most important to small business owners is the publication of NIST 800-171.

What Is NIST 800-171?

NIST 800-171 is a publication created by NIST that sets the common standard for cybersecurity protection protocols. This document controls the sharing and publication of controlled unclassified information in non-federal organizations and information systems. Controlled unclassified information refers to data that is not classified but is still important enough to be protected. The government has unique protocols for dealing with sensitive information, and therefore, NIST applies to any important data to U.S. interests but isn’t federally regulated. NIST 800-171 was created in 2003 after the passing of FISMA, the Federal Information Security Management Act. This legislation created various security standards and guidelines to improve U.S. cybersecurity after several highly publicized breaches.

Why Is NIST 800-171 Important to Your Business?

NIST 800-171 is important to business owners because it sets the cybersecurity standards that all organizations are expected to uphold, no matter if it’s a one-person operation or a major corporation. NIST is not a regulatory agency, and therefore, NIST 800-171 is not a law that businesses must follow under threat of punishment. Compliance is required for certain companies that do business with the U.S. government, namely the Department of Defense. However, it is merely a standard for most companies that you should uphold to protect your business. But, NIST 800-171 compliance will protect you from security breaches. So, there is no reason why you should not strive to uphold these standards.

Every business has sensitive data; they don’t want to be leaked or stolen. Adhering to the standards set by NIST 800-171 will significantly decrease your risk of a security breach and will strengthen your information systems.

Those who need help with NIST compliance should come to see us at Tech-42. We will help strip away all the complicated jargon and give you actionable steps to improve your business’s cybersecurity protocols. It’s better to take action now and prevent a breach than wait until you have an incident and need damage control. A breach in cybersecurity can threaten the success of any business in an instant. Give us a call today if you’re ready to unpack NIST 800-171 and protect your important data from malicious characters.