On November 18, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) released Draft Special Publication 800-171 (“SP 800-171”), which includes new recommended security controls for nonfederal organizations such as government contractors, state and local governments, and colleges and universities that “process, store, or transmit” controlled unclassified information (“CUI”) on their own systems. These draft standards were issued pursuant to Executive Order 13556, Controlled Unclassified Information (“CUI EO”), which called for the establishment of a uniform government approach for managing unclassified information requiring safeguarding or dissemination controls. The draft standards are based on the security requirements and controls in FIPS Publication 200 and NIST SP 800-53, but were tailored to eliminate requirements that are uniquely federal, related primarily to availability, and/or presumably already routinely satisfied by nonfederal organizations.
To maintain the security of CUI, the CUI EO instructed the National Archives and Records Administration (“NARA”) to collaborate with various agencies to propose CUI classifications and associated markings, and issue any directives necessary to implement the CUI EO. As noted in SP 800-171, “the CUI program is designed to address several deficiencies in managing and protecting unclassified information to include inconsistent markings, inadequate safeguarding, and needless restrictions, both by standardizing procedures and by providing common definitions” through a federal CUI Registry. This Registry outlines 22 top-level categories of data, with subcategories covering everything from electronic fund transfers to source selection in the procurement process. Although the categories of information included in the Registry are unclassified, the government has determined that additional safeguarding – such as storage on a secure server – or limitations on sharing the data should be employed. To ensure that controls are reasonable and justified , the CUI EO requires each category to be based in statute, regulation, or government-wide policy, and the Registry lists such authorizations.