NIST 800–171 vs NIST 800–53: The Differences
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has established two sets of security controls for federal agencies and organizations that handle sensitive government information: NIST 800-171 and NIST 800-53. Both standards are designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of this information, but there are some key differences between them. In this document, we will explore the main differences between NIST 800-171 and NIST 800-53 and how they impact organizations.
NIST 800-171: Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)
NIST 800-171 is a set of security controls designed specifically for non-federal organizations that handle CUI. CUI is unclassified information that is sensitive in nature and requires safeguarding to protect against unauthorized access and disclosure. Examples of CUI include financial data, personally identifiable information (PII), and proprietary business information.
The main purpose of NIST 800-171 is to ensure that organizations have adequate security measures in place to protect CUI from cyber threats. These security controls cover areas such as access control, awareness and training, incident response, and system and information integrity. Organizations that handle CUI are required to comply with NIST 800-171 in order to do business with the federal government.
NIST 800-53: Protecting Federal Information Systems
NIST 800-53 is a broader set of security controls that apply to federal agencies and organizations, as well as contractors and partners that handle federal information systems. These controls cover all types of sensitive government information, including classified and unclassified data.
Unlike NIST 800-171, which focuses specifically on protecting CUI, NIST 800-53 is a comprehensive framework for securing federal information systems against a wide range of threats. It includes controls for areas such as risk assessment, contingency planning, physical and environmental protection, and personnel security. Compliance with NIST 800-53 is mandatory for all federal agencies and organizations that handle sensitive government information.
Key Differences between NIST 800-171 and NIST 800-53
The main difference between these two standards is the type of information they are designed to protect. NIST 800-171 focuses on safeguarding CUI, while NIST 800-53 covers all types of sensitive government information. This means that the controls in NIST 800-53 are more comprehensive and cover a wider range of threats.
Another key difference is their applicability. NIST 800-171 applies only to non-federal organizations that handle CUI, while NIST 800-53 applies to all federal agencies and organizations that handle sensitive government information. This means that federal contractors and partners must comply with NIST 800-53 in order to work with the government.
Implications for Organizations
If your organization handles CUI, compliance with NIST 800-171 is a must in order to do business with the federal government. However, even if your organization does not handle CUI, it is important to be aware of NIST 800-53 and its controls. These standards serve as a baseline for securing sensitive information, and implementing them can help protect against cyber threats and ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your data.
In summary, while both NIST 800-171 and NIST 800-53 aim to protect sensitive government information, they have different scopes and applicability. Organizations that handle CUI must comply with NIST 800-171, while federal agencies and organizations must follow NIST 800-53. By understanding the differences between these two standards, organizations can better secure their data and ensure compliance with government regulations. It is important for organizations to be familiar with both NIST 800-171 and NIST 800-53 and implement appropriate security controls to protect sensitive information. Additionally, staying up-to-date with any changes or updates to these standards is crucial in maintaining compliance and ensuring the security of government information.