NIST 800-171a Guidelines

NIST 800-171A is a supplemental document to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-171. It provides guidelines for assessing the implementation of security controls specified in NIST 800-171, which focuses on protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in non-federal systems.

Here are some key points about NIST 800-171A:

1. Assessment Methodology: NIST 800-171A provides a methodology for assessing the implementation of security controls outlined in NIST 800-171. It offers a structured approach for organizations to evaluate their compliance with the requirements.

2. Security Control Families: NIST 800-171A organizes the security controls into 14 families, which align with those defined in NIST 800-171. These families cover various aspects of information security, such as access control, incident response, awareness and training, configuration management, and system and communications protection.

3. Assessment Procedures: The document outlines specific assessment procedures for each security control within the families. These procedures help organizations determine the effectiveness and maturity of their implemented controls.

4. Assessment Objectives: NIST 800-171A defines the objectives that organizations should achieve when assessing the implementation of security controls. These objectives aid in determining if the controls are adequately designed, implemented, and operating effectively.

5. Assessment Levels: The document introduces three assessment levels—Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. These levels provide flexibility in evaluating the implementation of security controls based on the organization’s risk management approach, available resources, and system characteristics.

6. Scoring Mechanism: NIST 800-171A incorporates a scoring mechanism to assess the maturity and effectiveness of the security controls. It assigns scores based on the assessment procedures and objectives, helping organizations identify areas that require improvement.

7. System Security Plan (SSP): As with NIST 800-171, NIST 800-171A emphasizes the importance of creating and maintaining a System Security Plan (SSP). The SSP describes the security controls implemented by the organization and serves as a reference during the assessment process.

8. Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M): If any deficiencies or gaps are identified during the assessment, organizations are expected to develop a Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M). The POA&M outlines the corrective actions, milestones, and estimated completion dates to address the identified deficiencies.

9. Continuous Monitoring: NIST 800-171A highlights the need for continuous monitoring of security controls to ensure ongoing compliance with the requirements. Organizations should regularly assess, monitor, and update their security measures to address emerging threats and changes in the system environment.

NIST 800-171A provides valuable guidance for organizations handling CUI to assess their compliance with NIST 800-171. It helps organizations evaluate the effectiveness of their security controls and take necessary steps to enhance their cybersecurity posture.