NIST 800-171


Do you have contracts with the United States Department of Defense (DoD) or are you a subcontractor to a prime contractor with DoD contracts? If so…are you prepared for NIST 800-171 requirements?

The NIST 800-171 publication outlines “basic” security standards and controls designed to provide guidance for the protection and safeguarding of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) by federal contractors and subcontractors who process, store, or transmit information as part of their “routine” business operations.

process, store, transmit
171 Defined

NIST 800-171 is a framework designed to provide guidance to anyone that handles Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI):

  • When the CUI is resident in nonfederal information systems and organizations
  • When the information systems where the CUI resides are not used or operated by contractors of federal agencies or other organizations on behalf of those agencies;
  • Where there are no specific safeguarding requirements for protecting the confidentiality of CUI prescribed by the authorizing law, regulation, or government-wide policy for the CUI category or subcategory listed in the CUI Registry.
How does this impact my Organization?

The deadline to comply with 800-171 requirements was December 31st, 2017 and it is currently estimated that less than 1% have met those requirements. While the impact for non-compliance may not be apparent or obvious at this moment, it is only a matter of time before 800-171 obligations are strictly enforced. The impact of non-compliance could potentially result in contract termination, criminal fraud and possibly lawsuits claiming breach of contract.


Currently, there is no certification process for 800-171. By implementing the recommended 800-171 security controls, organizations essentially are self-attesting they meet and comply with the stipulated requirements.

Where to start and why?

The security requirements outlined in 800-171 should be complementary to an organization's existing IT strategy. 800-171 is very descriptive and requires the understanding of 110 controls across 14 categories which helps define “what” needs to be accomplished. However, it lacks any prescriptive detail of “how” to accomplish compliance success and what should be the priority of those requirements.

Let NNT show you how a single solution addresses one-third of all the security and compliance requirements across the various 14 categories.


Speak to a consultant to help you in your NIST 800-171 compliance program today!

How NNT Addresses NIST 800-171

Learn about each requirement and how NNT can help you achieve NIST 800-171 compliance


Requirement 3.1: Access Control

NIST 800-171

Key Security Controls Security Control Highlights Supplemental Guidance Precis How does NNT Change Tracker Gen 7™ satisfy the requirement?

3.1.1 Limit access to authorized users, processes acting on behalf of authorized users, or devices
3.1.2 Limit access to the types of transactions and functions that authorized users are permitted to execute

3.1.6 Use non-privileged accounts or roles when accessing nonsecurity functions
3.1.7 Prevent non-privileged users from executing privileged functions, audit the execution of such functions
3.1.8 Limit unsuccessful logon attempts
3.1.11 Terminate (automatically) a user session after a defined condition

Principle of Least Privilege is a fundamental Security Best Practice and the need to log all successful and unsuccessful attempts essential

AC-7 Enforces a limit of consecutive invalid logon attempts by a user during a defined time period and automatically locks the account/node for a defined time period when the maximum number of unsuccessful attempts is exceeded AC-12 This control addresses the termination of user-initiated logical sessions

Contemporary Operating System platforms provide support for detailed security policy settings covering Password and Account Lockout Policies but these must all be set correctly and enforced. NNT is a Certified CIS Vendor and as such, accurately delivers the industry-standard configuration hardening guidance form the CIS Benchmarks. This means you are assured of always having the latest expert configuration settings to minimize your organizations attack surface.

Requirement 3.3: Audit and Accountability

NIST 800-171

Key Security Controls Security Control Highlights Supplemental Guidance Precis How does NNT Change Tracker Gen 7™ satisfy the requirement?


3.3.1 Create, protect, and retain information system audit records to the extent needed to enable the monitoring, analysis, investigation, and reporting of unlawful, unauthorized, or inappropriate information system activity.

Audit events can include, for example, password changes, failed logons, or failed accesses related to information systems, administrative privilege usage, PIV credential usage, or third-party credential usage

Configuration of a comprehensive audit policy is key - get it right and you will capture a forensic audit-trail of user activities suitable for pre-empting an attack and for reconstructive forensic analysis post-breach. Get it wrong and you will miss crucial events and likely be swamped with spurious log data. NNT provide Configuration Remediation Kits to automatically set a NIST Auditor-class audit policy on all platforms, backed with Certified CIS reports to continuously validate and enforce adherence. Note: NNT Log Tracker™ can also be employed to analyze and backup logs.

Requirement 3.4: Configuration Management

NIST 800-171

Key Security Controls Security Control Highlights Supplemental Guidance Precis How does NNT Change Tracker Gen 7™ satisfy the requirement?


"3.4.1 Establish and maintain baseline configurations of organizational information systems (including hardware, software, firmware, and documentation)
3.4.2 Establish and enforce security configuration settings for information technology products "

Baseline configurations serve as a basis for future builds, releases, and changes to information systems. Baseline configurations include information about information system components (e.g., software packages installed; current version numbers/patch information on operating systems/applications & configuration settings/parameters). Maintaining baseline configurations requires creating new baselines as organizational information systems change over time.

"As well as the pre-built NIST compliance reports, any device being monitored can have its configured state captured as a dynamically-generated Baseline Report, providing a Point-in-Time record to compare with other devices or future points in time.

For Change Control, Change Tracker™ utilizes a unique control systems known as 'Closed Loop Intelligent Change Control', literally learning which changes within your environment are normal, applying threat-based logic to the automation of change approvals."

Requirement 3.6: Incident Response

NIST 800-171

Key Security Controls Security Control Highlights Supplemental Guidance Precis How does NNT Change Tracker Gen 7™ satisfy the requirement?


3.6.1 Establish an operational incident-handling capability for organizational information systems

The organization employs automated mechanisms to support the incident handling process. The organization correlates incident information and individual incident responses to achieve an organization-wide perspective on incident awareness and response.

"Change Tracker™ cuts out the 'alert fatigue' and 'change noise' associated with traditional integrity monitoring systems like Tripwire®. By leveraging NNT FAST™ (File Approved-Safe technology) Cloud, file changes are automatically validated using an authoritative file whitelist. This radically reduces the incident response process by highlighting only genuinely suspicious activities.

In addition, because Change Tracker™ identifies Who Made the Change, investigation tasks are greatly simplified."

Requirement 3.7: Maintenance

NIST 800-171

Key Security Controls Security Control Highlights Supplemental Guidance Precis How does NNT Change Tracker Gen 7™ satisfy the requirement?


3.7.1 Perform maintenance on organizational information systems
3.7.2 Provide effective controls on the tools, techniques, mechanisms, and personnel used to conduct information system maintenance

The organization: (a) Employs automated mechanisms to schedule, conduct, and document maintenance and repairs; and (b) Produces up-to date, accurate, and complete records of all maintenance and repair actions requested, scheduled, in process, and completed.

"All changes are captured and presented clearly for review and approval.

Change Tracker™ integrates with change management systems such as ServiceNow® to automate the flow of approved planned changes, reconciling what actually changed with the expected approved-change profile"

Requirement 3.8: Media Protection

NIST 800-171

Key Security Controls Security Control Highlights Supplemental Guidance Precis How does NNT Change Tracker Gen 7™ satisfy the requirement?


3.8.1 Protect information system media containing CUI, both paper and digital
3.8.2 Limit access to CUI on information system media to authorized users
3.8.3 Sanitize or destroy information system media containing CUI before disposal/reuse

"Information system media includes digital media. Restricting access to digital media includes limiting access to design specifications stored on compact disks in the media library to the project leader and the individuals on the development team.

Cryptographic mechanisms can provide confidentiality and integrity protections depending upon the mechanisms used."

User-permissions and network segregation all rely on secure configuration settings and tightly governed change control. Change Tracker™ NIST Compliance Reports will show if user rights are incorrectly set and any configuration 'drift' will be clearly exposed to allow review and remediation. Encryption services and settings, such as MS BitLocker, can similarly be automatically reviewed and benchmarked for security.

Requirement 3.11: Risk Assessment

NIST 800-171

Key Security Controls Security Control Highlights Supplemental Guidance Precis How does NNT Change Tracker Gen 7™ satisfy the requirement?


3.11.1 Periodically assess the risk to organizational operations, organizational assets, and individuals, resulting from the operation of organizational information systems and the associated processing, storage, or transmission of CUI

Vulnerability scanning includes, scanning for patch levels, scanning for functions, ports, protocols, and services that should not be accessible to users or devices; and scanning for improperly configured or incorrectly operating information flow control mechanisms.

NNT provide regularly updated CIS-based NIST compliance reports to identify vulnerabilities on a huge range of platforms, applications and network appliances. Open ports can be tracked using both external and internal scans, and using the Baseline Report, a clear hardened-build state recorded for any device/device type. Change Tracker™ provides continuous configuration monitoring and any drift from the organizational build-standard will be clearly highlighted. Similarly, installed software and updates can be baselined, including the installed version.

Requirement 3.13: System and Communications Protection

NIST 800-171

Key Security Controls Security Control Highlights Supplemental Guidance Precis How does NNT Change Tracker Gen 7™ satisfy the requirement?


3.13.1 Monitor, control, and protect organizational communications at the external boundaries and key internal boundaries of the information systems

"Restricting interfaces within organizational information systems includes, restricting external web traffic to designated web servers within managed interfaces and prohibiting external traffic that appears to be spoofing internal addresses.

Cryptographic mechanisms implemented to protect information integrity include cryptographic hash functions."

"Managing firewall rules and settings is an essential task in order to safeguard boundary protection - Change Tracker™ will provide visibility of any changes made, with a complete step-by-step audit trail of interim changes. At each stage a full baseline of settings is also retained for review and different devices and/or points in time can be compared to the Gold Build Standard.

For end-points, session security, authenticity and disconnect settings can be expertly assessed against industry-best practice using CIS Secure Configuration Guidance, and any shortcomings will be highlighted for remediation."

Requirement 3.14: System and Information Security

NIST 800-171

Key Security Controls Security Control Highlights Supplemental Guidance Precis How does NNT Change Tracker Gen 7™ satisfy the requirement?


3.14.1 Identify, report, and correct information and information system flaws
3.14.2 Provide protection from malicious code at appropriate locations within organizational information systems
3.14.3 Monitor information system security alerts and advisories

Unauthorized changes to software, firmware, and information can occur due to errors or malicious activity. Software includes operating systems, including kernels and drivers, middleware, and applications. Firmware includes the BIOS. Information includes metadata such as security attributes associated with information. State-of-the-practice integrity-checking mechanisms e.g. cryptographic hashes and associated tools can automatically monitor the integrity of information systems and applications.

"Change Tracker™ provides instant, real-time detection of file integrity changes, using SHA-2 or higher hash validation, for all system files and configuration settings, for all devices and platforms

Working in conjunction with NNT FAST™ Cloud, as changes are detected, files can be assessed against a 'known good' whitelist of proven-safe files in order to reduce change noise and more clearly expose zero day malware that would otherwise evade traditional anti-virus technology."


Learn More about NIST 800-171

Solution Brief:


NIST 800-171


Requirements Chart:
NNT Solutions Mapped to
800-171 Controls


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