National Association of Government Contractors

Cybersecurity Directive Looming for Contractors

With the recent "WannaCry" ransomware cyber that struck in at least 74 countries, U.S. Federal contractors should expect that failing to heed directives to better protect government data in their care, could put their business with the government at risk.

A looming new federal security directive requires businesses working with the federal government to protect their cyber data, or have a detailed plan for doing so, by year's end.

The directive is called "NIST 800-171" --  or sometimes just "rule 171" -- and it will control whether companies from defense engineering firms to janitorial outfits can do business with the federal government.

Presently, many companies contracting with the Federal government are not aware of the pending requirement and face losing their government contracts. Particularly, given that the rule would apply equally to a R&D firm or janitorial services.

Anyone that handles any information that could be considered classified by the government needs to ensure sufficient security measures are in place.

Today, the rule affects only Department of Defense contractors, but will expand to impact every federal contractor their sub-contractors.

The rule is essentially a list of 110 requirements with which contractors must comply. What level of compliance will be required is situational, and depends on the size of the contractor in question and how much federal information they have.

Once compliance is in place, constant monitoring is required. Currently, contractors working with DoD have 72 hours of a hacking incident.

Contractors are urged to begin designing and implementing their security systems and putting them in place before the end of the year.

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