What are the Best ways to Protect CUI? (4 best ways) 2024

    What are the Best ways to Protect CUI
    What are the Best ways to Protect CUI

    What are the best ways to protect CUI is a subject that is of greatest priority in our today’s article, and it will be covered widely today.

    We have listed several multiple tactics to protect CUI in order to thoroughly justify this topic.

    But first things first, just as we usually start with the essence of the subject at hand, we’ll first discover what CUI means.

    What is CUI?

    The United States federal government has a type of unclassified information known as controlled unclassified information (CUI).

    In order to develop a more efficient system for exchanging data and protection, President Obama’s Executive Order 13556 established the CUI program.

    CUI has to be managed or retained in surroundings that are monitored and can spot or deter unwanted access. By putting up electronic barriers, you may restrict and manage access to CUI within the workforce. You may utilize equipment that has been approved by the agency for reproducing or transmitting CUI.

     Here are few examples of CUI

    • Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII); and Personal Information (PII) (SPII)
    • EPA presently refers to proprietary business information (PBI) as confidential business information (CBI)
    • Controlled Technical Information that is not Classified (UCTI)
    • Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU)
    • Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES)
    • For Official Use Only (FOUO), and other terms.

    The CUI plan was started, according to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), to assist standardize how information is shared and safeguarded between various departments and agencies as well as private sector organizations doing business with Federal bodies.

    An “Independent federal agency of the United States government under the executive branch,” the National Archives and Documents Administration is in charge of maintaining and cataloguing official records from all levels of government as well as historical records.

    The program is intended to protect government material that is exchanged but is not marked as classified, confidential, or secret since it still has to be kept private. Instead, information needs to be regulated.

    Executive Order 13556, often known as the CUI guidelines, standardizes how information that doesn’t fulfil the requirements for classification under E.O. is handled and outlines the security requirements for securing CUI in non-federal information systems and organizations.

    The Atomic Energy Act, also known as Executive Order 13526, is administered.

    To guarantee that only the correct individuals have access to data that comes under CUI labelling categories, working with information that is subject to CUI necessitates the implementation of suitable access control mechanisms.

    The establishment of policies relating to CUI was influenced by government entities that were subject to compliance requirements, such as those under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the DFARS 252.204.2071 clauses.

    Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Non-federal Information Systems and Organizations, a Special Publication of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), provides detailed recommendations for CUI.

    What are the best ways to Protect CUI?

    Understanding the best measures for CUI protection and how your organization can engage us in safeguarding CUI is essential.

    There are several types and methods for protecting against CUI.

    1. CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) protection.
    2. Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in Non-Federal systems and Organizations.
    3.  CUI and Regulatory Compliance
    4. Protecting the Confidentiality of CUI on Digital Media, Non-Digital Media, In Transit and Speaking

    These many strategies and techniques support the protection of CUI in all its variations. In order to protect Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), it’s crucial to understand as much as you can about each one.

    1. CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) protection

    The CUI security standards are addressed through the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), which is accessible to all DoD industry partners.

    In order to protect CUI within the networks of all DoD contractors, this model is designed to serve as a blueprint for ensuring sufficient security procedures and practices.

    Users may choose from a hierarchy of information security for CUI courtesy to the CMMC’s maturity levels, which range from “basic cybersecurity hygiene” to “advanced progressive.”

    The five tiers of the CMMC are listed below and provide an excellent main basis for protecting your CUI.

    • To protect Federal Contract Information, Tier 1 advises following fundamental cyber hygiene procedures including installing anti-virus software and often changing passwords (FCI).
    • Tier 2 refers to an “intermediate level of cyber hygiene” that starts putting the NIST SP 800-171 criteria for CUI security into practice.
    • At Tier 3, the threshold is raised to “good cyber hygiene,” which entails putting all of the NIST SP 800-171 security criteria and other standards into practice while following a company-wide management strategy.
    • Tier 4 defines procedures and methods for dealing with “advanced persistent threats” (APT), which have more advanced resources and experience.
    • Tier 5 establishes analysing and evaluating the efficacy of security practices in addition to standardizing and optimizing the procedures and methods for addressing APT’s.

    Remember that the 110 security standards listed in NIST SP 800-171 are covered by the first three CMMC tiers.

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-171, Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations, is abbreviated as NIST SP 800-171.

    Protecting the secrecy of controlled unclassified information (CUI) covered by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and Défense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement is suggested by NIST SP 800-171. (DFARS).

    The CMMC then adds more processes and practices in addition to those that are mentioned in lower levels at each level.

    It is similar to the NIST SP 800-171 in that it evaluates how well an organization has institutionalized its cybersecurity procedures as well as how well it has implemented cybersecurity practices.

    1. Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in Non-Federal systems and Organizations

    Federal agencies must protect Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in Non-Federal systems and organizations.

    The list of recommendations (NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-171, SP 800-171A, SP 800-172, and SP 800-172A) is centred on protecting the confidentiality of CUI and recommends specialized protections to do so.

    • A set of suggested security standards are provided in NIST SP 800-171, Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Non-federal Systems and Organizations, for maintaining the secrecy of CUI.
    • Assessing Security Requirements for Controlled Unclassified Information, NIST SP 800-171A, provides assessment guidelines and a methodology for evaluating the CUI security requirements.
    • NIST SP 800-172, Enhanced Security Requirements for Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information: A Supplement to NIST Special Publication 800-171, offers enhanced security standards to help safeguard CUI linked to crucial programs or high-value assets in non-federal systems and organizations from the advanced persistent threat (APT).
    • Assessing Increased Security Requirements for Controlled Unclassified Information, NIST SP 800-172A, offers assessment processes and a methodology to undertake evaluations of the enhanced security requirements in NIST SP 800-172.
    1. CUI and Regulatory Compliance

    Implementing a data categorization system is one of the processes needed to achieve compliance.

    Significant data categorization technology enables consistent and precise labelling of data in accordance with the data governance principles and recommendations and NIST SP 800-171 requirements.

    This functionality is proof that CUI is handled with the proper metadata and visual markers of information specified in the NARA CUI registry.

    Government and non-government organizations that engage with governmental agencies must have a solid security plan in place that addresses 14 security control areas in order to be in compliance with CUI requirements.

    These areas include:

    • Access management
    • Knowledge and instruction
    • Accountability and Auditing
    • Configuration control
    • Authentication and identification
    • Incidental reaction
    • Maintenance
    • Media Protection
    • Physical defence
    • Personal safety
    • Risk evaluation
    • Security analysis
    • Protection of systems and communications
    • Integrity of the system and information

    These controls assist users in deciding how to access and manage content that is covered by CUI by working in conjunction with the process of sorting it into three categories:

    a)  CUI Basic – Standard safeguarding procedures must be followed to protect this information from unintentional or unauthorized exposure.

    If it is conceivable that doing so will help carry out a legal or official purpose, information in this category have chances that it may be disclosed.

    b) Stated by CUI– The potential of unintentional or unauthorized disclosure of this information necessitates protection measures. Additional guidelines on what types of distribution are allowed should be included in the information recognized at this level.

    c) Discrete Distribution– The danger of serious injury would increase if this content were accidentally or unlawfully disclosed, necessitating stricter safety measures. Additional handling instructions should be included with this type of material.

    Read more – Protect databases and other organizational data

    1. Protecting CUI Confidentiality in Digital Media, Non-Digital Media, Speaking and Transit

    CUI can be saved on digital and non-digital media, respectively.The purpose of maintaining secrecy is the same for both types of CUI-containing media, but different protection precautions must be taken.

    Non-digital print mediums include paper and microfilm. Diskettes, magnetic tapes, external/removable hard drives, flash drives, compact discs, and digital video discs are all examples of computer-generated media.

    It’s important that CUI should be distributed digitally across computer networks as well.

    a) Protecting the Confidentiality of CUI on Digital Media

    FIPS certified cryptography is used in conjunction with physical security measures to secure the confidentiality of CUI on digital media.

    Do all digital files containing CUI need to be encrypted? The answer is that the digital media device must be encrypted if CUI is being transported on it outside of a “controlled environment” in your business.

    As long as additional physical precautions are in place, it conforms with the instruction to “Utilize cryptographic processes to guarantee the secrecy of CUI contained on digital media during transport” (CMMC MP.3.125, NIST SP 800-171 3.8.6).

    The digital media carrying CUI does not need to be encrypted if it is kept at your facility in a secure room or cabinet, but you should definitely encrypt it because it is conceivable for someone to simply steal or lose the digital media containing CUI.

    The hard discs on your Microsoft workstations and servers that house CUI may be encrypted using Bit locker.

    Additionally, Bit Locker may be used to encrypt portable storage units. Your Mac workstations may be encrypted with File Vault.

    File vault and Bit locker both employ FIPS-validated encryption. Secure portable storage devices with FIPS-validated encryption are sold by companies like Apricorn.

    b) Protecting the Confidentiality of CUI on Non- Digital Media

    Physical security procedures are used to maintain the confidentiality of CUI stored on non-digital media.

    This entails restricting access to the location where the non-digital media is kept as well as to the container it is kept in.

    It is recommended to keep CUI on non-digital material in a “controlled environment.”

    So that Unauthorized employees cannot view, hear, or access CUI because of a regulated environment.

    This entails restricting access to the location where the non-digital media is kept as well as to the container it is kept in.

    Non-digital media containing CUI should be kept in cabinets that are highly and secretively secured.Keys to the lockable cabinet should only be given to authorized people.

    c) Protecting the Confidentiality of CUI in Transit

    When CUI is transmitted through computer networks, it is said to be “in transit.” This might involve sending CUI-containing emails, distributing CUI-containing digital documents through networks, or inputting CUI into online forms.

    S/MIME encryption is an option for encrypting CUI delivered over email.

    SFTP can be used in place of FTP to secure CUI in digital documents while they are in transit. Make that TLS is being used to encrypt your connection to the website before entering CUI.

    d) Protecting the Confidentiality of CUI while Speaking

    CUI can also be communicated verbally. CUI can be discussed in person, over the phone, or via other voice-activated communication methods.

    Only those who are permitted to hear talks regarding CUI should be able to do so to maintain its secrecy.

    Discussing CUI outside of restricted places is not advisable. CUI discussion is improper at a local cafe. It is likewise prohibited to discuss CUI via an unencrypted speech technology. Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) is important and necessary in growing era of Internet and Cybercrimes.

    Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) protection is one of the finest approaches to protect CUI. The confidentiality of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) on Digital Media, Non-Digital Media, In Transit, and Speaking are a few more ways to protect CUI. Other methods include protecting CUI in Non-Federal systems and Organizations, CUI and Regulatory Compliance.


    Users may have learned about the significance of protection of CUI after reading today’s article. It is a kind of unclassified material known as “controlled unclassified information” (CUI) must have protection or distribution constraints surrounding it in conformity with the law, rules, or government policy.

    CUI has to be handled or kept in secure areas that can detect or deter illegal access. Limit and restrict employee access to CUI by putting in place impediments.

    Our article What are the best ways to Protect CUI is highly informative and sensitive. Thus, we recommend our users to take experts advice on such sensitive and fragile matters.

    The many strategies for safeguarding the Controlled Unclassified Information have been thoroughly examined (CUI) and are summarised here in best possible way.

    We really hope you enjoyed reading our article, and we encourage all of our readers to forward it onto their friends and family.

    Kindly like, share, and comment if you thought our post was insightful.

    Happy Reading!!!