The federal government is requiring federal contractors to implement specific guidance in the form of NIST 800-171 in an effort to curb the trend of federal government data being exposed on contractor networks. This disturbing trend has occurred for a few reasons.
First, federal contracts often require the use of contractor-owned information systems to process federal information. These information systems historically do not meet the government’s requirements and, as a result, have led to information being exfiltrated by nation-state attackers.
An example of this lack of security in contractor information systems became known in May 2017 when federal contractor Booz Allen Hamilton left unencrypted Pentagon files on a publically accessible Amazon server. This resulted in 60,000 sensitive files — plenty of which referred to the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) — being exposed on the internet for anyone to access.
See GTPAC’s video, template and other resources designed to help contractors comply with the DoD/NIST cybersecurity rules at: http://gtpac.org/cybersecurity-training-video/