What is CUI?


What is Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)?

Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) refers to sensitive or confidential information that is not classified by the government but still requires protection due to its nature. This type of information is typically not as sensitive as controlled information, but it still needs protection to ensure it is not released to unauthorized individuals or organizations.

Examples of CUI include personal information such as Social Security numbers (SSN), financial information, and medical records. It can also include business-sensitive information such as trade secrets, intellectual property, and confidential business plans.

Organizations that handle CUI must have appropriate security measures to protect it from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. This can include physical security measures such as locked file cabinets and restricted access areas and cyber security measures such as firewalls, encryption, and intrusion detection systems.

Individuals who handle CUI data should be trained to understand their responsibilities in managing the data appropriately, including proper storage, classification, access, and disposal of CUI data.

CUI is protected by laws and regulations, for example, the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and the FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).

Other regulations and laws that protect CUI include the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA), and the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), among others. Organizations handling CUI must comply with these laws and regulations and can face penalties for non-compliance.

Organizations that handle CUI must comply with these laws and regulations and can face penalties for non-compliance. A critical aspect of protecting CUI is data classification which involves identifying and categorizing data based on its level of sensitivity and then implementing appropriate security controls for each category.

For example, personal information such as Social Security numbers would be considered highly sensitive and require a higher level of protection than less sensitive information such as public contact information.

Incident response planning is crucial to developing a plan for how the organization will respond should there be a security incident, such as a data breach. The plan should include procedures for containing and mitigating the incident and reporting and disclosing the incident to relevant authorities and individuals.

Organizations that handle CUI should conduct regular security assessments to identify vulnerabilities and ensure security controls are functioning as intended. This may include, for example, vulnerability scans, penetration testing, and periodic review of security logs.

When it comes to third-party vendors and contractors, organizations that handle CUI should ensure that any third-party vendors or contractors with access to their information comply with the laws and regulations that protect CUI and have appropriate security measures in place to protect it.

Organizations that handle CUI should implement a robust incident management system, including incident reporting, triage, and investigation procedures, and a defined incident communication procedure established to aid in effective communication and response during a security incident.

In summary, Organizations that handle CUI must have a comprehensive approach to protecting it, including data classification, incident response planning, security assessments, third-party vendor management, and incident management.

Compliance with laws and regulations is essential, as is regular employee training on handling CUI and incident management procedures properly. With a strong CUI program, organizations can better protect sensitive information and minimize the risk of data breaches.

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