The Rising Demand for Managed Services Providers Specialized in NIST 800-171 Compliance

According to the DFARS clause 252.204.7012, it’s mandatory for every U.S DoD contractor and subcontractors to be NIST SP 800-171 compliant. The requirement to fulfill the compliance clause aims to protect and safeguard controlled unclassified information present within the contractor’s information systems. Here, agencies providing managed IT services for government contractors and DoD contractors alike have the opportunities to scale their business.

The NIST SP 800-171 compliance consists of a total of 110 technical controls. These controls cover the entire organization’s security procedures. While many government contractors already made changes within their systems to fulfill the compliance requirement, most contractors are yet to become compliant.

The DoD letter for compliance serves two purposes. First, it helps contractors get a formal statement of compliance from subcontractors. Second, it helps them identify subcontractors who have met the compliance requirements and can be relied upon in the future.

Now, it’s common for prime contractors to group subcontractors according to their compliance status. This process makes it easier for them to determine which subcontractor to grant the contractor. Here, subcontractors have enormous opportunities to increase their chances to compete for government contracts. Similarly, managed services providers capable of assisting contractors and subcontractors with compliance needs have ample opportunity to scale their operations.

What are the risks for non-compliance for subcontractors?

With new compliance regulations rolling out, subcontractors and contractors who acquire DoD revenue are at higher risks of non-compliance. In case of any data breach incident, the subcontractor will have to undergo an audit and may be charged with criminal penalties. Such an organization can perish in no time. It’s clear that there will be a shortage of compliant organizations as unprepared organizations will filter out on their own. Ultimately, only those contractors and subcontractors will get government backing who have met all the compliance requirements. Similarly, managed services providers with expertise in government IT infrastructure will reap benefits from such agencies.

MSP and NIST compliance

It’s important to know that NIST 800 171 compliance requirement is nothing like the typical services offered by an MSP. NIST compliance requires technology specialized in protecting controlled unclassified information. Besides this, one needs to understand each client of the organization individually and become familiar with their requirements. A cookie-cutter approach doesn’t work when it comes to NIST 800 171 compliance. However, due to the complexity of overseeing and protecting sensitive data and information handled by contractors, MSPs can charge them more money for the services.

An MSP’s job entails providing network security, protection from virus attacks, cloud back and data recovery plans, and telephonic support. On the other hand, NIST 800 171 compliance requires more than that. It requires multi-factor or two-factor authentication, around the clock network monitoring, employee training, device-level encryption, onsite and off support, patch management and testing, complex network-level configuration, technical secure engineering, policy generation, cloud and local backup, and much more. Since NIST compliance has rigid controls, MSP should work as an internal resource.

During any change in the network or environment upgrade, the MSP should test every element of the IT infrastructure and security measures.

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