On November 9, 2023, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) released the Final Public Draft (“FPD”) of Special Publication (“SP”) 800-171 Revision (“Rev.”) 3, “Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations” and the Initial Public Draft of NIST SP 800-171A Rev 3, “Assessing Security Requirements for Controlled Unclassified Information.” The FPD of SP 800-171 Rev. 3 condenses several control requirements from the initial public draft while adding new requirements under existing controls. The initial draft of SP 800-171A now aligns with SP 800-171 Rev. 3 and includes more detailed assessment procedures than its predecessor. Changes in both documents forecast the evolving compliance requirements for organizations required to safeguard Controlled Unclassified Information (“CUI”).
Michael G. Gruden is a counsel in Crowell & Moring's Washington, D.C. office, where he is a member of the firm’s Government Contracts and Privacy and Cybersecurity groups. He possesses real-world experience in the areas of federal procurement and data security, having worked as a Contracting Officer at both the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the Information Technology, Research & Development, and Security sectors for nearly 15 years. Michael is a Certified Information Privacy Professional with a U.S. government concentration (CIPP/G). He is also a Registered Practitioner under the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework. Michael serves as vice-chair for the ABA Science & Technology Section's Homeland Security Committee.
Michael’s legal practice covers a wide range of counseling and litigation engagements at the intersection of government contracts and cybersecurity. His government contracts endeavors include supply chain security counseling, contract disputes with federal entities, suspension and debarment proceedings, mandatory disclosures to the government, prime-subcontractor disputes, and False Claims Act investigations. His privacy and cybersecurity practice includes cybersecurity compliance reviews, risk assessments, data breaches, incident response, and regulatory investigations.
On October 30, 2023, President Biden released an Executive Order (EO) on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This landmark EO seeks to advance the safe and secure development and deployment of AI by implementing a society-wide effort across government, the private sector, academia, and civil society to harness “AI for good,” while mitigating its substantial risks.…
Almost a decade after the Department of Defense developed rules requiring mandatory reporting of cyber incidents, on October 3, 2023, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council released new proposed rules—one addressing cyber incident reporting and another addressing cybersecurity requirements for contractors maintaining a Federal Information System (FIS). When enacted, these rules could implement new security measures and incident reporting requirements via FAR clauses for contractors across the entire federal government. The “Cyber Threat and Incident Reporting and Information Sharing” proposed rule focuses on increasing the sharing of information about cyber threats between government and private industry, while the “Standardizing Cybersecurity Requirements for Unclassified Federal Information Systems” proposed rule focuses on implementing policies, procedures, and requirements for contractors maintaining an FIS. These rules implement Biden Administration initiatives pursuant to Executive Order (“EO”) 14028, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity” issued in May 2021. …
On June 21, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule amending the Homeland Security Acquisition Regulation (HSAR) by updating an existing clause (HSAR 3052.204-71) and adding two new contract clauses (HSAR 3052.204-72 and 3052.204-73) to address safeguarding of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). The final rule is effective July 21, 2023.
The new clauses aim to improve privacy and security measures around CUI by introducing: (1) general CUI handling requirements; (2) authority to operate (ATO) requirements for federal information systems; (3) incident reporting requirements and activities; and (4) sanitization of government related files and information. These new clauses move DHS away from the use of DHS-defined sensitive information and toward the government-wide CUI model. …
On June 9, 2023, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released M-23-16, Update to Memorandum M-22-18, which alters key deadlines and clarifies how agencies and software developers can comply with M-22-18. The original memorandum, published in September 2022, required all federal agencies and their software developers to comply with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Secure Software Development Framework (SSDF), NIST SP 800-218, and the NIST Software Supply Chain Security Guidance (collectively, NIST Guidance) whenever third-party software is used on government information systems or otherwise affects government information.
A new Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) alert advises that, starting in late May, a well-known ransomware group called Clop compromised a widely used managed file transfer (MFT) platform called MOVEit Transfer, reportedly impacting hundreds of companies globally.
MFT platforms are used to securely transfer files between parties, and Clop reportedly compromised MOVEit Transfer using a previously unknown (zero-day) vulnerability that allowed attackers to steal files from MOVEit’s underlying database. This vulnerability is now tracked as CVE-2023-34362.
Clop has previously targeted MFT platforms such as Accellion and has shown that it is prepared to follow through on threatened next steps. In this case, Clop is threatening to identify victim companies on the Clop site as soon as June 14 and then, if a ransom is not paid, publish victims’ stolen data. In prior attacks, Clop has also reportedly contacted victim companies directly with ransom demands, sometimes weeks or more after the attack. We do not recommend that victims contact threat actors like Clop directly but instead work with experts to do so safely, if necessary.
On June 2, 2023, the FAR Council issued an Interim Rule with immediate effect that prohibits the presence or use of the TikTok app on “information technology” (IT) equipment used by government contractors and contractor personnel in the performance of a contract. The interim rule mirrors the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance, which directed federal agencies to remove TikTok and successor apps made by Chinese company ByteDance Limited from federal devices (to implement the No TikTok on Government Devices Act).
On May 10, 2023, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft of NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-171 Revision 3, containing new and revised cybersecurity controls that, when finalized, will be required for federal contractors handling Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).
NIST proposed five key changes to NIST SP 800-171:
- New controls
On April 28, 2023 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published its long-awaited draft Secure Software Development Self-Attestation Form. The form is a key component of the mandatory software supply chain security requirements introduced by last fall in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-22-18. The Form requires certain software developers to attest to specific security elements of their software development life cycle (SDLC) and their development environment.
In May 2021, the Biden Administration issued Executive Order (EO) 14028, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity.” The EO directed the federal government to prioritize software supply chain security, including by creating secure software development practices for federal software acquisitions. Pursuant to the EO, in February 2022 the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published NIST Special Publication 800-218 and the NIST Software Supply Chain Security Guidance (collectively, the NIST Secure Software Development Framework, or NIST SSDF), providing software development-focused security controls and best practices for federal agencies and their commercial software partners.
OMB Memorandum M-22-18, published on September 14, 2022, requires companies providing software to the federal government to complete the self-attestation form to certify that they comply with the NIST SSDF controls and guidance whenever third-party software is used on government information systems or otherwise affects government information. …
On March 27, 2023, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Prohibition on Use by the United States Government of Commercial Spyware that Poses Risks to National Security (EO), restricting federal agencies’ use of commercial spyware. The Biden Administration cited targeted attacks utilizing commercial spyware on U.S. officials and human rights abuses abroad as motivations for these restrictions.
The EO is not a blanket ban on commercial spyware. Instead, it bars federal government agencies from using commercial spyware tools if they pose significant counterintelligence or security risks to the U.S. government, or significant risks of improper use by a foreign government or foreign person, including to target Americans or enable human rights abuses. Indirect use of such spyware (e.g. through a contractor or other third party) is also prohibited. The EO establishes risk factors indicative of prohibited commercial spyware, including:
- Past use of the spyware by a foreign entity against U.S. government personnel or devices;
- Past use of the spyware by a foreign entity against U.S. persons;
- The spyware was or is furnished by an entity that maintains, transfers, or uses data obtained from the commercial spyware without authorization from the licensed end-user or the U.S. government, or has disclosed or intends to disclose non-public information about the U.S. government or its activities without authorization from the U.S. government;
- The spyware was or is furnished by an entity under the direct or effective control of a foreign government or foreign person engaged in intelligence activities directed against the United States;
- A foreign actor uses the commercial spyware to limit freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly or association; or to enable other forms of human rights abuses or suppression of civil liberties; or
- The spyware is furnished to governments that have engaged in gross violations of human rights, whether such violations were aided by the spyware or not.