Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)
A common question is “What is Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)?”
ANSWER: Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) is difficult to provide a simple answer to. The authoritative source that defines CUI is the US National Archives with the CUI Registry. However, for most businesses that have to address NIST 800-171 and/or Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), the focus is on a subset of CUI, Controlled Technical Information (CTI). "Technical Information" means technical data or computer software. Examples of technical information include:
- Research and engineering data
- Engineering drawings
- Associated lists, specifications, standards, process sheets, manuals, technical reports, technical orders, catalog-item identifications, data sets, studies and analyses and related information, and
- Computer software executable code and source code.
Understanding Requirements For CUI
The best place to start is with understanding Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 252.204-7012, since that establishes the definitions and need to protect CUI.
- DFARS 252.204-7012 defines a requirement to provide "adequate security" that means protective measures that are commensurate with the consequences and probability of loss, misuse, or unauthorized access to, or modification of information.
- Defined by the security requirements in the contract for services or systems operated on behalf of the US Government.
- Further defined by NIST 800-171 for all other “Covered Contractor Information Systems.”
- Covered Contractor Information System (CCIS) means an unclassified information system that is owned, or operated by or for, a contractor and that processes, stores, or transmits “Covered Defense Information.”
- Covered Defense Information (CDI) means unclassified "Controlled Technical Information" or other information, as described in the Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) Registry.
- When you read through the CUI Registry and find Controlled Technical Information (CTI), it means technical information with military or space application that is subject to controls on the access, use, reproduction, modification, performance, display, release, disclosure, or dissemination.
- CTI is to be marked in accordance with Department of Defense Instruction 5230.24, "Distribution Statements of Technical Documents."
- The term does not include information that is lawfully publicly available without restrictions.