Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Controlled Unclassified Information

A buzz is sweeping the security community since the industry has been notified of the recent updates to DoD's CUI program based on the presidential memorandum with the subject, Designation and sharing of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). This memorandum implements a program designed to encourage the speedy sharing of information to those authorized and to better protect the information, privacy and legal rights of Americans. The CUI program is designed to promote proper safeguarding and dissemination of unclassified information.  

    Many readers may be familiar with the program CUI has replaced. Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information had enjoyed protection to a certain level but was not conducive to the necessary information sharing. Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) directives provide procedures for a more appropriate Information Sharing Environment.

    CUI is a designation of unclassified information that does not meet the requirements of Executive Order 12958, as amended (Classified National Security Information). However the protection is necessary for national security or the interests of entities outside the Federal Government. The unclassified information also falls under the law or policy advocating protection from unauthorized disclosure, proper safeguarding and limiting dissemination. Though not a classification, the controls in place may prove to require significant administrative action.

    Designation of CUI can only be based on mission requirements, business prudence, legal privilege, protection of personal or commercial rights, safety or security. Finally, as with the classified information, sensitive information cannot be labeled CUI for the purposes of concealing violation of law, inefficiency, or administrative error. The designation cannot be used to prevent embarrassment to the Federal Government or an official, organization or agency, improperly or unlawfully interfere with competition in the private sector or prevent or delay the release of information that does not require such protection.

    What does this mean for affected businesses and government agencies? Be prepared to implement the program to allow for proper storage and dissemination, and provide required CUI training. This requires the ability to properly mark the material or provide proper warning before discussing the information. Things to think about include: training employees, developing mail, fax, email and reception procedures, and ordering marking supplies. Also, keep information technology and other business units in the loop of communication. They will need to provide the right support at the right time.

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 Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is the owner of Red Bike Publishing Red Bike Publishing . He regularly consults, presents security training, and recommends export compliance and intellectual property protection countermeasures. He is an accomplished writer of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals. Jeff is an expert in security and has written many security books including: "Insider's Guide to Security Clearances" and "How to Get U.S. Government Contracts and Classified Work", "ISP(R) and ISOC Master Exam Prep", and NISPOM/FSO Training".

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