The third family addressed in the NIST 800-171 standard is Audit and Accountability. This family focuses on your record keeping of access to your IT systems and your ability to identify any unauthorized access.


Why is Audit and Accountability important?

We all have to create, store, and maintain data. But, we have to do this securely and protect the data that is kept in our system. Much of our data is valuable and if it fell into the wrong hands, could lead to a serious cybersecurity breach that could compromise our business, our employees, our clients and others in our supply chain. So, we have to have the ability to protect information from unauthorized access and hold those with authorized access accountable for their actions when working with our data.


What is Audit and Accountability about in NIST 800-171?

There are nine security requirements in the Audit and Accountability family. The primary purpose of this family is to address your record keeping of access to your systems and your ability to identify violations. A few key points addressed in this family are:

  1. Create and store records to document any unauthorized activity–any attempt made to access protected information by users who do not have authorized credentials should be documented.
  2. Maintain the ability to trace actions on the network to identified users–authorized user actions in protected areas should be able to be tracked with the ability to identify which users performed specific actions.
  3. Analyze records that may be kept by varied departments to build organization-wide awareness–individual departments should not act in silos but should share record analyses so that the entire organization can benefit and adjust policy or procedures accordingly.
  4. Protect audit information from unauthorized access–restrict access to audit information to a specific subset of authorized users and limit actions such as the ability to edit or delete to an even smaller subset of authorized users.


Check back for our next blog post and learn more about the Configuration Management family. You may also be interested in reading our last post on Awareness and Training.



Katherine Bennett

Katherine Bennett leads the Instructional Design team for NCMEP partner NC State Industry Expansion Solutions. She also serves as project manager for instructional design services. Katherine plays a key leadership role in supporting the IES goal of providing instructional design and development expertise that complements the field-specific expertise of IES partners, while meeting the learning needs of target audiences. Katherine holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a master’s degree in Instructional Technology from East Carolina University.