System and Communication Protection is the thirteenth family in the NIST 800-171 standard. This family focuses on your ability to monitor the exchange of information in your systems.


Why is System and Communication Protection important?

Cybersecurity protection has many layers. One of the first layers involves identifying the boundaries of your system and putting defenses in place. When we have assets or valuable information to protect, we want to deter anyone from trying to get to that data. So, just as we lock our doors and use home monitoring and alarm systems, we use firewalls, restricted access protocols, and monitoring systems for our networks. To protect our assets and data, we need to be able to block or restrict access to our network to anyone without authorization.


What is System and Communication Protection about in NIST 800-171?

The System and Communication Protection family is one of the larger families in the NIST 800-171 standard. The main areas of focus within the System and Communication Protection family are:


  1. Utilizing hardware and software firewalls to protect the boundaries of your system—firewalls are often the first line of defense to block unauthorized access to your IT system. Always keep the software and/or firmware updated.
  2. Providing levels of access across your IT system—keep protected information separated from publicly accessible information. Design your network to allow for varying degrees of access and protection. Keep your assets and most sensitive data in the areas with the greatest level of restrictions and protections.
  3. Implementing deny-all protocols for firewalls—set your firewall protection protocols to deny-all network traffic. You can then add in permit-by-exception protocols to allow designated network traffic through.
  4. Controlling and monitoring mobile and remote access to your system—Establish restrictions of use for mobile and remote access to your system. Only authorized devices assigned to authorized users should be able to access the system.


Check back for our next blog post and learn more about the System and Information Integrity family. You may also be interested in reading our last post on Security Assessment.



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.