The Navy has recently issued a policy memorandum entitled “Implementation of Enhanced Security Controls on Select Defense Industrial Base Partner Networks” that calls for heightened cybersecurity requirements and oversight for “critical” government contractors handling their sensitive government data, broadly referred to as controlled unclassified information (“CUI”) or “covered defense information” (CDI) within the defense sector.  The memo reflects a continued focus within the Department of Defense on evaluating contractors’ compliance with the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”) 252.204-7012 Safeguarding Clause, which defines the baseline protections that all defense contractors need to implement to protect CDI.  Under the Clause, contractors must demonstrate their IT security compliance with 110 security controls found within the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) Special Publication (“SP”) 800-171 through documentation in a System Security Plan (“SSP”), even if that documentation discusses how certain controls are not yet implemented.  The Navy memo takes those requirements several steps further.  For example, the Navy will require select contractors to submit fully implemented SSPs for evaluation – something the DoD has generally discussed but not yet done on this programmatic scale.  The Navy’s evaluation will also ensure that historically challenging NIST requirements such as multifactor authentication and data encryption are satisfactorily met.  Additionally, the Navy will require wholly new requirements not found in the Clause.  Among them is the requirement to allow the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (“NCIS”) to install “network sensors” on contractors’ information systems when NCIS intelligence detects a potential vulnerability.

These Naval additions highlight the potentially divergent approaches that different arms of the DoD are beginning to take in response to their unique risk calculations.  The memo serves as a reminder that the extensive cybersecurity requirements of the DFARS are only the floor and remain subject to each government customer identifying its own ceiling.

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Photo of Evan D. Wolff Evan D. Wolff

Evan D. Wolff is a partner in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office, where he is co-chair of the firm’s Chambers USA-ranked Privacy & Cybersecurity Group and a member of the Government Contracts Group. Evan has a national reputation for his deep technical…

Evan D. Wolff is a partner in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office, where he is co-chair of the firm’s Chambers USA-ranked Privacy & Cybersecurity Group and a member of the Government Contracts Group. Evan has a national reputation for his deep technical background and understanding of complex cybersecurity legal and policy issues. Calling upon his experiences as a scientist, program manager, and lawyer, Evan takes an innovative approach to developing blended legal, technical, and governance mechanisms to prepare companies with rapid and comprehensive responses to rapidly evolving cybersecurity risks and threats. Evan has conducted training and incident simulations, developed response plans, led privileged investigations, and advised on hundreds of data breaches where he works closely with forensic investigators. Evan also counsels businesses on both domestic and international privacy compliance matters, including the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). He is also a Registered Practitioner under the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework.

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Kate M. Growley (CIPP/US, CIPP/G) is a director in Crowell & Moring International’s Southeast Asia regional office. Drawing from over a decade of experience as a practicing attorney in the United States, Kate helps her clients navigate and shape the policy and regulatory environment for some of the most complex data issues facing multinational companies, including cybersecurity, privacy, and digital transformation. Kate has worked with clients across every major sector, with particular experience in technology, health care, manufacturing, and aerospace and defense. Kate is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) in both the U.S. private and government sectors by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). She is also a Registered Practitioner with the U.S. Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Cyber Accreditation Body (AB).

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Michael G. Gruden is an associate in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office where he is a member of the firm’s Government Contracts and Privacy & Cybersecurity groups. He possesses real-world experience in the areas of federal procurement and data security, having worked…

Michael G. Gruden is an associate in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office where he is a member of the firm’s Government Contracts and Privacy & 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.