CUI stands for Controlled Unclassified Information, which is information that requires safeguarding or dissemination controls but is not classified. Some examples of CUI are export-controlled information, privacy act information, law enforcement information, etc. A Character User Interface, or CUI, doesn’t exemplify itself, instead providing a method for users to engage with computer applications through lines of text commands.
This article will explore the concept of CUI, the identification of non-CUI instances, the impacts of improper CUI handling, and the practices necessary for the safeguarding of CUI.
Understanding CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information)
- Definition and examples of CUI
- According to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which is the Executive Agent for CUI, “CUI is information that the Government creates or possesses, or that an entity creates or possesses for or on behalf of the Government, that a law, regulation, or Government-wide policy requires or permits an agency to handle using safeguarding or dissemination controls”.
- CUI can be categorized into two types: basic and specified. Basic CUI is information that requires standard safeguarding measures and does not have any additional restrictions. Specified CUI is information that requires more restrictive controls and has specific dissemination limitations imposed by laws, regulations, or policies.
- Some examples of basic CUI are critical infrastructure information, national security information, international agreements, etc. Some examples of specified CUI are agriculture information, legal privilege information, transportation security information, financial information, tax information, immigration information, etc.
- Importance of protecting CUI
- Protecting CUI is important for several reasons. First, it helps to ensure the security and integrity of the information and prevent unauthorized disclosure that could harm national security, public safety, privacy rights or economic interests. Second, it helps to comply with the legal and regulatory obligations that govern the handling of CUI. Third, it helps to maintain trust and confidence among the government agencies and entities that share and use CUI.
Identifying What Is Not Considered CUI
- Differentiating between CUI and non-sensitive information
- Not all unclassified information is considered CUI. Some information may be non-sensitive and does not require any safeguarding or dissemination controls. For example, public domain information that has been published or disseminated without restrictions; general agency administrative information that does not contain any personal or proprietary data; routine correspondence that does not involve any sensitive matters; etc.
- To determine whether information is CUI or not, one should consult the CUI Registry maintained by NARA. The CUI Registry is an online repository of all the categories and subcategories of CUI authorized by the government. It also provides guidance on how to mark, handle and dispose of CUI.
- Examples of non-CUI information
- As mentioned above, a character user interface (CUI) is not an example of CUI. A character user interface is a way for users to interact with computer programs by issuing commands as lines of text. Examples of character user interfaces are MS-DOS and the Windows Command Prompt.
- Other examples of non-CUI information are weather reports; sports scores; restaurant menus; movie reviews; etc.
Consequences of Mishandling CUI
- Legal and security implications
- Mishandling CUI can have serious legal and security implications for both the government and the entities that handle CUI on behalf of the government. For example, mishandling CUI can result in a breach of confidentiality; compromise of national security; violation of privacy rights; loss of intellectual property; damage to reputation; exposure to litigation; etc.
- Penalties for unauthorized disclosure
- Improper exposure of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) may result in punishments for parties and entities who handle CUI incorrectly. Such indiscretions can invoke criminal charges, civil penalties, administrative censures, job termination, the withdrawal of security clearance, or even contract and grant forfeiture.
Ensuring the Protection of CUI
- Federal agency measures and protocols
- Federal entities bear the duty of executing suitable precautions and protocols to safeguard CUI in their realms. For instance, these entities must generate CUI rules and methods, appoint high-ranking agency officials for CUI, conduct training and enlightenment for staff on CUI stipulations, scrutinize and audit their CUI operations, report and react to CUI events, among other responsibilities.
- Importance of training and awareness
- CUI management necessitates thorough training and heightened awareness. Individuals tasked with accessing, utilizing, preserving, sending, or discarding CUI must be well-versed in the necessary procedures and high-standard practices related to CUI. Topics such as CUI definitions and examples; marking and labelling procedures; methods for CUI storage and transmission; proper disposal and destruction techniques; plus reportage and reaction strategies for CUI incidents, should form the cornerstone of such training and awareness initiatives.
- Best practices for handling and safeguarding CUI
- In addition to following the specific rules and regulations for each category and subcategory of CUI, there are some general best practices that can help to handle and safeguard CUI effectively. For example: limit access to CUI to authorized personnel only; use secure devices and networks to store and transmit CUI; encrypt CUI when possible; lock or log off devices when not in use; shred or burn CUI documents when no longer needed; report any suspected or actual breach of CUI immediately; etc.
CUI is information that requires safeguarding or dissemination controls but is not classified. Some examples of CUI are export-controlled information, privacy act information, law enforcement information, etc. A character user interface (CUI) is not an example of CUI, as it is a way for users to interact with computer programs by issuing commands as lines of text.
Mishandling CUI can have serious legal and security implications for both the government and the entities that handle CUI on behalf of the government. Therefore, it is important to understand what CUI is, how to identify what is not considered CUI, what are the consequences of mishandling CUI, and how to ensure the protection of CUI.