Cyber incidents involving critical infrastructure pose a serious risk to the US. In March 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Security Advisor warned state governors about potential attacks on drinking water and wastewater facilities by specific Iran- and China-aligned hackers. The following month (on April 4, 2024), in an attempt to prepare for such attacks and otherwise improve the federal government’s ability to collect and analyze data related to cyber incidents on critical infrastructure, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a proposed rule to implement cyber incident reporting requirements under the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 (CIRCIA). Enacted in an omnibus appropriation, CIRCIA directed CISA to issue rulemaking requiring the reporting of cyber incidents or the payment of ransoms in response to cyberattacks affecting critical infrastructure.  Continue Reading CISA’s CIRCIA Proposed Rule: Another Player Enters the Reporting Regime

Arm me with harmony.” – Treach, Naughty By Nature[1]

On May 14, 2024, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) dropped the third remix…er, revision…of its Special Publication (SP) 800-171, “Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations.” It even came with a critical sidekick in the form of the companion assessment guide, “NIST SP 800-171A, Revision 3,” which gives organizations the necessary lowdown on “assessment procedures and methodologies” to check if they’re playing by NIST SP 800-171’s rules. Over a year in the making after previous releases in May and November of 2023, NIST’s finalized revision takes inspiration from industry by laying down the cybersecurity rules that contractors should expect to follow when handling Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) for the US Department of Defense (DoD). While DoD isn’t requiring contractors who handle CUI to roll with Rev. 3 just yet, contractors can expect that DoD will eventually bring Rev. 3 into the mix for DFARS 252.204-7012, “Safeguarding Covered Defense Information and Cyber Incident Reporting” (DFARS 7012), and will be harmonizing it with the upcoming Cyber Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program at some point soon.Continue Reading NIST SP 800-171 Revision 3 Goes Final: Who’s Down with ODP?

The Proposed Rule behind FAR Case 2021-017 may strike fear into the hearts of many contractors, as it implements new recommendations regarding cybersecurity reporting obligations. Alex Major highlights the necessary steps and potential risks federal contractors must consider in the Government Contractor.

Effective July 21, 2023, DHS is operating under new rules for government contractors on safeguarding Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and reporting cyber incidents. In this Feature Comment for The Government Contractor, Alex Major describes how government contractors can best navigate DHS’s wide-reaching cybersecurity and data privacy requirements.

On June 2, 2023, the FAR Council issued an Interim Rule to implement the prohibition on having or using TikTok or any successor application or service developed or provided by ByteDance Limited (covered application). Importantly, the prohibition applies not only to Government-issued devices but encompasses contractor and contractor employee-owned devices (e.g., employee devices used as part of a bring-your-own-device program) as well. The Interim Rule took immediate effect and requires new FAR clause FAR 52.204-27, Prohibition on a ByteDance Covered Application, to be included in solicitations issued on or after June 2, 2023. In addition, solicitations issued before the effective date were required to be amended by July 3, 2023, provided that award of the resulting contract(s) occurs on or after the effective date. Existing indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts were required to be modified to include the new clause by July 3, 2023, to apply to future orders. Finally, if exercising an option or modifying an existing contract to extend the period of performance, contracting officers must include the clause. In short, this clause will soon be in most if not all Federal government contracts. Contractors should take action now to ensure that they are prepared to comply with these requirements and that employees are familiar with and trained regarding the prohibition.Continue Reading TikTok Dances Off of Contractor IT Devices—Interim Rule Prohibits ByteDance Limited Applications

For just shy of a decade, the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) has had to operate under rules dictating the safeguarding of Controlled Unclassified Information, along with a strict 72-hour notification requirement if/when/should a “cyber incident” occur. For the uninitiated, these are the requirements found in the Department of Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 252.204-7012. And for a large swath of government contractors, these requirements have been more bane than benefit, as many have struggled to meet the DFARS’ stringent requirements.

Well, critical infrastructure industry, welcome to the party! Soon, companies involved in all sectors of critical infrastructure will need to comply with new federal reporting requirements for cybersecurity incidents and ransom payments after President Joe Biden signed The Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 (the Act) into law on March 15, 2022. Tied to an omnibus appropriations package, the Act requires entities involved in critical infrastructure to report cyber incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within 72 hours and any paid ransom demands within 24 hours. While these new reporting obligations will not become effective until CISA promulgates rules to further define requirements, as the DIB’s effort has demonstrated, it would be wise to examine best practices in incident response plans to begin sooner rather than later.Continue Reading Critical Infrastructure Industry Drafted: Welcome to the Cyber War

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification version 2.0 (CMMC 2.0) is here! Like a song you’ve heard before, the revised standards are a throwback but no less significant change to the standards that have evolved over the past three and a half years. McCarter & English Government Contracts and Global Trade co-leaders Alex Major and Franklin Turner detail the changes coming to federal contractors in a Feature Comment for Thomson Reuters’ The Government Contractor. Set against the recent Beatles documentary, the comment examines the impact of the Department of Defense’s most recent effort while detailing what contractors need to do before its new standards go into effect.
Continue Reading Get Back: DOD Retreats While Revealing Plans for CMMC 2.0

On May 12, 2021, the Biden administration unveiled a rather expansive executive order intent on “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity.” The lengthy and sweeping order is a comprehensive national cybersecurity overhaul. In addition to requiring significant improvements to the cybersecurity posture of the Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) agencies, the order also prescribes:

Click to read

Akin to the exasperations of the newly minted “homeschool teachers” the pandemic has created, the Biden administration’s recent Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity (Order) is a mix of sound logic and utter frustration. The lengthy and sweeping Order is resoundingly one of the most comprehensive national cybersecurity overhauls to date and ushers the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) into a forward-leaning position of leadership that has been missing since its inception. In addition to requiring significant improvements to the cybersecurity posture of the Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) agencies, the Order also prescribes (i) the implementation of cyber incident sharing requirements between the Government and private industry; (ii) the necessary demands of security on software development; and (iii) the inclusion of software bills of materials, operational technology (e.g., industrial machining), and the internet of things in the fabric of cybersecurity regulations. Set against the backdrop of an ambitious timeline that calls for drastic changes before the end of this fiscal year—i.e., September 30, 2021—the Order requires that the Federal government scale administrative mountains at breakneck speed while simultaneously working with the industry and developing new regulations with which contractors will have to comply in short order. Accordingly, while a brief summary of the Order is provided below, the size and magnitude of the Order call for a larger analysis. Accordingly, we have prepared a user-friendly Analysis of the Order that includes considerations for manufacturers and government contractors. Additionally, to better explain the compliance timeline associated with the Order, a listing of the EO Key Dates is provided for convenience.
Continue Reading Enough’s Enough: A New Executive Order Signals Sweeping Changes to Federal Cybersecurity Requirements


So you want to acquire a government contractor? Makes sense, and you’re not alone. Over the past few years, the federal contracting landscape continues to evolve as a result of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), primarily involving the acquisition of small and midsize contractors by larger entities as a means to quickly expand into new federal markets. This trend is especially prevalent in the information technology (IT) market, where the acquisition of small or midsize IT firms with new capabilities can provide larger firms with shiny new toys to share with their roster of government clients to gain a larger share of the federal IT “pie,” if not create—almost overnight—new IT market leaders in areas such as cloud computing, cybersecurity, software, and predictive intelligence.Continue Reading Integrating Cybersecurity Into M&A Compliance Reviews: Avoiding Hidden Cyber Risks in the Acquisition of Government Contractors