Sensitive Data Examples You Should Know: What Are CUI?

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one of the biggest dangers I see facing individuals and organizations alike is the improper handling of sensitive data. With the rise of cyber threats and data breaches, it is more important than ever to understand what sensitive data is and how to properly protect it. One specific type of sensitive data that I want to highlight today is CUI, or Controlled Unclassified Information. This type of data is vital to national security and must be treated with the utmost care. But what is CUI, and how can you ensure that you are properly handling it? Keep reading to learn more about CUI and the importance of safeguarding sensitive data.

What are examples of CUI?

Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) can be defined as information that is sensitive in nature and requires protection, yet it does not meet the requirements for classification as ‘top secret’, ‘secret’, or ‘confidential’. Examples of CUI include Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Proprietary Business Information (PBI), Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES), Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU), For Official Use Only (FOUO), and Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (SPII). These types of information are vital for businesses, government agencies, and organizations, and they require specific measures to ensure their confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Some other examples of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) include:

  • Export Controlled Information (ECI)
  • Financial Data
  • Medical Information
  • Research Data
  • Homeland Security Information
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Data
  • System Security Plans
  • Critical Infrastructure Information

    It is essential to note that CUI covers a wide range of information types and is not limited to the above examples. CUI information must be protected in accordance with federal, state, industry, and company regulations and guidelines. Any failure to protect CUI can result in significant legal and financial penalties, loss of reputation, and even the loss of confidential data. it is your responsibility to protect CUI effectively, ensure its confidentiality, and oversee its proper handling throughout its lifecycle.


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    1. Understand what CUI is: Before you can identify examples of CUI, you must have a solid understanding of what constitutes CUI. CUI stands for Controlled Unclassified Information, which is any sensitive information that is not classified but still requires safeguarding due to its significance.

    2. Identify categories of CUI: CUI can be broken down into several categories, including personal identifiable information (PII), financial information, medical information, and proprietary information. It’s essential to have a basic understanding of these different categories to recognize if any sensitive information belongs to them.

    3. Know your industry: Different industries can have different types of CUI. For example, companies in the healthcare industry may have medical records containing CUI, while financial institutions may have financial information that requires protection. Staying informed about which types of CUI are relevant to your industry can help prevent unintentional data breaches.

    4. Have clear policies in place: Have clear policies in place that define how CUI should be handled, stored, and transmitted. These policies should be communicated to all employees and regularly reviewed to ensure they stay up-to-date with current regulations.

    5. Stay up-to-date with compliance regulations: CUI is subject to different compliance regulations, such as HIPAA and PCI DSS. It’s important to stay current with these regulations and make sure you’re in compliance to avoid potential penalties or legal liabilities.

    CUI: What is it?

    CUI, or Controlled Unclassified Information, refers to unclassified information that requires safeguarding and dissemination controls. CUI is often sensitive or confidential information that may not be classified but is still considered important to ensure that it is protected. Examples of CUI include Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES) information, and Proprietary Business Information (PBI).

    Understanding Official Use Only (FOUO)

    FOUO, or For Official Use Only, is a designation used by the US government to identify sensitive but unclassified information that is not meant for public release. FOUO information is often used to protect information related to national security, critical infrastructure, and sensitive law enforcement operations. Examples of FOUO information include law enforcement tactics, surveillance techniques, and security measures.

    Key point: FOUO information is not classified, but it is still sensitive and requires safeguarding to protect against unauthorized access.

    Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES): A closer look

    LES, or Law Enforcement Sensitive, is a category of information that applies to sensitive law enforcement information that requires special handling and protection. LES information is often related to criminal investigations, intelligence gathering, and homeland security. Examples of LES information include intelligence reports, informant identities, and surveillance information.

    Key point: LES information is highly sensitive and requires strict safeguards to ensure that it is not compromised.

    How to identify Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

    PII, or Personally Identifiable Information, refers to information that can be used to identify a specific individual. PII includes information such as a person’s name, social security number, date of birth, and address. PII is often used by organizations to verify an individual’s identity or to conduct background checks.

    Key point: PII is highly valuable and can be used for identity theft, which means that it needs to be protected to prevent unauthorized access.

    Proprietary Business Information (PBI): What you need to know

    PBI, or Proprietary Business Information, refers to confidential business information that gives a company a competitive advantage. PBI includes trade secrets, financial data, customer lists, and product designs. PBI is often protected by non-disclosure agreements and other legal means.

    Key point: PBI is critical to a company’s success and must be protected from unauthorized disclosure, which could harm the company’s reputation and competitiveness.

    What sets Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU) apart?

    SBU, or Sensitive but Unclassified, is a category of information that is not classified but is still sensitive and requires special handling and protection. SBU information is often related to sensitive government operations, critical infrastructure, or homeland security. Examples of SBU information include sensitive diplomatic cables, sensitive scientific data, and critical infrastructure details.

    • SBU information is often shared on a need-to-know basis and requires strict access controls.
    • Unauthorized disclosure of SBU information can have serious consequences, including damage to national security or critical infrastructure.
    • SBU information may be subject to various protection measures, including encryption, access controls, and physical security measures.

    Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (SPII): Why it matters.

    SPII, or Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information, refers to PII that is particularly sensitive and requires special handling and protection. SPII includes information such as medical records, financial records, and criminal history records.

    Key point: SPII is highly sensitive and requires strict safeguards to ensure that it is not compromised. Unauthorized disclosure of SPII can harm individuals and damage an organization’s reputation. Proper storage, handling, and disposal of SPII is critical to protecting the privacy and security of individuals.