What is the Difference Between CMMC and NIST 800-171?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 800-171 is a cybersecurity framework that provides standards and guidelines for agencies to protect their systems and data. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a cybersecurity certification program developed by the Department of Defense (DoD) to certify companies who provide products and services to the DoD. There are ten main differences between CMMC and NIST 800-171:

  1. CMMC is focused on cybersecurity products and services, while NIST 800-171 covers all aspects of cybersecurity. For example, CMMC includes requirements for cybersecurity training and awareness, while NIST 800-171 does not.
  1. CMMC certification is awarded by an independent third party, while NIST 800-171 certification is awarded by the agency itself. For example, a company that wants to become CMMC certified must undergo an assessment by an accredited assessor.
  1. CMMC is mandatory for government contractors who want to do business with the DoD, while NIST 800-171 is voluntary. For example, a company that wants to bid on a contract with the DoD must be CMMC certified.
  1. CMMC includes cybersecurity requirements for both defense and commercial contractors, while NIST 800-171 only applies to federal agencies. For example, a company that provides cybersecurity products and services to the Department of Defense must be CMMC certified, but a company that provides cybersecurity products and services to a private company does not need to be CMMC certified.
  1. CMMC certification is valid for three years, while NIST 800-171 certification is valid for five years. For example, a company that becomes CMMC certified must recertify every three years.
  1. CMMC cybersecurity requirements are more stringent than NIST 800-171 cybersecurity requirements. For example, the cybersecurity requirements for level 1 CMMC certification are more stringent than the cybersecurity requirements for level 2 NIST 800-171 certification.
  1. CMMC assesses cybersecurity capabilities across all five levels of the maturity model, while NIST 800-171 only assesses cybersecurity capabilities at the final level of the model. For example, a company that is CMMC certified at level 2 has met cybersecurity requirements across all five levels of the maturity model.
  1. CMMC assesses cybersecurity risks, while NIST 800-171 does not. For example, a company that wants to become CMMC certified must submit a cybersecurity risk assessment to an accredited assessor.
  1. CMMC is updated more frequently than NIST 800-171. For example, new cybersecurity requirements are added to CMMC every six months, while new cybersecurity requirements are added to NIST 800-171 every two years.
  1. CMMC assesses cybersecurity posture, while NIST 800-171 assesses cybersecurity controls. For example, a company that wants to become CMMC certified must submit a cybersecurity posture statement to an accredited assessor.

The differences between Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification and National Institute of Standards and Technology 800-171 can be summarized as follows: CMMC is focused on cybersecurity products and services, while NIST 800-171 covers all aspects of cybersecurity. CMMC is mandatory for government contractors who want to do business with the Department of Defense, while NIST 800-171 is voluntary. CMMC cybersecurity requirements are more stringent than NIST 800-171 cybersecurity requirements. Lastly, CMMC assesses cybersecurity posture, while NIST 800-171 assesses cybersecurity controls.

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