NIST 800-171, CMMC, CUI—so many letters and numbers that can get lost in translation if you don’t know what they stand for and how they can benefit your business.
If you’ve been wondering what these security measures are and whether they affect you, then you’ve come to the right place! We’ll cover all you need to know about these important regulations, if they need to be on your radar, and how they could potentially take your cybersecurity to the next level.
What is NIST 800-171?
NIST 800-171 is a set of requirements for protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). NIST 800-171 was created in response to the 2015 Cybersecurity Act, which directed NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) to create standards and guidelines for protecting CUI.
NIST 800-171 applies to non-federal agencies and contractors with CUI. Organizations that work with CUI must follow NIST 800-171 standards in order to comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). FAR requires contractors and subcontractors to implement security protocols to ensure CUI is protected.
NIST SP 800-171 contains administrative and technical requirements for protecting CUI and avoiding catastrophic security breaches of highly-sensitive information. Even though the information is unclassified, it is still important and needs to be safeguarded from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.
That’s why NIST gives us these requirements for physical security, personnel security, incident response, and more.
Even if you don’t do government contract work, NIST provides standards that can benefit your business, like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. The private sector is responsible for a large percentage of the nation’s critical infrastructure, and protecting your data is essential to safeguarding this infrastructure. NIST provides a comprehensive framework for protecting critical information, and its implementation can help organizations reduce their exposure to cybersecurity risks.
What is CMMC?
The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a certification program that is required for all contractors who want to do business with the Department of Defense (DoD).
The CMMC model is similar to NIST 800-171 in that it contains a set of best practices for safeguarding CUI. However, CMMC goes a step further by providing different levels of certification, each with its own set of requirements.
The CMMC levels are as follows:
- Level I: Basic Cyber Hygiene
- Level II: Intermediate Cyber Hygiene
- Level III: Good Cyber Hygiene
- Level IV: Proactive
- Level V: Advanced/Progressive
The Department of Defense (DoD) was one of the original sponsors of NIST 800-171, and the DoD’s Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) requires compliance with NIST 800-171 for contractors who want to do business with the DoD.
However, the DoD recognized that NIST 800-171 alone is not enough to protect CUI from sophisticated cyber threats. The CMMC was created to fill this gap and provide a more comprehensive framework for safeguarding CUI.
SinglePoint Global can help companies prepare for NIST 800-171 and CMMC audits, but we cannot actually conduct the audit. We’ll help you develop and implement a cybersecurity program that meets the requirements of both regulations, and we can help companies prepare for and conduct audit readiness assessments.
What’s the Difference Between NIST 800-171 and CMMC?
The NIST SP 800-171 and CMMC provide a comprehensive framework for safeguarding CUI. However, there are some key differences between the two frameworks:
- NIST 800-171 applies to non-federal agencies and contractors that handle CUI, and CMMC will apply to all contractors who want to do business with the Department of Defense.
- NIST 800-171 contains administrative and technical requirements for protecting CUI, while CMMC contains a set of best practices for safeguarding CUI.
- CMMC provides different levels of certification, each with its own set of requirements, and NIST 800-171 provides a comprehensive framework for protecting CUI.
Who Needs to be NIST 800-171 and CMMC Compliant?
CMMC applies to all DoD contractors. All companies that want to do business with the Department of Defense (DoD) must be compliant with CMMC. You may be thinking, “My company doesn’t work with the DoD, so we don’t need to be CMMC compliant.”
However, that may not be the case. The DoD has a large supply chain, and many companies that are not direct contractors still need to be compliant in order to do business with the DoD. For example, if your company manufactures components that will be used in a product that will be delivered to the DoD, your company must be CMMC compliant.
On the other hand, NIST 800-171 applies to non-federal agencies and contractors that directly interact with CUI, meaning companies that handle or store CUI for the federal government.
If you’re a contractor who wants to do business with the DoD, you’ll need to be certified at one of the CMMC levels while also complying with NIST 800-171.
SinglePoint Global Can Help with Your Compliance Needs!
SinglePoint Global specializes in compliance. We help companies develop and implement cybersecurity programs that meet the requirements of NIST 800-171 and CMMC. We also provide audit readiness assessments to help companies prepare for NIST 800-171 and CMMC audits.
Want to learn more about NIST and CMMC compliance but don’t know where to start? Reach out to SinglePoint Global today. We’d love to help you get started on the path to compliance so that you can contract with the Department of Defense.
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