Comparing and Contrasting NIST 800-171, DFARS 7012 and CMMC

NIST 800-171, DFARS 7012, and CMMC are all standards and frameworks for ensuring cybersecurity in government contracts, with varying levels of complexity and requirements. Here are the major differences between the three:

  1. NIST 800-171: This is a set of guidelines published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for protecting the confidentiality of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in non-federal systems and organizations. NIST 800-171 is a framework of security controls that must be implemented by contractors who handle CUI for the Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of that information.
  2. DFARS 7012: The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 7012 requires DoD contractors to implement the security controls outlined in NIST 800-171 as part of their contractual obligations. DFARS 7012 also mandates that contractors have a cybersecurity program in place to protect Covered Defense Information (CDI), which includes both CUI and other sensitive information that is not considered CUI.
  3. CMMC: The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a unified standard for cybersecurity across the defense industrial base (DIB) that combines the requirements of NIST 800-171 and DFARS 7012 with additional requirements for maturity and verification. CMMC includes five levels of cybersecurity maturity, with each level building upon the previous one in terms of the maturity and rigor of the controls implemented by contractors. Contractors must be certified at the appropriate CMMC level to bid on DoD contracts.

In summary, NIST 800-171 provides a framework for protecting CUI, DFARS 7012 mandates compliance with NIST 800-171 for DoD contractors, and CMMC adds additional requirements for maturity and verification to the NIST 800-171 and DFARS 7012 requirements.

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