How Does CMMC Relate to NIST?

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) are two important frameworks for helping organizations protect their data from cyber threats. While they may seem separate, there is an undeniable connection between them.

Understanding how CMMC relates to NIST is essential for any organization looking to improve its cybersecurity posture. In this article, we’ll discuss the four main ways that CMMC and NIST interact: compliance, standards, assessment processes, and security controls. With a better understanding of how these two frameworks intersect with each other, organizations can be better prepared to defend against cyberattacks and meet their regulatory requirements.


Both CMMC and NIST have a role to play when it comes to compliance. CMMC is designed to help organizations meet the requirements of Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 252.204-7012, which mandates that contractors must have their systems adequately protected from cyberattacks. To comply with this regulation, organizations must achieve a certain CMMC level, which is based on the number and scope of security controls they have in place.

NIST also has an important role to play when it comes to compliance. NIST publishes guidelines and standards that organizations can use to ensure their systems are secure, such as the Special Publication 800-171 (SP 800-171). This publication provides guidelines for protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) within nonfederal systems. Organizations must adhere to these guidelines to comply with DFARS 252.204-7012 and achieve a certain CMMC level.


Besides having compliance requirements, both CMMC and NIST also provide standards that organizations can use to ensure their systems are secure. CMMC offers five levels of security, each of which requires a different number and scope of security controls. The higher the level, the more stringent the requirements for protecting data from cyber threats.

NIST also provides standards that organizations must adhere to in order to ensure their systems are secure. These standards are laid out in SP 800-171, which outlines the security requirements for handling CUI on nonfederal systems. This publication includes guidelines for how organizations should protect their data from unauthorized access or use, as well as best practices for implementing security controls.

Assessment Processes

Another way that CMMC and NIST interact is through assessment processes. CMMC assessments are conducted by third-party assessors, who will review an organization’s systems and processes and determine if they meet the requirements of the relevant CMMC level. If so, the assessor will issue a certificate confirming that the organization has achieved compliance with DFARS 252.204-7012.

NIST also requires organizations to undergo assessments, although these are slightly different from CMMC assessments. NIST assessments are conducted by an independent assessor who will review an organization’s systems and processes to ensure they adhere to the requirements of SP 800-171. If the assessor finds that the organization is in compliance, they will issue a certificate confirming that the organization is compliant with NIST standards.

Security Controls

Finally, CMMC and NIST also have an important role to play when it comes to security controls. CMMC outlines specific security controls at each level, which organizations must implement in order to achieve compliance. These controls range from basic practices such as access control and incident response to more advanced measures such as hardware security and system hardening.

NIST also provides guidelines for what security controls organizations should implement in order to protect their systems from cyberattacks. These are outlined in SP 800-171, which includes a variety of different control categories such as identification and authentication, system and communications protection, and security awareness and training. Organizations must adhere to these security controls in order to comply with NIST standards as well as achieve the desired CMMC level.

In conclusion, both CMMC and NIST are essential for meeting compliance requirements and ensuring systems remain secure from cyberattacks. By following the guidelines outlined by each of these organizations, organizations can ensure their data is protected and remain compliant with the relevant regulations.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that CMMC and NIST provide different sets of requirements and standards, so organizations should pay close attention to both when designing their security controls. Doing so will help ensure that their systems are secure from cyberattacks while also meeting all of the necessary compliance requirements.