Understanding the difference between CMMC and NIST 800-171

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) supply chain is a significant focus for hackers and hostile countries attempting to acquire and leak sensitive government statistics. The Defense Acquisition Federal Regulation Supplement (DFARS) was created in December 2015 in response to these risks. DFARS is a collection of cybersecurity guidelines safeguarding controlled unclassified information (CUI) from cyberattacks.

DFARS mandates that DoD contractors and subcontractors follow a set of security requirements or face fines and contract termination.

NIST 800-171 is a standard developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

NIST 800-171 is a collection of cybersecurity best practices and standards created to assist DoD contractors in improving their cybersecurity procedures. It’s broken down into four sections:


Five functions are included in the NIST framework for addressing cybersecurity risks. They are as follows:

  • Identify — Identify data, resources, and network cybersecurity threats.
  • Create and install measures to prevent critical infrastructure services from being interrupted.
  • Detect — Make rules to detect cybersecurity abnormalities and incidents and put them in place.
  • Respond — Develop and execute procedures to protect against cyberthreats.

Create and execute procedures to repair services that a cybersecurity incident has impacted.


You must complete particular tasks known as categories for each of the five roles. To safeguard your infrastructure against data breaches, for example, you’ll need to put in place access management policies and antivirus software.

Subcategories are tasks that are associated with each category. For example, suppose your category is responsible for upgrading your programs. In that case, your subcategory will be responsible for ensuring that the auto-update option is enabled on all of your PCs.

Sources of Information

These papers and policies specify how specific duties should be carried out. Consider the preceding case. Documents on how to activate auto-updates on your PCs should be readily available.

Critical Differences Between NIST 800-171 and CMMC 1.0

CMMC 1.0 contains revised recommendations to assist DoD companies and subcontractors in meeting the NIST 800-171 criteria. Some vendors, meanwhile, are unsure what the distinction is between NIST 800-171 and CMMC. While both are intended to improve contractors’ cybersecurity posture, there are several significant variations among NIST 800-171 and CMMC 1.0.

Third-Party Assessment is Required for CMMC 1.0 Certification.

Contractors might self-certify and declare that their organizations meet NIST requirements under NIST 800-171. Companies seeking CMMC accreditation must first undergo a C3PAO assessment. This avoids bogus compliance claims and guarantees that vendors seeking accreditation satisfy all CMMC standards.

Compliance with CMMC 1.0 is needed to win DoD agreements.

Not CMMC qualified companies cannot be given DoD agreements with CMMC standards.

Three more domains are included in CMMC 1.0.

The NIST 800-171 paradigm consists of 14 domains, whereas the CMMC 1.0 framework adds three more.

CMMC 1.0 Can Be Scaled

NIST 800-171 only provides controls at one level, with additional safeguards for added security. CMMC 1.0, on the other hand, has specified compliance levels that contractors must fulfill to be certified at a given level. The CMMC 1.0 framework’s five maturity levels allow vendors to ramp their accreditation up or down based on the security standards they require.

All DoD vendors, for instance, need to have at minimum Level 1 certification. This implies that Level 1 contractors must execute 17 NIST 800-171 controls. The DoD gives a new CMMC level to a contractor who deals with more sensitive information.…

Understanding the Key Identification and Authentication Protocols of DFARS

One of the essential cornerstones of any cybersecurity plan is identification and authentication, which is required to comply with the DFARS 252.204-7012 clause. According to NIST SP 800 171, compliance necessitates adherence to all of the fundamental areas of information security. Critical security awareness, data encryption at rest and in transit, and system maintenance are all part of this. Since DFARS compliance can be tricky, one must hire DFARS consultant Virginia Beach for professional assistance.

What is the difference between identification and authentication?

The safeguards put in place to restrict how personnel access sensitive information are identified and verified. This includes safeguarding regulated unclassified data in the instance of DFARS 252.204-7012. (CUI). Irrespective of whether or not this is a part of the complete Defense Industrial Base, every firm should adopt strict access controls to secure all of its sensitive information assets.

Logins and passwords are the most fundamental and well-known ways of digital authentication. On the other hand, passwords are insufficient to secure sensitive data since they are particularly vulnerable to social engineering assaults. Even a strong password strategy that is well implemented isn’t enough, which is why multifactor validation must always be used as an additional layer of protection (MFA).

While the US Department of Defense employs the CAC network to validate credentials, the DFARS 252.204-7012 clause indicates that companies can adopt any MFA solution they choose as long as it fulfills the NIST SP 800 171 framework’s criteria.

  • Authentication techniques must be replay-resistant to defend systems from dangers like replay and brute-force assaults.
  • To avoid security gaps from arising due to bad behaviors like repeating passwords, identifying should only be reused for a specified period of time.
  • To secure inactive user profiles or those pertaining to prior workers, identifiers should be deactivated after a particular time of inactivity.

Creating a password policy that complies with DFARS

Passwords are still an essential part of network access, and DFARS cybersecurity establishes tight guidelines for their usage. The majority of these are now common across all industries; however, the following are the most important:

  • To be practically impervious to any ruthlessness hacking effort or easy speculating, credentials must have minimal complexity. Personnel should avoid actual words and familiar names in the ideal password, which should comprise both letters and numbers. It’s also a good idea to use a password at least 12 characters in length.
  • Username and password should not be repeated, at least not for more than a few generations. Passwords, for example, should be updated daily, and passwords should not reuse for at least five modifications. On the other hand, one can use temporary passwords for first system logins before switching to a regular password.
  • The organization should use only AES-256 encryption or greater to store and transport passwords. Because attackers frequently target credential databases, this is important. However, if the credentials are encrypted, the attacker will not use them. Finally, to prevent snooping, every login should be obfuscated upon entering.

Best DFARS-compliant protocols 

Identification and authentication procedures define how interconnected entities communicate with one another. Single-factor primary verification has long been the most popular, but it’s also the lowest secure, and it doesn’t follow the NIST SP 800 171 framework’s criteria. The password-based authentication protocol (PAP), for instance, does not encrypt the data and just verifies the username and password amalgamation entered.

The system determines the identity and authentication protocol to use. OIDC and OAuth2 are two of the most widely used protocols. These are appropriate for usage in dispersed IT settings where having a single sign-on (SSO) for all programs and platforms used for work is typically required for productivity and convenience of use.…

Ways NIST Cybersecurity Framework can Help Small Businesses

Many small firms believe they are unworthy targets for more sophisticated assaults, such as advanced persistent threats (APTs). As a result, they frequently have only rudimentary cybersecurity safeguards to defend them from typical risks like mass phishing schemes and ransomware. 

This kind of reasoning is a huge mistake as per CMMC government contracting professionals. Every business or individual is a significant target. Small firms are somewhat of a sweet spot for cybercriminals, who see them as easy targets with a lot of data worth taking. As a result, even tiny enterprises require enterprise-level protection.

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework, issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is one of the most widely used frameworks. Using various procedures and technology methods, the methodology explains how to identify, react to, and recuperate from security-related issues.

Is the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework appropriate for small businesses?

NIST small business installations are too expensive for small firms is one of the most prominent criticisms. This is fair considering that the approach focuses on vital assets. Still, it ignores the point that every organization needs adequately robust cybersecurity procedures and regulations regardless of size or sector. After all, the expense of a data breach is typically many orders of magnitude more than the cost of preventing one in the first place.

Another problem with this approach is that it treats the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as a checklist of rules that must be implemented. It is much more than that, and given its vast nature, several of the measures described are unlikely to apply to your company’s IT environment in the first place. It should be regarded as an essential guide and instructional resource for the most part. However, several guidelines, such as CMMC vs DFARS in the defense sector, are based on it.

How can a company use the NIST framework on a budget?

No small organization has the financial or personnel resources to establish and maintain a completely NIST-compliant cybersecurity environment, which is understandable. That does not rule out the possibility. Delegating security solutions to a reputable third party, including an MSSP, is the key to success.

MSSPs have a strong interest in ensuring that nothing gets past your security measures. After all, their whole identities and the long-term viability of their companies are on the line. Furthermore, smaller businesses will find that having a fully staffed IT security team and an in-house CISO is overkill. Instead, outsourcing these responsibilities and the procedures and metrics that go with them is a significantly more cost-effective and scalable option.

Most significantly, attaining NIST small company compliance with the appropriate partners may help you accomplish the same degree of security maturity that large organizations often handle in-house. A fully managed detection and response (MDR) solution, for instance, may continuously recognize and react to possible vulnerabilities before they reach your last line of security. Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) is another robust solution that delivers in-depth forensic analysis and total traceability of security-related occurrences across your whole technological ecosystem. This service, like MDR, can be outsourced and controlled by a third party.…