There are many differences between NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) and the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) that organizations should be aware of. When deciding on the security framework for an organization, it is important to understand each model and what they can do to safeguard against cyber-attacks. The seven main differences between the two models are as follows:

1. Scope

The NIST CSF is an overarching framework that provides a high-level overview of cybersecurity best practices, while the CMMC focuses on specific controls and processes for protecting data stored in DoD contractor systems.

2. Compliance Requirements

The NIST CSF is mostly voluntary, but it can be used to guide organizations that are developing their own security and privacy standards. The CMMC is required for any DoD contractor handling Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). There are five different levels of CMMC certification, which organizations must meet to be eligible for DoD contracts.

3. Structure

The NIST CSF has a tiered structure with five cybersecurity maturity levels, while the CMMC has three certification levels: Basic Cyber Hygiene, Intermediate Cyber Hygiene, and Advanced/Progressive Cyber Hygiene. For each certification level, organizations must meet specific control requirements.

4. Certification Process

The NIST CSF does not require any form of certification or accreditation. The CMMC requires organizations to undergo an audit conducted by a third-party certifying organization in order to obtain the appropriate level of certification.

5. Implementation Timeframe

The NIST CSF can be implemented at any time, while the CMMC has certain implementation deadlines and requirements for specific DoD projects. When implementing the CMMC, organizations need to be aware of the timeline and budget so that they can properly meet all their requirements.

6. Documentation Requirements

The NIST CSF does not require organizations to document their security processes, but it is encouraged. The CMMC requires detailed documentation of an organization’s security processes in order to be compliant.

7. Cost

The NIST CSF does not require any monetary costs for implementation, while the CMMC requires organizations to pay for an audit from a third-party certifying organization. In some cases, this can add up to thousands of dollars. However, many DoD contractors view the cost of certification as an investment in their security posture.

The NIST CSF and CMMC both provide essential frameworks for protecting organizations from cyber threats, but they have significant differences that must be taken into account when assessing your cybersecurity needs. By understanding the scope, compliance requirements, structure, certification process, implementation timeframe, documentation requirements, and cost associated with each framework, you can ensure that your organization is on the right path to maintaining a secure infrastructure.