What Are the Differences Between ISO 27001 and CMMC?

What Are the Differences Between ISO 27001 and CMMC?

Many people have questions about whether a company can earn an ISO 27001 certification instead of, or in place of, a CMMC certification. While ISO 27001 and CMMC both deal with data protection, the types of data are different, and the two certifications are not interchangeable. Here are some key differences between the two standards.

ISO 27001 is More General in Scope than CMMC

Any company, regardless of what they do, can benefit from earning an ISO 27001 certification. ISO 27001 focuses on a company’s ISMS or Information Security Management System. That information can be anything from customer data to employee information. Currently there are no mandates regarding ISO 27001, although occasionally a customer may ask that your organization become ISO 27001-certified.

CMMC, once it goes into effect, will be mandated for Department of Defense contractors. CMMC and NIST 800-171 also focus on the protection of CUI, or Controlled Unclassified Information, specifically. Not all companies will need to comply with CMMC, but if your company needs to comply, ISO 27001 cannot be used as an alternative. It is important to note that CMMC is singularly focused on the protection of the federal government’s data and does not address the security of your organization’s data.

ISO 27001 Assessments Versus CMMC Assessments

The ISO 27001 certification works just like any other ISO standard. A certifying body will perform your assessment, and if you pass, the CB will return for the next two years to perform a surveillance audit. The third year, you will need to be recertified.

CMMC will work in a different manner. To receive CMMC certification, a third party called a C3PAO (CMMC third party Assessor Organization) will perform the initial audit. Over the next two years, you will need to perform a self-assessment, and then in the third year the C3PAO will return to recertify.

Smithers offers a unique continuous assessment service that can help you avoid annual budgetary pitfalls and support your self-attestations. Contact us to learn more.

ISO 27001 is More Flexible than CMMC

As a non-mandated standard, organizations pursuing an ISO 27001 certification have more flexibility in how they achieve that accomplishment. Different controls can be tailored to the organization’s needs.

Complying with NIST 800-171 and ultimately CMMC does not allow for interpretation.. The controls and assessment objectives are  specific, and compliance is measured on a “met” or “not met” basis. Considering that companies who need to comply with these standards are working for or with the Department of Defense, it is not surprising that the process is more rigid and controlled.

ISO 27001 and CMMC Together

Although these two certifications are different and not interchangeable, they work together well. Establishing a strong ISMS will benefit you as you work toward compliance with NIST 800-171. Although the controls differ in many cases, the philosophies behind the standards are similar. Information must be protected, whether it is CUI or your customer data.

Smithers Can Help with ISO 27001 and NIST 800-171

Did you know that Smithers offers assessments for both ISO 27001 and NIST SP 800-171r2? We can help you work through both standards in a way that maximizes efficiency. Contact us today to learn more.

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