How CMMC Compares to HIPAA and Other Compliance Frameworks

The CMMC is one of the latest cybersecurity compliance frameworks introduced by the government. It was implemented by the Department of Defense (DoD) as a means of regulating and assessing current and potential contractors. The fundamental aim is that contracts are only awarded to contractors that pass the audit and prove that they comply with the cybersecurity regulations outlined by the department.

The purpose of the entire CMMC rollout is to tighten security measures and prevent future cybersecurity attacks from compromising DoD information.

It goes without saying that the CMMC framework is not the first cybersecurity standard of its kind. HIPAA is one of the most well-known security standards used in a specific industry—healthcare—and many of its regulations also deal with digitally protecting information. So how do these two standards compare? Let’s take a look at CMMC by comparing it to HIPAA.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and it is a federal regulation that covers all security requirements pertaining to protected health information. 

Primarily, HIPAA outlines various controls and compliance frameworks that relate to how people must protect the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of data (both paper and digital). It is relevant for healthcare companies, insurers, and any third-party suppliers working within the medical field.

How is CMMC similar to HIPAA?

The two frameworks are similar in how they force contractors within the supply chain to safeguard information. While HIPAA applies to healthcare organizations, it’s also required for relevant insurance companies, accounting firms, and other businesses that may have access to or handle private health information due to working with a healthcare company. CMMC is required for contractors working with the Department of Defense, but it’s also required for their supply chain.

With the CMMC, it’s all about protected controlled unclassified information, while HIPAA focuses on the aforementioned protected health information. 

Both frameworks have systems in place that contractors need to adhere to continue working within the industry. Furthermore, both the CMMC and HIPAA are supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with CMMC related directly to NIST 800-171.

Finally, for business owners in either of these fields, if you’re not intimately familiar with the requirements of these security standards, you’ll likely need to work with security professionals who can help you ensure you’re fully compliant.

How is CMMC different from HIPAA?

Now, while the two share similarities, there are some striking differences. First, CMMC is far more laser-focused on cybersecurity than HIPAA. HIPAA deals with how healthcare professionals manage patient information, including in writing and discussions, while CMMC is set up to solely protect digital assets. It’s also much more detailed and requires DoD contractors to undergo rigorous assessments and reporting to become fully compliant.

To summarize, CMMC and HIPAA do share a few similarities. Mainly, they both provide security frameworks with the key purpose of protecting valuable and private data. The differences are that the protected data isn’t the same. The overall purpose of both frameworks is similar, but the way they’re implemented is different.