Understanding CMMC CUI 

Learn what CUI is and how the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) protects it.
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CUI, or Controlled Unclassified Information, is data that the government needs to be protected but is not classified. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program is designed to enforce the protection of sensitive, but unclassified, information and ensure compliance with the Department’s information security requirements for Defense Industrial Base (DIB) partners. CUI includes many types of data that must be protected by specific rules consistent with laws, regulations, and government-wide policies. It does not cover intelligence, law enforcement, or national security-related information and is usually marked with labels or tags. Protecting CUI is a key focus of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), along with Federal Contract Information, ensuring that sensitive government information is properly controlled and used.

Key Takeaways

  • CUI is data that needs protection but is not classified.
  • CMMC enforces the protection of CUI for Defense Industrial Base partners.
  • Contractors must meet specific CMMC level requirements to protect CUI.
  • CUI includes types like PII, PHI, export-controlled information, and intellectual property.
  • Contractors must follow rules in the Federal Acquisition Regulation and NIST SP 800-171.
  • Non-compliance with CMMC can lead to penalties and loss of contracts.

How does this impact Government Contractors?

CMMC CUI is crucial for government contractors because it improves their ability to handle sensitive data safely. Loss or unauthorized sharing of CUI can risk public safety and cause big financial losses. The DoD’s use of CMMC aims to cut cyber risks tied to losing CUI from the Defense Industrial Base. Contractors must meet specific CMMC level requirements for different contracts, ensuring they can protect national security information well.

Types of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)

There are various types of CUI, classified into two main categories:

  1. Basic CUI: Needs standard protection and control.
  2. Specified CUI: Needs extra protection due to specific laws or rules.

Some specific examples of CUI include:

  • Personally Identifiable Information (PII): Names, addresses, Social Security numbers.
  • Protected Health Information (PHI): Health data regulated by HIPAA.
  • Export-Controlled Information: Data on exports and imports.
  • Intellectual Property: Patents, copyrights, trademarks.
  • Contractor-Sensitive Information: Contracts and bids.
  • Proprietary Business Information (PBI): Also known as Confidential Business Information (CBI).
  • Unclassified Controlled Technical Information (UCTI): Sensitive military data.
  • Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU): Information requiring special handling.

Legal and Compliance Implications for Federal Contract Information

Contractors must follow specific rules listed in the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement. The legal framework requires the protection of CUI through set security practices, as outlined in documents such as NIST SP 800-171 Rev. 3. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides these standards to ensure that the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program aligns with NIST SP 800-171 requirements. Non-compliance can lead to penalties and losing contract opportunities.

Assessment and Certification Process

To comply with CMMC, contractors must:

  • Undergo Assessments: Levels 1, 2, and 3 need different levels of checks, from self-checks to government-led checks.
  • Meet Certification Rules: Contractors must show they follow CMMC practices to get certified. This includes setting up and keeping needed cybersecurity measures. The Department specifies a baseline number of CMMC requirements that must be achieved prior to contract award, with a remaining subset to be addressed in a Plan of Actions and Milestones (POA&M) within a defined timeline.
  • Complete CMMC Requirements: Companies can receive contract awards with a limited time POA&M in place to complete CMMC requirements. The Department specifies a small subset of requirements that cannot be on a POA&M in support of achieving a CMMC certification.
  • Avoid Common Mistakes: Contractors often face challenges like limited resources and complex rules. Good planning and constant improvement can help avoid these issues.

Future Outlook

The future of CMMC will have updates to handle new cyber threats and changing rules. Contractors should stay informed about changes to ensure they follow the rules. Preparing for these changes involves investing in cyber security tools and staying involved with industry trends.

Please see the Further Research section on this page for links to official documentation and other information.


The Department intends to enhance cybersecurity across the Defense Industrial Base with the Maturity Model Certification CMMC. This plan ensures that all contractors meet strict cyber standards, protecting sensitive data and public safety. By following the CMMC, contractors can secure their chance for defense contracts and help create a safer cyber space.


What is the goal of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification? 

The goal of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification is to protect FCI by making sure contractors follow strict cyber rules.

Why is CUI important? 

CUI is important because it includes sensitive data that needs protection for national security.

Who needs to comply with the Maturity Model Certification? 

DoD contractors must comply with the Maturity Model Certification to get defense contracts.

What does the CMMC framework aim to secure?

The CMMC framework aims to secure CUI and protect FCI.

How does the CMMC help the Defense Industrial Base? 

The CMMC helps the Defense Industrial Base by improving the overall cyber safety of groups in the sector.

What is required under the CMMC? 

Contractors must follow the maturity model certification to meet cyber standards.

What are the CMMC levels? 

The CMMC levels are different stages (1, 2 and 3) that show how well a contractor can protect CUI and FCI.

How does CMMC protect federal contract information? 

CMMC protects FDI by ensuring contractors follow strict rules to safeguard sensitive data.

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