How Does AES Encryption Align with NIST SP 800-171 and CMMC?

In the ever-evolving landscape of cyber security, safeguarding sensitive information is paramount. For organizations handling Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), particularly those working with the U.S. federal government, compliance with established security standards is not just best practice—it’s a requirement. This post delves into the compatibility of Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) or AES encryption with two critical regulatory frameworks: NIST SP 800-171 and the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC).

Understanding AES Encryption

AES is a symmetric encryption algorithm widely recognized for its strength and efficiency. Adopted by the U.S. government, it has become a global standard for securing sensitive data. AES’s robustness is attributed to its key sizes (128, 192, and 256 bits), making it a formidable tool against brute-force attacks.

AES and NIST SP 800-171 Compliance

NIST SP 800-1711, a standard issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), outlines the requirements for protecting CUI in non-federal systems. One of its key mandates is the use of FIPS-validated cryptography for securing CUI. Since AES is approved under FIPS 140-2, it meets the encryption criteria of NIST SP 800-171.

AES in the Realm of CMMC

The CMMC2.0 framework, integral to the defense industrial base, amalgamates various cybersecurity standards, including NIST SP 800-171, to safeguard against cyber threats. For encryption requirements under CMMC, the adherence to NIST guidelines is essential. Thus, AES, being a FIPS-approved method, aligns well with CMMC’s cryptographic standards.

Beyond Encryption: Comprehensive Compliance

While AES is a pivotal element in meeting these standards, it’s crucial to remember that compliance extends beyond the choice of encryption. It encompasses the implementation of encryption, key management, and broader information security practices. Organizations must adopt a holistic approach to cybersecurity, ensuring all aspects of these frameworks are adequately addressed.


AES encryption stands as a reliable and compliant choice for organizations aiming to align with NIST SP 800-171 and CMMC standards. Its adoption not only fortifies data security but also ensures regulatory adherence, a critical factor in today’s cybersecurity landscape. 

  1. ReferenceNational Institute of Standards and Technology. (2023). NIST Special Publication 800-171, “Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations.
  2. ReferenceCybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Overview. (2023). U.S. Department of Defense.

Share in Social Media

case studies

See More Case Studies

microsoft 365 GCC High

What is GCC High?

Microsoft 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC) High is a specialized cloud solution tailored for U.S. federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government organizations, as well as for contractors who hold or process data subject to specific security regulations. In this article, we will explore the features, benefits, and differences between Microsoft 365 GCC High and other Office 365 offerings.

Learn more
Contact us

Partner with Us for Compliance & Protection

We’re happy to answer any questions you may have and help you determine which of our services best fit your needs.

Your benefits:
What happens next?

Schedule an initial meeting


Arrange a discovery and assessment call


Tailor a proposal and solution

How can we help you?