The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a new security framework developed by the Department of Defense (DoD) to protect sensitive government data from cyber threats. The CMMC replaces the outdated self-assessment process with a more rigorous certification program that requires companies to meet specific cybersecurity standards before they can do business with the DoD.
The Need for CMMC
With the increasing number of cyber attacks and data breaches, the DoD recognized the need for a more stringent security framework to safeguard their sensitive information. In 2019, they announced the creation of CMMC to enhance the protection of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) within the defense industrial base (DIB).
The Evolution of CMMC
The idea of a unified cybersecurity standard for defense contractors is not new. The DoD has been working on various initiatives to improve the security posture of their supply chain. In 2015, they introduced the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) rule that required government contractors to implement certain security controls and report any cyber incidents.
In 2018, the DoD released version 1.0 of the NIST SP 800-171, which outlined recommended security requirements for protecting CUI. However, these initiatives were not enough to combat the evolving cyber threats and protect sensitive data adequately.
Hence, in January 2020, the DoD released version 1.0 of CMMC, incorporating feedback from industry professionals and experts to create a more comprehensive and robust security framework.
Seven Things You Need to Know about CMMC
- CMMC is mandatory for all DoD contractors: All defense contractors, including subcontractors and suppliers, will eventually be required to obtain the appropriate level of CMMC certification to bid on DoD contracts.
- There are five levels of certification: Unlike the self-assessment process, CMMC has five levels of certification, each with a specific set of cybersecurity requirements. The level of certification required will depend on the type and sensitivity of the information being handled.
- Third-party assessment is required: Unlike self-assessment, CMMC requires companies to undergo a third-party assessment by an accredited and certified assessor organization (C3PAO). This independent validation ensures that companies are meeting the required cybersecurity standards.
- CMMC combines multiple security frameworks: CMMC incorporates various cybersecurity standards, including NIST SP 800-171, ISO 27001, and AIA-NAS9933. These standards cover a wide range of security controls, from basic to advanced, ensuring a comprehensive approach to protecting sensitive data.
- CMMC is not a one-time certification: To maintain their contract eligibility, DoD contractors will need to undergo periodic reassessments to ensure they are still meeting the required cybersecurity standards.
- The cost of compliance will vary: The level of certification required and the size and complexity of an organization’s IT infrastructure will determine the cost of becoming CMMC compliant. However, there are resources available, such as the CMMC Marketplace and training courses, to help organizations prepare for certification.
- CMMC is part of a larger effort towards improved cybersecurity: The DoD’s implementation of CMMC is just one aspect of their ongoing efforts to enhance cybersecurity within the DIB. They have also launched initiatives such as the Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Assessment Center (DIBCAC) and the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB).
As cyber threats continue to evolve, it is crucial for organizations in the defense industry to stay up-to-date with the latest security standards. The CMMC provides a standardized and robust framework for protecting sensitive government data and ensuring the overall cybersecurity of the defense supply chain. Organizations should start preparing for CMMC certification now to ensure they can continue doing business with the DoD in the future. So, keeping up with these evolving standards is essential for maintaining contract eligibility and protecting sensitive information. With thorough preparation and a dedication to maintaining strong cybersecurity practices, organizations can successfully navigate the evolution of CMMC and contribute to a more secure defense supply chain.