What is CMMC & Why Prompt Compliance Matters to DoD Supply Chain Organizations?

The U.S. Department of Defense rolled out its latest cybersecurity policy beginning in January and companies that generate profits in its supply chain may be at risk. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) requires all organizations that access or store DoD-related information to be in full compliance before taking on new contracts.

If you enjoy lucrative federal work or participate at some level in the supply chain, you could be sidelined until a third-party audit proves your company has the cyber hygiene necessary to store or access “controlled unclassified information” (CUI). There has been considerable confusion about how to go about how to achieve CMMC compliance. At Data Magic, our team of experienced managed IT cybersecurity experts are prepared to act quickly and help you get into compliance before losing profit-generating government work.

What Businesses Need to Know About CMMC

In essence, the CMMC is the federal government’s effort to bring wide-reaching cybersecurity standards under one umbrella. With more than 300,000 businesses participating in the defense industrial base (DIB), it makes perfect sense to apply a singular cybersecurity model.

Those who have already worked in the DIB may know that several sets of guidelines were published. Industry leaders sometimes had difficulty deciding which to policy and sections applied to them. Making matters worse in terms of protecting CUI, supply chain organizations sometimes failed to meet the guidelines until a problem prompted a government audit. Too often, CUI was not fully protected, and rival nations were able to steal American military and scientific data.

Pentagon officials such as Ellen M. Lord indicate that the “CMMC is a critical element of DOD’s overall cybersecurity implementation.” She also went on the record stating that rogue nations routinely steal billions every year due to cybersecurity deficiencies.

In terms of how the CMMC immediately impacts Texas-based organizations, all requests for information must reference your compliance. And as of October, all requests for proposals must specify CMMC compliance levels. If your organization has not yet met the appropriate standard and completed a third-party audit, expect to be left out in the cold.

What Supply Chain Businesses Need to Know CMMC Levels

The immediate concern is, of course, getting up to speed to avoid being sidelined. But it’s also essential for outfits to understand that the DoD expects this compliance threshold to evolve with emerging threats. The CMMC may be the latest advancement toward robust cybersecurity across the DIB, but it certainly won’t be the final update. That being said, the following provides some broad information about each level.

  • Level 1: A supply chain organization must demonstrate “basic cyber hygiene” that includes enterprise-level antivirus software, firewalls, and the ability to regularly update and deploy strong passwords.
  • Level 2: DIB organizations must demonstrate “intermediate cyber hygiene” by following standard operating procedures and policies that secure CUI. Level 2 compliance does not necessarily cover classified data.
  • Level 3: Demonstrating “good cyber hygiene,” a supply chain outfit meets the threshold by adhering to various NIST 800-171 r2 requirements and standards.
  • Level 4: A company must demonstrate “proactive cyber hygiene” by crafting and implementing a policy that detects and responds to “advanced persistent threats” (APTs). A bad actor with APT capabilities is typically well-funded and possesses high-level skills, sophistication, and hacking expertise.
  • Level 5: A DoD contractor must retain the ongoing ability to detect and repel APTs. This level of “advanced cyber hygiene” typically calls for 30 top-tier controls that allow organizations to respond to cyber-threats across the landscape.

Achieving the appropriate level of compliance requires putting numerous controls in place. The details are so far-reaching that operations with their own in-house IT tech people have outsourced this facet to firms with CMMC experience. The adage that the “devil is in the details” was never more true than when it comes to meeting government regulations.

How to Prepare for a CMMC Audit

Katie Arrington, a DoD information security officer, assures DIB outfits that the federal government isn’t “trying to make it hard for you to do work.” She has also made it abundantly clear that anyone who does not meet the standards will be left behind.

That being said, passing a required third-party CMMC audit is mission-critical. Given the number of competing companies in your sector and potential backlog for audit dates, it’s essential to get it right the first time. As a firm with experience, these are steps Data Magic can take to ensure your pass muster.

Understand Technical Requirements

The CMMC includes upwards of 17 sections that need to be addressed for compliance. These involve items such as access control, login authentication, and incident response, among others. The first step to meeting the standards is to identify the technical requirements necessary to fulfill your CMMC responsibilities.

Assign CMMC Oversight

Meeting your requirements under the cybersecurity policy calls for ongoing oversight. Once your network and security measures have been vetted and updated, someone needs to take ongoing ownership. Whether you prefer to outsource or hand the duty to a staffer is a decision best made at the earliest stages.

Assess Cyber Hygiene Readiness

An impartial third-party analysis of your cybersecurity policies, best practices, and follow-through unveils strengths and weaknesses. Decision-makers typically get a detailed report that highlights deficiencies and areas of concern with regards to passing a CMMC audit.

Develop A CMMC Compliance Policy

Having a determined policy in hand may prove invaluable during your audit. It provides a tangible roadmap for compliance inspectors to review and help base their decision. By drafting a policy that checks the boxes on your CMMC requirements, you can improve your chances of securing the next DoD contract.

As an experienced managed IT and cybersecurity firm based in Coppell, Texas, the team at Data Magic understands that time is of the essence with regards to CMMC compliance. If your company needs to prepare for a third-party audit or recently struggled to meet the standards, we stand ready. Contact us today for a time-sensitive consultation and earn certification.

Published By : Shane Kimbrel   On: 14 September 2020