The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is becoming more important for contractors seeking to conduct business with the United States Department of Defense (DoD). Contracting companies must begin gaining CMMC as soon as possible to be eligible for future DoD contracts.
Certification by an independent third-party agency confirms that a contractor has put all necessary safeguards to protect sensitive data. When CMMC is fully implemented on DoD contracts, it will replace DFARS, although the DoD is working out the finer details. This post discusses the CMMC compliance checklist and the processes required to attain the appropriate CMMC maturity level.
Table of Contents
Evaluate Your CUI
CMMC preparation begins with understanding your data and identifying which CMMC covers data. The CMMC model encompasses non-federal IT systems with controlled unclassified information (CUI).
CMMC compliance begins with a clear understanding of your data and its CMMC-eligible components. Various sorts of information fall under CUI, including tax-related data, confidential intelligence, and intellectual property.
A firm can only accomplish CMMC compliance if it knows precisely what CUI they collect, how it is processed, and how to keep it. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools can be used to identify, monitor, and categorize CUI. Get an understanding of the types of data subject to the CMMC regulations before applying for CMMC certification.
Determine Your Level of Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Maturity
CMMC certification has five levels. In the DoD Requests for Information, the level of CMMC compliance required to participate in a bid will be stated. Since contract maturity levels might vary, firms must get the most significant degree of CMMC certification they can.
A CMMC Level 1 or CMMC Level 3 accreditation appears to be the most likely path for most DIB suppliers to continue working with the Department of Defense. According to the Department of Defense, organizations can utilize an array of appendices and evaluation guidelines covering Levels 1 and 3 to establish what level of certification they require or should strive for to participate in future bids.
Below are the 5 CMMC levels.
Level 1: Fundamentals of Cyber Hygiene
Protecting Federal Contract Information (FCI), which refers to information produced or developed for the government as part of a contract, is the emphasis of CMMC Level 1, which focuses on the protection of FCI.
However, it does not include transactional information required to execute payments for government products or services. Additionally, FCI does not include data that the government makes available on a public website.
Level 2: Intermediate Cyber Hygiene
To meet the 55 new standards for Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Level 2, DoD contractors will normally need to prepare for emerging practices. A portion of NIST SP 800-171 applies to CMMC Level 2 requirements. As a result, this level covers the usage of highly secret material known as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), which is information created by the federal government or owned by a third party.
Level 3: Good Cyber Hygiene
Maturity levels 1 through 3 each add another 58 security procedures and protocols, increasing the total number of procedures and protocols at each level to 130. NIST SP 800-171’s standards, which primarily deal with the protection of CUI, fall under this level of security.
CMMC Level 3 incorporates best practices from various industry standards to help protect against security risks.
Level 4: Proactive
Contractors must execute 156 security policies at this maturity level, 26 of which are brand new. Based on the information available, main DoD contractors will most certainly require this level of certification, as opposed to suppliers farther down the supply chain.
Level 5: Advanced
CMMC Level 5 focuses on securing sensitive information from APTs, including material classified as Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret.
It has 171 standards, and the addition of 15 new requirements raises the contractor’s security policies and processes to a higher degree of complexity than the Level 4 maturity level.
Build on Existing Frameworks Like NIST 800-171 and Others
Companies that do business with the Department of Defense are already subject to data privacy regulations. This includes standards and rules such as ISO 27001 and the Federal Information Security Modernization Act, as well as NIST Special Publication 800-171.
Many of the current standards and regulations have criteria that match CMMC controls, especially at the lower conformance levels. An antivirus program and frequent password changes are two examples of CMMC Level 1 cybersecurity measures. Many firms already have these practices in place.
One of the most important aspects of this fourth CMMC compliance checklist, NIST 800-171 compliance, is particularly beneficial for compliance. NIST 800-171 compliant companies already comply with CMMC Levels 1 and 2. To achieve greater levels of CMMC compliance, a corporation must go beyond NIST 800-171 and implement additional controls. NIST 800-171 covers 110 of the largest possible Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification controls, 171, in Level 5, making it an ideal starting point for compliance efforts.
Resolve the Gaps
CMMC controls that are not already in place due to previous frameworks must be implemented for an organization to reach the CMMC level it has set its sights on.
As a result, new standards, regulations, and processes may need to be established. An organization’s IT infrastructure can require adjustments to satisfy these new demands and requirements. CMMC security standards and new software and IT security solutions may also be required to solve security blind spots.
Acquire a CMMC Certificate
Noncompliance with all NIST 800-171 security controls was allowed for DoD contractors under NIST 800-171 as long as any security vulnerabilities were discovered and stated in the Plan of Actions and Milestones. Both of these flaws have been resolved by CMMC.
The CMMC Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB) will now oversee the accreditation process in close conjunction with the Department of Defense. They and their team have devised accreditation processes for independent CMMC third-party evaluation organizations due to their collaboration. All organizations must participate in the DoD bidding process to have an authorized CMMC certification.
Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification is a new framework with many unsolved questions, so getting started might be intimidating. The good news is that firms may begin the process of CMMC compliance now by compiling a compliance checklist and checking off the items as they complete them.
Organizations may approach the final regulation with confidence if they understand the usage of CUI internally, establish controls now, etc.
I’m a writer, artist, and designer working in the gaming and tech industries. I have held staff and freelance positions at large publications including Digital Trends, Lifehacker, Popular Science Magazine, Electronic Gaming Monthly, IGN, The Xplore Tech, and others, primarily covering gaming criticism, A/V and mobile tech reviews, and data security advocacy.