The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a single cybersecurity certification for securing Department of Defense-controlled unclassified information (CUI).
The Department of Defense has one of the largest supply chains in the world, involving over 300,000 entities. Any firm that is part of that distribution chain in any way or plans to negotiate deals with the DoD soon must comply. All new DoD connections will have CMMC solution requirements by the end of 2026.
Although most DoD vendors should likely have a high degree of cybersecurity maturity, the necessity for an external inquiry is one of the most significant contrasts between CMMC and earlier compliance methods and requirements. The first inspectors are already being trained, so audits will only be a matter of time. This implies that contractors must take all necessary steps to ensure they are ready to clear a CMMC inspection as soon as feasible.
What precisely is a CMMC Compliance audit?
The newly constituted CMMC Accreditation Authority, which is still developing its auditor qualification and accreditation methods, will conduct CMMC audits. While no inspectors have been hired yet, clearing off on new Requests for Proposals (RFPs) next year will require some degree of CMMC accreditation.
The Department of Defense hires suppliers depending on their hazard profiles. These are intended to correspond to the five CMMC certification levels. Although the CMMC level-1 standards have been determined, contractors should strive for at least a level-3 certification to earn and keep more profitable contracts in the coming year and beyond.
Through impartial, government-mandated examination, CMMC audits are intended to fill deficiencies in prior NIST 800-171 self-assessments. DoD suppliers will be awarded an appropriate certification level following an audit. How CMMC compliance requirements professionals will conduct these assessments in real-world circumstances remains to be seen. Still, there are several measures you can take right now to equip your cybersecurity architecture for your preferred certification level.
What level do you need to reach?
Every DoD contractor must meet a certain level of compliance. CMMC Level One has 17 controls that must be implemented to receive minimal certification. Subsequent levels demand all prior levels’ controls while also adding new ones of their own. Level Five, the most stringent, requires a total of 171
Contractors that do not keep state secrets on their business networks will also be subject to Levels 1 and 2. This includes resellers who work in the DoD supply chain. Vendors that handle CUI, mainly information that unfriendly governments might reverse-engineer, will be subject to Levels Three and Four. Finally, Level Five is likely to be applicable to entities that handle very sensitive (but unclassified) data, such as production blueprints and weapons testing.
Naturally, firms with higher levels of adherence are considerably more likely to be given high-value contracts. At the same time, the cost of adopting and maintaining these criteria will also be significantly higher.
Regardless of your current or desired level, the CMMC has issued many methods to prepare for an audit.
1.) Create a map of your CUI environment.
You can’t successfully apply security rules and procedures till you understand where data is kept, processed, and sent. The first step is to acquire complete insight into any CUI-handling systems. This also permits federal contracting agents to assess your degree of risk.
2.) Determine which NIST 800-171 controls are appropriate.
After mapping out your CUI ecosystem, you must determine which systems, services, and processes are covered by the NIST 800-171 standard on which CMMC is based. Regulations will be required depending on whether they collect, analyze, or disseminate CUI.
3.) Create policies and standards to meet requirements.
Following that, you must develop the policies, guidelines, and processes necessary to address your CMMC needs. Every contractor has a distinct operational environment, necessitating well-established rules and procedures that correspond to the amount of risk.
4.) Put rules and standards into action to implement controls.
This is the stage at which suppliers put their strategies into action by implementing the controls outlined in the NIST 800-171 standard. You must apply all of the restrictions of the CMMC level you intend to meet and those of all preceding levels.