Does CMMC Apply To My Government Contracting Business In Maryland, Virginia or DC?

There is an increasing threat to information as adversaries continue to devise ways to attack organizations. In response, the government has become more vigorous in implementing data protection protocols down its supply chain. As 2021 started, the government placed stringent measures for companies that want to do business with it.

The Defense Department rolled out a new certification standard for contractors. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is the new protocol designed to address digital security concerns. CMMC will require technical and organizational upgrades.

As with any certification model, you are eager to learn more of the details in relation to your business. Here’s what you need to know.

What is CMMC?

CMMC is a unifying set of standards. It is designed for the implementation of cybersecurity throughout the Defense Industrial Base (DIB). It serves to oversee and protect the security of government information.

CMMC Level 1 certification is for the control of Federal Contract Information (FCI). CMMC Levels 3-5 standards are implemented for Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). The DoD issued all these certification levels as a means to enhance high-level information security for government-related contracts.

Why Was CMMC Created?

The government created CMMC to address the deficiencies that existed following the initially poor adoption of the DFARS 252.204-7012 regulation. The initial NIST-SP 800-170 regulation was also deficient in accountability and created loopholes for cybercrime. Without the CMMC certification, companies will be ineligible to work on any government project.

The CMMC certification program will enable the DOD to protect all the sensitive data it shares with contractors and subcontractors. Historically, other governments try to get hold of the nation’s defense information to replicate the technology. In other cases, the aim is to protect themselves against the nation’s military actions. Any piece of the federal defense plan that adversaries can access can put the country at risk.

The government’s supply chain is extensive, and the DoD can’t execute each project as a classified program. CMMC standards step in to set safeguards for all the suppliers that participate in the manufacturing, development, and execution of DoD-related products and services.

Why Should Your Business Have CMMC Compliance?

If you’re currently doing business with DoD or hope to do so in the future, you need to get the CMMC compliance. This applies to contractors and subcontractors alike. However, the roll-out will happen gradually, with the large contractors going first. The deadline for compliance for this first group is within 2021.

By 2026, all contractors and subcontractors will need to meet the CMMC conditions if they plan to work on government projects.

It’s also crucial for subcontractors to show that they meet CMMC requirements before being subcontracted by the primary contractors. However, the level of certification they need to attain should not be the same as that of their primary contractor.

For example, a project may require the primary contractor to have Level 3 CMMC certification to bid. If a portion of the project requires Level 1 certification, a subcontractor with Level 1 certification can work on it.

All these requirements will help the CMMC roll out seamlessly for businesses, especially for small businesses. This way, the flow and delivery of DOD projects will not face unnecessary interruptions.

How to Get CMMC Certification

The certification will be under the management of a 13-member CMMC Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB). It will accredit independent assessors (C3PAOs) who will be responsible for evaluating companies’ compliance. Currently, the CMMC Accreditation Body is working to define roles and responsibilities to prevent conflict of interests.

C3PAOs will be selected and will be trained on how to provide certification to businesses that need it.

You will be responsible for attaining the CMMC certification for your business through a designated assessor. Contact a C3POA and hire the body to assess and review the cybersecurity measures your company has in place. The aim is to check if the measures meet the desired level of certification.

The Five Levels of CMMC

CMMC standards come in five “maturity levels,” each with an increasing level of intricacy. The five levels combined encompass 171 practices or tasks that a business must accomplish to become certified. These are also referred to as controls and fall into 43 categories or capabilities.

Subsequently, the capabilities fall into 17 domains, for example:

  • Security Assessment
  • Risk Management
  • Asset management
  • Situational Awareness
  • Recovery
  • Awareness and Training, among others

The five levels are as follows and the actions your business must take for each:

  • Level 1: Perform Basic Cyber Hygiene- It has 17 practices or procedures for protecting data. It includes making sure your network is private, implementing individual user accounts, and using strong passwords.
  • Level 2: Documenting Intermediate Cyber Hygiene- It requires 72 practices and processes. At this level, it’s not enough to follow rules, but you must prove that you are taking the necessary steps to implement the requirements. Two crucial processes include establishing a policy for each domain and documentation of all the practices for every domain.
  • Level 3: Managing Good Cyber Hygiene- This level requires 130 practices and the focus is entirely on the CUI. At this level, two more domains are crucial, namely situational awareness and asset management. There is a third process at this level that requires you to create a specific plan for each domain.
  • Level 4: Reviewing Proactive Cyber Hygiene- There are 156 practices at level 4, which act as a stepping stone to Level 5. It integrates more visibility and cooperation from senior management as you prepare to move to the highest level of compliance. The focus here is on enhancing security against advanced persistent threats (APTs).
  • Level 5: Optimizing Advanced Cyber Hygiene- Level 5 has 171 practices and strives to maintain the protection of CUI from level 4. It also brings in an additional requirement for procedure standardization and consistent optimization. This is the highest and strictest level and calls for regular upkeep for certification maintenance.

Becoming CMMC Compliant

The DoD relies on small businesses to work on projects and fulfill contracts. Only those businesses that meet the newly laid out CMMC standards will be at an advantage to win these contracts.

Becoming CMMC compliant may sound too technical for your business to do, but an expert can help. If you need more details or guidance on how to get the certification, Orion network Solution is here to help. Contact us today, and we will help you with your upcoming CMMC audit.

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