Jumpstart Your Compliance With CMMC: Are You CMMC Ready?

Is my organization ready for CMMC? What steps do my team need to take? What is part of getting IT-ready?

These are common questions that have been rolled out. It is not a surprise that these are all top concerns of businesses and organizations that handle sensitive information. With an ever-growing cybersecurity threat risk that continues to impact businesses and organizations across all industries, the Department of Defense (DoD) took a major step forward in creating the CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification); the CMMC version 1.0 was released on January 31, 2020.

What is CMMC?

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, also known as CMMC, is a standard of cybersecurity compliance developed by the Department of Defense, bringing together other older compliance processes (DFARS 252.204 -7012 and NIST 800-171) to create a comprehensive certification and compliance process for DoD contractors. CMMC’s purpose is to certify that DoD contractors have the proper controls in place to protect confidential information.

  • Businesses that lack compliance are at a greater risk of losing government contracts clients
  • CMMC was released in January 2020 and went into effect in September 2020
  • Compliance with CMMC is separated into five levels
  • All government contractors will need to be CMMC compliant by 2026

What is CMMC Compliance?

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification expounds upon the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations (DFARS). The DFARS has different levels and technical requirements. One of the main goals of the CMMC is to protect what is called Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). What is CUI? The definition of CUI, as defined by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency is ”government created or owned information that requires safeguarding or dissemination controls consistent with applicable laws, regulations, and government-wide policies”.

Eventually, every DoD contractor will be required to obtain a certification from organizations and assessors who will evaluate the contractor and determine which level of certification the contractor meets. What are the 5 certification levels?

  • Basic (Level 1). Focuses on the protection of federal contract information through basic security practices
  • Intermediate (Level 2). Documentation of procedures and policies for compliance is critical
  • Good (Level 3).  Requires contractors to meet any remaining NIST SP 800-171 requirements and regularly review policies and procedures
  • Proactive (Level 4). Introduces enhanced cybersecurity protection measures against advanced persistent threats
  • Advanced / Progressive(Level 5). Businesses and organizations at Level 5 are expected to manage Advanced Persistent Threats in a regulated and advanced optimization of cybersecurity capabilities

Who Is Affected by the CMMC?

Contractors or vendors who are doing business with the DoD will be affected by CMMC. Unlike past compliance certifications, businesses and organizations can be financially impacted by the CMMC. One of the main problems that impacts IT is the feeling of being overwhelmed. Unfortunately, many users experience a constant backlog of projects and support that is lacking or slow. When we add CMMC to the circle, improvements to IT are not going to be made unless businesses and organizations are standing on a solid foundation.

How Can You Achieve CMMC Compliance?

Step 1: Establish Standards

If you build IT around standards that have been adequately defined and accepted, you will find that these standards are better prepared for CMMC. If you want to establish a secure IT environment, you will need to have the proper standards.

  • Perform an assessment
  • Create a project plan

Step 2: Establish Operational Maturity

If you want to build the solid IT foundation that is needed for CMMC compliance, your business or organization is going to need IT operational maturity.  Your organization will need to establish change management processes, throughout define user support roles, and ensure support knowledge is well-documented.

Step 3: Establish Cybersecurity Measures

Cybersecurity should always be a major concern of any organization, especially given the nation’s current state as it relates to cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a vital component to achieving CMMC compliance.

  • Improve cybersecurity practices in preparation for each audit

Step 4: Implementation 

Many IT departments create the proper measures and have a solid plan in place, but there are typically hiccups with the implementation process. IT departments cannot start a process and fail to carry it out. More organizations are swimming in IT troubles because no one is executing the projects.

  • Complete the project plan
  • Provide employees with training

How Can You Prepare for a CMMC Certification?

Determine What CMMC Level You Need

As you prepare to become CMMC compliant, the first step you will need to take is determining what level of certification you are required to obtain based on the DoD specifications.

Perform an Assessment on your Infrastructure

By performing an assessment on your security infrastructure, you will be able to determine what security measures you need to align with the CMMC compliance requirements.

Develop a Plan of Action

Your business or organization will need a solid and comprehensive plan that can be used to prepare everyone for any future CMMC audits. The plan will also ensure your current infrastructure meets or exceeds the requirements established by the CMMC.

Prepare for Audits

Once you have taken the prior steps, your business or organization should perform an internal audit to determine whether the goals are being met and if the desired CMMC compliance level can be achieved.

Many contractors find themselves in uncomfortable positions when it comes to fulfilling specific requirements and regulations. To comply with the new CMMC, businesses and organizations will need to have the proper controls in place to protect confidential and sensitive information against current and future threats.

While the CMMC model is still fairly new, businesses and organizations need to ensure their procedures and protocols are aligned with the CMMC requirements. Starting your CMMC compliance journey today will place you in a better position to be protected against the rising cybersecurity risks. Ensuring your business or organization is CMMC compliant will also place you in a better position to keep your business afloat if it ever falls victim to a cyberattack.

Orion Networks provides IT services and IT consulting for organizations throughout the Washington DC metro area. Contact us today for more information on how you can achieve CMMC certification without stretching yourself too thin.