The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification updates the Defense Federal Acquisitions Regulation System (DFARS), the previous cybersecurity self-assessment process implemented by the Department of Defense (DoD). Under DFARS, businesses contracted with the DoD were responsible for self-reporting their own compliance. The new CMMC process now requires an external audit, and any failure to pass the audit effectively revokes your ability to work with the DoD or bid on any future contracts. We’ve put together this quick guide to help companies learn more about CMMC compliance frameworks and timelines and improve their understanding of how to prepare for an audit.
What Is CMMC Compliance?
Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification is relatively new to DoD contractors and any subcontractors of vendors who work with them. It is an updated process for certifying companies that work with federal contract information (FCI) and controlled unclassified information (CUI). CMMC compliance consists of five distinct security levels, from basic to advanced, that assess and certify the cybersecurity hygiene of a given business. All companies that contract with the DoD and handle classified materials must be CMMC compliant by 2025.Since this requirement is new and marks a considerable shift from the previous self-reporting DFARS program, many businesses may be at risk of non-compliance and failing a CMMC audit. The DoD introduced the new certification because too many of its defense contractors did not meet the conditions for compliance under DFARS. The amended Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification process compels defense contractors to undergo a mandatory third-party audit to keep their positive standing with the DoD.
Does Your Organization Need CMMC Certification?
If your company contracts with the DoD and deals with FCI or CUI, the (NIST) 800-171 establishes a set of controls your company must implement. These regulations were outlined originally in DFARS and are routinely updated. If you have a history of working with FCI or CUI, then you’re likely already prepared to meet a low CMMC level of certification. There are five clearance levels of Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. Certification levels 1 through 3 are essentially the same guidelines established in the former DFARS program. Large companies that routinely deal with CUI should expect to upgrade their security. The DoD will ascribe a CMMC level to your organization based on the volume and type of information it handles. The DoD does not assign audits to companies. Business owners subject to CMMC requirements must seek out a third-party auditor to attain certification on their own.
What Does A CMMC Audit Entail?
The CMMC process has only recently been developed and is subject to change. The CMMC accreditation consists of volunteers who conduct the independent audits on behalf of the DoD. While CMMC audits have already started, sourcing an approved auditor can take time. It’s, therefore, crucial to engage the audit process as soon as possible. The five different CMMC clearance levels indicate which level of security you must achieve to remain compliant. The size of your business, how much CUI or FCU you handle, and the nature of your contracted duties determines which Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification you need. Levels 1 through 3 are considered low to intermediate clearance levels, with fewer requirements than those defined in NIST SP 800-171. Third-level clearance is equal to NIST SP 800-171, while Levels 4 and 5 require the implementation of more controls.
How To Pass Your CMMC Audit
While the DoD authorizes specific Registered Provider Organizations (RPOs) to provide consulting and support to defense contractors, you want to ensure you partner with an RPO that’s trained expressly in CMMC methodologies and audit procedures. Preparation and training resources help you pass the audit and speed the entire process along. Next, you should determine which CMMC certificate your company requires. If you operate a small business that does not deal with CUI, you may not require as much preparation as larger organizations that handle sensitive DoD materials regularly. Defense contractors who aren’t exposed to CUI generally fall under clearance Levels 1 and 2. Certification Levels 3 and 4 apply to businesses that handle CUI. Level 5 is the highest certification level, reserved for DoD contractors who require advanced cybersecurity to thwart sophisticated attacks and persistent threats.
Achieving A Successful Assessment
Wondering how prepared you are to pass the new CMMC audit and maintain your DoD contractor status? PCH Technologies can provide you with an easy-to-understand, comprehensive cyber risk assessment to ensure you’re on the right path. Contact PCH Technologies today at 844-754-7500 or feel out our contact form online to schedule your free discovery call.