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What Is Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), and Why Does It Matter?

What Is Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), and Why Does It Matter?

Cybersecurity threat risks continue to escalate, impacting every economic sector, and the Department of Defense (DoD) has recently taken steps to create a Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). This compliance level system aids government bodies, specifically the DoD, in identifying whether or not defense contractors are secure enough to handle controlled and highly confidential data. Effective November 2020, the DoD established the CMMC framework and guidelines in an Interim Rule, mandating that most primary defense contracts and all vendors and subcontractors named therein must be certified by an accredited third-party assessor. Before partnering with the DoD, defense contractors must meet one of five cybersecurity maturity levels. Let’s put CMMC compliance and best practices into complete scope, determine who needs the certification, and if something your company should start focusing on now.

CMMC Compliance Explained

The US Department of Defense introduced the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification to bolster the protection of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) that circulates throughout the vast DoD supply chain. According to the Department of Defense, CUI describes any information created or possessed by a government body or affiliate agency handling secure data on the government’s behalf. Data and information assume a broad context, in this case, defined by anything from government accounting and finance materials to national infrastructure and intelligence information. The fundamental intent of CMMC compliance is to determine the maturity of a given organization’s cybersecurity initiatives. The certification warrants that a company or agency is, foremost, capable of maintaining its own internal security while helping to ensure its protections are fully optimized. CMMC compliance assesses how proactive defense contractors are in detecting cybersecurity threats while installing adequate protection measures for common cyberattacks.

Does Your business Need Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification?

Almost every organization dealing with DoD information must be CMMC certified. The clearance levels are determined by the classified nature of the information handled. If, for instance, your business operates exclusively with non-classified information, then you’ll likely need certification of Level 3 or lower. Companies handling highly secure data require, in nearly every case, a CMMC clearance Level 4 or above. Since DoD clearance requirements are determined by a project’s classification level, they often fluctuate.

Does Your business Need Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification?

What Are The 5 CMMC Levels?

Level 1 – Most companies do not have to do much to achieve the first CMMC certification level. As long as you adhere to basic security protections and best practices and maintain good password hygiene and antivirus software, achieving first-level clearance should be manageable. Companies must be able to implement at least 17 controls established in NIST 800-171 rev1.

Level 2 – For Level 2 certification, companies must demonstrate a “low-intermediate” degree of cyber hygiene. To pass a Level 2 CMMC DoD audit, the organization has to be capable of implementing 48 controls as established in NIST 800-171 rev1, including seven more controls defined as “Other.”

Level 3 – To attain a Level 3 certification, an organization has to implement the remaining 45 controls of NIST 800-171 rev1 to include 13 new controls categorized as “Other.”

Level 4 – The fourth CMMC level certifies that the DoD contractor takes a “Proactive” approach to cybersecurity. The company must implement all controls mandated in levels 1 through 3, plus 11 new controls outlined in NIST 800-171 Rev2, and 15 more “Other” controls.

Level 5 – The highest level of CMMC security, Level 5 commands organizations to display “Advanced and Progressive” practices in cybersecurity. Defense contractors must prove they can implement all controls in levels 1-4 and the last four controls outlined in NIST 800-171 Rev2, plus 11 “Other” to hit the Level 5 mark.

The above controls and practices break down across the following 17 capability domains:

  • Access Control (AC)
  • Incident Response (IR)
  • Risk Management (RM)
  • Asset Management (AM)
  • Maintenance (MA)
  • Security Assessment (CA)
  • Awareness and Training (AT)
  • Media Protection (MP)
  • Situational Awareness (SA)
  • Audit and Accountability (AU)
  • Personnel Security (PS)
  • System and Communications Protection (SC)
  • Configuration Management (CM)
  • Physical Protection (PE)
  • System and Information Integrity (SI)
  • Identification and Authentication (IA)
  • Recovery (RE)

Are You Preparing To Work With The DoD?

PCH Technologies has over two decades of expertise in implementing the latest security technologies, including artificial intelligence, to help ensure that your company is CMMC compliant. If you’re wondering how prepared you are for a DoD CMMC audit, our team of skilled technicians can provide a comprehensive risk assessment to identify where your organization currently stands. With decades of experience resolving the most complex IT and cybersecurity-related problems, PCH Technologies can provide you with the necessary guidance to achieve the highest Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. To learn more about CMMC compliance guidelines and connect with top talent in the cybersecurity industry, call 844-754-7500 to book your discovery call today.