Advancements in technology have brought many risks to companies and organizations. Owing to the unending cyber threats to companies across the globe, the United States government is now stricter when it comes to data protection. Any company that wants to conduct business with the Department of Defense (DoD) now has to comply with the CMMC security standards.
What Is The CMMC?
The CMMC stands for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. This is an initiative by the DoD to assess the capabilities of their defense contractors in handling cybersecurity threats. CMMC can be seen as a combination of processes, frameworks, and inputs from the cybersecurity standards used by the DoD.
The CMMC is mainly designed to improve the security of Federal Contract Information (FCI) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) when federal contractors use it.
Categories Under The CMMC
The CMMC is categorized into five maturity levels based on increasing complexity and sophistication. The maturity levels contain 171 tasks that must be accomplished for certification. These are known as practices.
These CMMC practices are distributed across 17 domains with 43 different capabilities, including security assessment, risk management, awareness and training, control remote system access, and control communications at system boundaries. For clarity on these, you may consult a registered provider organization.
How To Be CMMC Compliant
To be certified, a company has to show compliance with the level they require. Compliance is demonstrated by showing adherence to the range of practices and processes discussed earlier. There are about 171 practices spread across the five CMMC maturity levels.
Processes are used to measure the maturity of an organization’s cybersecurity procedures. There are nine processes mapped across the five CMMC maturity levels.
The DoD will typically specify which level of compliance is required for a particular contract. In some cases, the prime contractor may need a particular certification level, while a subcontractor may require a different one.
Which Maturity Level Do You Need?
The CMMC maturity level depends on the sensitivity of the DoD information a company will handle.
If you require little access to UCI, then Level 1 will do just fine. The level of CMMC you must reach depends on the amount of information you’ll need to complete your contractual obligation with the DoD. The minimum CMMC maturity level required for a particular contract will usually be stated in the DoD’s Request For Proposal.
To help you understand the five CMMC levels, here’s a summary:
Level 1: Basic Cyber Hygiene/Performed
Level 1 encompasses the most basic data safeguarding procedures like having individual user accounts, ensuring you have strong passwords, and having secure private networks.
Level 2: Intermediate Cyber Hygiene/Documented
Level 2 has 72 practices and will require that you go through certain processes before certification. It moves beyond basic protection to a more specific CUI protection. Level 2 is a bridge between the basic Level 1 and the more complex Level 3. In Level 2, you have to demonstrate that cybersecurity rules are embedded into your business’s operations.
Level 3: Good Cyber Hygiene/Managed
Level 3 has 130 practices and is centered mostly on CUI protection. It requires companies to have a specific plan for each domain. The plan must include objectives and timelines for execution. The senior management of the company must also be involved in the planning.
Level 4: Proactive Cyber Hygiene/Reviewed
Level 4 has 156 practices and is considered a bridge between Level 3 and Level 5. It’s focused mainly on demonstrating that there’s a plan for mitigating persistent threats. Companies will always need to review their plans and see if there are any possible loopholes.
Level 5: Advanced Cyber Hygiene/Optimizing
Level 5 incorporates all 171 practices and is the strictest level requiring constant updating and optimization. Companies seeking Level 5 certification have to show vigilance and preparedness to face any possible cyber threat.
Who Needs To Comply With The CMMC?
Any company that deals with the DoD must be compliant with at least one of the five CMMC levels. This also applies to subcontracted companies and any other company in the DoD supply chain.
Where Do You Get The CMMC Certification?
The CMMC is overseen by the CMMC Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB). This body will accredit independent assessors, who will evaluate a company’s compliance over the next couple of years.
If you want to do business with the DoD, it may be in your best interests to get your operations in order so that your systems are compliant with the requirements for your chosen CMMC maturity level. If you’re new to this, you may need to get a professional to give you the best advice on how to prepare.