Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification is the latest data security standard established by the OUSA(A&S). The primary goal for creating CMMC is to guarantee that all DoD prime contractors and subcontractors are adequately prepared to safeguard the controlled unclassified and federal contract information they handle.
The CMMC model is based on various data security control standards like ISO 27032, IS 27001, NIST 800-171, and 800-53. While this model is a combination of multiple other frameworks, one requirement sets it apart from the others. And that is the third-party assessment for compliance. To achieve CMMC for DoD contractors, they must undergo third-party evaluation.
Why Should DoD Contractors Become CMMC Compliant?
In the recent past, cyber threat incidents against federal agencies have seen an uptick. Since most DoD contractors are small or mid-sized businesses, they lack cybersecurity, making them more prone to cyberattacks. Thus, to safeguard the federal data processes and handle outside federal systems, the CMMC requirement has been made compulsory for any business directly or indirectly working within the Defense Industry Base.
Now, contractors are required to produce CMMC compliance certification when asking for requests for information (RFIs) and requests for proposals (RFPs) for new contracts.
So, if you have taken adequate measures to be CMMC certified, you will have a competitive advantage over other contractors. You will have a better chance of winning the bid and government contract. Besides this, if you are not CMMC compliant, you may lose your existing government contract, and the DoD may bar you from bidding on new contracts.
But that is not all. CMMC-certified contractors enjoy other advantages like:
Reduced risk of insider threats and data leaks.
Low risk of cyberattack and data breaches.
Establish as a trusted contractor.
CMMC model is a multi-layered framework having three levels in total. Each level has different practices and control measures. The assessment team will determine your organization’s cybersecurity maturity level based on the cybersecurity protocols and standards you have adopted in your organization. Then, the DoD will allocate the certification level you need to fulfill. To become compliant, you must satisfy all the requirements and undergo third-party assessment.
What is CMMC Audit and How to Prepare for it?
Once you have fulfilled all the certification requirements, you will have to undergo and pass a CMMC compliance audit. According to the CMMC Accreditation Body, contractors seeking compliance certificate should prepare for it in advance. The auditor will thoroughly inspect the contractor’s IT systems and data center to ensure all the cybersecurity controls needed for a specific level are in place. The auditor will only grant the contractor a maturity level certificate of compliance if they fulfill all the set requirements. Besides this, the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) and the Defense Contract Management Agency may conduct the assessments.
Tips to Pass Your CMMC Audit
Since CMMC DFARS models have many control measures and requirements, one should start preparing for them as early as possible. Make sure your systems and cybersecurity framework are robust and working.
You can conduct a self-assessment to evaluate your organization’s cybersecurity maturity level if you have a dedicated IT staff. You can refer to the Self-Assessment Handbook – NIST Handbook 162 for a step-by-step guide on self-assessment.