This article explains necessary facts about the CMMC certification that can help contractors in the defense supply chain to maintain their contracts with the Department of Defense (DoD).

Organizations in the defense supply chain which work in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense need the CMMC certification. They need it to either bid on contracts or maintain their existing contracts with the department. Clearly, the CMMC is a necessity for all companies present in the defense supply chain, which is estimated to be around 300,000 companies. The certification model provides a uniform framework for the defense contractors to implement cybersecurity practices to protect their sensitive information and IT devices.

The CMMC certification is quite a complex requirement as it has five maturity levels. A contractor is eligible for a particular CMMC level depending on its cybersecurity hygiene meaning they need to determine the level based on their IT systems, sensitive information stored or transferred by those systems, and the potential risks possessed by the systems. To determine the required CMMC level, most contractors need an authorized third-party assessment agency that can determine their CMMC level and compliance level with its mandatory requirements.

Here are some points that DoD contractors should consider to achieve compliance confidently.

CMMC Certification Facts that DoD Contractor Should Know

CMMC Requirements

Every DoD contractor needs to learn in detail the technical requirements of the CMMC model. They need to learn them not just to prepare for the certification but also to maintain their agility to its particular cybersecurity requirements in the long run. When they know well the requirements, they can anticipate the process of the CMMC assessments and what will be checked in those assessments. If the contractors can understand the gaps in their cybersecurity practices and what new practices or procedures are required to meet the CMMC requirements, they can progress quickly through the certification process and more easily maintain its compliance in the long run.

5 Maturity Levels of CMMC

The CMMC certification model consists of 5 maturity levels, starting from basic cyber hygiene requirements (at level 1) and ending at advanced cyber hygiene requirements (at level 5). Each of the CMMC levels hence reflects the maturity of the cybersecurity infrastructure that is required to protect the confined information of a contractor. Naturally, it means that at each level, the requirements are added to include specific practices for cybersecurity. A higher level implies more complex and additional requirements which help to protect highly critical federal information.

A brief outline of the five CMMC levels:

1. Level 1: Basic practices like the implementation of firewall, antivirus software and user authentication that is useful for safeguarding FCI (Federal Contract Information).FCI is not meant for public release and hence, are confidential.

2. Level 2: It requires documentation and implementation of intermediate cybersecurity practices that help to protect CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information).CUI includes the highly confidential information related to law, regulations, or governmental policies.

3. Level 3: It includes implementation of good cyber hygiene procedures and practices for the protection of CUI as well as some additional security requirements.

4. Level 4: It includes advanced techniques and practices to identify and prevent APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats). Along with that, the contractor achieving this level needs to improve the effectiveness of their existing practices.

5. Level 5: To achieve this level, a company must need some optimized practices along with more advanced and sophisticated practices that can detect a wide range of APTs.

CMMC Preparation Steps

Early preparation can help a DoD contractor to conduct an efficient assessment with the help of a third-party assessor and get constructive outcomes. They can achieve the certification quite smoothly and quickly.

Two necessary steps that mark the preparation for the certification are:

Documenting the existing practices or procedures that already comply with the basic requirements of the CMMC framework

Determine the highest certification level of CMMC that is achievable and implement additional practices to achieve compliance

Key Takeaway

The CMMC certification is now a minimum requirement of the organizations to become eligible for a contract with the DoD. However, this never means that an organization, after achieving a certification level and acquiring a contract, can consider their cybersecurity responsibility as complete. The DoD made sure that the certification is just the start for the contractors to build a strong cybersecurity culture. They need to continually assess their cybersecurity practices and improve them in order to ensure they maintain their certification compliance in the future.

Author's Bio: 

Damon Anderson is the owner of a reputed quality assurance certification agency that works with a team of professional consultants to help organizations prepare for various critical certifications including ISO certifications and the CMMC certification. He is a blog writer in his free time and likes to impart his knowledge and experience on certifications to enterprises through his blogs.


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