For businesses seeking to secure contracts with the Department of Defense (DoD), understanding and achieving compliance with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is crucial. CMMC provides a framework for implementing and enhancing cybersecurity practices, offering a standardized approach to safeguarding sensitive data. In this blog post, we will demystify CMMC, explore its key components, and guide you towards achieving compliance. Thus enhancing your ability to compete for DoD contracts.
- 1 What Is CMMC Compliance?
- 2 What Are The Five Levels of CMMC?
- 3 Why Is CMMC Compliance Important?
- 4 Difference Between NIST 800 171 And CMMC Compliance
- 5 How To Achieve CMMC Compliance?
- 6 What Is The Cost Of CMMC Compliance?
- 7 Conclusion
What Is CMMC Compliance?
Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) compliance refers to the adherence to a set of cybersecurity standards that companies must meet if they want to bid on Department of Defense (DoD) contracts. The CMMC framework was designed to safeguard sensitive data. That includes Federal Contract Information (FCI) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), against cybersecurity threats.
CMMC is built upon existing regulations such as the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). And the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) guidelines. But adds a certification element to verify compliance. This model comprises five levels of cybersecurity maturity, each with its own set of required practices and processes.
What Are The Five Levels of CMMC?
The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) encompasses five levels of cybersecurity maturity. Each level corresponds to an increasing degree of sophistication and effectiveness in a company’s cybersecurity practices and processes. The levels include:
Level 1 – Basic Cyber Hygiene
At this level, a company must implement 17 controls from the NIST SP 800-171 Rev1 to safeguard Federal Contract Information (FCI). The practices at this stage are basic and serve to protect against common cyber threats.
Level 2 – Intermediate Cyber Hygiene
This level serves as a transition from safeguarding FCI to protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). It introduces an additional 48 practices and involves the implementation of select controls from NIST SP 800-171 Rev1.
Level 3 – Good Cyber Hygiene
This level requires a company to establish, maintain, and resource a plan that demonstrates the management of activities for practice implementation. At this stage, all 110 controls from NIST SP 800-171 Rev1 must be implemented. Plus 20 additional practices, to adequately protect CUI.
Level 4 – Proactive
The practices at this level are proactive and aim to protect CUI from advanced persistent threats (APTs). Companies at this level must demonstrate a substantial and proactive cybersecurity program and implement an additional 26 practices.
Level 5 – Advanced/Progressive
At this highest level, a company is required to standardize and optimize its cybersecurity practices across the organization. It includes an additional 15 practices for a total of 171. At this stage, a company’s cybersecurity program is highly advanced and can protect CUI from sophisticated threats.
Each CMMC level also has an increasing number of processes that must be in place. These processes range from performing tasks to managing them, reviewing them, and continuously optimizing them.
Why Is CMMC Compliance Important?
CMMC compliance is important for several reasons:
- Securing Defense Information: At its core, CMMC is designed to protect sensitive Department of Defense (DoD) information stored on contractors’ systems. By implementing the cybersecurity practices defined in the CMMC, contractors can better safeguard this data against cyber threats.
- Maintaining National Security: The information protected by CMMC, such as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), plays a crucial role in national security. Ensuring that such information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands helps maintain the security and interests of the nation.
- Business Requirement: For companies that wish to do business with the DoD, CMMC compliance isn’t just important—it’s mandatory. Only companies that meet the relevant level of CMMC can bid on DoD contracts. Therefore, achieving and maintaining CMMC compliance is a business necessity for DoD contractors.
- Demonstrating Cybersecurity Commitment: Achieving CMMC compliance shows that a company takes cybersecurity seriously and has implemented the necessary controls and practices. This can boost reputation and trust with not just the DoD, but other partners and customers as well.
- Guarding Against Cyber Threats: The practices and processes required for CMMC compliance can also help companies better defend against general cyber threats, not just those related to DoD information. This can enhance a company’s overall cybersecurity posture and resilience.