What is CMMC?

Protecting sensitive information is a top priority for the defense industrial base (DIB) - a group of contractors and subcontractors that provide services to the Department of Defense (DoD). Federal contract information (FCI) and controlled unclassified information (CUI) are among the types of information that require protection from unauthorized access or misuse. To meet this need, the DoD has introduced a new framework called the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) to ensure the DIB's security and resilience.

What is CMMC and why is it important?

The CMMC framework is designed to establish cybersecurity standards and best practices for the Defense Industrial Base (DIB). Its goal is to enhance protection of Federal Contract Information (FCI) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) across the supply chain, ensuring that contractors have the necessary cybersecurity capabilities to fulfill their contracts. Additionally, CMMC introduces a third-party audit and certification process to verify contractors' compliance with CMMC requirements.

CMMC is crucial because it allows the DoD and DIB to address evolving cyber threats that pose significant risks to national security. By implementing CMMC, these organizations can improve their cybersecurity posture, reduce vulnerabilities, and increase trust and confidence in their operations. Furthermore, CMMC provides contractors with a clear and consistent framework to understand and meet their cybersecurity obligations.

How does CMMC work?

CMMC consists of three progressive levels of cybersecurity maturity:

  1. Level 1 (Basic)
  2. Level 2 (Advanced),
  3. Level 3 (Expert)

To meet the specific contract requirements, contractors are obligated to strictly adhere to the practices and processes specified for that particular level. The level itself is determined based on the type and sensitivity of information involved. For instance, contracts that only involve FCI require Level 1, whereas contracts that involve CUI demand Level 2 or Level 3.

CMMC Infographic V2

To obtain a CMMC certification, contractors must undergo an assessment by an independent CMMC third-party assessor organization (C3PAO) accredited by the Cyber AB (formerly CMMC Accreditation Body). The C3PAO will evaluate the contractor’s technical security controls, documentation, policies, and processes against the CMMC criteria for the target level. The C3PAO will then issue a certification that validates the contractor’s compliance with the CMMC requirements.

What are some key aspects of CMMC?

To achieve CMMC certification, contractors must embark on a continuous journey of improvement and adaptation. Throughout the contract duration, contractors must maintain their certification and renew it periodically, depending on their level. Additionally, contractors must diligently monitor their cybersecurity performance and promptly report any incidents or breaches to the DoD.any incidents or breaches to the DoD.

What can your business do to prepare for CMMC?

In order for a contractor to achieve CMMC certification, they must have a strong and defensible cybersecurity program in place. This includes implementing controls and processes, as well as proper documentation. To focus on key areas, contractors must:

  • Protect data: Ensure that appropriate measures are taken to safeguard FCI and CUI from unauthorized access, disclosure, or misuse. This includes encrypting data at rest and in transit, implementing access control policies, using secure devices and networks, and applying security patches and updates.
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity: Have plans and procedures in place to restore operations in case of a disruption or disaster caused by natural or man-made events. This includes regularly backing up data, having alternative sites or systems, testing recovery capabilities, and training staff on emergency response.
  • Cybersecurity response plan: Have a plan in place to respond to cybersecurity incidents or breaches that affect their systems or data. This includes identifying roles and responsibilities, establishing communication channels, reporting incidents to relevant authorities, containing and analyzing threats, mitigating impacts, and learning from lessons.

Preparing for CMMC can be made easier with the help of a trusted, experienced, and qualified outsourced cybersecurity solutions provider. That's where iCorps comes in. We specialize in helping small to medium-sized government contractors prepare for CMMC certification by assessing your business's cybersecurity and IT posture and then implementing processes and controls to enhance your compliance with the CMMC framework that's right for your business.

Implementing a cohesive and effective cybersecurity program takes time, and is a key to CMMC success. Take the first step and request a consultation to start your CMMC journey today.