Who Needs CMMC Certification?

who needs cmmc certification
Who Needs CMMC Certification? You may have heard about the upcoming CMMC certification requirement. Will your organization require certification? Read More

Who Needs CMMC Certification? You may have heard about the upcoming CMMC certification requirement. Will your organization require certification?

The first question most organizations have regarding CMMC is: Who must comply with the CMMC? The short answer is all DoD contractors. But there may be more to the story, keep reading to find out. 

Any cyberattack leading to loss of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) from the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) poses a significant risk to national security.

With many companies and organizations doing business with the Department of Defense (DOD), the defense industrial database is one of the most frequent and valuable targets for malicious cyber activities. For this reason, DoD rolled out Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). At its core, CMMC is a certification standard aiming to tighten cybersecurity protocols and reduce vulnerability to possible cyberattacks.

The CMMC certification is a seal that increases the security and resiliency of the DIB. Organizations that comply with the robust CMMC requirements will have played their role in improving national security.

In this article, you will learn more about Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, who need the certifications, how to know if your organization needs to be certified, and other related information. Keep scrolling!

What is Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification?

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a program rolled out by the DoD to unify standards for implementing cybersecurity across DIB. Essentially, it protects the information and data on all DoD networks while improving overall cybersecurity.

CMMC certification comes at a time when attempts to attack DoD systems are extremely high. Besides ensuring contractors observe appropriate levels of cybersecurity controls, this initiated certification will measure the readiness, capabilities, and sophistication of contractors in the cybersecurity area. For a contractor to be awarded any federal contract, they must meet minimum standards. This will significantly guarantee information and data protection while ensuring the integrity of the supply chain.

The primary goal of CMMC is to improve and ensure the safeguarding of sensitive data, including Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and Federal Contract Information (FCI) associated with federal contractors.

The CMMC framework

Featuring five certification levels, the CMMC framework consists of a comprehensive and scalable certification element to reflect the maturity and reliability of a contractor’s cybersecurity infrastructure. The five levels are tiered and build upon technical requirements of each other. You must at least comply with lower-level requirements and institutionalize different processes to implement cybersecurity practices of a higher level.

cmmc levels

Various levels in the CMMC certification framework demonstrate a collection of best cybersecurity-based practices used by organizations. The degree of adherence showcases an organization’s commitment to improving domain in maturity models for higher performance.

From basic cyber hygiene to higher aptitude levels and advanced security operations, CMMC builds upon existing frameworks and standards to create one maturity model. Here is an overview of the processes and practices of individual levels.

Level 1: Basic Cyber Hygiene – This is foundational and minimum CMMC certification levels. It is centered around protecting FCI, government information not intended for public release. Primarily, it requires an organization to use antivirus software and sanitize or destroy media featuring FCI before disposal.

Level 2: Intermediate Cyber Hygiene – At this level, contractors are expected to establish and document information on the best cybersecurity practices and policies. During the evaluation, a contractor or company should have an approach encompassing all activities to protect any CUI.

Level 3: Good Cyber Hygiene – With level 3 certification, a company or contractor showcases the essential ability to safeguard CUI and effectively implement NIST SP 800-171 security requirements. At this level, a company is required to resource and maintain a management plan to implement specific activities to protect CUI. A contractor needs to review policies and processes while ensuring activities are sufficiently maintained.

Level 4: Proactive – This is the second-highest certification level. The level includes establishing proactive practices to enhance detection and response to evolving tactics, techniques, and procedures of advanced persistent threats (APTs). These advanced cybersecurity practices can defend CUI from long-term malicious attacks aimed to mine sensitive information.

Level 5: Advanced/ Progressive – The highest certification level. Level 5 certification entails protecting CUI from APTs through more sophisticated techniques and capabilities to detect and respond to APTs. To be certified, organizations must implement standardized and optimized processes across the organization.

Who needs CMMC Certification?

The first question most organizations have regarding CMMC is: Who must comply with the CMMC? The short answer is all DoD contractors.

CMMC applies to anyone in the defense contract supply chain. These include contractors who engage directly with the Department of Defense and subcontractors contracting with primes to fulfill and/or execute those contracts.

According to the DoD, the CMMC launched standards will affect over 300,000 organizations. Thankfully, most companies will need between level 1 to level 3 certification to be eligible for government contracts. The affected organizations include all suppliers at all tiers along the DoD supply chain, commercial items contractors, small businesses, and foreign suppliers.

Coordination between DoD and CMMC Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB) develops procedures to certify independent third-party assessment organizations (C3PAO) and assessors. These assessors evaluate companies’ CMMC levels. The exact level of certification a company needs to be awarded a federal contract will be specified in the RFP. All the same, contractors doing business with DoD must at least meet Level 1 CMMC requirements.

Organizations will get appropriate certification upon satisfying the security requirements for a specifically requested tier. All CMMC assessors are licensed through CMMC-AB; therefore, guaranteeing the finding of your cybersecurity audit remains confidential. Nevertheless, your level of certification will be available to DoD through a database.

So, how do you know if you need to be certified? If you’re a contractor working with DoD or a subcontractor executing DoD projects, you need CMMC certification.

What are some of the CMMC Best Practices?

Although CMMC will likely be fully implemented by 2026, companies and organizations should start certification efforts earliest possible. Essentially, this involves putting in place the best cybersecurity-based practices.

The rate at which a company achieves an acceptable level of cyber hygiene and ultimately comply with CMMC requirements depends on the current environment. Here are some of the CMMC best practices.

  • Determine the CMMC level you need to obtain, review cyber hygiene requirements, and start gathering CMMC tools, documents, and templates.
  • Identify the scope of the evaluation and configure the existing security environment to align with CMMC requirements.
  • Review each CMMC practice against your environment, starting with the first practice in the first domain and work way down.
  • Continually visit the DoD’s website to check any updates on CMMC as you wait for assessment by CMMC-AB certified assessor.

CMMC Readiness Assessment

Prepare today for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification with our CMMC Readiness Assessment and Gap Analysis.

Our experts will determine where your gaps are and what you need to do to remediate them. After completing a thorough gap analysis we will provide you with a documented Plan of Action so that you can develop a roadmap towards eventual CMMC certification.

Click here to learn more. 

In Conclusion

CMMC is a unified standard to safeguard information and data from all DoD systems while ensuring the supply chain’s integrity. Unlike NIST SP 800-171, which requires contractors to take solid measures towards compliance, CMMC compliance includes assessments that assign a company maturity level. It is a no-brainer that CMMC is more than NIST SP 800-171 and will ensure all DoD contractors protect CUI as required. Prepare today with the Readiness Assessment from Cybriant. 


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