The timeframe for small businesses to get ready for Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) has started to narrow. With a brief window now available, because of the limited number of CMMC Third-Party Assessment Organizations (C3PAOs), it makes sense for your company to take steps to better prepare for CMMC Readiness. Being in compliance with CMMC will enable your business to win Department of Defense (DOD) and other federal contracts and help you work effectively on them.
What Is CMMC?
Through its comprehensive design using NIST and other security frameworks, the CMMC represents a unified cybersecurity standard that all current and potential companies working with the DoD will have to meet. It is also important to note that other federal agencies are starting to consider requiring CMMC compliance on their contracts. This recent development makes being in compliance with CMMC even more important.
The CMMC is specifically targeted to safeguard the controlled unclassified information (CUI) and federal contract information (FCI) located on the unclassified networks of any companies or subcontractors working with the DoD.
The CMMC has organized cybersecurity practices and processes into five cumulative maturity levels that range from a minimum basic cyber hygiene at Level 1 to advanced security operations at Level 5. DoD contracts with more vulnerabilities will require that their contractors possess a higher level of CMMC certification.
Three Ways To Prepare For CMMC Compliance
Because of its importance in securing federal contracts and its complexity, we recommend that you work with an experienced compliance partner, like Network Depot, to prepare your organization for CMMC compliance. There are three main ways to get your organization ready to become CMMC-compliant that are discussed below.
Identify Your Relevant Data Types And Evaluate Your Handling Methods
CMMC’s main focus is to mandate the protection of CUI and FCI on non-government networks. As a result, in order to best prepare for CMMC compliance, your company should take the time to identify the data types that you work with that fall in this category and evaluate the methods you use to handle them. Some relevant data type examples include personally identifiable information (PII) such as health documents and financial records, proprietary business material, information related to legal proceedings, technical drawings, tax-related information, software code and programs, and research and engineering data.
It is important for your company to work closely with your security compliance partner to identify all the types of data that falls into this CUI/FCI category; in short, a variety of data types that are considered sensitive or confidential but not classified. These are the areas where your company will have to comply with CMMC in order to work on DoD and some other federal contracts.
Perform A CMMC Current State Assessment
In order to give your business the best opportunity to pass an official CMMC audit from a C3PAO, you will need to work closely with your security compliance expert to conduct a CMMC current state assessment.
This well-coordinated effort will enable your company to see where it currently is in relation to where it needs to go to pass an official CMMC audit.
Your compliance partner will perform a gap analysis of your company’s network and security tools, processes, and procedures to identify the areas that need improvement.
Some areas that the current state assessment will focus on include:
- Data records storage
- Data backups and disaster recovery plans
- Number of employees that have access to CUI and other sensitive information
- Implementation and maintenance of security controls and measures with attention to NIST 800-171
- Emergency and incident response planning
- Cyber hygiene training of employees, managers, and information systems administrators
- Remote worker security procedures
- Cybersecurity tools and firewalls
After performing this assessment, your trusted compliance partner will prepare a report explaining the results of the gap analysis, which will identify the areas that will require remediation. The gap analysis will identify risks, give an idea of the costs of remediation activities, and determine the prioritization of the steps necessary to achieve CMMC compliance. In addition, your partner will be able to help you implement the actions necessary to remediate your security gaps and resolve other issues.
Prepare Your Organization And Partners For CMMC Compliance
One area rarely discussed about preparation for CMMC compliance, is the importance of communicating the value of CMMC compliance to your own organization and partners as well as the need to keep them well-informed of your progress in achieving this goal. Your company leadership should make it a top priority to inform all members of your organization (not just IT staff) about the benefits of CMMC compliance and ask for their help in achieving a successful CMMC audit.
In addition, as your organization becomes more comfortable with identifying and evaluating your data handling and starts taking steps for a useful self-assessment, you should make a point of communicating your efforts to subcontractors and other partners–especially those who may be working on DoD contracts with you in the future. Any insight and encouragement you can give about the CMMC compliance process will be helpful to these companies and mutually beneficial for winning DoD contracts and working effectively on them.
Network Depot Will Be Your Trusted Security Compliance Partner
Network Depot is a registered provider organization (RPO) recognized by the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB). As an RPO, Network Depot is authorized to provide valuable advice, consulting, and recommendations to clients who are looking to achieve CMMC certification.
We recommend that you work closely with Network Depot, an expert in IT security and compliance requirements, in order to successfully navigate this complicated process and prepare your company to meet all cybersecurity challenges.
Network Depot can evaluate your current IT security environment, recommend remediation steps, and effectively implement measures to help prepare you for a mandatory CMMC assessment. With the assistance of Network Depot, you will get valuable support meeting the requirements for CMMC certification, which will enable your organization to work effectively and securely on contracts from the DoD and other federal agencies.