Can Your Business Meet The Looming DoD Cybersecurity Certification Deadline?
The new DoD cybersecurity mandate has supply chain outfits facing a deadline. Businesses must earn certification quickly or lose profit-driving contracts.
The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced it has enhanced cybersecurity expectations for contractors going forward. The five-tier Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) initiative requires all companies in the DoD supply chain to meet the standards by mid-year. Small and mid-sized organizations failing to demonstrate tier-appropriate cybersecurity under the new model will be excluded from some of the defense sector’s most lucrative work.
“With 70 percent to 80 percent of our data living on my contractors’ networks, I don’t have a choice but to worry about how they’re doing it,” DoD acquisitions official Katie Arrington reportedly said. “Companies that say, ‘I’ll never get certified, I don’t want to, this is too high of a bar to reach to work with the Department of Defense. It’s already cumbersome enough to work there.’ Here’s my thing: I love ya, but good riddance.”
The big question decision-makers need to ask: Is your supply chain operation prepared to earn DoD cybersecurity certification, or will you get left behind?
How Does the New Cybersecurity Mandate Work?
The CMMC replaces many of the previous methods, protocols, best practices, and creates a cybersecurity system to deter incursions from hackers and rival nation-states. Although many small and mid-sized outfits find the ongoing upgrades costly and time-consuming, the DoD has made it clear that ongoing improvements are part of the cost of doing business.
That being said, the recently announced CMMC requires increasingly stringent certification requirements, with Level 5 being the lowest and Level 1 being the most proactive. Small and mid-sized supply chain operations with only modest DoD data in hand may only need to demonstrate “Basic Cyber Hygiene.” Outsourcing to a cybersecurity expert to tidy up your defenses could fast-track your business to demonstrate third-party compliance. It’s important to keep in mind that not only do businesses need to meet the requirements, but an independent inspection must also be conducted for certification.
An outfit that houses sensitive DoD information will likely need to adhere to Level 4 and 5 guidelines. Meeting these new standards before the June 2020 deadline passes could be something of a challenge. One of the looming hurdles for companies that are expected to reach level 4 and 5 compliance is establishing and maintaining a Security Operations Center (SOC). Level 4 compliance calls for a designated SOC during work hours. Level 5 businesses are expected to run an SOC 24-7. The CMMC is loaded with a varying degree of cyberdefense nuances that good take small and mid-sized companies by surprise.
How to Stay in the DoD Supply Chain
Entrepreneurs and CEOs who rely on DoD work to drive profits are urged to take proactive CMMC measures. The mandated upgrades do not apply to some organizations. They apply to everyone. That means all of your colleagues and competitors face a time crunch to not only meet their tier requirements but also schedule a reputable third-party certification and pass before the deadline.
What this means for small and mid-sized DoD supply chain businesses is that you could get caught in a log-jam and lose substantial revenue. These are strategies that could get you on track to earn timely certifications.
- Staff Augmentation: If you already have an in-house IT team in place, pulling in a third-party specialist can seamlessly solve the problem. Cybersecurity experts keep a laser focus on such mandates, and that means you won’t have to spend time educating your in-house staff and then implementing the CMMC.
- Outsourcing: Small and mid-sized outfits enjoy significant benefits by working with a third-party managed IT and contractor that specializes in cybersecurity. This solution tends to be budget-friendly and resolves the never-ending upgrades government agencies expect.
- Cybersecurity Oversight: Businesses that are pleased with in-house IT management may want to consider farming out the cybersecurity piece. Burdensome aspects of the CMMC, such as the SOC mandate and others, points to escalating in-house costs and hiring more employees.
The federal government has made it crystal clear that there will be zero latitude or exceptions to achieving CMMC compliance. Unless you are prepared to say “good riddance” to the profit margins generated by DoD contracts, it’s imperative to call in a cybersecurity specialist before it’s too late.
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