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What Is CMMC?
Any organization that works with state and federal agencies must qualify for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework. The certification demonstrates that a service provider can safeguard controlled unclassified information (CUI). Thus, businesses need the certification to work with agencies like the Department of Defense (DoD) and NASA.
DoD created CMMC to ensure that contractors adhere to strict data protection protocols. Introduced in September 2019, the certification and compliance process comes with five levels that determine the nature of compliance requirements placed on service providers. These levels stipulate the degree of protection required for various engagements.
Level one compels contractors to implement basic data protection measures for federal contract information. Stringent standards apply to engagements listed under level three. Thus, state and federal agencies certify service providers after passing the assessment. Individual assessors and a CMMC Third Party Assessment Organization (C3PAO) handle the assessments.
The Department of Defense has plans to achieve the comprehensive implementation of the certification program by 2026. However, an increasing number of state or federal contracts require certification.
For this reason, service providers need to implement the required cybersecurity controls to avoid disqualification from lucrative contracts. Some contractors fail to win contracts due to insufficient time to obtain the necessary certification.
The CMMC Acceleration Body indicates that an average-sized defense service provider requires between eight and 12 weeks to complete the level three certification process. Contractors undergo three phases to become certified CMMC contractors.
This preparatory phase can last between four and six weeks as service providers update their cybersecurity controls before assessment. To achieve the required standards, contractors have to improve existing controls and introduce universal practices needed for certification. Enlisting the assistance of established IT consultants like SSE Inc. is an effective way to implement the changes.
An individual assessor or C3PAO examines the contractor’s data safeguards during phase two of the certification process. Depending on the size of the company, this process can take between 24 hours and three weeks. Contractors usually complete level one certifications in the shortest period. The complexity of an organization’s IT infrastructure also determines how long the process takes.
Assessors submit findings for quality checks during the third phase of the certification process. The CMMC Accreditation Body (AB) evaluates the assessor’s report to determine that the contractor qualifies for certification.
CMMC Security Requirements
The first level comes with basic cyber hygiene standards, such as strong passwords, firewalls, and antivirus software deployment.
Level two requires the implementation of more stringent data security measures, including access controls, configuration management, security audits, robust authentication systems, and physical security. Contractors also need to perform risk assessments, provide personnel security, and conduct incident response.
CMMC level three is an extension of the NIST 800-171 r2 standards. It requires the implementation of approximately 47 stringent security controls. Meanwhile, level four emphasizes a proactive approach when detecting, measuring, and deploying cyber defenses against various threats.
Some of the requirements share similarities with DFARs. Furthermore, CMMC level four requirements compel service providers to maintain high levels of vigilance to deal with advanced threats.
Level five incorporates 30 additional security requirements focusing on non-technical aspects, including management and auditing processes.
Preparing for CMMC
IT experts at SSE Inc. recommend taking several steps, including seeking a consultant’s advice, in preparation for CMMC assessments. The first steps entail identifying the CMMC level that applies to your company. If unsure of the correct level, consult an IT security expert. You need to identify the exact level before submitting an RFP application.
Hiring a managed IT service provider to conduct a comprehensive review of cybersecurity is a crucial step. The IT firm assesses your organization’s cybersecurity policies, practices, and network protections. You can proceed to implement a strategic security plan and update protections.
It is vital to exceed the expectations of assessors during the CMMC preparation process. Doing so ensures that your organization passes the certification tests in a short time. The failure to pass the accreditation assessments jeopardizes your chances of joining or remaining in the state or federal supply chain.
Unlike previous compliance requirements, the CMMC mandate compels all organizations involved in the supply chain to qualify for one of five levels. Getting certified opens the doors to lucrative contracts.
Why Choose SSE Inc.
SSE Inc. is one of the prominent IT companies in St Louis. The service provider helps enterprise clients manage IT infrastructure and bolster cybersecurity to ensure compliance with regulatory standards. It operates within the defense industry to assist contractors, and other businesses meet CMMC standards.
Working with the vendor enables contractors to identify the CMMC levels that apply to them and prepare for rigorous assessments.
SSE conducts reviews of cybersecurity policies and practices to help organizations determine their readiness for assessments by a CMMC Third Party Assessment Organization (C3PAO) or individual assessor. The firm can also assist contractors o meet NIST guidelines and regulations.
Training and Government Services
IT experts at SSE Inc. have many years of combined experience handling cybersecurity and other technology services. They can assist your team in formulating an effective strategy and implementing a cost-effective training program. As a result, it becomes easier to provide the ideal learning environment for your teams.
SSE helps organizations conduct rigorous gap assessments of unclassified internal networks to ensure they meet specific CMMC security requirements. The assessment enables the vendor to compile a report on remediation recommendations picked up during the process.
By conducting the analysis, SSE determines both the compliance posture and authorization boundary of the information system. In turn, your organization benefits from the feedback regarding your level of preparedness for meeting CMMC compliance requirements.
IT professionals present findings during documentation review and discussions. They also outline detailed recommendations to help your team remediate the findings.
Cybersecurity specialists at SSE can implement the required changes to your organization’s network system in tandem with the recommendations and overall strategy. Some changes include the replacement of servers or workstations, AD group policy exports, system configuration, and the creation of policy documents templates.