What Does CMMC Implementation Mean for Small Businesses?

The federal government engaged in some second-guessing of its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification rollout and appeared on the brink of issuing a scaled-down 2.0 version. However, after years of hearing about the mandate, business leaders in the military-industrial base still ask who needs CMMC certification and why? And, what does CMMC implementation mean for small businesses? Those are valid questions, particularly for small businesses that do not necessarily bid on the most lucrative Department of Defense (DoD) contracts. What’s interesting from the defense department’s perspective is that the mandated level of cybersecurity required to work in the military supply chain is not necessarily determined by the size of the deal. Instead, the value of the information an outfit stores or transmits the DoD needs to protect. Sedulous’ team of cybersecurity experts stays updated on the CMMC changes and what this means for small businesses.

Who Needs CMMC Certification?

When the Pentagon began rolling out the first version, the lines regarding CMMC certification were clearly defined in the five levels of cyber hygiene. CMMC 2.0 reduces the groups to three, and businesses will likely require an assessment to know whether they store or transmit either of the following types of essential data.

• Federal Contract Information (FCI): “Information, not intended for public release, that is provided by or generated for the Government under a contract to develop or deliver a product or service to the Government, but not including information provided by the Government to the public (such as on public websites) or simple transactional information, such as necessary to process payments.”

• Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI): “Information that requires safeguarding or dissemination controls pursuant to and consistent with applicable law, regulations, and government-wide policies but is not classified under Executive Order 13526 or the Atomic Energy Act, as amended.”

If you work in the defense supply chain at any level, it’s entirely likely your organization handles FCI or CUI in some fashion. That means appropriate cyber hygiene efforts are required to meet CMMC standards. Business leaders should consider hiring Sedulous, an experienced team of professionals with cybersecurity and CMMC expertise, to thoroughly review the entire network’s defenses. Then, after identifying a network’s vulnerabilities, Sedulous will create a plan to strengthen, meet, and then implement the CMMC mandates.

Why Do Small Businesses Need CMMC Certification?

Many small business owners are also homeowners who are required to buy insurance. The relationship between your company and the Pentagon can be pretty similar. For instance, the DoD mandates that businesses in the supply chain gain CMMC certification. In many ways, this echoes the homeowners’ insurance that lenders require — to protect their interests.

Banks require homeowners insurance to protect the mortgage they wrote.

Similarly, The Pentagon mandates CMMC certification to protect national security. Although home and small business owners’ interests may be secondary, there’s a great deal to gain by meeting theCMMC requirements. Here are three benefits that small businesses enjoy from adopting CMMC:

• Gain a risk management approach that minimizes threats from well-funded enemy-state threats and garden variety hackers alike.

• Improve cyber hygiene to deter hackers from stealing valuable military information and sensitive financial information that could be sold on the dark web.

• Develop a strategic cybersecurity readiness protocol that secures digital assets and insulates the organization from ransomware exploitation.

Although the DoD may be trying to protect its national security interests, the benefits to a small business are tangible. Studies indicate small businesses rank as hackers’ primary target, representing 4%of all successful cyberattacks. When mid-sized organizations are added to the statistics, that figure increases to 85%.

Hackers, driven by financial theft, prefer to go after mom-and-pop operations and mid-sized companies because they typically under-invest in cybersecurity. Weak cyber hygiene makes small and mid-level companies the low-hanging fruit cybercriminals are eager to pluck. By conducting an audit and establishing CMMC-level cybersecurity measures, Sedulous would serve outfits in the military-industrial base well. The Pentagon wants to protect the country, but CMMC also deters common online thieves from leveraging bank accounts, learning Social Security numbers, and stealing valuable personal identity information.

Sedulous Delivers Trusted Cybersecurity and CMMC 2.0 Certification

Preparing for and ultimately implementing the CMMC 2.0 standard allows small and mid-sized businesses to participate in lucrative DoD contracts and supply chain activities. Beyond increasing profits, the measures help companies establish a determined cybersecurity culture across sectors. That mindset may prevent a data breach and the devastating losses that follow at the end of the day.

If you work in the military-industrial base or are considering bidding on a DoD contract, contact Sedulous Consulting Services. Our experienced cybersecurity engineers are ready to harden your defenses and help your company prepare for the upcoming CMMC certification.

Why is Cybersecurity Critical for Small Businesses?

It’s not uncommon for small and mid-sized organizations to minimize their cybersecurity investments. Operating on tight budgets, decision-makers sometimes believe hackers are more likely to target larger corporations with a treasure trove of digital assets. But truth be told, cybercriminals would rather take advantage of vulnerable small and mid-sized operations with seemingly weak defenses. Consider the following statistics regarding small and mid-sized companies.

• Small and mid-sized organizations sustain 43 percent of all data breaches.

• More than 60 percent of these companies report being targeted at least once.

• Significant cyberattacks resulted in 40 percent shutting down for a full workday.

• There were more than 800,000 cyberattacks in 2021 alone.

Upwards of 83 percent of small and mid-sized companies are not financially prepared to weather a cyberattack, and 91 percent fail to purchase liability coverage. Compounding the multi-level vulnerabilities, 43 percent do not have a cybersecurity plan.

In terms of cybersecurity defenses, small and mid-sized businesses are the low-hanging fruit a hacker halfway around the world wants to take advantage of. At Sedulous, we understand that If entrepreneurs and other decision-makers are going to avert online disasters, they need to understand cybersecurity and the schemes bad actors deploy.

What is Cybersecurity?

It’s essential for business owners to understand that cybersecurity runs much deeper than purchasing the latest antivirus product. It involves protecting digital assets housed in hardware and the Cloud across various devices. The very laptops, smartphones, and work-from-anywhere connectivity that level the competitive playing field also create pathways for hackers to infiltrate networks and steal valuable information.

Determined cybersecurity tasks company leaders with developing multi-pronged defenses. Given the relatively modest budgets of small operations, the goal may not necessarily be to make massive capital investments. By working with Sedulous, a cost-effective cybersecurity plan can be developed. Once implemented, a cybersecurity plan of action can eliminate the perception you are the low-hanging fruit. That means garden variety hackers will spend their time and energy looking elsewhere for an easy mark.

Methods Hackers Use To Breach Business Systems

Although the small business community remains at risk, it’s important to understand how hackers choose their targets. We all see the splashy headlines about multi-million hacks that large corporations and federal government agencies suffer. The nefarious individuals who pull off those heists are usually highly skilled, intelligent, and well-funded persistent threats. Many are part of an underground cybercrime syndicate, and they go after big paydays. These are not necessarily the individuals targeting small and mid-sized operations.

Rather, low-level hackers and some with average skills usually cast a wide net and wait for someone to make a misstep. These are commonly deployed methods used by hackers who are inclined to target startups and mom-and-pop operations.

• Phishing: This method involves sending thousands of emails and other electronic messages. Some are laced with malware or entice the recipient to take some action. Once a malicious link is clicked on or a file is downloaded, the hacker infiltrates a network and pilfers off digital assets. This remains the preferred method of hackers when targeting small businesses.

• Spear Phishing: A more sophisticated cybercriminal may do some homework about you or your employees to create a more convincing message. It’s stunning how much personal information can be lifted from social media and professional platforms. Using this information, a skilled hacker tries to convince someone a file or link is legitimate. Again, they assume control over your network once someone falls for the deception.

• Zero-Day Exploit: Companies have grown increasingly reliant on software and automation to compete in the global markets. The applications small and mid-sized organizations use sometimes experience hiccups. When that happens, software companies issue what are known as “patches” to cure vulnerabilities. Hackers are keenly aware that busy entrepreneurs may not promptly install these patches. While your software remains unprotected, they exploit it and breach your network.

• Password Penetrations: It’s common knowledge that hackers exploit weak and predictable passwords. But it’s almost ironic that a significant number of employees fail to create complex passwords or change them periodically. The humor of using “password123” is lost when a business suffers tens of thousands of dollars in losses and downtime. A relatively unsophisticated online thief can apply an email-based username and run an automated attack to guess common passwords. Password penetrations rank among the easiest methods to breach a system.

Someone with bad intent sitting in a café halfway around the world is largely immune from prosecution. That’s why they target American companies with malware such as Trojans, ransomware, spyware, and newly-minted viruses. As long as a business system demonstrates less-than-determined cybersecurity defenses, the attacks will continue.

How Can Businesses Improve Cybersecurity Defenses?

Hardening a small and mid-sized outfit’s cybersecurity defenses does not have to strain your budget. Experienced cybersecurity professionals work closely with community members to create cost-effective options that provide protection. These are ways a cybersecurity firm helps insulate digital assets from threats.

Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Educating employees about phishing schemes, enticements, and complex passwords goes a long way. Cybersecurity experts can teach staff members how to identify the telltale signs of a phishing or spear-phishing message. A third-party firm can also send out alerts when new threats emerge.

Multi-Factor Authentication

One of the ways to protect login profiles involves rendering a hacker’s automation useless. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) requires an authorized person to input their username and password. Once that has been completed, a code is sent to a separate device — usually, a cellphone — and that follow-up code must be manually typed in to open the profile. Hackers can guess your staff member’s password, but they cannot take physical control over the secondary device.

These and a wide range of other strategies are available to small and mid-sized companies. They are considered cost-effective and significantly harden cybersecurity defenses. Just because you may not have the deep pockets of large corporations doesn’t mean you cannot adequately defend your business. By partnering with Sedulous and employing these and other solutions, hackers will run into a brick wall and look for the low-hanging fruit elsewhere. Our team ofcybersecurity engineers can help maintain your reputation while keeping customers’ data secure. Contact our team today toschedule a consultationto discuss the best cybersecurity solution for your business.