More than 300,000 organizations that do business in the military-industrial base must implement heightened cybersecurity safeguards in compliance with newly-minted federal regulations.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has mandated that companies handling varying levels of information must harden their defensive posture to meet the guidelines established by the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification 2.0, known as CMMC 2.0. Impacted enterprises range from direct DoD contractors to subcontractors, and even small and mid-sized outfits that handle deliveries and basic services are required to earn CMMC certification.
The challenges ahead for business professionals outside the managed IT, and cybersecurity sector will likely require the support of a CMMC Third Party Assessment Organization (C3PAO). The two critical issues facing businesses involve determining which of the three CMMC certification levels apply to their organization and scheduling a gap assessment to identify cybersecurity weaknesses.
What Sensitive DoD Information Must Be Protected?
American business leaders need to understand that garden variety hackers and advanced persistent threats funded by rival nations are dangerous to national security. But, unfortunately, some mom-and-pop operations may believe they are relatively inconsequential. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
The cybercriminals funded by rogue countries, such as Iran, Russia, and China, are determined and patient. They are not uncommon to target military supply chain companies and steal invoices, locations, and electronic messages. This data may be used in conjunction with other stolen information to conclude America’s defensive strategies. The following are the types of data the DoD has deemed necessary to protect against prying foreign eyes.
- Controlled Unclassified Information: Commonly referred to as CUI, this entails information created or controlled by the government. Although not considered secret, per se, it can be used as a piece of the national security puzzle. Examples include personal identity records, proprietary business information, and communication for official use only.
- Federal Contract Information: Generally called FCI by industry insiders, this information is linked to government contracts. It defines how a business creates or supplies products to the federal government. In other cases, it outlines a service or payment process that is not necessarily disclosed to the public.
When America’s enemies gain access to this information, it can be used like breadcrumbs, leading to highly classified plans and processes. Every business leader’s patriotic duty is to protect the men and women who serve in the military and ensure domestic tranquility. Gaining CMMC certification is effectively doing your part.
What are the CMMC Certification Levels?
An organization’s level of compliance is dictated mainly by the type of information it stores and transmits. This facet of CMMC certification can prove elusive to some business leaders who might assume cybersecurity involves a relationship with the DoD. That is not the case because a seemingly small business could handle sensitive CUI or FCI requiring advanced protections. These are the three levels of CMMC certification.
- Level 1 (Foundational): The DoD requires basic cyber hygiene based on implementing 17 defensive practices. Foundational cybersecurity focuses primarily on the storage or transmission of FCI.
- Level 2 (Advanced): Designed to protect CUI, the DoD requires companies to implement and maintain 110 security controls. These are aligned with the National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication on cybersecurity or NIST SP 800-171. Significant differences persist for outfits that fall into the Advanced category regarding CMMC certification requirements.
- Level 3 (Expert): The CUI housed and transmitted from organizations tasked with Expert-level CMMC certification are considered high-value targets. Sophisticated hackers, backed by enemy states, work tirelessly to breach these networks. Achieving CMMC certification calls for 13410 NIST SP 800-171 controls and NIST SP 800-172 requirements.
Determining which CMMC certification level an enterprise is mandated to meet typically requires an assessment of CUI or FCI by a C3PAO. Once that has been established, a deep penetration into the organization’s cybersecurity capabilities is needed to identify weaknesses and close gaps.
A Cybersecurity Gap Assessment Can Help Achieve CMMC Certification
A cybersecurity gap assessment aims to identify exploitable weaknesses and craft a plan to secure your assets with best-practice mitigation or remediation mechanisms. This process is widely used by small, mid-sized, and large corporations to protect sensitive and valuable digital assets from theft. However, a gap assessment can also highlight subpar practices that invite hackers to target companies with malicious software, particularly ransomware. In terms of achieving CMMC certification, the following gap assessment steps prove invaluable.
- Evaluate network security in light of CMMC protocols
- Evaluate best practices by staff members and network users
- Gather data regarding information and cybersecurity controls
- Analyze the findings to determine inherent weakness
Business leaders receive a detailed gap assessment report that highlights cybersecurity deficiencies and a Remediation & Mitigation Strategy. Regarding achieving CMMC certification, the information speaks directly to the vulnerabilities that would otherwise disqualify an operation from working within the military-industrial base. Fortunately, gaps in cybersecurity are correctable and can be closed before a CMMC review.
Sedulous Provides Gap Assessments to Achieve CMMC Certification
The need to meet the CMMC 2.0 mandate has taken on a sense of urgency. Businesses must comply to avoid being sidelined and losing otherwise lucrative DoD work. Sedulous Consulting Services is a trusted and vetted authorized C3PAO candidate, and our experienced cybersecurity professionals perform gap assessments tailored to your business.
If you need to earn CMMC certification, contact Sedulous Consulting Services today.