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The need to comply with Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) guidelines to win government contracts has almost become official. To prepare your company to meet the necessary requirements that this certification carries, now is the time to build up your cybersecurity infrastructure. Beyond the business advantage that meeting CMMC requirements provides, protecting data is an imperative that’s never been more pressing.
The primary purpose of the CMMC program is to enhance the protection of controlled unclassified information (CUI) and federal contract information (FCI) shared within the Defense Industrial Base (DIB). CMMC is designed to assure the Department of Defense (DoD) that a DIB company can secure sensitive CUI and FCI, accounting for data flow down to the subcontractor level in a multi-tier supply chain.
However, even if your company doesn’t fall within the DIB, the need to develop and maintain a strong line of defense in the realm of cybersecurity grows greater by the moment. Consider the following as you get your organization ready for its CMMC certification process.
Understanding the Joint Surveillance Voluntary Program
The first official CMMC assessment began in August 2022 under the DoD’s “joint surveillance voluntary program (JSVP).” Under the JSVP, a voluntary assessment that passes certification criteria will be converted into a three-year CMMC certification when the rules take full effect. As part of the JSVP, certified third-party assessment organizations (C3PAOs) perform examinations to determine a company’s level of compliance with CMMC rules and report results to the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) for final approval.
The CMMC program is overseen by the Office of the DoD Chief Information Officer and supported by DCMA’s Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Assessment Center (DIBCAC) when it comes to conducting assessments. The CMMC program gives DIBCAC the “authority and responsibility to do assessments,” so it’s the final arbiter that can make or break your official CMMC certification. Understanding what DIBCAC is looking for in its assessments is therefore essential to achieving CMMC readiness.
For those who are ahead of the game and looking for a pilot program to get a CMMC Audit completed, the JSVP is a great place to start. However, if you’re not quite as far along, the following points will help bring you up to speed with CMMC.
Maintaining a High SPRS Score
Your Supplier Performance Risk System (SPRS) score represents how well your organization complies with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 800-171 framework. This number is used to determine whether you're eligible to receive awards from the DoD, and it can also be a key indicator of how closely you’re following CMMC requirements.
To get your SPRS score, use a pre-formatted spreadsheet to conduct a self-assessment of your compliance maturity. The higher your score (up to 110), the closer you are to perfect compliance with the NIST 800-171 framework. A high SPRS score is a good sign that your organization already safeguards its CUI and FCI well enough to be fit for CMMC certification.
Preparing for CMMC Certification
Although the basics of CMMC are relatively straightforward, each certification level has its own complexities for GovCon businesses to consider. With the November 2021 announcement of the program’s latest version — CMMC 2.0 — the five framework levels of CMMC 1.0 were reduced to three. Under CMMC rules, contractors are responsible for their own implementation and security monitoring. However, the Cyber AB now provides rules that are upheld by C3PAOs working jointly with DIBCAC.
As you begin your certification journey, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with what’s required for the CMMC level you’re trying to reach. To meet the different levels of the CMMC framework, your organization must:
- (Level 1) Demonstrate basic cyber hygiene practices, such as ensuring employees change passwords regularly to protect FCI
- (Level 2) Have an institutionalized management plan to implement good cyber hygiene practices to safeguard CUI, including all the NIST 800-171 r2 security requirements and processes
- (Level 3) Have standardized and optimized processes in place and additional enhanced practices that detect and respond to changing tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of advanced persistent threats (APTs)
CMMC Level 1 maturity is classified as Performed, meaning that a company has implemented security measures and can show auditors these measures, but there are no systems or policies geared toward improving them. Level 2 (Managed) and Level 3 (Optimized) certifications demonstrate a company’s intention to maintain a constantly improving cybersecurity system that actively defends itself from threats like hackers. Use the resources you have to get to Level 1, and then advance through the subsequent levels as you can.
Staying Nimble to Protect CUI & FCI
The likelihood of your company winning DoD contracts is directly linked to its ability to keep CUI and FCI secure. The contracts you want to bid on will ultimately dictate how intense your CMMC efforts are. As you consider RFIs and RFPs, note the level of CMMC accreditation that you’d need to be awarded those contracts. If you can’t bid on the contracts you want because of inadequate accreditation, your PWIN (Probability to Win) may suffer a serious decrease.
As the need for cybersecurity changes over time, the equally great need for agility and flexible infrastructure evolves with it. Particularly within the DIB, cybersecurity is a never-ending battle that’s fought to keep private information private. It demands that businesses design and implement security programs to be managed adeptly and adjusted quickly. As you prepare for your certifications, consider the potential changes to CMMC requirements that the future holds.
Using Technology to Ease the Process
Quite possibly the best way to begin your CMMC journey is to select a software platform that’s designed to help you meet CMMC requirements. Although a variety of options exist, you’ll want something that’s scalable and affordable enough to keep your indirect costs down. You’ll want an intuitive platform that’s purpose-built for GovCon businesses so it’s easy to use but also robust enough to provide your organization with the controls necessary to keep it in compliance with your CMMC level.
In short, you’ll want your software to give you what you need without weighing you down with complexity and cost. That’s why AtWork Systems created OneLynk and CyberPlan.
AtWork’s completely integrated, end-to-end ERP solution helps you manage your personnel, finances, payroll, contract management, project management, and more. Designed with the NIST 800-171 framework in mind, OneLynk is ideally suited for CMMC compliance. Virtually all of the security controls and policies required by CMMC standards have been built into the platform. OneLynk also provides a suite of tools that enable ongoing monitoring and assessment so you can efficiently maintain your CMMC certification.
OneLynk’s security module is called CyberPlan. This handy add-on feature provides project management tools and executive dashboards to help your organization meet the compliance needs of a GovCon business. With OneLynk and CyberPlan, you have an advanced ERP and GRC solution that supports DCAA, CMMI, ISO, and other certification requirements in addition to CMMC which DIB companies have to follow.
CyberPlan is a full cybersecurity program management utility for GovCon businesses. With a comprehensive knowledge base of cybersecurity solutions, project management capabilities, and predictable cost, it’s ideal for companies that need a platform to help them manage the complete cybersecurity lifecycle. CyberPlan enables you to get and stay compliant with CMMC — and all the other required cybersecurity frameworks that GovCon businesses must follow — without disrupting your daily operations.
More than a GRC solution, CyberPlan keeps CUI and FCI locked up tight so meeting your compliance requirements is easier than ever. CyberPlan can be operated independently of OneLynk if you want to implement a True Continuous Monitoring and Assessment Program. You can also use CyberPlan to enable MSPs and MSSPs to provide the same services for their client base. Furthermore, the integrated platform enables you to estimate costs for comparison to the risk improvements you’ll see when addressing cybersecurity gaps, showing you the results of your investment and helping you win more contracts.
As CMMC requirements are imposed on anyone looking to win government contracts, companies working in the GovCon space must adapt. This means conforming to the current compliance frameworks as well as staying flexible enough to quickly adjust as needs change. With software solutions like OneLynk and CyberPlan, your company can easily stay on top of all of its cybersecurity certifications. Before beginning your CMMC journey, equip yourself with purpose-built tools like these to ease your organization through the certification process.
To learn more about CMMC certification, OneLynk, and CyberPlan, contact the AtWork team today.