Whether it be in manufacturing, law, or finance, landing a contract with a federal agency can result in massive amounts of revenue for a business. That said, when a potential contract stipulates the handling of unclassified information, it’s impossible to win without proving your organization follows proper cybersecurity practices.
Through this article, Rocket IT will walk you through the Department of Defense’s new CMMC 2.0 program to ensure your organization has the best odds of collecting federal contracts.
What Is NIST 880-171?
In the United States, there are more than 250,000 organizations that operate within the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), including contractors, subcontractors, and additional third-party groups. Understanding that this industry sector handles sensitive and unclassified information, cyber criminals have shifted their efforts to target many non-federal groups that operate under the DIB.
For organizations that have worked within the DIB in the past, it’s likely you’re familiar with the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). Back in 2015, the organization launched what’s known as NIST 800-171 to help non-federal organizations secure controlled unclassified information (CUI).
Think of NIST 800-171 as a voluntary checklist. Within it, 110 policies are outlined to help non-federal organizations prove they can properly secure the CUI of federal agencies. Unfortunately, NIST is not a regulatory body, meaning that it’s incredibly easy for federal contractors and third parties to falsely state they uphold the cybersecurity standards outlined by NIST 800-171.
Why Did the DoD Create the CMMC?
Seeing that the NIST 800-171 framework was often optional and not adhered to by most organizations, the Department of Defense (DoD) created the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program to give non-federal organizations a credible means to vouch for their cybersecurity infrastructures.
CMMC 1.0 VS CMMC 2.0
CMMC is broken down into stages, providing non-federal organizations with an opportunity to attain a certificate at each maturity level. Originally, CMMC contained five maturity levels, requiring participants to demonstrate security processes to graduate to the next stage.
As of November 2021, CMMC 2.0 condensed the level model from five to three, making it easier for contractors and third parties to attain clearance to work with federal agencies.
That said, while level 1 of CMMC 2.0 is an annual self-assessment with 17 cybersecurity policies to enforce for certification, attaining level two and three certificates requires third-party assessments to ensure standards are met.
Simply put, level 2 of CMMC 2.0 can be seen as an enforceable version NIST 800-171. Using the same 110 cybersecurity controls outlined in NIST 800-171, level 2 of CMMC 2.0 is now the standard non-federal organizations must achieve to attain contracts with federal agencies. Once the level two certificate is received, most federal agencies will request that the score be submitted through a government portal for review.
Challenges with Implementing a CMCC 2.0 Compliance Solution In-house
For organizations that bid for contracts with federal agencies, proactively submitting a CMMC 2.0 level 2 certificate can prove to be a huge advantage. That said, if your business only has one or two people on its internal IT staff, implementing the cybersecurity initiatives to attain such a certificate can be difficult.
For example, if your internal IT team is hyper-focused on day-to-day issues, it’s likely they haven’t had the bandwidth to proactively implement many of the cybersecurity measures CMMC 2.0 requests. On the other hand, if your internal IT department is rather new, they may lack the resources and skills needed to complete the certification process in a timely manner.
For many organizations looking to quickly attain a CMMC 2.0 level 2 certificate, the most viable option is to enlist the help of an outsourced solution. Hiring a CMMC 2.0 consultant, like Rocket IT, provides a streamlined process to achieve CMMC 2.0’s level 2 certificate in as little as a one week.
Are you ready to get help navigating the complexities of DoD’s cybersecurity guidelines? Give Rocket IT a call at 770-441-2520 or contact us using the form below to get immediately connected with an expert in CMMC 2.0.