What is CMMC?
CMMC is an acronym for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. It is used to assess the level of digital security compliance that an organization has achieved. In recent years the Department of Defense (DOD) has become concerned with vendor and supply chain information security, and specifically with the security of controlled unclassified information (CUI) in the defense industrial base. Prior to CMMC, DOD contractors were simply required to perform a self-assessment and certify that they were in compliance with the cybersecurity framework NIST SP 800-171.
The advent of CMMC adds teeth to this requirement as contractors will now be audited for CMMC compliance using a tiered approach based on how much sensitive information the contractor handles and the DOD RFIs and RFPs the contractor wishes to bid on. Accreditation is overseen by the CMMC Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB) and audits are performed by third-party assessment organizations (C3PAOs).
Although CMMC has been around for a few years, the government has recently updated its standards to version 2.0. The changes make it easier for companies to know which level of compliance their IT ecosystems meet and which steps they need to take to improve. SMBs should now have an easier time meeting compliance requirements, as the new program aims to reduce costs and match the requirements with other federal regulations. There are several major ways in which CMMC 2.0 changed from 1.0.
First of all, there are now 3 levels (Foundational, Advanced, and Expert), instead of the original 5 levels under CMMC 1.0. Additionally, 20 requirements outside of those under NIST were abandoned. CMMC 2.0 lets companies use POAMs (Plans of Actions and Milestones), which was not permitted under CMMC 1.0. Lastly, under certain circumstances, companies may seek approval of a waiver.
Companies that want to properly maintain CMMC standards often turn to a managed security services provider for better control over their IT infrastructures. Touchstone Security understands CMMC and how it should be implemented.
Why is it important to comply with CMMC?
CMMC compliance is a way for the DoD to ensure its contractors are operating in the most secure environment possible. The CMMC offers a way for organizations to validate their existing security solutions and refine the processes they use to control their IT environment.
Third-party CMMC compliance services come in all shapes and sizes. Touchstone Security brings deep experience to the table. At Touchstone Security, we understand the importance of CMMC compliance. We’ll work with you to ensure you have all the latest capabilities so you can expand into government contracts.
Even if you don’t currently work with the government, your company may have to comply with CMMC if you are interested in obtaining contracts with government entities in the future. The requirements can depend greatly based on what type of contract you seek to pursue. The good news is that out of the 3 total CMMC Levels, many contracts won’t stipulate that you meet the requirements under all 3 levels. Meeting the requirements of level 1, for instance, is far more obtainable than you may think. In the next section, we further discuss CMMC levels and provide details about what you must do to meet the requirements under each level.
It’s also worth noting that depending on your field, it’s often the case that the contracts mandating that you reach a higher level of CMMC compliance are the contracts that entail the greatest benefits for your organization. Furthermore, even if you don’t plan to ever work with DoD and government contracts, you may still want to reach at least a basic level of CMMC compliance. The fact is that if you aren’t compliant with CMMC, your organization is at a greater risk of experiencing a cyberattack. A single cybersecurity incident can derail your organization in a serious way. With cybersecurity, an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure. The basic requirements of CMMC compliance are based on standards bet practices for preventative and proactive cybersecurity policies.
Who Needs CMMC Compliance?
Government contractors work with privileged information. The DoD wants to make sure the companies it contracts work to secure data properly. Any organization operating with DoD information must have an established clearance level. This requirement means it’s important to have a clear control structure for digital information.
If CMMC compliance services are important for your organization, look no further than Touchstone Security. We offer a full range of compliance assistance. From reporting and incident response to backup and disaster recovery, with Touchstone Security, you won’t have to worry about the integrity of your data.
What Are the Requirements for CMMC Compliance?
CMMC compliance requires an ongoing effort on the part of IT directors and security professionals. Having a clear picture of which level of CMMC compliance you want to reach will allow you to target deficiencies and improve your IT ecosystem.
Contractors should be aware of the steps that the DoD expects them to take to secure high-value assets. With the right measures in place, you can take proactive steps to protect your digital ecosystem, creating a path to CMMC compliance.
Targeting a Level
Organizations seeking CMMC compliance must first have an idea of existing requirements and which of those they’re able to meet effectively. Certification levels demonstrate a contractor’s readiness capabilities for dealing with potential threats and protecting assets.
At Level 1, contractors are expected to have a strong understanding of basic IT security principles and have the necessary infrastructure in place to protect FCI and UCI.
Touchstone Security CMMC compliance services were designed with each control in mind. We’ll take a proactive approach to make sure your entire IT ecosystem is up to par. No matter what level you’re targeting, we’ll work with you to create a clear path to success.
What are CMMC 2.0 levels?
CMMC is broken down into 3 levels based on the amount of CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information) that the contractor handles. Each level requires meeting certain cybersecurity requirements and effectively represents an information security maturity level. CMMC requirements are taken from various cybersecurity frameworks but are primarily derived from NIST 800-171. Once a contractor is confident that they have met the requisite level, they can pay an outside auditor (C3PAO) to conduct a CMMC audit and issue a certification. Subcontractors working under the prime contractor are also required to meet the prime’s level of CMMC compliance. So, what are the levels of CMMC requirements, and how many controls are needed to meet each to achieve CMMC Certification?
CMMC Level 1 (Foundational) – Level 1 of CMMC 2.0 is the same as CMMC 1.0 Level 1. Level 1 of CMMC 2.0 applies to organizations that handle and protect FCI (Federal Contract Information). It is modeled after a list of 17 controls in FAR 52.204-21.
CMMC Level 2 (Advanced) – Level 2 of CMMC 2.0 is extremely similar to CMMC 1.0 Level 3, and covers organizations that work with CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information). However, the updated requirements align precisely with controls laid out under NIST SP 800-171. The previous 20 additional requirements that were unique to CMMC 1.0 are now not included at this level. Instead, the controls under Level 2 of CMMC 2.0 match 110 security controls and 17 levels under NIST.
CMMC Level 3 (Expert) – The last level of CMMC 2.0 compliance is equivalent to the prior CMMC 1.0 Level 5. CMMC Level 3 represents an advanced/progressive information security program that is continuously optimized and can handle APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats). This level of compliance is specifically for organizations that handle CUI on very high-priority DoD programs. In addition to meeting the NIST SP 800-171 requirements required for meeting compliance at levels 1 and 2, there will also be controls to meet under NIST SP 800-172 at this level.
What do I need to do to comply with CMMC?
After you have determined which level you plan to comply with, the next step is to ensure you are compliant with NIST 800-171. Given that CMMC is based on a range of principles from government guidelines such as NIST, you can meet a number of CMMC controls by ensuring compliance with NIST 800-171. The next step is to look into third-party assessors (3PAOs). You cannot certify your own organization. Third-party assessors play the role of providing certification of your CMMC compliance and maturity. Next, you’ll want to select the level of CMMC compliance required for your organization.
To get certified at a particular level of CMMC, you should begin by identifying what level you aim to comply with. Work to ensure that you meet the full set of requirements for your desired level of compliance. In many cases, it can be helpful to bring in a third-party cybersecurity firm that can help you implement security controls that are effective, targeted, and streamline rather than harm your business processes. Once you are confident that you meet the requisite controls, you will need to bring in a Certified Third Party Auditor (C3PAO) who will audit your information security program against your desired certification level. If you pass the audit, you will be accredited by the CMMC accreditation body in accordance with the recommendation of your third-party assessment organization.
Review Existing IT
After targeting a level of compliance, businesses need to consider their existing assets and how to best use these assets to attain the desired outcomes. CMMC certification requires contractors to achieve a certain level of maturity. By integrating the necessary components into their security architecture, IT directors and security professionals can build reliable systems that meet the standards of their chosen compliance level.
For some organizations, IT can be a challenge. Touchstone Security offers managed services so that you don’t have to invest in unwanted infrastructure. This setup allows you to save time and money when deploying IT systems. CMMC compliance services make it easy to determine which systems work and which don’t.
Make Needed Changes
Once the vulnerable architecture has been targeted, it’s important to make the needed changes right away. Replacing equipment, updating software, and revising support documents will allow you to work toward compliance while improving the safety of your network ecosystem.
Sometimes it’s not clear which changes need to be made. Touchstone Security is dedicated to good cyber hygiene. With Touchstone’s CMMC compliance services, you’ll be prepared to make changes when needed. We’ll work to make sure you understand which steps need to be taken for compliance and offer the support you need to get there.
It’s not always clear which vulnerabilities need to be addressed first. By collecting and analyzing data in real time, organizations can make sure they’re ready for CMMC compliance. Getting certified, or improving your certification level, means addressing existing problems and creating unique solutions to overcome challenges.
Touchstone’s CMMC compliance services are tailored to meet the needs of your organization. We’ll take the time to determine the factors that will lead to improved IT security and better overall performance. And we’ll help you safeguard existing systems while taking the steps to improve where needed.
These are only some basic requirements. For meeting specific competencies, businesses should consult the OUSD website. By working with Touchstone Security services, you’ll have a partner that knows CMMC compliance standards inside and out.
Tailored CMMC Compliance Services
Touchstone Security provides world-class tailored CMMC Compliance. We begin by performing a gap assessment that analyzes what certification level your organization is aiming for, and where you are right now. We then present a tailored plan that will streamline your information security program and provide effective protection against threats. We can help you pass your CMMC Assessment, work with assessors, and set your company up to bid for DOD contracts.
Touchstone Security Understands CMMC Compliance
The best contractors have the flexibility to meet the changing security environment. When it comes to CMMC compliance, it can be difficult to articulate which changes need to be made. Touchstone Security knows how to meet the complex demands of CMMC compliance services. We’ll make sure you reach the desired maturity while it still counts.
CMMC compliance services offer a means for contractors to meet their digital security requirements without having to invest in internal solutions. This setup results in cost savings and reduced overhead. Whether you’re working with the DoD or not, having security clearance allows you to demonstrate your commitment to digital safety.
No matter what type of services you need, Touchstone Security is here to manage your digital assets. Touchstone Security is your managed security services provider.
Our experienced information systems professionals can help you get accredited for CMMC, build a proactive information security program, and safeguard sensitive information. Touchstone Security is ready to help you deal with the cyber threats of the 21st century while building a cost-effective security plan and meeting complex compliance requirements. We have qualified attorneys on staff in addition to extensive experience helping companies bridge the gap between NIST 800-171 and CMMC.