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DoD Requires Contractors to Meet Levels of CMMC Certification

CMMC Certification / IT Consulting / IT Security

DoD Requires Contractors to Meet Levels of CMMC Certification

If your contract involves the Department of Defense, compliance with CMMC framework may be mandatory. A useful resource is this CRS report to Congress which gives an objective overview.

Registered Practitioner consultants can assist in quickly evaluating your current security posture and setting an ideal CMMC level to reach compliance as quickly as possible in order to retain DIB contracts.

Level 1

Due to the cybersecurity measures implemented by DoD, threat actors now find it harder to gain entry to DOD systems; however, some still find ways of accessing information – for instance through contractors.

CMMC was developed to protect contractor data. The program requires contractors to meet a certain level of security depending on what information they handle.

First steps include attaining CMMC Certification Level 1. This program requires nine capabilities and 17 practices spread out over six domains that cover various aspects of security.

This includes authenticating users, managing remote access and monitoring network activity. Furthermore, data tracking capabilities – essential to prevent breaches and ensure compliance – are covered as well. As the CMMC model evolves, more DoD contracts may require all contractors to achieve certain CMMC certification levels in order to bid successfully on contracts awarded under it.

Level 2

At CMMC Level 2, the emphasis is shifted toward protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). Security practices at this level expand upon those of Level 1, offering additional protection beyond basic cyber hygiene practices seen at CMMC Level 1.

At CMMC Level 2, most security practices must be documented. This documentation process must provide an easy, repeatable way for organizations to implement them in their environment – this could range from writing desk procedures or more comprehensive procedures such as an organizational standard operating procedure.

At CMMC Level 2, assessment requirements vary based on whether the CUI handled is critical to national security or non-critical. If you manage both FCI and CUI, however, Level 2 requirements must be fulfilled, which include going through an independent third-party security evaluation conducted by an approved C3PAO.

Level 3

Level 3 requirements require contractors to add more practices beyond those already present in Levels 1 and 2 and require further institutionalization of processes. They must demonstrate they have both a plan in place and sufficient resources in place in order to effectively oversee and sustain these processes for the long haul.

As part of your Zero Trust strategy, this means implementing a physical security program with constant tracking of equipment to account for everything at all times, while protecting devices with strong encryption and an audit trail to thwart quantum computing attacks.

An MSP can assist in meeting all these compliance requirements. They can assist with physical security needs as well as creating an enclave for CUI systems encrypted using modern Zero Trust technologies.

Level 4

All defense contractors handling CUI or FCI must abide by at least Level 2 of the CMMC framework. This requirement extends to both prime contractors and subcontractors and suppliers; depending on their contract terms, other levels might also apply.

The Certified Modern Maintenance Control Level 4 certification process requires organizations to document, manage, review, standardize and optimize implementation of 110 practices from Levels 1 and 2. This level specializes in protecting CUI from advanced persistent threats with additional 58 security practices besides those covered by NIST SP 800-171.

As part of this requirement, organizations must also implement awareness training that increases cyber threat perception and helps employees spot the red flags associated with suspicious behavior. Furthermore, it should be noted that an advanced third-party assessment every three years to achieve CMMC Level 4.

Level 5

Level 5 security practices focus on expanding practices to protect CUI. They consist of enhanced practices from NIST SP 800-171 Rev 2, as well as other best practice standards, totalling 26 new security practices. According to Ecuron estimates only a small portion of DIB will require going up to Level 5.

CMMC exists to protect defense contractors from being compromised and allow sensitive information to fall into the hands of U.S. adversaries. The standard sets forth requirements regarding cybersecurity measures they should utilize to secure sensitive data.

Many contractors lack the resources or expertise needed to meet CMMC requirements for specific contracts, making compliance difficult. A managed service provider (MSP) can be invaluable here; experienced MSPs provide their clients with compliance assistance while freeing up time and resources so that their staff can focus on core initiatives for business success.