CMMC has been introduced to create a comprehensive set of guidelines and processes for enterprises for cybersecurity and data protection. The certification has been made mandatory for enterprises that work with the Department of Defense (DoD).
Businesses that have various contracts with DoD are supposed to work on their security systems and get them assessed for third-party certification. Only those businesses which have the certification will be eligible to bid for further contracts and continue with the existing contracts.
So, what does this mean for enterprises? Will it change anything, apart from incurring more cost?
CMMC has five levels with increasing processes and requirements, which have to be followed one after another. An enterprise that reaches the fifth level would invariably be eligible for certification. That said, not all enterprises will need level-5 certification. Businesses can get a certification at any level from 1 to 5. Depending on the type of contracts the enterprise gets and the compliance requirements, the certification level is decided.
While implementing the processes and changing policies in the enterprise is one aspect, the cmmc compliance cost is another aspect that is causing many enterprises to worry. The cost increases as the levels increase and go into thousands of dollars. Moreover, the validity period decreases. That means an enterprise with level 5 certification might have to get the assessment once every year. This recurring cost is a cause of concern.
Also, enterprises will have to invest in implementing the processes listed as per the norms mentioned in the criteria. This includes investing in new software, new technology, new processes, employee training, and whatnot. But not complying would mean losing the opportunity to bid for defense contracts.
It has also been said that this certification would be adopted by other governmental authorities to make sure that the sensitive data shared with the enterprises is not compromised. We live in a world where no business is safe from a cyberattack. The focus has long shifted from preventing an attack to isolating it and minimizing harm.
Many enterprises rely on service providers to handle cybersecurity along with complete IT support. Businesses with in-house teams follow their own processes while taking advice from an outside service provider at regular intervals.
CMMC has resulted in all service providers and enterprises to take more interest in cybersecurity practices. A good number of enterprises may already be compliant for level 1 that deal with using passwords and antivirus software to keep confidential data safe. Federal Contract Information (FCI) has to be kept safe and away from public access. An enterprise where employees have user accounts and login through passwords already have some processes in place. When the processes and policies are documented as per the protocols mentioned in NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) to protect CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information), these will come under level 2 of CMMC.
Managing cybersecurity practices, training employees, reporting incidents and resources, etc., are categorized as at level 3. For a business to be certified for level 3, it should follow and implement the mentioned 20 practices and 3 processes.
As the enterprise moves on to level 4, the number of processes and practices will increase, and so will the complexity. It is a stage where the cybersecurity policies are reviewed, reassessed, and tweaked. This is to ensure that any weak spots and recurring issues are identified and solved.
The last and final level of CMMC is the optimizing of cybersecurity practices. More practices are implemented. Advanced processes are followed to create a complete and secure enterprise to protect data and prevent data loss. Even if there is an attack, CUI should be safe and inaccessible to cybercriminals. Optimizing is a continuous process.
CMMC has overwhelmed a lot of businesses irrespective of their size and volume. From a small enterprise to a large one, the complexity of getting the certification is the same. A noted expert mentioned that the employee size of an enterprise doesn’t really determine the cmmc compliance cost. A small business will have to spend almost as much as a large business since the compliance practices will be the same for everyone.
Having a plan of action is not going to be enough to get the certification. It is the level of implementation that’ll decide the status of the enterprise. As the responsibility falls of the top management, the directors and CEOs have been putting together things to comply with the regulations listed by DoD in the contracts.
This, of course, hasn’t been easy. That’s where the leading managed service providers and third-party cybersecurity providers are entering the scene. Enterprises can contact the leading cybersecurity service provider company to get a complete audit of the business’s position to evaluate the risks and find an appropriate solution to comply with CMMC.