As we’ve said before, cybersecurity is a big deal in today’s digital world. Businesses need to be vigilant to protect themselves against cyber risks like ransomware and data breaches. Every company needs to be aware that they could be targeted and should have the infrastructure and training to be protected. Because of these security risks, the US government has implemented CMMC compliance to increase protection and accountability. If you do business with the government, failing to meet these requirements could cost you your contract.
What is CMMC Compliance?
We are entering the land of acronyms, so buckle up! CMMC stands for Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. This framework details the most current requirements by the Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure that DIBs (the Defense Industrial Base: contractors who do business with the government) have implemented proper cybersecurity measures and can account for how information is passed down to subcontractors. It is an across-the-board standard that requires DIBs to prove to the DoD that they can protect data and know who can access it.
CMMC compliance is an effort to protect CUI (controlled unclassified information) and FCI (Federal Contract Information): unclassified but sensitive information that is stored on a contractor’s database. This information might be contained within contracts or was given to third parties by the DoD to complete a project. A breach of this data could compromise things like the financial information of personnel, law enforcement data, tax information, and contractual security.
To meet CMMC compliance, the contracting company’s online security practices and processes are scored using a matrix of “maturity levels.” These maturity levels evaluate how extensively an organization has implemented good “cyber hygiene” — from Level 1 (basic compliance) to Level 5 (effective and optimized protection from advanced cyber threats).
We aren’t talking about wiping down your keyboard with sanitizer (although that might not be a bad idea either). Cyber hygiene is defined as “a set of practices for managing the most common and pervasive cybersecurity risks.” After living through a pandemic, most of us understand the value of routine sanitation practices in keeping ourselves healthy. The same thing goes for a company protecting itself against cyber threats: practices like having strong passwords and changing them often, keeping software current, and being able to identify phishing attempts. But if you do business with the government, online security is more than just a smart idea — it’s something that will now be audited.
And if you, as a third-party contractor, don’t pass your CMMC compliance audit on your first try, you risk losing money on recertification efforts, time and bids to other companies that are already compliant.
Why the DoD wants you to wash your digital hands
Many businesses are lax in security because they consider themselves “small fish” and assume hackers won’t target them. While this is incorrect, the DoD is definitely a big target for cybercriminals. It’s estimated that every day the Pentagon intercepts 36 million malware emails. Even with their vigilant cybersecurity measures, the government suffered serious breaches of personal data in 2015, 2018, and 2020.
The DoD does business with hundreds of thousands of third-party contractors, and vast amounts of CUI is stored on their individual databases. Despite previous efforts by the DoD to implement uniform security protocols to combat the evolving threats, the overwhelming majority of DIBs are still only minimally protected against cyberattacks. As much as 1% of the world’s gross domestic product is lost to cybercrime every year. The staggering scale of this threat represents a huge risk to the US economy as well as national security. The Office of the President’s Council of Executive Advisors estimates that in 2016 alone, cyberattacks cost America’s economy between 57 and 109 billion dollars. With so much money at stake, it’s no wonder the DoD wants contractors to wash their digital hands, so to speak.
How outsourcing CMMC compliance can help you “scrub up” and relax
As we mentioned before, companies that contract with the DoD must attain a certain level of certification and compliance. This certification can’t be done by yourself — the assessment must be performed by a CMMC Third-Party Assessment Organization (C3PAO — how’s that for an acronym on top of an acronym?) and submitted to the DoD. Companies with an in-house IT department might decide to complete their compliance certifications and assess their infrastructure and processes themselves in preparation for the audit. However, if a company doesn’t have the correct certification or fails to reach the required cybersecurity maturity levels, it could cost them time and money while they get the correct ones. Ultimately, this could cause a business to lose bids while they get their security up to par.
Some businesses might not have the resources or know-how to ensure all of these requirements are met.
That is where outsourcing CMMC compliance can really take the stress off.
A quality MSP can assess gaps that will impact your business’ compliance requirements. It can evaluate your infrastructure, help you implement good cyber hygiene, and streamline your processes so that you can breathe easily. At Varay Managed IT, we are familiar with necessary certifications and can make sure your infrastructure will pass the audit. Not only is this good general practice to protect your company — it can also put your business ahead of competitors and in a position to win bids because your workforce already has the needed certifications.
All of this can leave your business cyber-secure, CMMC compliant, and resting easy.
Is your business prepared for a CMMC compliance audit? Varay Managed IT can help make sure that you are! Contact us today for a free consultation.