Posted by Amanda at Varay on Sep 27, 2021 7:00:00 AM

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you show up at school and realize you have a final exam...and you haven’t studied? You open the test booklet and you don’t know the answers to any of the questions. And you *may or may not* be in your underwear.

Those. Dreams. Are. The. Worst.

Exams can cause major anxiety even if you’ve studied. The last thing you want is to go into a test unprepared.

If you do business with the Department of Defense (DoD), you might feel the same way about CMMC compliance. These cybersecurity requirements are meant to protect vulnerable DoD controlled unclassified information (CUI) and federal contract information (FCI), as well as increase accountability. But how do you know if your company is audit-ready? 

Why do I need to get CMMC certified?

With CMMC, the stakes are high -- if your business doesn’t pass the first time, you could lose bids and waste money and time on recertification efforts.

At Varay, we take cybersecurity seriously, and believe every business needs to protect itself against ransomware and other cyberthreats. Good cyber hygiene -- like having strong passwords, being able to identify fishy (phishy!) emails, and keeping software current -- is key to safeguarding your information and keeping your company safe from viruses and malware.

Even small businesses can be targets, but there is no bigger target than the U.S. Government.  The DoD has hundreds of thousands of third-party contractors who have sensitive information (personnel financial information, tax information, and law enforcement data, for example) on their databases. Cybercriminals target this data, but unfortunately, the majority of government contractors are only minimally protected. The DoD wants anyone in the supply chain to practice good cyber hygiene and reduce the threat.data security concept

CMMC is an across-the-board effort to make companies prove to the DoD that they can protect this data and know who has access to it. Without getting CMMC certified, you can’t continue to do business with the government.

What are the CMMC levels and process maturity?

The DoD has established five levels of proficiency for cyber hygiene and data protection — depending on the level of protection a contractor needs to implement. These are not like letter grades in school (“D” is for “diploma, amiright?!”) — they are more like thresholds of security depending on the information a company handles. Every government contractor needs to pass at least Level 1, regardless of whether they manage CUI. The heavy-duty CUI protections begin to really materialize at Level 3. The majority of the supply chain needs to be CMMC certified in one of these three levels.

The two upper levels are for businesses that deal with very sensitive information that must be carefully protected and must demonstrate the ability to combat advanced cyberthreats. 

  • Level 1:  Basic cyber hygiene is practiced to protect basic FCI
  • Level 2:  Intermediate cyber hygiene can be documented in case CUI is handled
  • Level 3: Good cyber hygiene and effective security of CUI is practiced
  • Level 4: Proactive cyber hygiene against advanced threats
  • Level 5: Advanced/progressive cyber hygiene with an ability to repel advanced threats

These levels are based on the number of controls that a company needs to implement out of the 171 security control points outlined in NIST SP 800-171 (a publication that gives the recommended requirements for safeguarding CUI). 

How do I get CMMC certified?

Previously, contractors were able to self-attest that they were protecting information. But self-attestation is no longer enough — a business must be certified by a CMMC Third-Party Assessment Organization (C3PAO).

A separate organization conducts the audit, but here are some steps you can take to prepare:

  1. Determine the maturity level with which your company needs to comply.
  2. Begin evaluating your business’ cybersecurity against the maturity level you need. What measures do you already have in place? What do you need to implement?
  3. Check your readiness by taking a self-assessment or have a cybersecurity specialist (like Varay) evaluate your processes so that you are ready.
  4. Find an available C3PAO to schedule the audit with a certified assessor. This independent agent will evaluate your company’s security to see if there are gaps and whether or not it meets the requirements for the desired maturity level.

Benefits of outsourcing CMMC: how an MSP can get you ready

Some contractors have the internal IT resources to prepare to get CMMC certified by themselves. Maybe your business is already practicing great cyber hygiene, and your in-house IT can efficiently identify gaps and implement an effective security plan. And perhaps your IT staff has the resources and expertise to remedy security issues and bring your systems and processes up to date. 

But like we mentioned before, there is a lot at stake. 

And if you don’t have the pieces already in order, it can cost a bundle and take valuable time to resolve and remediate what’s lacking.

That’s where your MSP can be like your personal tutor and ensure that you pass with flying colors.

be preparedAt Varay, we have the expertise to assess your data security and bring your infrastructure into compliance. We are familiar with the nuts and bolts of CMMC compliance and will help you implement a well-rounded cyber security system that will continue to evolve and protect your business as threats change.

Not only will this fulfill the requirements to become CMMC certified — it can also put you at the head of the class when it comes to the competition. Having first-rate security and current infrastructure is great for more than just compliance — it’s all around good for your company.

Are you ready for your CMMC audit? Contact Varay Managed IT today for a free assessment.

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Topics: data storage, cybersecurity, compliance