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CMMC: Where Does Your Company Fit In

The world of cybersecurity is constantly changing. As technology continues to grow, threats continue to evolve as well. Cybercrime is a looming danger for both public and private networks, and it is expected to cost the world $6 trillion in 2021 alone. This highlights the need for more stringent cybersecurity standards to govern agencies, especially those under federal jurisdiction.This is where the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) comes in.

The CMMC provides more structure to different cybersecurity standards, giving organizations a better idea of their readiness against threats and what they still need to address. It is divided into different levels, each with its own set of requirements that companies and agencies must meet in order to be certified. The US Department of Defense created the CMMC in 2020, and because it is a relatively recent development, some agencies may have trouble navigating their way around it. The question is, how do you figure out where your company fits in?

The 5 Levels of CMMC

There are five classifications under the CMMC, which are called maturity levels. These tell contractors and companies what kind of security capabilities and requirements they must meet to qualify for certain levels. Under this model, best practices are divided into 17 domains, each with 43 distinct capabilities. The more capabilities you are able to demonstrate, the higher your maturity level.

Level 1: Basic Cyber Hygiene.

This level corresponds to basic safeguards geared towards protecting Federal Contract Information (FCI). Under this, agencies may be required to perform certain practices as needed, and may not need documentation.

Level 2: Intermediate Cyber Hygiene

Documentation is required under Maturity Level 2, which means an organization must keep records of their practices and policies, allowing them to be replicated and implemented repeatedly based on the documentation.

Level 3: Good Cyber Hygiene

This level requires agencies to lay down a robust management plan for implementing cybersecurity processes. This plan may include various key points, including goals, resources, training, and other relevant concerns.

Level 4: Proactive

In order to qualify for the “Proactive” maturity level, an organization must be able to review practices to assess their effectiveness. When corrective action is needed, the agency must be able to do this and inform relevant management.

Level 5: Advanced/Progressive

Under the highest level, there must be continuous development and improvement of cybersecurity processes across the organization. This level includes a total of 171 cyber hygiene practices.

It must be noted that in order to qualify for higher levels, organizations must first meet all the requirements of the lower levels. Agencies cannot just self-report either; they must pass an audit carried out by accredited CMMC Third Party Assessment Organizations (C3PAO). A more detailed discussion of the CMMC Maturity Levels can be found on the DoD website or the CMMC Accreditation Body’s website.

Finding Your Place Within the CMMC

For most agencies that are starting to adjust to the CMMC standards, the first step is to figure out which level your organization should be on. Only then can you figure out what you need to do in order to bring yourself up to standard. This is largely dependent on the nature of an agency, and the type of information it handles.

For example, companies that handle Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) need a minimum of Maturity Level 3. That goes up to a Level 4 or 5 for those who process more sensitive information and assets. And organizations that handle less sensitive information will only likely need Level 1 or 2 certification. That said, most companies should consider Level 3 as a good middle ground that has better protection than Levels 1 & 2, but is not as stringent as Levels 4 & 5.

With the cybersecurity world constantly changing, it is better for organizations to level up their defenses sooner than later. That way, even when standards become even more stringent, adapting would not be a problem.

For the best chance of success, it is advisable to find a security partner who is familiar with cybersecurity standards, and who has previously worked with government contractors under the DoD. Among other considerations, a reliable partner will be able to help you bring your systems up to par using scalable solutions without any major disruption to your day-to-day operations.

Talk to an expert to find out how to boost your company’s cybersecurity.

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