The bidding arena for government contracts is fiercely competitive. However, security compliance can make winning those attractive bids a rather complex and costly proposition. This conundrum is further compounded by evolving requirements that are as dynamic as the attacks they strive to foil.
CMMC demands that all companies obtain certification via an exhaustive assessment process in order to secure future contracts with the DOD. The new standard goes beyond auditing. From people to processes, it’s a game-changing revelation that will dramatically affect some of the most important aspects of federal business.
CMMC Business Implications
CMMC is poised to have major implications for companies across multiple industrial verticals. Let’s take a deeper look at the impact the new standard could have on entities in the market for government contracts.
Mandatory Audits: Once CMMC 2.0 goes into effect, existing and prospective DOD contractors will not be allowed to secure, or even bid on new acquisitions without achieving certification. Compliance will be validated through independent parties carefully selected and approved by the DOD.
Maturity Requirements: The tiered compliance model is a key facet of CMMC certification. Contractors are eligible to receive certification at one of three maturity levels, each with its own set of cyber security requirements. The appropriate level will be determined based on the contract the organization is looking to obtain.
Shared Accountability: CMMC certification requires a coordinated effort on behalf of all parties that handle confidential information belonging to the DOD. Prime contractors are required to ensure that the subcontractors they outsource work to are fully aware of the CMMC-related components of a given contract. Furthermore, prime contractors bear the responsibility of verifying the security measures implemented by their subcontracting partners.
CMMC Costs: The total cost of CMMC certification will vary by a wide range of factors. These variables may include the size and complexity of the IT infrastructure, the maturity of the security mechanisms deployed to safeguard the infrastructure, and the scope and volume of the data the contractor has in their possession. According to the DOD, associated costs will be affordable and align with the desired certification level.
Ramifications: The repercussions of failing to meet CMMC compliance are crystal clear — follow the certification guidelines, or lose the privilege to view, compete for, and secure contracts with the Department of Defense. While no fines or penalties have been specified, breaching an existing DOD contract could potentially result in monetary damages or other severe consequences.
CMMC Compliance Challenges
Navigating the many layers of security compliance is often a tedious and time-intensive endeavor. The CMMC framework is no exception. In addition to implementing a number of cyber security technologies, companies are required to produce documentation pertaining to adoption plans, various IT management processes, and personnel policies during the audit. Small and medium-sized firms, especially, may find it incredibly challenging to deploy the resources necessary to meet the rigid demands of CMMC.
As is the case with any new compliance program, the most pressing challenges CMMC pose relate to the lack of awareness surrounding the framework. This is due in large part to the fact that some of the guidelines have yet to be defined. On a positive note, there are plenty of resources in the form of existing cyber security frameworks and training tools available to help contractors prepare for the assessment. It is up to certification-seeking firms to devise a top-down game plan that prioritizes CMMC awareness, and ultimately fosters a culture of compliance across the organization.