The threat of cyber attacks and data breaches has never been higher. With each passing year cybercriminals continue to hone their craft and learn new ways to breach security systems and commit cybersecurity crimes. Data shows that by the end of 2022, cybersecurity programs are expected to make up over 50% of the total cybersecurity budget of many companies. Due to the rise of cybercriminals, the defense department has created new CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) standards.
What Does CMMC Compliance Entail?
The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a new security measure created by the defense department that provides strict standards for businesses that want to engage in contracts with the defense department. These were put in place to ensure that these companies do not make common mistakes that often result in severe vulnerabilities to cybercriminals. The data involved in these databases is far too sensitive to be placed at risk by businesses that do not have rigorous standards in place.
The CMMC is an advancement of a previous standard put forth by the department of defense known as the NIST 800-171. The new standards have been updated to improve the efficiency and depth of the data protection standards that companies are required to have in place. This is due to the sharp increase in cybercriminal criminal activity as well as the technical progress they have demonstrated over the past few years.
One of the distinguishing features of CMMC compliance is that it has eliminated the option for companies to do a self-assessment. Companies are now required to have an audit completed by an outside source in order to remove bias and ensure true compliance.
How To Determine the CMMC Level Your Business Needs
At its most basic, the level of security that a company will need depends on the sensitivity of the data it will be responsible for housing. Basic data will need basic cyber hygiene, while extremely classified information will require the highest level of security. The type of data housed also plays a role, as this will affect the type of defenses and security systems necessary to put in place.
In order to know where a business fits in, it is important to understand some of the details involved in each of these:
There are five different levels of CMMC standards, each of which advances up in complexity.
Level 1: Basic Cyber Hygiene
Level 1 is the basic foundation of the CMMC; all businesses need to comply with these standards in order to qualify. Some examples of the steps involved here are relative to common mistakes that businesses have made in the past including individual user accounts, using private networks and implementing proper passwords and firewalls. These standards are similar to previous iterations of DoD standards but are often not sufficient to procure current contracts.
Level 2: Intermediate & Documented Cybersecurity
The basic requirement of Level 2 is a step beyond meeting the basics; the business must further demonstrate that these requirements and practices are deeply ingrained into the company’s infrastructure and workflow. This is described as a two-fold process, including both proper documentation of these practices as well as fully established company policies.
Level 2 is basically the bridge that connects Level 1 standards with the more rigorous and thorough standards outlined in Level 3.
Level 3: Good, Managed Cyber Hygiene
Level 3 involves the nuts and bolts of proper cybersecurity in the modern landscape. This level discusses in detail the important steps of asset management (protecting/managing the data itself) and being aware of the risks and situations the company faces (situational awareness). In order to be level 3 compliant, companies will need to create a specific plan of action for each type of vulnerability they are subject to based on the type of data that is being housed.
Level 4: Proactive Cyber Hygiene
In level 4, the focus is shifted to protecting against advanced threats that are now common tactics used by cybercriminals. These are referred to by the DoD as APTs, or advanced persistent threats. APT’s are a modern technique used by cyber criminals that function by stealing data over a long period of time using a stealthy, indirect approach. These are often very difficult to catch and require a proactive and specific type of security approach to prevent.
Level 5: Advanced Cyber Hygiene
Level 5 is the culmination and standardization of all of the previously described sections. In order to have this level of compliance, all of these processes need to be standardized within the organization and continually optimized. This level requires constant upkeep and vigilance in order to maintain compliance.
Work With A Professional CMMC Consultant
According to the DoD, companies have until 2025 to become fully compliant, at which time the previous NIST-800-171 will no longer be applicable. Contact the CMMC consultants at SeaGlass Technology to learn more about where your company stands in relation to the new CMMC standards, and how you can most efficiently manage your cybersecurity renovation procedure.