Don’t Wait to Become CMMC Compliant

By   Zac Amos
Features Editor , ReHack | Dec 07, 2022 05:14 am PST

Competitive advantage for government contractors equates to certifications and compliance. With cybersecurity becoming a top priority for everyone — including the government — it’s vital to avoid as many bidding wars as possible for business sustainability. Consider what CMMC compliance can provide an organization.

What Is CMMC Compliance?

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) requires contractors working with the United States Department of Defense (DoD) to meet specific standards. Government contractors must prioritize obtaining this certification before the deadline.

The new guidelines — in version 2.0 in 2022 — have higher standards than previous versions to keep up with rising cybersecurity threats and innovations. The update was based on industry commentary and comparing other federal cybersecurity regulations. Another aim was to alleviate the financial burden on companies so it was more accessible to obtain.

CMMC covers best cybersecurity practices in three levels — foundational understanding, advanced knowledge, and higher degrees of expertise. Version 2.0 eliminated two levels of compliance, simplifying what each class encapsulates.

It requires self-assessment alongside CMMC Third Party Assessment Organizations. Some contractors don’t need compliance in all three levels, but achieving them all should be the goal if your business offers more intensive cybersecurity packages.

Obtaining CMMC compliance does not evaluate a company’s individuals. The focus is on competency and following the protocols and policies to protect sensitive government data.

Are There Benefits for Companies?

In December 2017, the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) was the go-to certification for government contractors. The benefit of the CMMC is it has higher standards and will force contractors to abide by the rules more thoroughly.

Gaps in the DFARS permitted contractors to work while not necessarily abiding by the protocol perfectly. Therefore, CMMC compliance carries more weight than others. The evaluation also relies on testing NIST 800-171 knowledge. Because this protocol updates over time, testing may be easier in the short term than in the future.

When government bodies see CMMC compliance, they will take a contractor more seriously. To them, it means an organization prioritizes government-recommended standards and trusts them.

The most significant benefit is financial security. Compliance directly influences the bottom line if your business relies on government contracts like the Pentagon. Firms with a broader array of contracts — including non-government ones — may be affected less. However, CMMC compliance provides security for more niche outfits while expanding the operations of those with wider scopes.

Why Should You Pay Attention to the Deadline?

Compliance is expected to go into full effect in late 2025 if they don’t make any other major updates. Becoming compliant is non-negotiable for companies to bid competitively, as CMMC acts as proof a contractor is fit to work with the DoD’s varying classifications of data. Controlled Unclassified Information and Federal Contract Information are only a few examples of what CMMC compliance allows a company to handle.

The goal of CMMC compliance is to make it not just an industry standard, but an expectation. The DoD will become more aware of companies not seeking compliance, focusing on early adopters to administer contracts.

Late 2023 or early 2024 will give companies the definitive rules since they are still under review. In the meantime, Interim Assessments are underway to solidify the evaluation process. Incentives are available to those who lock in an early evaluation date, such as honoring compliance for longer.

The early assessment also provides time for remediation if necessary. The process includes time to make up for points of failure so an organization can try again. Businesses have 180 days to fix mistakes. Even if it fails again, there is still a lot of industry knowledge to gain from the process until it makes another attempt.

Don’t Wait to Become CMMC Compliant

If the deadline passes, your company will struggle for contracts. CMMC compliance and other certifications are the lifeblood of those seeking DoD contracts because acceptance is contingent upon proving cybersecurity proficiency.

Plus, it proves your organization prioritizes abiding by the industry’s highest standards, convincing government bodies to rely on your expertise. Make CMMC compliance a top priority and business will remain consistent for government contractors.