There are various regulations and compliance-related guidelines that you must follow as a government contractor or subcontractor. Cybersecurity is a major issue for the government and its contractors.
The Department of Defense recently stated that one important regulatory certification, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) version 1.0, would be replaced with a streamlined programmes, CMMC 2.0.
We’ll get into more detail regarding CMMC compliance and what it implies for contractors further down, but first, let’s speak about cybersecurity contracting rules in general.
Government Contracts and Cybersecurity
There has been a rising focus on cybersecurity rules that apply to federal government contractors in recent years. There is a larger risk of False Claims Act penalties related to cybersecurity as a result of increasing compliance duties.
A knowing failure to observe specific cybersecurity measures could lead to penalties under the False Claims Act, according to the US Department of Justice, where cybersecurity protections are a necessary part of the payment or participation in a government contract or programmes.
At least one district court has ruled that a company’s inability to comply with cybersecurity rules, such as NIST Special Publication 800-171, could be relevant under the False Claims Act.
As part of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification programme, new cybersecurity standards are also being adopted. A large number of contractors may be required to comply with new standards that could be considered significant under the False Claims Act as a result of the recently released Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity.
The Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity examines a number of new cybersecurity duties
For example, there are new Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) regulations and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) provisions relating to data gathering and retention, as well as reporting and sharing data linked to cyber incidents. Contractors must understand what is expected of them and take the necessary procedures to guarantee that the project is completed on time.
Critical software providers will also be obliged to ensure that their product meets NIST guidelines.
What is the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification and what does it entail?
The CMMC is a key word in cybersecurity, as well as the entire IT business. It has an impact on hundreds of thousands of businesses all around the world.
The Department of Defense created the CMMC to guarantee that contractors have measures in place to protect sensitive data. Federal Contract Information (FCI) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) are two types of sensitive data that must be protected from unauthorized exposure.
The CMMC model combines best practices from a variety of cybersecurity guidelines. NIST SP 800-171, NIST SP 800-53, and ISO 27001 are among them.
Previously, contracting authorities and prime contractors were in charge of implementing and certifying the security of their information systems. They are still in charge of implementing security controls, but the CMMC now requires that third-party assessments be performed to ensure compliance.
CMMC was formed in response to an increase in the number of threats directed at DoD contractors.
The accreditation is required for over 300,000 defence manufacturers, contractors, and small enterprises involved in the defence industrial base (DIB).
In November 2020, the requirements began to be incorporated into some RFPs and RFIs. By fiscal year 2026, all DoD contract wins will need CMMC certification to some extent.
If you’re working with DoD data, you’ll almost certainly need CMMC accreditation. If you’re working with non-classified information from the Department of Defense, you could just need Level 3 clearance. If you’re working with high-value data, you’ll probably require at least a Level 4 clearance, but the categories are determined by the project.
CMMC 1.0 Certification Levels
The CMMC 1.0 certification has a total of five levels. Level 1 is the most basic, and Level 5 is the most advanced.
Most businesses should be able to meet Level 1 by now. Password hygiene, the presence of antivirus software, and basic security systems are all part of this level. It’s a really basic, foundational level of cybersecurity.
Level 5 involves proactive methods for detecting and mitigating threats before they occur. Level 5 certification necessitates systems and processes capable of auditing infrastructure and identifying any weaknesses that must be addressed.
CMMC 2.0 is a new version of CMMC
Federal Contract Information (FCI) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), both shared with and handled by DoD contractors and subcontractors on non-federal information systems, are protected under CMMC 1.0.
Contractors were obliged to go through a certification procedure under CMMC 1.0, which included five escalating tiers of security criteria.
The Department began an early review of CMMC 1.0 adoption in March 2021. More than 850 public comments were received in response to the interim regulation at the time.
As a result, efforts were made to improve policies and programme implementation. As a result, CMMC 2.0 was born.
CMMC 2.0 improves the program’s structure and requirements with the hopes of streamlining and improving the CMMC program’s execution. CMMC 2.0 will likewise build on the first architecture, but will do so in a way that will improve cybersecurity as threats evolve.
Levels 2 and 4 will be eliminated as a result of these modifications, but the remaining three levels will remain
Level 1 will be referred to as Foundational, and it will remain unchanged from 1.0 Level 1. Advanced is Level 2, which is similar to Level 3 in CMMC 1.0. Then there’s Level 3, which is expert and is identical to Level 5 in its 1.0 edition.
Level 3 will eliminate all CMMC-specific practices and maturity procedures. Annual self-assessments will be possible under the Level 1 requirement.
An impartial third-party assessment will be necessary for Level 3.
The Department is pausing the Piloting efforts until the CMMC 2.0 reforms are implemented through the regulatory processes of titles 32 CFR and 48 CFR. They will not include the CMMC requirement in DoD bids until the programmes is made mandatory following the completion of title 32 CFR rulemaking.