Everything You Need To Know About Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC 2.0)

Suppose your organization is involved in projects dealing with information from the US Department of Defense (DoD). In that case, it is paramount that you put in the most stringent measures to protect the government data that you store and transmit. The DoD relies on external suppliers and contractors for various jobs and projects, and sensitive information must be protected while exchanging it between the DoD and contractors. 

Unfortunately, in recent years, self-certification, like that supported by NIST frameworks, has started to prove ineffective against malicious cyber attacks—which is why CMMC has replaced security standards like NIST 800-171 to guarantee the protection of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), transmitted, stored or processed under the DFARS and DoD regulations and policies.

While the first version of the CMMC guidelines did a great job, CMMC 2.0 was released in 2022 to enhance data security amongst businesses interested in working with the DoD. It is still in the initial stages, but the CMMC 2.0 program will be rolled out in phases. The first stage is concerned with finding and filling in cybersecurity needs that are currently lacking. The revised certification procedure will be tested in the second phase.

The ultimate objective is to guarantee that all contractors working with the DoD are CMMC 2.0 certified, thus protecting sensitive or confidential government data. This blog will provide an overview of the updates made from CMMC 1.0 to CMMC 2.0 and highlight the latter’s benefits to help you understand why you must attempt to achieve compliance with CMMC 2.0 as soon as possible.

What is CMMC 2.0?

The CMMC 2.0 standard adds new suggestions and requirements to the previous edition. The CMMC 2.0 standard was created to assist businesses in safeguarding their computer systems and data against online dangers.

Sensitive data protection standards are part of the CMMC 2.0 standard. These prerequisites consist of the following:

  • Data encryption, both in transit and at rest,
  • Putting access control mechanisms in place and,
  • Setting up incident response protocols.

It is crucial to adhere to the CMMC 2.0 standard to protect sensitive information if your organization handles it.

Organizations can access various cybersecurity standards like the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 27001 standard and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s NIST 800-172 standard. Still, CMMC is the ideal one for companies dealing with sensitive government data.

Who is CMMC 2.0 For?

Businesses working with the federal government as contractors or subcontractors must use CMMC 2.0. This comprises companies of all sizes and sectors collaborating with the US Department of Defence (DoD). Organizations that adhere to CMMC 2.0 regulations must receive certification from an outside evaluator.

How is CMMC 2.0 Different From the First Version?

The most recent CMMC version is 2.0. CMMC 2.0 differs from CMMC 1.0 because it calls for using a certified third-party assessor (C3PAO). The C3PAO conducts an unbiased evaluation of the company’s cybersecurity posture. This distinction also exists along with the model’s upgrades and changes.

Organizations must have a 3PAO to evaluate their compliance with the standards outlined in CMMC 2.0 to receive certification at any level. According to the DoD, certification requirements for contractors will commence in 2023.

The DoD and its contractor community will experience a significant change due to the deployment of CMMC 2.0. The DoD requires the employment of a third-party assessor to guarantee that every contractor goes through a thorough and impartial examination. Sensitive data must be protected, hence this. Additionally, it protects crucial systems from potential online dangers.

What are the Updates Outlined in CMMC 2.0?

Here are nine updates outlined in CMMC 2.0 that are an improvement on the first version:

  1. Revised Maturity Model Framework:

The maturity model framework revisions are part of CMMC 2.0, which is intended to be more adaptable and scalable. The framework has three maturity levels, each with a specific set of cybersecurity requirements that must be followed.

  1. CMMC Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB): 

The CMMC-AB regulates the accreditation of outside assessors permitted to conduct CMMC assessments. The CMMC-AB also runs the CMMC marketplace, which links CMMC assessors with DoD contractors.

  1. Continuous Monitoring: 

CMMC 2.0 mandates that contractors implement continuous monitoring procedures to quickly identify and address cybersecurity concerns. This involves examining modifications to system configurations, strange network activity, and unusual user behavior.

  1. Cybersecurity Governance: 

Under CMMC 2.0, contractors must set up a formal cybersecurity governance program that top management runs. This program should include the rules and methods for managing cybersecurity risks, conducting risk analyses, and responding to cybersecurity incidents. Given the escalating physical and digital destruction over the past few years, proactive governance is necessary. 

  1. Training Employees for Awareness

Contractors are required by CMMC 2.0 to regularly teach all personnel cybersecurity awareness. Phishing scams, password security, and safe internet usage techniques should all be included in this course.

  1. Supply Chain Management

The execution of contractual cybersecurity standards is one of the new supply chain management requirements in CMMC 2.0, along with assessing cybersecurity risks posed by third-party providers.

  1. Risk Assessment

CMMC 2.0 mandates that contractors do recurring security assessments to detect and mitigate cybersecurity issues. Certified cybersecurity experts should carry out these evaluations and incorporate penetration testing and vulnerability scans.

  1. Incidence Response

Contractors are required by CMMC 2.0 to create and implement a documented incident response plan that outlines steps for identifying, looking into, and handling cybersecurity incidents. Regular tests should be conducted to ensure the plan is working.

Despite rising investments in cybersecurity, many businesses must implement the fundamental security measures required to protect themselves from ransomware.  

  1. Access Control

Implementing least-privilege access controls and deploying MFA are just two of the new access control requirements included in CMMC 2.0. This makes it possible to guarantee that only people with permission can access sensitive data.

Any compromised access credential is problematic for an organization and frequently leads to losing important data. The ultimate hacker’s goal is to get a credential with enhanced privileges, which gives access to other privileged credentials.

Benefits of Complying with CMMC 2.0 

Every DoD contractor or subcontractor must soon be certified for CMMC 2.0. There are several significant changes in CMMC 2.0, and contractors will have to reach a specific CMMC level of maturity. Further guarantees the existence of effective cybersecurity programs for DoD contractors.

There are various new requirements in CMMC 2.0, including employee security awareness training and incident response strategies.

Additionally, obtaining CMMC 2.0 accreditation will guarantee that your business is qualified to submit and compete for DoD contracts. It will show potential and present customers that your business takes cybersecurity seriously and demonstrates how dedicated your company is to safeguarding private information.

Because of these reasons, it is imperative to begin the certification process immediately. Your business will be well-positioned to earn DoD contracts in the future by making an effort to engage in CMMC 2.0 compliance now.

CMMC Compliance with Akitra!

Establishing trust is a crucial competitive differentiator when courting new SaaS businesses in today’s era of data breaches and compromised privacy. Customers and partners want assurances that their organizations are doing everything possible to prevent disclosing sensitive data and putting them at risk, and compliance certification fills that need.

Akitra offers an industry-leading, AI-powered Compliance Automation platform for SaaS companies. Using automated evidence collection and continuous monitoring, together with a full suite of customizable policies and controls as a compliance foundation, our compliance automation platform and service help our customers prepare readiness for the CMMC compliance standard, along with other security frameworks like SOC 1, SOC 2, HIPAA, ISO 27001, ISO 27701, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, PCI DSS, GDPR, NIST CSF, NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, FedRAMP, and more such as CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark, etc. In addition, companies can use Akitra’s Risk Management product for overall risk management for your company, Trust Center, and AI-based Automated Questionnaire Response product to streamline and expedite security questionnaire response processes delivering huge cost savings. Our compliance and security experts will provide customized guidance to navigate the end-to-end compliance process confidently. 

The benefits of our solution include enormous savings in time, human resources, and cost savings, including discounted audit fees with our audit firm partners. Customers achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, stay continuously compliant as they grow, and can become certified under additional frameworks using a single compliance automation platform.

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