According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Cybersecurity is a top priority.
“The Defense Industrial Base (DIB) is the target of more frequent and complex cyberattacks. To protect American ingenuity and national security information, the DoD developed the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) 2.0 program to reinforce the importance of DIB cybersecurity for safeguarding the information that supports and enables our warfighters”, states the DoD’s Chief Information Officer.
Overview of the CMMC Program
The DoD said, “The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program is aligned to DoD’s information security requirements for DIB partners. It is designed to enforce protection of sensitive unclassified information that is shared by the Department with its contractors and subcontractors. The program provides the Department increased assurance that contractors and subcontractors are meeting the cybersecurity requirements that apply to acquisition programs and systems that process controlled unclassified information.
“The CMMC 2.0 program has three key features:
- Tiered Model: CMMC requires that companies entrusted with national security information implement cybersecurity standards at progressively advanced levels, depending on the type and sensitivity of the information. The program also sets forward the process for requiring protection of information that is flowed down to subcontractors
- Assessment Requirement: CMMC assessments allow the Department to verify the implementation of clear cybersecurity standards.
- Implementation through Contracts: Once CMMC is fully implemented, certain DoD contractors that handle sensitive unclassified DoD information will be required to achieve a particular CMMC level as a condition of contract award.”
CMMC 1.0 vs. 2.0 Structure
Evolution of the CMMC
The DoD continues, “In September 2020, the DoD published an interim rule to the DFARS in the Federal Register (DFARS Case 2019-D041), which implemented the DoD’s initial vision for the CMMC program (“CMMC 1.0”) and outlined the basic features of the framework (tiered model, required assessments, and implementation through contracts). The interim rule became effective on November 30, 2020, establishing a five-year phase-in period.
“In March 2021, the Department initiated an internal review of CMMC’s implementation, informed by more than 850 public comments in response to the interim DFARS rule. This comprehensive, programmatic assessment engaged cybersecurity and acquisition leaders within DoD to refine policy and program implementation.
“In November 2021, the Department announced “CMMC 2.0,” an updated program structure and requirements designed to achieve the primary goals of the internal review:
- Safeguard sensitive information to enable and protect the warfighter
- Enforce DIB cybersecurity standards to meet evolving threats
- Ensure accountability while minimizing barriers to compliance with DoD requirements
- Perpetuate a collaborative culture of cybersecurity and cyber resilience
- Maintain public trust through high professional and ethical standards”
Key Features of the CMMC
The DoD states, “With the implementation of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) 2.0 program, the Department is introducing several key changes that build on and refine the original program requirements. These are:
- Streamlined Model
- Focused on the most critical requirements: Streamlines the model from 5 to 3 compliance levels
- Aligned with widely accepted standards: Uses National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity standards
- Reliable Assessments
- Reduced assessment costs: Allows all companies at Level 1, and a subset of companies at Level 2, to demonstrate compliance through self-assessments
- Higher accountability: Increases oversight of professional and ethical standards of third-party assessors
- Flexible Implementation
- Spirit of collaboration: Allows companies, under certain limited circumstances, to make Plans of Action & Milestones (POA&Ms) to achieve certification
- Added flexibility and speed: Allows the Government to waive inclusion of CMMC requirements under certain limited circumstances”