CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) is a United States Department of Defense (DoD) program that establishes standards for safeguarding sensitive government information. It is a certification that requires organizations to comply with certain security controls that are based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards.
The purpose of CMMC is to protect controlled unclassified information (CUI) from cyberattack or unauthorized access. CMMC compliance is achieved by implementing and maintaining certain cybersecurity practices that enable organizations to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the CUI. Organizations must be able to demonstrate their compliance with the applicable CMMC requirements in order to receive the required certification. CMMC compliance is mandatory for DoD contractors who need to handle and store CUI and is essential for organizations to remain competitive in their chosen industry. All DoD suppliers must build a cybersecurity risk management strategy to ensure private data remains private and is protected in digital DoD supply chain exchanges.
Why Is CMMC Compliance Important?
The DoD mandates that all contractors adhere to the CMMC requirements in order to be eligible for government contracts. This ensures that these contractors understand and are actively implementing protective measures against malicious actors and data breaches. CMMC compliance is also important for organizations to demonstrate their commitment to cybersecurity and demonstrate that sensitive customer data is properly protected. By meeting the requirements of the CMMC, organizations can have greater assurance that their internal networks and intellectual property are adequately secured against cyber threats. Additionally, CMMC helps organizations improve their cyber hygiene by following best practices such as securely encrypting stored data or implementing multi-factor authentication.
Compliance with the CMMC is essential for organizations to maintain their customers’ trust. Customers are increasingly becoming aware and concerned about proper data protection and privacy measures. Organizations that are compliant with CMMC can demonstrate to their customers that their data and privacy concerns are taken seriously and measures are in place to protect their sensitive data. This can help organizations maintain customer loyalty, build trust, and gain a competitive edge.
CMMC also helps ensure organizations adhere to the relevant cybersecurity regulations. Compliance with the CMMC helps organizations stay up to date with the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity regulations. Being compliant with the CMMC requirements helps to demonstrate that an organization is following relevant regulations and is taking necessary steps to protect customer data and privacy.
What Are the Three levels of CMMC?
The DoD currently has three levels of CMMC certification, which are as follows:
Level 1: Foundational. CMMC Level 1 certification is necessary for DoD contractors and subcontractors who handle federal contract information (FCI). It requires organizations to adhere to basic cybersecurity practices focused on protecting FCI, as specified in FAR Clause 52.204-21.
The Foundational level doesn’t require assessment by a CMMC Third Party Assessor Organization (C3PAO). It requires an annual self-assessment with attestation from a corporate executive.
Level 2: Advanced. Level 2 certification requires organizations to have more robust cybersecurity practices in place, such as access control, incident response, and media protection. This level is designed to protect the integrity and availability of CUI from more sophisticated threats. The Advanced level is aligned with National Institute of Standards & Technology SP 800-171 (NIST 800-171).
The Advanced level certification requires triennial third-party assessments by C3PAOs.
Level 3: Expert. Level 3 certification is the highest level of CMMC and requires the implementation of advanced practices such as system hardening and data recovery. This level is designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of CUI from advanced persistent threats. Information on Level 3 will be released later and will contain a subset of the security requirements specified in SP 800-172.
What Are CMMC Security Requirements?
CMMC security requirements are a set of security standards designed to help organizations secure their networks, protect their data, and comply with applicable laws and regulations. The requirements are divided into the three CMMC 2.0 levels outlined above and cover areas such as access control, configuration management, incident response, media protection, system and communications protection, personnel security, and physical protection. Organizations must comply with the CMMC security requirements to remain competitive in the DoD marketplace and to protect their digital information from cyber threats.
Requirements in each level are as follows:
Level 1: Foundational Requirements
CMMC requirements at Level 1 include 17 security controls under 6 domains. The 6 domains include:
- Access Control (4 controls)
- Identification and Authentication (2 controls)
- Media Protection (1 control)
- Physical Protection (4 controls)
- System and Communications Protection (2 controls)
- System and Information Integrity (4 controls)
Level 2: Advanced Requirements
CMMC requirements at Level 2 include 110 controls grouped under 14 domains. The 14 domains include:
- Access Control (22 controls)
- Awareness Training (3 controls)
- Audit and Accountability (9 controls)
- Configuration Management (9 controls)
- Identification and Authentication (11 controls)
- Incident Response (3 controls)
- Maintenance (6 controls)
- Media Protection (9 controls)
- Personnel Security (2 controls)
- Physical Protection (6 controls)
- Risk Assessment (3 controls)
- Security Assessment (4 controls)
- System and Communications Protection (16 controls)
- System and Information Integrity (7 controls)
Level 3: Expert Requirements
CMMC requirements at Level 3 include 130 controls grouped under 16 domains and those under CMMC Levels 1 and 2. The 16 domains include: .
- Access Control (8 controls)
- Asset Management (1 control)
- Audit and Accountability (7 controls)
- Awareness Training (1 control)
- Configuration Management (3 controls)
- Identification and Authentication (4 controls)
- Incident Response (2 controls)
- Maintenance (2 controls)
- Media Protection (4 controls)
- Physical Protection (6 controls)
- Recovery (1 control)
- Risk Assessment (3 controls)
- Security Assessment (2 controls)
- Situational Awareness (1 control)
- System and Communications Protection (15 controls)
- System and Information Integrity (3 controls)
How Do CMMC Requirements Differ From NIST 800-171 Requirements?
CMMC 2.0 Level 2 is aligned with NIST SP 800-171, specifying that organizations in the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) to self-certify—either be compliant or to take concrete steps toward compliance. CMMC Levels 2 and 3 make provisions for C3PAOs to assess organizations and assign a maturity level based on the state of its cybersecurity program. Level 1, the Foundational level, only requires self-assessment.
CMMC Security Requirements Provide Benefits Beyond DoD
CMMC security requirements offer benefits beyond organizations in the DoD supply chain. The requirements are a set of cybersecurity standards that organizations must meet in order to demonstrate a proper posture in protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their systems. The requirements cover such areas as access control, incident response, audit and accountability, media protection, system and communications protection, personnel security, security assessment and authorization, supply chain risk management, system and information integrity, and training.
These controls help organizations improve their cybersecurity posture by implementing effective practices, training personnel, and ensuring secure supply chains. By adhering to the CMMC security requirements, organizations are able to better protect their systems and data, strengthen their risk management processes, and become more resilient against potential cyber threats.
Kiteworks for CMMC 2.0 Level 2 Compliance
Kiteworks is a trusted provider of cybersecurity solutions for federal agencies like the DoD as well as various Defense Industrial Base (DIB) suppliers that require CMMC certification. Because Kiteworks is FedRAMP Authorized for Moderate Level Impact, Kiteworks supports nearly 90% of CMMC 2.0 Level 2 requirements out of the box. This significantly reduces the time required for DoD suppliers to obtain CMMC Level 2 compliance.
When it comes to C3PAO audits, Kiteworks also delivers positive benefits. The Kiteworks Private Content Network helps DoD contractors streamline the CMMC processes and audit procedures, making the whole process faster and more efficient. With Kiteworks’ support, DoD contractors can protect their DoD business by obtaining CMMC Level 2 compliance quickly and easily.
Schedule a custom demo tailored to see the Kiteworks platform in action and how it can accelerate your CMMC compliance journey today.
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