How to Keep Your File Sharing CMMC Compliant

How to Keep Your File Sharing CMMC Compliant

Searching for a CMMC-compliant file-sharing solution? With CMMC compliance being a make or break for government contracts, your business needs to be ready.

Why is file sharing security important for CMMC? File sharing security is essential because if the data is unprotected, it can be intercepted. When handling CUI as a defense contractor, you must meet file-sharing CMMC requirements.

What Is Secure File Sharing?

Organizations require secure file sharing to protect their sensitive data from unauthorized access, tampering, and exploitation. Secure file sharing helps organizations keep their data safe and private, and ensures that only authorized users can access it. It also helps them securely transfer large amounts of data over the internet without compromising the security of the data.

Secure file sharing is different from regular file sharing in that it adds additional security layers to the data transfer process. This includes the use of secure protocols, access control, encryption, and comprehensive security solutions. It also involves more rigorous monitoring to detect and prevent any data leaks or security breaches.

File sharing can be made secure by following the steps below:

  1. Use protected data transfer protocols: Choose a secure protocol such as SFTP, FTPS, HTTPS, or SSH for data transfer. These protocols encrypt the data being transferred, making it secure.
  2. Set up access control: Limit the ability to access, share, and download files to only users who need it. Determine where users can access the file from and control access by IP address, username, and password.
  3. Use data encryption: By encrypting data before it is transferred, any interception of the data will be rendered useless.
  4. Use comprehensive security solutions: Make sure that all systems storing, transferring, and downloading data are equipped with comprehensive security solutions such as firewalls, antivirus, and anti-spyware programs.
  5. Monitor the system regularly: Keep track of suspicious activity, such as attempts to access restricted data or unauthorized downloads. Regularly review access logs and audit the system for any security breaches.

What Is CMMC and How Does It Impact My Business?

CMMC is a newer set of regulations put into place by the Department of Defense to govern how agencies and contractors handle Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and Federal Contract Information (FCI). CUI is a unique form of information in that, while it isn’t classified, it serves an important function in the operation of the government and defense organizations.

What’s vital about CUI and government work is that federal agencies, including those under the umbrella of the DoD, increasingly work with private contractors. Furthermore, it has been the stated goal of the U.S. government to open up doors for contractors of all sizes, whether enterprise companies or SMBs. These organizations can provide unique services, including security, cloud infrastructure, SaaS, IaaS or PaaS services… all of which involve handling CUI.

CMMC is based on NIST Special Publication 800-171 and FIPS 200 and defines a company’s ability to manage CUI based on its cyber maturity, which is measured by two primary factors:

  1. The security controls that the organization has in place, and
  2. The capabilities of that organization to perform essential and widespread security functions like planning, documenting and remediating security measures and technologies.

To measure maturity, CMMC ranks contractors at “Maturity Levels,” moving from level 1 (Basic) to level 5 (advanced and proactive). Only contractors at level 3 or higher may apply for a contract that involves handling CUI.

Accordingly, any method of transferring, storing, or sharing files falls under CMMC rules as well, and this includes everything from managed file transfers to emails. CMMC file sharing is an essential topic for most businesses working under the DoD because file transfer is a fundamental part of any business–and a significant place where security and non-compliance could cause headaches, data breaches or worse.

How Does File Sharing Play Into CMMC Compliance?

CMMC has several requirements that impact your use of sharing solutions. Some of these requirements include:

  • Maintaining secure encryption standards for data-at-rest and in-transit. This requirement means that any shared files must be encrypted at all points to avoid theft, which typically means at minimum AES-256 encryption at the server and TLS 1.2+ for data transfers.
  • Implementing security measures across any system sharing or storing CUI. All systems and servers should have appropriate firewall protection, anti-malware support, and clear policies for the upkeep, upgrading, patching and configuration of those security measures.
  • Using effective Identity and Access Management (IAM) measures. IAM technology controls essential aspects of your system like authentication, system and resource authorization and evolving access controls based on role or data attributes. CMMC calls for rigorous IAM security that allows for the management of access to CUI.
  • Audit logging. CMMC requires that CUI-handling systems be capable of logging system events like data transfers, user events (logging on or off, opening files, changing authorizations etc.), system events (permission changes, data deletion, system starts or stops) and so on. Logs must be timestamped, immutable and cover an increasing number of events based on maturity level.
  • Intelligence and Reporting. Like any cybersecurity regulation, CMMC requires extensive reporting from the contractor and their CMMC Third Party Assessor Organization (C3PAO). More subtly, this framework also needs contractors at higher maturity levels to have implemented clear organizational plans, procedures and policies around cybersecurity, all of which require intelligence. Reliable file transfer solutions, like an MFT solution, will provide reporting and intelligence dashboard or utility.

This is an incomplete list, and all the fine-grained controls involved in compliance are beyond the scope of this article. However, it is important to understand that as a contractor with the government, you are responsible for your compliance and the vendors you hire. As such, compliant technologies like file transfer software can empower your company in its own pursuit of security and regulatory adherence. Lack of compliance will result in loss of contract status, if not legal action for negligible handling of government information.

What to Look For in a CMMC File Sharing Solution

If you are working under regulations or preparing to, it’s vital to pick a file transfer solution that meets compliance and enterprise objectives. With that in mind, it’s important to plan which features will help you achieve those objectives. Some of those include:

  • CMMC Maturity Equivalent: If you pick a solution, it, and its provider, must meet minimum requirements and achieve certification at the right level. For example, if you need a file-sharing utility to transmit and store CUI, then your solution must meet a minimum CMMC maturity level of 3.
  • Encryption and Security: Following the previous item, your provider should be able to demonstrate their level of encryption and their security measures. This means appropriate AES and TLS encryption, firewalls, configuration management, and so on.
  • Intelligence and Reporting Tools: Does your file sharing solution include a dashboard or automated reporting workflow tool? These items will be crucial in supporting your ability to meet CMMC requirements like planning and documenting. In many cases, you’ll find these tools as part of more expansive MFT suites.
  • Automated Audit Logging: Audit logging is critical, necessary and integral to your CMMC compliance. Your transfer solution and provider should have audit logging in place that meets minimum requirements, including the ability to configure and automate logging.
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): This item overlaps a bit with some of the other requirements, but having a CMMC file transfer solution that utilizes SIEM or allows you to integrate SIEM will help you achieve or maintain CMMC certification.
  • Strict IAM with Zero-Trust Architecture: Strong IAM is one thing, and your file sharing tool should have a secure IAM in place. Having zero-trust architecture will go even further in hastening your CMMC compliance (for first-time audits) or making subsequent annual audits that much easier.

Bolster Your CMMC Compliance With the Kiteworks Content Firewall

File transfer is a critical part of most businesses. Suppose you are serving the DoD or U.S. government. In that case, it is your responsibility to protect essential data transmitted through file-sharing tools without sacrificing your ability to provide unique products and services.

The Kiteworks Content Firewall helps you do just that. Our platform provides the security, configurability and scalability to support your regulatory and enterprise business goals.

With the Kiteworks platform, you get:

  • Security and Compliance:Our systems utilize AES-256 encryption for data-at-rest and TLS 1.2+ for data-in-transit. Its hardened virtual appliance, granular controls, authentication and other security stack integrations, and comprehensive logging and audit enable you to achieve compliance efficiently.
  • Audit Logging: With the Kiteworks platform’s immutable audit logs, you can trust that you can detect attacks sooner and that you’re maintaining the correct chain of evidence to perform forensics.
  • Private Cloud: Your file transfers, file storage, and access will occur on a dedicated Kiteworks instance, deployed on your premises, on your IaaS resources, or hosted in the cloud by the Accellion Cloud server. That means no shared runtime, databases or repositories, resources, or potential for cross-cloud breaches or attacks.
  • Seamless automation: The Kiteworks platform supports MFT automation to facilitate content transfer into and out of SFTP and other repositories like file shares and AWS S3.
  • SIEM Integration: The Kiteworks platform supports integration with major SIEM solutions, including IBM QRadar, ArcSight, FireEye Helix, LogRhythm and others. It also helps the Splunk Forwarder and includes a Splunk App.
  • Self-service Ease of Use: Business users access the back end of the Kiteworks SFTP server through familiar web file sharing folders. Employees the admins have delegated to manage the folders can create new folder trees for new partners or nest new folders for new data subjects.
  • Data Visibility and Management: Our CISO Dashboard provides critical insight into how your data moves through your system: who handles it, when they handle it and how. You can use this information to inform essential CMMC requirements like developing security- and data-focused plans for auditors.

To learn more about file sharing and compliance, schedule a custom demo of Kiteworks today.

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