Potential CMMC Requirements for Non-Defense Federal Contractors & What That Means

Earlier this year, the DoD released their first version of the CMMC or “Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification.” This is a verification mechanism that has been developed and released in order to protect controlled unclassified information (or “CUI”) that exists within the DoD’s defense industrial base (or “DIB”) systems and networks. 

Later this year, audits will begin to be carried out by third-party assessors to ensure that any DoD contractors (or others working with the DoD) are maintaining CMMC-worthy levels of cyber hygiene. Any contractors who do not pass this audit will no longer be able to bid on DoD contracts or work with the DoD.

However, DoD contractors aren’t the only individuals and businesses who will have to take note of CMMC and its new regulations and guidelines. Government officials have noted that various other non-defense related government contracted businesses may also have to adhere to CMMC guideline. 

Katie Arrington (the Pentagon’s CISO for acquisition and sustainment), has been meeting with Chris Krebs (the head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or “CISA”) to come to conclusions on how the new CMMC guidelines could be required by civilian and non-defense related federal contractors. 

This is understandable, as sensitive information exists in several organizations who partner with the government, not just defense contractors. As Arrington has said, “CMMC will become a federal standard for the whole of government rapidly.” She even goes as far as to note that “the CMMC will become the basis for a global cybersecurity standard” in general.

As you can imagine, this means that many non-defense federal contractors could greatly benefit from preparing to meet these new requirements. When DoD CMMC audits begin to be carried out in fall of this year, many businesses partnering with the government may also find themselves umbrella’d under the new regulations and scrambling to prepare. By studying and preparing to comply with CMMC guidelines now, government partners can not only get ahead before official audits begin; they can also secure their systems more effectively against threat actors. 

Even if the CMMC does not become a requirement for civilian or non-defense federal contractors in the near future, it’s still best to adhere to these guidelines. They are currently the most standardized regulations for cyber hygiene in government, allowing you to better manage CUI and helping to protect your most sensitive data.

The best way to prepare for a potential CMMC audit is to use high-quality CMMC preparation services from a trusted IT provider who is well versed in CMMC regulations. Through these services, you will be able to get an assessment of your risk levels and benefit from industry-specific knowledge on how to implement CMMC-certified levels of cybersecurity to your business. This will put you in the best position to pass an audit, regardless of whether audits are deemed essential or not down the line.

As the DoD continues to implement CMMC regulations and train third-party assessors—even in the midst of a global pandemic—it’s clear that these guidelines are considered the new standard for government cybersecurity. By getting prepared now to understand and follow those guidelines, government partners can anticipate potential changes and be ready to adhere to compliance standards.