CMMC: Quickstart Guide to Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a security framework created by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure companies prove their information security protocols are robust and mature enough to protect sensitive DoD data known as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). Understanding this framework and achieving organizational certification is an important step to winning deals and contracts.

Introduction to CMMC

What does CMMC mean?

The acronym CMMC stands for Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. By tying together several leading cybersecurity standards into five maturity levels ranging from basic to advanced, the CMMC program provides a verifiable roadmap for improving your organization’s security posture. To get certified, your organization must meet the criteria of at least the first level of certification.

Purpose and Goals of CMMC Certification

The goal of the CMMC certification is to deter uncontrolled access and possible misuse of crucial defense industry information residing outside the controlled federal systems. It intends to offer greater assurance to DoD that a contractor can adequately protect sensitive unclassified information at a level commensurate with your risk. Obtaining your certification establishes your firm as a reliable, diligent entity committed to cybersecurity.

CMMC Maturity Levels

CMMC 2.0—the most recent iteration of the model—has three levels of maturity that are applicable depending on the kind of information your company stores and the type of work it does. Each has its own list of requirements that build upon the level before it.

Level 1

At this initial stage, the focus is on implementing basic security measures. It includes 17 different practices that ensure companies are protecting Federal Contract Information (FCI).

Level 2

To achieve the second level, organizations must meet another 48 safeguards by embracing universally accepted best practices while incorporating relevant protective measures on Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).

Level 3

Level 3 maturity means a company has good cyber hygiene or the satisfactory application of all NIST SP 800-171 Rev.1 guidelines along with an additional seven other controls totaling up to a sum of 130 required practices.

Preparation Steps for Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification

So, what does it take to get you prepared to be CMMC certified? Working towards your Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) will be much easier if you follow these pivotal steps to ensure you have all your ducks in a row.

1.   Determine Your CMMC Level and Scope

Determining the appropriate CMMC level for certification involves a careful assessment of your organization’s specific circumstances, cybersecurity risks and the requirements of your contracts or projects with the DoD. Review your DoD contracts and project specifications to understand what level you need and what its requirements are. From there, determine the types of data and assets your organization will handle or have access to during DoD projects.

2.   Run a Cybersecurity Practices Gap Analysis

Test current cybersecurity measures against the standard CMMC framework using a gap analysis template or similar digital tool. Pinpoint unmet practices or processes across domains like access control, asset management and incident response. Document the gaps and discuss the actions that must be taken to address them.

3.   Build a System Security Plan

A system security plan (SSP) is effectively a high-level blueprint of your program where you clearly outline how cyber safeguards are implemented universe-wide in compliance with defined CMMC 2.0 requirements. You likely already have one in place — the next step is to update it with the information you uncovered in step two. If you don’t already have an SSP, you’ll need to build one.

4.   Engage a Trusted Partner

Engaging a trusted partner can spell the difference between a smooth certification and one with lots of avoidable pitfalls. Selecting a trusted CMMC third-party assessment organization (C3PAO) familiar with both best practices and potential loopholes within your specific industry sector makes sense. This partner-ally can run cybersecurity assessments, gap analyses and ensure you and your team fully understand the expectations and requirements of certification.

The Support You Need to Get Certified

OneNeck’s security assessments are executed by a team of experts who stay on top of evolving threats, changing regulations and best practices. We help you cover all the bases so you can understand your current state, see how it measures up against the CMMC framework and take the necessary steps to get certified.


Contact us for a security assessment consultation.

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