Mar 03, 2021

CMMC: What You Need to Know About Cybersecurity in the American Defense Sector

Since 2020, American defense suppliers are required to apply for cybersecurity maturity model certification to prove their reliability and security to the Department. What is a cybersecurity maturity model, what it means for contractors, and how to get certified - discover in this overview article.

As the cyberworld is getting more vulnerable to attacks, organizations all over the globe are strengthening their security. The US military sector seeks improvement in cybersecurity with the introduction of Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, as it requires American defense contractors to adhere to standards of security, avoiding data leakage and preventing exposure of sensitive information.

In 2020, the Department of Defense developed the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification – a unified standard for executing information security for thousands of companies working within the defense industrial base. It is aimed to better protect the controlled unclassified information across the multi-tier supply chain of DoD contractors and their suppliers.


When it comes to asking what is DoD or CMMC, the new standard introduces new terms to be familiar with.

CMMC – Cybersecurity maturity model certification

CUI – Controlled unclassified information

DIB – Defense industrial base 

DoD – Department of Defense

NIST – National Institute of Standards and Technology

C3PAO – CMMC Third Party Assessment Organization 

CMMC Background & Structure

In early 2018, the DoD obliged all organizations dealing with CUI to adhere to the 110 security requirements by the NIST 800-171. However, CUI leakage continued, placing the security of the United States at risk. On January 31, 2020, DoD released the much-anticipated Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) version 1.0. 

The CMMC brings together several previously issued compliance processes into one unified framework. These include the NIST cybersecurity maturity model defined by NIST SP 800-53, NIST SP 800-171, as well as ISO standards, such as ISO 27032, ISO 27001, and AIA NAS9933. Additionally, CMMC includes some best practice guidelines from associated compliance procedures in FISMA, the Federal Information Security Modernization Act.

The CMMC consists of 171 practices across five levels to measure technical capabilities. There are 17 capability domains; 43 capabilities, and five processes across five maturity levels to measure the extent of process adherence.

Why DoD Contractors Must Get CMMC Certification

Previously, contractors were responsible for implementing ISMS to ensure all sensitive DoD information stored or transmitted by them is secure. According to CMMC, suppliers are responsible for implementing critical cybersecurity controls, but the certification requires assurance of their compliance that can be carried out by third-party assessors. Compliance here means alignment with certain mandatory practices, procedures, and capabilities to adapt to new and evolving cyber threats.

The new requirement will be gradually introduced during the next five years. By 2025, all DoD contractors will need to get at least Maturity Level 1 of CMMC compliance to continue running a business with the department.

How to Become Compliant with CMMC?

Whether you are a commercial business seeking to protect your sensitive information or a Government agency working with CIU, you need to pursue CMMC certification by 2025 to continue business relations with DoD.

Actions of the company to get accredited for CMMC depend on their current security compliance levels:

  • Decide on your point person. A responsible manager for certification should be defined; it could be a new or your current compliance officer.
  • Reach out to your assessor. Contact any of the CMMC Third Party Assessment Organization (C3PAO) on the CMMC-AB website.
  • Coordinate your activities. After you receive recommendations from your C3PAO on the CMMC implementation in your organization, allocate your resources to implement a list of requirements to achieve Maturity Level 1.
  • Select the right tool for compliance maintenance. Your chances for successful CMMC certification will double if you use the GRC solution for operational processes.

The Infopulse Standard Compliance Manager with CMMC on board will enable you to manage the standard according to predefined flow and automation. The SCM-driven approach will dramatically simplify and improve the introduction and maintenance of the new standard for your business.

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