Understanding CMMC 2.0: A Comprehensive Guide for Defense Contractors

Posted by: Jenna Brankin August 22, 2023 CMMC, Cybersecurity

Understanding CMMC Blog Post Graphic

With growing cyber threats and data breaches, ensuring cybersecurity within the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) has become paramount. The Department of Defense (DoD) has worked diligently to upgrade cybersecurity protocols by introducing the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). This guide will explore the recent developments in CMMC 2.0 and what they mean for businesses working with the DoD supply chain. 

What Is the Background of CMMC? 

CMMC serves as a standardized set of security practices designed to safeguard Federal Contract Information (FCI) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). Initially introduced as CMMC 1.0, it was revised to CMMC 2.0, streamlining the standard by focusing on the effective implementation of the 110 security controls defined in National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 880-171 (NIST SP 800-171). 

What Insights Can We Gain from CMMC 2.0? 

CMMC 2.0 verifies a company’s cybersecurity hygiene against NIST SP 800-171 controls, with the goal of enhancing cybersecurity posture across the DIB and safeguarding FCI and CUI against threats. The relationship between NIST SP 800-171 and CMMC 2.0 is direct, with CMMC 2.0 typically relying on audits by CMMC 3rd Party Assessment Organizations (C3PAOs) to verify a DIB company’s proper implementation and ongoing execution of the controls identified by NIST SP 800-171. 

What Was Achieved in the Recent Rulemaking Update? 

On July 24, 2023, the DoD marked a crucial milestone by delivering CMMC rulemaking to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review. The review process could take up to 90 days, followed by a 60-day public comment period and subsequent finalization. This development represents a significant step towards a more robust cyber defense for the defense supply chain via CMMC accreditation. 

What Does CMMC 2.0 Mean for Defense Contractors? 

With the expected inclusion of CMMC in DoD contracts via Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) clause 252.204-7021 (DFARS 7021) by fall 2024, defense contractors must align their cybersecurity strategies and corresponding tactics with evolving standards. 

Your CMMC 2.0 Journey with Exostar 

Achieving CMMC can be a complex, costly, time-consuming, resource-intensive process. Exostar offers a comprehensive suite of solutions to assist organizations on their journey, from defining the scope of the challenge to maintaining compliance. These turn-key solutions help organizations understand expectations, work toward accreditation, reduce non-compliance risk, and best position themselves as a trusted partner eligible to participate in future government contracts. 

CMMC Ready Suite

Exostar’s Managed Microsoft 365 

Exostar’s Managed Microsoft 365 supercharges the familiar Microsoft Teams environment with enhanced cybersecurity and partner onboarding for external collaboration, making it the superior choice for DoD compliance needs. Meeting 85 of the 110 NIST SP 800-171 controls for CMMC 2.0 “out of the box,” it’s an essential tool for aligning with the rigorous cybersecurity standards mandated by the defense industry. 

Whether a large enterprise seeking sophisticated collaboration tools to better protect intellectual property or a small-to-medium sized business seeking practical solutions that reduce upfront cost and implementation time and burden, Exostar’s Managed Microsoft 365 bridges the gap. It combines the collaborative functionality of Teams with Exostar’s top-tier identity and access management and other security measures, allowing your organization to store, handle, and share CUI internally and externally with complete confidence. 

Learn More

Exostar’s Certification Assistant 

Exostar’s Certification Assistant is a go-to tool for professionals who manage their clients’ assessment needs or organizations that must better understand and navigate their compliance and accreditation journey internally. Certification Assistant offers clear descriptions and context for all the NIST SP 800-171 controls, tracks progress and status, accurately calculates compliance scoring in accordance with DoD assessment guidelines for submission to the DoD’s Supplier Performance Risk System (SPRS), and houses all relevant documents and records in one place. In addition, it automatically generates a System Security Plan (SSP) and creates a Plan of Actions and Milestones (POA&M). Whether you’re an expert handling multiple clients or working on internal compliance, Certification Assistant streamlines the process, making it accessible and manageable. 

Learn More

Exostar PolicyPro 

Exostar PolicyPro is the essential complement to Certification Assistant, meticulously designed to address the policy requirements tied to NIST and CMMC standards. While Certification Assistant guides you through the assessment and understanding of NIST SP 800-171 controls, Exostar PolicyPro helps you create, document, and maintain the specific policies required by these controls – either from scratch or by leveraging AI to update existing policies to align with requirements. With Exostar PolicyPro’s user-friendly Policy Builder, you can effortlessly develop policies identified by the 14-control families that comprise the 110 NIST controls. Certification Assistant and Exostar PolicyPro provide a comprehensive solution for organizations and professionals aiming to comply with NIST controls and CMMC practices. Certification Assistant simplifies the compliance journey, while Exostar PolicyPro ensures that the necessary policies are in place, tailored, and maintained. 

Learn More

Basic Assessment Services for NIST SP 800-171 and CMMC 2.0 

Exostar’s Basic Assessment Services for NIST SP 800-171 and CMMC 2.0 augment your in-house resources by providing experts to conduct an in-depth third-party assessment and gap analysis, so you understand precisely where you lie on your journey. Our team of experts aligns your cybersecurity capabilities with the exacting demands of the defense industry, delivering a submission-ready NIST SP 800-171 Basic Assessment, including your SSP, POA&M, and SPRS score. Intended to suit both small and large organizations, Basic Assessment Services offers a clear and structured pathway to compliance and accreditation. Integrating with Certification Assistant and Exostar PolicyPro adds a critical layer of validation to your efforts. This offering delivers certainty and confidence, paving the way for your business to thrive in today’s dynamic cybersecurity landscape. 

Learn More

What Does CMMC 2.0 Mean for the Future of Defense Contractors? 

CMMC 2.0 is poised to strengthen the cybersecurity mandate for defense contractors. As it nears finalization and implementation, businesses within the DoD must pay close attention to the evolving landscape and act now. Exostar’s CMMC Ready Suite will be vital in successfully navigating this transitional period and preparing your organization for success within the DIB when CMMC begins appearing in DoD contract solicitations via DFARS 7021.