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CMMC 2.0: A Defense Contractors Guide To CMMC 2.0 And How IT Services Can Ensure CMMC Certification Success

The cybersecurity threat and solution landscape is evolving at a mounting pace, and the sensitivity to these changes is heightened in the world of defense. As a defense contractor, understanding and adapting to the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework, which will eventually be updated to CMMC version 2, is crucial for maintaining and securing defense contracts.

This blog post aims to demystify CMMC and highlight the changes in CMMC 2.0 compared to 1.0, and explain how specialized managed IT service providers can help you comply with these requirements.

Understanding CMMC

Initially introduced by the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2020, the CMMC framework is designed to enhance cybersecurity protocols within the defense supply chain. As a result, it mandates new standards, practices, and processes for all companies in the DoD supply chain.

The purpose is clear: to protect sensitive unclassified information and bolster defenses against evolving cyber threats. To do business with the DoD, your business will need to be CMMC compliant to an appropriate level and standard.

CMMC 2.0: The New Era

Announced back in November 2021, CMMC 2.0 represents an evolution from its predecessor, focusing on streamlining compliance and enhancing accountability. One of the most significant changes is the reduction of certification levels from five to three, simplifying the process for contractors, particularly small and medium-sized defense contractors in the DoD supply chain.

Its changes are geared to establish clear priorities for protecting DoD information and reinforce cooperation between the DoD and the industry against evolving cyber threats.

The CMMC 2.0 guidelines were released in December 2023; with defense contractors now having until Q3 2025 to align themselves with its requirements and to get assessed and CMMC-certified.

Key Differences Between CMMC 1.0 and 2.0

CMMC 2.0 has made several critical revisions:

  • Streamlined Certification Levels: The certification levels have been reduced from five to three, named Foundational, Advanced, and Expert, aligning better with the real needs of defense contractors.
  • Relaxed Assessment Rules: For some contractors, CMMC 2.0 allows self-assessments, which can accelerate compliance and reduce the hefty costs associated with going through third-party assessors.
  • Emphasis on NIST Standards: The new model aligns more closely with NIST standards, particularly NIST 800-171, which will help to simplify the control implementation pathway.
  • Introduction of POA&Ms: Plan of Actions & Milestones (POA&Ms) can now be used to address gaps in noncritical controls, aiding in a more orderly certification process.


When Will CMMC 2.0 Come into Effect for Defense Contractors?

CMMC 2.0 was published on December 26th, 2023, but is yet to come into full effect. Here’s what defense contractors need to know ahead of time:

  • CMMC assessments will begin to take place from Q1 2025; it’s critical though to get your business aligned beforehand and to send off for an assessment.
  • The rollout of CMMC into contracts will begin from Q3 2025.
  • However, there is a tight pipeline that contractors are facing to get assessed; it’s critical to begin aligning your business with CMMC 2.0 requirements as soon as possible, and then to get assessed.
  • Primary contractors will, in most cases, expect subcontractors to be CMMC-compliant before the rollout period begins from Q3 2025.

Secure Your Place In The Defense Supply Chain: Get CMMC 2.0 Ready With Infinity

We understand that getting your organization fully aligned to meet CMMC 2.0’s requirements in time can be a daunting and complex process, and we’re here to guide you through it. Get in touch with our team today to ask questions, get guidance, and get practical assistance with getting your organization CMMC 2.0 ready ahead of the competition, enabling you to secure existing and potential contracts going forward.

What Are The Three CMMC Levels And How Long Will It Take To Get Prepared And Assessed?

There are three levels in total that can apply to your business as a compliant defense contractor:

CMMC 2.0 Level 1: Foundational Level

Level 1 only applies to organizations that possess federal contract information (FCI). Accordingly, it’s requirements are based around protecting FCI to ensure that contractor information systems are secure and that limited access to sensitive information is limited to authorized users.

In a nutshell, CMMC 2.0 Level 1’s requirements are based on the 17 controls found in FAR 52.204-21 (Basic Safeguarding of Covered Contract Information).

CMMC 2.0 Level 2: Advanced Level

This level is targeted towards organizations that work with CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information); it is broadly similar to the requirements stipulated in CMMC 1.0’s level 3. The requirements of level 2 eliminate all maturity processes and practices, but does include the 110 security controls found within NIST SP 80-171.

CMMC 2.0 Level 3: Expert Level

The most advanced CMMC level is the expert level, which is designed for organizations working with critically sensitive CUI. It focuses on minimizing risks presented by Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). This level is comparable to level 5 of CMMC 1.0; the specific requirements are still to be finalized, but there is an expectation these requirements will involve a combination of the 110 NIST SP 800-171 controls and some of NIST SP 800-172’s controls.

How IT Service Providers Can Support Defense Contractors to Achieve CMMC 2.0 Certification

A specialist IT service provider in CMMC-compliance can help your organization to ensure it is ready for assessment by 3rd parties and to get certified. They can also help you to ensure your IT environment remains CMMC-compliant going forward. Here’s how they can help:

CMMC 2.0 Gap Analysis and Readiness Assessment

The IT support or managed IT services provider will start with a gap analysis to identify where your cybersecurity practices diverge from the new CMMC 2.0 standards, which will give you the insight you need to achieve compliance and pass the assessment.

CMMC 2.0 Cybersecurity Framework Implementation

Based on the assessment, these providers can design and implement a cybersecurity framework that meets the CMMC 2.0 requirements appropriate to the level of certification that you need. They will help you to update your organization’s policies, processes, and controls as needed.

CMMC 2.0 Compliance Monitoring and Management

Maintaining CMMC 2.0 compliance is an ongoing effort with a lot of trust at stake. So the specialized IT service provider will also be able to ensure continuous monitoring and management of your cybersecurity stance, adapting to evolving threats to keep your certification intact.

Training and Awareness Programs

They also offer training programs to minimize human error risks, making sure all employees understand their role in maintaining robust cybersecurity and compliance in alignment with CMMC 2.0 requirements.

Documentation and Reporting Support

The managed IT services company will help you to prepare the documentation that you need for the CMMC 2.0 assessment, enabling you to gain certification from CMMC-AB and to stand up to the thorough scrutiny of audits.

Proactive Remediation and Continuous Improvement

In case of vulnerabilities, these providers quickly remediate issues and advise on enhancing cybersecurity practices, ensuring your organization not only meets but exceeds CMMC standards.

Liaison with Assessors and Post-Certification Support

Your IT support provider can facilitate the certification process, acting as a liaison with third-party assessors and offering post-certification support to ensure ongoing compliance.

In essence, leveraging a specialist IT service provider simplifies achieving and maintaining CMMC 2.0 certification, allowing your organization to focus on its core operations while ensuring compliance with DoD cybersecurity requirements. This partnership ensures you’re well-prepared for assessment and equipped to sustain compliance, securing your ability to compete for and fulfill DoD contracts.

Why CMMC 2.0 Compliance Is Crucial

Compliance with CMMC 2.0 is not just a regulatory requirement; it’s a matter of national security. By adhering to these standards, you ensure the integrity and security of sensitive defense-related information. Additionally, compliance positions your company as a reliable and secure partner in the defense supply chain, opening doors to more opportunities.

Final Thoughts: It’s Crucial To Take Action Today

In terms of getting started to act on getting CMMC 2.0 compliant, organizations should have gotten started yesterday! The reason being that in the coming months, there will be an assessment and certification process bottleneck as more organizations rush to get compliant under this rigorous process, which could potentially jeopardize their existing and potential contracts alike.

We advise taking the steps to getting CMMC 2.0 compliant as soon as possible; don’t leave it to chance, stand out and get ahead of the competition and demonstrate your proactivity today to minimize risk for your business, while maximizing its opportunities.

Infinity Technologies: Trusted CMMC Compliance Partners

We’re compliance specialists with a breadth of IT and cybersecurity expertise; a proven track record of helping organizations ensure compliance with CMMC requirements. We’re here to help you with your questions, to give advice, and actionable insights for your business. Get on the fast-track to ensured CMMC compliance with us by booking in your free consultation today.