DoD Compliance: What You Need to Know Now
As organizations across various sectors grapple with the evolving threat landscape, those in the defense industry face a unique set of challenges. Department of Defense (DoD) Compliance is a multifaceted endeavor that demands a firm grasp on regulations like the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) framework.
In this article, we’ll look at how compliance requirements have shifted over the past few years due to constant changes in technology and threat challenges. This compliance information doesn’t just apply to agencies themselves but rather any organization that works with the DoD. Whether you’re a major player or a small business, your organization will need to stay up to date to maintain contracts and bid for new opportunities.
The Ever-Evolving Landscape of DoD Compliance
Over the past few years, the compliance landscape within the Department of Defense (DoD) has undergone significant transformations driven by the ever-evolving threat landscape and technological advancements. One of the most noteworthy changes has been the implementation of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC).
CMMC represents a paradigm shift in how the DoD assesses and enforces cybersecurity compliance among its contractors. Unlike its predecessor, the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) Clause 252.204-7012, which relied on self-assessments, the CMMC introduces a tiered system with five certification levels, each reflecting increasing cybersecurity maturity. This framework aims to ensure that defense contractors not only meet minimum cybersecurity requirements but also evolve their security practices to better safeguard sensitive information.
Another pivotal development in DoD compliance requirements is the focus on supply chain security. The department has recognized the critical role played by its vast network of contractors and subcontractors in national security. To address this, the DoD has started implementing supply chain risk management (SCRM) practices more rigorously. These efforts include scrutinizing the cybersecurity practices of suppliers more comprehensively, from initial procurement to ongoing maintenance, to identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities.
Cloud security and data protection are also under more strict scrutiny. With the migration of many DoD systems and data to cloud environments, compliance requirements have evolved to encompass cloud-specific standards and practices. The adoption of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) for cloud service providers and the integration of cloud security considerations into DoD compliance frameworks underscore the department’s commitment to securing sensitive data in the digital age. These changes reflect a broader trend in government and military circles towards modernizing and fortifying cybersecurity practices to meet the challenges of an ever-connected world.
CMMC Progression and DoD Compliance
A more recent change is the evolution of CMMC to CMMC 2.0, aimed at streamlining the old CMMC requirements by condensing them into three levels of cybersecurity and aligns the requirements at each level with well-known and widely accepted NIST cybersecurity standards.The DoD posted the CMMC 2.0 model for Levels 1 and 2, their associated Assessment Guides, and scoping guidance to this website for informational purposes. Level 3 information will likewise be posted as it becomes available. The DoD has also stated that “requirements will continue to evolve as changes are made to the underlying NIST SP 800-171 and NIST SP 800-172 requirements.
Updated NIST SP 800-171 Requirements’ Impact of DoD Compliance
The government is also increasingly turning to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to inform Dod compliance measures. NIST has updated draft guidelines (SP 800-171 Revision 3) to enhance cybersecurity compliance for federal agencies and government contractors. These guidelines are crucial for businesses contracting with the government as they pertain to protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), including sensitive data like health information, critical energy infrastructure data, and intellectual property. The revisions aim to clarify the alignment between SP 800-171 and SP 800-53 Rev. 5, making it easier for businesses to implement cybersecurity safeguards and technical controls to achieve SP 800-171’s cybersecurity goals.
Significant changes in NIST SP 800-171, Revision 3 encompass several key aspects:
- Alignment with NIST SP 800-53: SP 800-171 Revision 3 integrates updates from NIST SP 800-53, Revision 5, and the NIST SP 800-53B moderate control baseline, ensuring current and robust cybersecurity practices.
- Tailoring Criteria Update: The updated version introduces revised tailoring criteria, enhancing the adaptability of security requirements to specific organizational needs.
- Enhanced Specificity: To eliminate ambiguity and improve implementation effectiveness, the revision provides increased specificity in security requirements, facilitating clearer assessment scopes.
- Organization-Defined Parameters (ODP): Selected security requirements now incorporate organization-defined parameters (ODP), offering greater flexibility to organizations in managing and mitigating cybersecurity risks.
- CUI Overlay: A prototype CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information) overlay is introduced, providing additional guidance and structure for handling sensitive information, further enhancing security measures.
As is evident, keeping track of all these changes to the various compliance frameworks is a full time job for entire teams of people. Depending on the type of service or product you provide to the government means some of these changes may affect your contracts more than others. Having a team of cybersecurity experts familiar with training in house teams can save tons of time and money instead of wading through the various DoD websites constantly to see when changes are published. As all of these frameworks are iterative, they constantly evolve.
Related Content: Understanding A Security Controls Review: What You Need To Know
Major Changes on the Horizon: Resources for Contractors
The rollout of CMMC 2.0 was and continues to be a very major change. DoD is still working on level 3 requirements, and there is no telling when they will be released. In theory, all entities should be at least level 1 certified by 2026, so time is of the essence. Determining changes in DoD contracting compliance requirements is nearly impossible given the tumultuous state of the military around the world today. We can’t predict the future, nor can we predict how funding to the department will affect top military officials’ decision making processes. However, we can help you to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. By reviewing and studying CMMC and DFARS changes, what we know is that compliance is only going to get more stringent.
The Department of Defense (DoD) provides various compliance assistance resources to help organizations and individuals navigate and understand their compliance obligations. These resources offer guidance, tools, and support for complying with DoD regulations and requirements. Some key DoD compliance assistance resources include:
Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA): DCSA is responsible for personnel security, industrial security, and the protection of classified information. Their website offers a wealth of resources, including guidance documents, training materials, and tools related to security clearances, facility clearances, and insider threat mitigation.
Defense Acquisition University (DAU): DAU provides training and certification programs for defense acquisition professionals. Their courses cover various aspects of DoD compliance, including acquisition regulations, contract management, and cybersecurity.
Website: Defense Acquisition University (DAU)
Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS): The official DFARS website provides access to the latest DFARS clauses and regulations. It’s a valuable resource for understanding procurement-related compliance requirements for defense contractors.
Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC): The CMMC Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB) website offers information about the CMMC program, certification requirements, and a list of approved CMMC assessors. It’s a crucial resource for organizations seeking compliance with CMMC.
Website: CMMC Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB)
DoD Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP): If you’re a small business looking to work with the DoD, the OSBP provides resources and guidance on contracting opportunities, compliance requirements, and support for small business development.
Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA): DISA offers guidance and resources related to information technology (IT) and cybersecurity compliance for organizations that provide IT services to the DoD.
DoD Components and Service-Specific Resources: Many DoD components, such as the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, have their own compliance assistance websites and resources tailored to their specific requirements. These resources can be found on their respective official websites.
These resources serve as valuable references for understanding and meeting DoD compliance obligations. That being said, as we’ve reviewed, the requirements are always changing! So it’s important to stay up to date.
The Impact on Small Businesses
Small businesses are especially susceptible to changes in the DoD compliance requirements, since they tend to be hired as subcontractors by major companies, and may not be aware of the implementation of change. This can work for or against them depending on the change!
Some compliance changes may create new opportunities for small businesses by expanding the DoD’s supplier base or encouraging subcontracting with smaller firms. For instance, the DoD may introduce set-aside contracts or preferences for small businesses in certain compliance categories. On the other hand, compliance changes can also introduce new challenges. Small businesses may need to invest time and resources to understand and meet the updated requirements. Compliance can be particularly daunting for companies with limited staff and resources.
Compliance changes often require investments in technology, training, and security measures. Small businesses may face increased costs associated with achieving and maintaining compliance, which could impact their profitability. In some cases, non-compliance with new requirements can result in small businesses losing access to DoD contracts. This can be especially detrimental if a significant portion of a small business’s revenue comes from DoD contracts.
However, small businesses that are proactive in adapting to compliance changes and investing in cybersecurity and other required measures may gain a competitive advantage. They can position themselves as reliable partners for the DoD and other government agencies. To do so, they may need to seek external expertise or assistance, such as hiring compliance consultants or cybersecurity experts, to help them navigate and implement compliance changes effectively.
In summary, DoD compliance changes can have both positive and negative effects on small businesses. While they may present opportunities for growth and increased competitiveness, they also come with challenges, including increased costs and administrative burdens. Small businesses should proactively monitor and adapt to compliance changes to ensure their continued participation in DoD contracts and to maintain their overall business resilience in the defense sector.
SCA is a CYBER-AB Registered Practitioner Organization (RPO) and offers the below CMMC consulting services to help DoD contractors satisfy DFARS and CMMC requirements:
NIST 800-171 DoD Assessment
CMMC Readiness Assessment
System Security Plan Program
Remediation Progress Reviews
Centurion ESO (Executive Security Officer)
View our CMMC Marketplace listing here!