Navigating the complexities of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) isn’t just a compliance checkbox; it’s a strategic imperative for any business working with the Department of Defense (DoD). Central to achieving CMMC compliance is the development of a robust System Security Plan (SSP)—the blueprint for safeguarding DoD controlled unclassified information (CUI) data. 

This guide is designed to walk you through the process of creating an effective SSP that not only meets regulatory mandates but also strengthens your overall security posture.

Understanding System Security Plans (SSPs)

Before you set out to create your SSP, it’s crucial to understand what it is and why it’s important in the CMMC compliance process.

Definition and Purpose

An SSP is a comprehensive document that outlines how an organization mitigates and secures its systems and the information contained within them. For CMMC compliance, the SSP serves as a roadmap that demonstrates how a contractor is protecting CUI. It’s not a one-and-done exercise but rather a plan that grows and evolves with your organization’s changing threat landscape and technology environments.

Components of an SSP

An SSP comprises several key sections, including:

  • System Overview: A summary of the system’s purpose, boundaries, and the types of data it processes.
  • CMMC Overlay: An articulation of how the system aligns with each CMMC level’s specific security practices and processes.
  • Narrative Descriptions of Security Controls: A comprehensive discussion of how security controls are deployed and managed within the system.
  • List of Tools: An inventory of security tools used within the system for monitoring and safeguarding CUI.

Options for Developing Your System Security Plan

When it comes to crafting your SSP, there are several paths you can take. 

1. Utilizing Standard Templates

SSP templates, especially those specifically designed for CMMC, can be a solid starting point. They provide a structured framework and language that can save time and ensure that no critical sections are missed. The downside, however, is that these templates are generic and may not fully align with the unique nuances of your organization’s IT environment and practices.

2. In-House Development

Leveraging the expertise of internal IT staff who understand the ins and outs of your system can result in a highly customized and detailed SSP. However, this option requires significant time and resources, and there’s a risk of overlooking regulatory requirements if the team is not well-versed in CMMC 2.0 mandates.

3. Hiring a Consultant

Outsourcing the development of your SSP to a qualified consultant like Axiom can offer a balanced and effective approach. Consultants bring in-depth knowledge of CMMC and can tailor the SSP to your specific needs. 

The Process of Writing Your System Security Plan

When writing your SSP, it’s critical to follow a structured and systematic process. Here’s a guide to getting it done.

Step 1: Self-Assessment

The first step is to conduct a thorough self-assessment of your organization’s security practices and existing controls. Identify all systems that process, store, or transmit CUI, and evaluate how well the current controls align with CMMC 2.0 requirements.

Step 2: Control Identification and Segregation

This phase involves aligning the self-identified NIST SP 800-171 controls with the appropriate CMMC 2.0 practices. Ensure that controls are not only identified but appropriately segmented, as per CMMC requirements, to promote greater clarity and accountability.

Step 3: Documentation

Your documentation effort must be meticulous. It should include policies, procedures, guidelines, and, most importantly, the SSP itself. Each document must be clear, comprehensive, and verifiable, supporting the narrative you present in your SSP.

Step 4: Implementation and Continuous Monitoring

The implementation phase is the bridge between documentation and active security defense. Each control and its associated documentation must be actively employed, maintained, and continuously monitored for effectiveness.

Start Developing Your System Security Plan Today

For professional guidance and support throughout your CMMC 2.0 compliance journey, consult with Axiom, a leader in cybersecurity and regulatory compliance solutions.

With Axiom’s expertise and tailored solutions, your organization will be well on its way to achieving a solid CMMC 2.0 certification, ensuring your place among trusted DoD contractors.