two employees discussing cybersecurity maturity model certification requirements

Cybersecurity has become a central pillar in the operations of any organization, especially those working in defense. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) has been implemented to ensure that companies handling sensitive government data are equipped to manage those risks effectively. 

As defense contractors and compliance officers know, navigating the complexities of CMMC Level 2 assessments requires meticulous planning and a deep understanding of the standards. Here we provide insights into CMMC Level 2 assessments and guide you on the path to successful compliance.

Understanding the CMMC 2.0 Assessment

CMMC 2.0 centers on three maturity levels, as opposed to the five levels in CMMC 1.0, providing a more strategic and scaled approach to certification.

Level 1: Foundational 

The entry-level of CMMC 2.0 is a starting point for contractors, focusing on safeguarding federal contract information. Contractors at this level need to undergo a self-assessment of 17 basic security controls to ensure a minimal cybersecurity posture.

Level 2: Advanced 

This intermediate level requires adherence to an additional 110 security practices, significantly expanding on the framework’s intricacies, which are largely based on NIST SP 800-171. Level 2 demands for triennial assessments by certified third-party assessment organizations (C3PAOs).

Level 3: Expert 

The apex of the CMMC 2.0 framework includes all requirements from Level 2 but with an added 110+ security practices. These requirements are listed in NIST SP 800-172. Here, contractors must be prepared for triennial government-led assessments.

Preparing for a CMMC Level 2 Assessment

Nailing your Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Level 2 assessment necessitates an in-depth preparation strategy. Here’s how you can get started:

1. Assess Your Compliance Needs

Begin by determining the exact level of CMMC compliance you are obligated to meet based on your DoD contracts. Here’s some guidance we wrote up to help understand those requirements: Who Needs CMMC 2.0 Certification – Axiom

2. Understand Your Scope

A critical element of any compliance framework is to understand the data you have and where it resides. This helps an organization determine its scope and can adjust how controls need to be implemented. 

3. Assess Your Current Cybersecurity

Conduct a thorough assessment of your existing cybersecurity infrastructure to identify gaps. If you’re unsure where to start, the CIS Critical Controls can serve as an entry point to CMMC. CIS Controls in Accelerating CMMC Compliance – Axiom

4. Perform a Gap Analysis

Compare your current cybersecurity posture against the CMMC 2.0 Level 2 requirements to pinpoint areas that need development.

5. Develop Your SSP and POAM

Craft a System Security Plan (SSP) that documents how you will meet each requirement, along with a Plan of Action and Milestones (POAM) to outline the roadmap to compliance. 

6. Collaborate with Expert MSPs

Engage with Managed Service Providers (MSPs) well-versed in cybersecurity maturity model certification compliance to establish and maintain robust security measures. However, when selecting an MSP, it’s critical to ensure the right fit. Here are some resources to help you in this journey: Choosing an MSP for CMMC Compliance – Axiom

Overcoming Common CMMC Level 2 Challenges

Even with meticulous preparation, CMMC Level 2 assessments present various challenges. It’s crucial to be aware of these hurdles and have strategies in place to overcome them.

Navigating Resource Constraints

Limited resources, both in terms of finance and skilled personnel, can hinder your CMMC compliance efforts. This can be offset by selecting the right partnerships and proper solutions. In fact, we’ve also written about this before too. Here’s a resource that may help: How to Manage Costs for CMMC Level 2 Compliance – Axiom

Adapting to Evolving Cybersecurity Threats

The cybersecurity threat landscape is dynamic. Regular threat assessments and proactive measures can help your organization stay ahead of emerging risks and protect against potential vulnerabilities.

CMMC Success is Achievable with Axiom 

While the cybersecurity maturity model certification Level 2 assessment is rigorous, with diligent preparation and strategic approaches, it is a goal that can be achieved.

At Axiom, our deep understanding of the CMMC framework and wealth of technical expertise can guide your organization toward achieving Level 2 certification. Take the next step in securing your future in the defense marketplace by contacting us today.