Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification

On November 9, 2021, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Accreditation Body (AB) hosted a one hour Town Hall focused on CMMC Version 2.0.  Matthew Travis, CEO of the CMMC AB; Jesse Salazar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy; David McKeown, Deputy Department of Defense (DoD) Chief Information Officer for Cybersecurity (DCIO(CS)) and DoD’s Senior Information Security Officer (SISO); and Buddy Dees, Director of CMMC, DoD gave prepared remarks and answered questions during the session.

According to Mr. Salazar, CMMC Version 2.0 has been in the making for the past 8 months, and takes into account the over 850 public comments DoD received regarding CMMC 1.0.  Mr. KcKeown explained that CMMC 1.0 may have been too broad and its requirements “too onerous” especially on small and medium sized contractors.  He described CMMC 2.0 — and its use of three levels rather than five levels in CMMC 1.0 — as being based on more of a risk based approach than the original CMMC because it is primarily focused on the type of data being protected.


Continue Reading CMMC Accreditation Body Hosts Town Hall Regarding CMMC 2.0

UPDATE: DoD withdraws the unpublished Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

On November 5, 2021, an Editorial Note was added to the Federal Register stating “An agency letter requesting withdrawal of this document was received after placement on public inspection. The document will remain on public inspection through close of business November 4, 2021. A copy of the agency’s withdrawal letter is available for inspection at the Office of the Federal Register.”   The reason for the Department of Defense withdrawal of the unpublished Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was not provided.
Continue Reading DoD Outlines Significant Changes to CMMC with Version 2.0

As the recent SolarWinds Orion attack makes clear, cybersecurity will be a focus in the coming years for both governmental and non-governmental entities alike.  In the federal contracting community, it has long been predicted that the government’s increased cybersecurity requirements will eventually lead to a corresponding increase in False Claims Act (FCA) litigation involving cybersecurity compliance.  This prediction may soon be proven true, as a December 2020 speech from Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michael Granston specifically identified “cybersecurity related fraud” as an “area where we could see enhanced False Claims Act activity.”  This post discusses recent efforts to use the FCA to enforce cybersecurity compliance — and, based on those efforts, what government contractors may expect to see in the future.
Continue Reading Cybersecurity and Government Contracting: False Claims Act Considerations

On September 29, 2020, the Department of Defense (DoD) released an interim rule that industry hoped would provide clear guidance with regard to DoD’s implementation of its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework.  The vast majority of the rule focuses on DoD’s increased requirements for confirming that contractors are currently in compliance with all 110 security controls in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-171 (NIST 800-171).  The interim rule also includes a clause for adding CMMC as a requirement in a DoD contract, but the clause fails to address many of the questions that industry has with regard to implementation of the CMMC program.  The rule becomes effective November 30, 2020.  We have written previously on NIST 800-171 and the CMMC here and here respectively.

DoD has been focused on improving the cyber resiliency and security of the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) sector for over a decade.  The Council of Economic Advisors estimates that malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016.  The interim rule is one of multiple efforts by DoD focused on the broader supply chain security and resiliency of the DIB and builds on existing FAR and DFARS clause cybersecurity requirements.  Increasing security concerns coupled with recent high-profile data breaches have led DoD to move beyond self-certification to auditable verification systems when it comes to protecting sensitive Government information.


Continue Reading Department of Defense’s Interim Rule Imposes New Assessment Requirements But is Short on Detail on Implementation of CMMC

On January 31, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) released Version 1.0 of its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (“CMMC”).  This is the fourth iteration of the CMMC that DoD has publicly released since it issued the first draft in October, and it is intended to be the version that auditors will be trained against, and that will eventually govern defense contractors’ cybersecurity obligations.  (We discussed the draft versions of the CMMC in earlier blog posts, as well as DoD’s Version 1.0 release announcement.)

As outlined in more detail below, the CMMC is a framework that “is designed to provide increased assurance to the DoD that a DIB [Defense Industrial Base] contractor can adequately protect CUI [Controlled Unclassified Information] at a level commensurate with the risk, accounting for information flow down to its subcontractors in a multi-tier supply chain.”

DoD stated publicly that it plans to add CMMC requirements to ten Requests for Information (“RFIs”) and ten Requests for Proposals (“RFPs”) by the end of this year, with contractors and subcontractors expected to meet all applicable CMMC requirements at the time of award.  DoD has indicated that these RFPs may involve relatively large awards, as it anticipates that each award will impact approximately 150 different contractors at all levels of the supply chain and at various levels of CMMC certification.  DoD’s goal is to have CMMC requirements fully implemented in all new contract awards by Fiscal Year 2026.


Continue Reading A Closer Look at Version 1.0 of DoD’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification

On Friday January 31, 2020, Ellen Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Kevin Fahey, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, and Katie Arrington, the Chief Information Security Officer for the Department of Defense (“DoD”), briefed reporters on the release of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (“CMMC”) Version 1.0.  We have discussed draft

On December 13, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) released the latest version of its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (“CMMC”).  This is the third iteration of the draft model that DoD has publicly released since it issued the first draft in October.  (We previously discussed Version 0.4 and Version 0.6 of the CMMC in prior blog posts.)

DoD describes the CMMC as “a DoD certification process that measures a DIB sector company’s ability to protect FCI [Federal Contract Information] and CUI [Controlled Unclassified Information].”  DoD has stated publicly that it intends to begin incorporating certification requirements into solicitations starting in Fall 2020, with compliance audits beginning in late 2020 or early 2021.  Depending the sensitivity of the information that contractors will receive in the course of performing work for DoD, they will be expected to demonstrate compliance through third party audits with the requirements set forth under one of five certification levels.  This applies even where contractors will not be handling FCI or CUI in the course of performing their contracts.[1]

The two most significant updates to the model in this version of the draft are (i) the addition of “Practices” for obtaining Level 4 and 5 certifications, and (ii) an expansion of “clarifications” section, which now covers the requirements of Levels 2 and 3 of the model, in addition to Level 1.  These changes and others are discussed in more detail below.  Given the expected release in late January 2020, it is likely that the requirements in this draft will closely resemble those that will be set forth in Version 1.0 of the CMMC framework, which is anticipated to serve as the basis for the first contractor audits.


Continue Reading DoD Releases Version 0.7 of Its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification

On November 7, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition released Version 0.6 of its draft Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) for public comment. The CMMC was created in response to growing concerns by Congress and within DoD over the increased presence of cyber threats and intrusions aimed at the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) and its supply chains.

The model updates Version 0.4, which DoD released on September 4, 2019, and which we wrote about here. The CMMC establishes the framework necessary for contractors to obtain one of five certification levels necessary to perform work on certain DoD contracts, including those that require the handling of Controlled Unclassified Information. Whereas Version 0.4 merely listed the capabilities, controls, and processes that were expected to apply to each certification level, this version provides some additional discussion and clarification to assist contractors with meeting Level 1 certifications.

DoD has not explicitly asked for comment on this version of the CMMC, and has stated that the updated model is being released “so that the public can review the draft model and begin to prepare for the eventual CMMC roll out.” For this reason, although additional changes are to be expected to the model, contractors should review the general requirements closely to ensure that they are positioned to continue bidding on DoD contracts once DoD begins including a requirement to obtain a specific certification level in Requests for Proposal in Fall 2020.
Continue Reading DoD Releases Version 0.6 of its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification

On September 4, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition released Version 0.4 of its draft Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) for public comment.  The CMMC was created in response to growing concerns by Congress and within DoD over the increased presence of cyber threats and intrusions aimed at the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) and its supply chains.  In its overview briefing for the new model, DoD describes the draft CMMC framework as a “unified cybersecurity standard” for DoD acquisitions that is intended to build upon existing regulations, policy, and memoranda by adding a verification component to cybersecurity protections for safeguarding Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) within the DIB.  As discussed in a prior post, the model describes the requirements that contractors must meet to qualify for certain maturity certifications, ranging from Level 1 (“Basic Cyber Hygiene” practices and “Performed” processes) through Level 5 (“Advanced / Progressive” practices and “Optimized” processes), with such certification determinations to generally be made by third party auditors.

The CMMC establishes a new framework for defense contractors to become certified as cybersecurity compliant.  DoD has stated that it intends to release Version 1.0 of the CMMC framework in January 2020 and will begin using that version in new DoD solicitations starting in Fall 2020.  Notwithstanding the pendency of these deadlines, a large number of questions remain outstanding.  DoD is seeking feedback on the current version of the model by September 25, 2019.
Continue Reading DoD Releases Public Draft of Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification and Seeks Industry Input