There is no denying the fact that cyber threats have affected the U.S Government. Given the rise of cyber-attacks against various government contractors, the U.S Department of Commerce has initiated the DFARS. Besides this, CMMC cybersecurity compliance has also become necessary if one wants to secure government contracts in the future. The Department of Defense has made it mandatory for all the agencies working with the aerospace and defense companies to comply with the latest cybersecurity regulations.
Since DFARS compliance is a vast domain and not much is known about the compliance regulations, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has provided the NIST SP 800 171 guidelines. A company seeking a DFARS compliance certificate should pass the readiness evaluation as mentioned in the guidelines.
The timeframe for becoming DFARS compliant is six to ten months. However, the time will mostly depend upon the current cybersecurity status of the organization and available resources.
Like most other things, planning is crucial when it comes to DFARS cybersecurity compliance. If you are aiming to secure a cyber compliance certificate, you should keep all necessary resources and funds ready. Since DFARS security norms are relatively new, many government contractors prefer hiring IT specialists and consultants for the task. Such IT firms work with several companies across industries and are aware of all the compliance requirements. Partnering with an IT firm also means fewer errors and higher chances of acquiring compliance status.
Whether you choose to revamp the security of your IT infrastructure on your own or hire a helping hand, you should be aware of the process.
Step 1: Evaluate the applicability of your organization
The controls mentioned in the NIST SP 800 171 will help you identify the gaps between your end goals and your current position.
Initially, you should review all the contracts and determine how the DFARS clauses will be applicable to them. DFARS clauses can be used to identify what data to be considered as CDI or CUI.
You should also determine all processes, hardware, assets, personnel, applications, and IT resources.
Step 2: Create a remedial plan
Your next step should be preparing a remedial plan to protect your IT resources and company against non-compliance. This involves conducting a control gap evaluation as per the NIST SP regulations. Once you have identified the problem areas, take the necessary steps to fix them. You should also ensure your business partners, vendors, and third-party service providers are also taking the necessary steps to be compliant.
Step 3: Implementation of the remediation plan
Besides having a remediation plan, it’s essential to devise a progress tracking mechanism. With a robust system security plan in place, you can be worry-free about non-compliance penalties and fines. You can track the progress of the compliance initiative and revise controls whenever required.
Step 4: Monitoring and follow-ups
Compliance is a continuous endeavor, and one must be vigilant of the latest cybersecurity updates. Make sure you have all the required tools and metrics to track how much compliant your organization has become and what all would be needed to achieve complete compliance.