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CMMC Compliance Explained

Choose the Right Tools to Become CMMC Compliant


Cybercrime costs are projected to reach an astonishing $10.5 trillion by 2025. The US government is determined to standardize - and actively audit - cyber security requirements for all Department of Defense (DoD) contractors. Their goal is to create effective uniform defenses against rapidly growing cyber threats.


Major companies may find it easier to avoid audit checks and have more resources to focus on compliance. Small and medium-sized enterprises that bid for defense contracts often struggle to comply with complex and all-encompassing cybersecurity requirements. They are also more likely to come under close scrutiny by tough regulatory authorities.


Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification and NIST Compliance


Achieving data compliance can be a full-time job. Most companies still rely on complex - and unreliable - data loss prevention (DLP) projects to meet regulatory requirements. High maintenance DLP projects require ongoing supervision by expert staff. IT managers frequently depend on the services of expensive data security contractors.


The challenges of meeting NIST 800 compliance and CMMC compliance certification


The experience of trying to achieve NIST 800 compliance was frequently daunting. Cybersecurity maturity model certification requirements can be even more challenging for CEOs and their IT managers. Even the self-assessed NIST compliance checklist took up a mass of working hours. Time, energy, and resources that should have been channeled into delivering contracted services, as well as business growth, were absorbed by the intricate exigencies of NIST 800-171 compliance.


President Biden’s executive order on cyber security and the 2021 requirement for CMMC compliance certification added a new level of complexity and a ton of additional workloads. One small business that should have been thriving as it fulfilled a lucrative Department of Defense contract found itself tied up in a web of regulatory requirements. The potential financial liabilities of any non-compliance or data breach would have bankrupted the company. The CEO explains:


We’re a niche contractor to the Defense Industrial Base. We’ve got amazing products, some super-talented staff, and a great ‘can-do’ ethos in the company. We’re also navigating the transition from successful start-up to SME status. I’m averaging a 14-hour day as CEO and I suddenly had to get my head around a mass of regulatory requirements…


Trying to figure out a functional interpretation of what is cybersecurity maturity model certification and what is NIST compliance was like trying to learn a foreign language. I don’t have a specialist in cyber security or compliance background. When I focused on NIST 800-171 compliance and CMMC compliance certification it was at the expense of other vital tasks.


As the CEO of a growing business, I have to allocate resources meticulously. Financing high-maintenance DLP projects, and hiring data security consultants and compliance experts hemorrhages cash from the company. It is just not an option!


DoD contractor and Actifile user Tim C.



What is Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification


Effective cybersecurity is a prerequisite for any business or service provider in the 21st century. It’s vital to protect sensitive data; be it confidential client information, customer databases, R&D data, or new product launches. The financial consequences of data leakage are disastrous for companies and MSPs.


In the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), cybersecurity is national security. It’s the first line of defense against hostile foreign actors. The existential threats to national security, via cyber attacks on legitimate DoD contractors, are serious. Threats are continually growing, both in volume and sophistication. The good news is that they are largely preventable.


Companies that want to bid for Department of Defense contracts must meet auditable cyber security requirements. The required level of cyber security is adjusted according to the security classification of each contract or project. The new compliance framework is the cybersecurity maturity model certification or CMMC. It will apply to all existing DoD contractors, subcontractors and companies bidding for new contracts.


NIST 800-171 Compliance vs Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification


Prior to 2021, NIST 800-171 compliance was considered to provide an adequate level of DIB cybersecurity. The problem with NIST 800 compliance was the leeway that the regulatory framework gave to defense contractors. Companies were mandated to create System Security Plans (SSPs) and Plans of Action & Milestones (POA&Ms), but the implementation, monitoring, and certification of SSPs, POA&Ms, and the wider NIST compliance checklist, was largely taken on trust.


Self-management and attestation by defense contractors led to a dangerous lack of consistency in vital controls and remediation. It was clear that existing NIST compliance requirements were no longer fit for purpose. Congress urgently introduced Cybersecurity maturity model certification requirements to provide uniform and quantifiable cyber security standards.


What is cybersecurity maturity model certification?

A quick guide to CMMC for CEOs, Investors, and Executives


Cybersecurity maturity model certification (CMMC) is a regulation designed to protect the Department of Defense supply chain. It applies to all DoD contractors and subcontractors.

  • CMMC cybersecurity maturity model certification requirements are built on the existing NIST compliance checklist.

  • There are 3 CMMC certification levels to reflect varying degrees of official security classification.

  • Unlike NIST compliance, all 3 CMMC certification levels require an independent external audit to be considered valid.

  • The DoD specifies the required CMMC certification levels for each new contract. Most future defense contracts will require Level 3 CMMC certification or above.


A High Tech Shortcut to CMMC Certification

Level 3 CMMC certification requires DoD contractors to prove that they are complying with a total of 130 separate controls*. Companies need to invest in a detailed plan that ensures systematic implementation of effective security procedures. CEOs and IT managers have to think in terms of relevant stakeholders and allocate resources to missions, goals, and training.

This can be a serious drain on time and resources and there is no guarantee of success. Fortunately, there is a groundbreaking technical solution that completely streamlines the process of achieving CMMC certification.

*When you use Actifile, you’ll already be complying with 20 of these controls.


You may also be interested in:

Actifile and CMMC (v2.0) Level 2

An interim twist to the CMMC story


5 Key Ways Actifile Helps You Gain CMMC Certification

Game-changing Actifile software puts CEOs and IT managers in charge of cyber security. All levels of CMMC certification become achievable goals. Actifile works quietly in the background with no disruption to workflows. The software creates a solid foundation for meeting cybersecurity maturity model certification requirements.


  1. Identify, map and manage CUI, FCI, and FOUO data

  2. Provide 24/7 DLP controls across your entire IT ecosystem

  3. Restrict the transfer (or encrypt) CUI data on portable media

  4. Guard CUI data from malware and ransomware

  5. Protect data with in-built FIPS1-42 encryption


Actifile software is cutting the gordian knot of complex issues that dog regulatory framework compliance. It sidesteps the need for obsolete DLP projects and implements many regulatory controls on sensitive data and system vulnerabilities as a matter of course.


Actifile is fast and thorough. It simplifies complex data and presents users with clear, easy-to-read reports.


  1. An automated audit locates and maps sensitive data across all systems, stakeholders, and remote devices - including cloud.

  2. Actifile prepares a full assessment, in US dollars, of potential financial penalties and liabilities for data breaches under relevant jurisdictions.

  3. The Actifile dashboard allows instant one-click remediation of any vulnerabilities via a transparent data encryption tool.


If you plan to bid for profitable DoD contracts, or are rightly worried about your sensitive data, a free Actifile audit will give you a clear picture of your current vulnerabilities and the potential financial costs. It will also show you exactly how to immediately remediate urgent issues.



Conduct a FREE data risk assessment










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