Supply chain attacks continue to affect government and private sectors worldwide. These attacks are soft entries affecting more than just the supplier. The attack trickles down to the supplier’s customers, leading to broader incidents and severe ransomware demands from attackers. To further mitigate the rise in malicious attacks and unauthorized access to sensitive information, the Department of Defense (DoD) developed a framework to ensure contractors and subcontractors that handle controlled unclassified information (CUI) and do business with the DoD follow stringent cybersecurity guidelines. As a result, the DoD released details surrounding these guidelines, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC).

The five-level CMMC framework drives suppliers and contractors of all sizes to contribute time, funds, and other resources to strengthen their cybersecurity strategies to meet compliance. Before submitting bids, an organization seeking certification (OSC) must identify the desired maturity level and then schedule a CMMC assessment with a certified CMMC third-party assessor organization (C3PAO). The CMMC C3PAOs are the only entities authorized to enter into contracts with the DoD to perform assessments. Upon completing an assessment, the auditors review the assessment and certify the organization for three years if the proper cybersecurity requirements are in place. 

Sounds easy, right! Organizations must understand there are limited CMMC C3PAOs available, which could lead to further delays if an OSC fails the audit the first time. Small and midsize businesses often find it more difficult than a larger enterprise to strengthen their cybersecurity defenses in-house due to budgetary constraints. To ensure the time, funds, and resources invested in obtaining a certification lead to success, OSCs can seek a Registered Provider Organization (RPO) with registered practitioners on the team to perform a readiness assessment and gap analysis. RPOs are authorized by the CMMC Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB) to provide consulting services to government contractors, subcontractors, and businesses to prepare for the CMMC assessment. 

Not all RPOs are created equal. It is critical for OSCs to properly vet vendors and make sure they are getting the most out of their investments and are asking the right questions: 

  • Is the RPO authorized by the CMMC-AB?
  • Does the RPO have previous experience performing cybersecurity assessments and identifying critical security gaps? 
  • Does the RPO have deep knowledge of NIST 800-171 and other frameworks?  
  • Will the RPO provide you guided recommendations based on your desired CMMC maturity level? 
  • Does the RPO offer other services that satisfy many of the CMMC controls to help you maintain your certification while protecting your organization from today and tomorrow’s sophisticated cyber threats? 

Pondurance is an RPO authorized by the CMMC-AB to provide consulting services to help OSCs prepare for their CMMC assessments and provide guided recommendations on how to remediate vulnerabilities. Pondurance has decades of experience in compliance along with a range of regulatory frameworks such as HIPAA, CMMC, PCI DSS, FERPA, NERC CIP, NIST 800-53, ISO 27001/2, CMMC, and NIST 800-71. We believe the key to any good program is having a deep understanding of internal risk and third-party risk through assessments and monitoring. Learn more about our CMMC Services

Monique Becenti

Product Marketing Manager | Pondurance

Monique is a Product Marketing Manager and has worked in cybersecurity roles for more than 5 years. Prior to joining Pondurance, Monique worked with Truyo powered by Intel®, specializing in data privacy rights automation and consent management and was a product and channel marketing specialist at SiteLock. Monique has a passion for cybersecurity and leveraging her knowledge to create better experiences for consumers and businesses throughout their customer journey. Outside of cybersecurity, Monique loves photography and taking pictures of the beautiful Arizona sunsets and landscape.