Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) Clause 252.204-7012 covers everything contractors must know about safeguarding covered defense information (CDI) and reporting cyber incidents. The Department of Defense (DoD) implemented DFARS 7012 to guide contractors and their suppliers on how to secure CDI that they store, transmit, or process.
This clause, alongside the security precautions prescribed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-171, mandate organizations to implement technical controls for protecting sensitive information and reporting cyber incidents. But since the clause was issued in 2016, many organizations have struggled to meet the DoD’s needs.
Complying with DFARS 7012 can be an overwhelming task for contractors and subcontractors to handle on their own. Partnering with a managed services provider (MSP) that specializes in DFARS compliance is your best bet, whether you’re acquiring or keeping a government contract. Here’s how having an MSP as a compliance ally benefits your business.
1. An MSP Relieves Your Organization of Compliance Burdens
Aside from providing proactive IT monitoring, round-the-clock customer support, and advanced cybersecurity, an MSP relieves your organization of compliance burdens. They can create an IT strategy for compliance assessments and audits, helping you avoid paying noncompliance fines, and in the case of DoD contractors, losing a government contract. Moreover, you’ll have access to a wide range of IT expertise that can help you in the long term as compliance rules evolve.
2. An MSP Follows DFARS-Compliant Data Storage Protocols
Some traditional cloud services providers (CSPs) may use data storage systems that do not meet the NIST 800-171 requirements. That could be a problem, as organizations that use cloud services to store government data should ensure that these CSPs abide by DoD-mandated levels of security.
An MSP that offers DFARS compliance services uses a data storage infrastructure that is compliant with the FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program). This federal program ensures that any government data you handle is consistently stored in storage systems with a high level of security.
3. An MSP Offers Invaluable Assistance with Cyber Incident Reporting
Under DFARS 252.204-7012, contractors must notify the DoD through formal reporting mechanisms in the event of a cyber incident. The DoD will thereafter require access to an organization’s cloud systems that handle CDI. When filing a cyber incident report to the DoD, however, certain issues may arise for which the expertise of an MSP will prove invaluable.
In case of a cyber incident, your organization will need to indicate in your report any malicious software discovered and logs and images of affected systems containing covered defense information. Your IT partner can help with creating a thorough report that includes all the necessary information and also make sure that the report is filed within the prescribed period.
4. An MSP Can Expand Your IT Team’s Skill Set
Working with an MSP lets your IT team focus on non-compliance tasks or business-critical projects that keep the business running. At the same time, they can learn from the added compliance-related skills, knowledge, and resources provided by the MSP. Moreover, DFARS compliance experts can augment your IT team’s knowledge in terms of keeping files and defense information consistently safe and protected, thus better equipping you to implement security protocols against increasing and evolving threats.
5. Hiring an MSP Costs Less Than Building an In-House IT Team
In an ideal world, you can establish an in-house IT team that can perform all the necessary security checks to ensure compliance with DFARS’s cybersecurity requirements. These include functions like backup and disaster planning, dark web monitoring, and external vulnerability scanning, to name a few. But building an in-house IT team means expenses on top of high salaries and other costs associated with retaining top talent, all in the name of ensuring compliance.
While it’s certainly possible to build a team dedicated to managing compliance, the costs tend to be prohibitively expensive. Outsourcing a crucial aspect of your IT strategy — i.e., your DFARS compliance strategy — gives your technology budget more structure and predictability. It’s difficult to put a price on peace of mind, but it’s something you’ll have when you work with compliance specialists who can oversee every area of your DFARS compliance plan.
Charles IT has a team of compliance specialists who can help your organization obtain or maintain a DoD contract through comprehensive, industry-leading DFARS services. Ask us about our DFARS services today!