One of the most crucial aspects of the Department of Defense’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) requirements involves the strict implementation of data privacy protocols. Both small and large DoD contractors and subcontractors must comply with these requirements, depending on their CMMC level.
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According to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (OUSD(A&S)), these requirements are designed “to serve as a verification mechanism to ensure [that] appropriate levels of cybersecurity practices and processes are in place to ensure basic cyber hygiene as well as protect controlled unclassified information (CUI) that resides on the Department’s industry partners’ networks.”
For small- and medium-sized organizations aiming for a Level 3 certification (the minimum level required for a company to handle CUI), complying with these requirements on their own may be challenging. A CMMC compliance specialist like Charles IT, however, can help make this process a breeze. We can help your organization undergo an essential two-step process involving:
- A gap assessment that will determine the gaps or issues in your business’s security posture; and
- A CMMC security undertaking that includes backup and disaster recovery, dark web monitoring, endpoint encryption, external vulnerability scanning, security awareness, and security information and event management (SIEM).
Endpoint encryption, an essential CMMC service, is particularly important in meeting DoD CMMC requirements.
What Is Endpoint Encryption?
A DoD contractor’s data security strategy must involve encryption, on top of other cybersecurity measures and tools such as intrusion prevention systems, firewalls, and antivirus software. That’s because encryption is an organization’s last line of defense in protecting data.
Encryption involves encoding data to render it unreadable to anyone but those with a decryption key can access encrypted data. Organizations in a variety of industries use encryption to protect healthcare data, financial information, Social Security numbers, and other sensitive information to secure their and their clients’ confidential information. DoD contractors and subcontractors, in particular, must implement endpoint encryption across all devices, including desktops, laptops, and smartphones.
Advanced Encryption Standard-256 (AES-256) is the most frequently used protocol in encrypting data in a USB storage device or hard disk. In fact, government agencies and organizations that operate under highly regulated industries commonly use it.
Why Is Endpoint Encryption Important for DoD CMMC Requirements?
Encryption is an indispensable component in any organization’s cyber defense strategy. DoD contractors and subcontractors handling CUI must meet CMMC compliance standards to remain eligible to bid for future defense projects. That means enabling encryption to protect CUI exchanged via emails, transmitted via the cloud, or stored in in-house databases.
With encryption enabled on your systems, you mitigate these risks.
- Employee error – Being awarded a government contract is valuable, and you don’t want to lose that privilege because of an employee’s mistake. An employee can endanger your organization and the government data you’re handling by getting one of your storage devices such as a USB stick compromised. Disgruntled personnel intentionally looking to damage your reputation may also put you at risk.
- Lost or stolen device – Devices can get lost or stolen. When this happens, the data stored in and/or transmitted to/from your devices and systems could be compromised.
Fortunately, there are many ways encryption can help.
Encryption in Drives
Accessing CUI from desktops and mobile devices shared within the organization and with third-party suppliers must be encrypted to meet CMMC standards. Whether you’re accessing or sharing data via a Windows operating system (File Explorer), an Apple device (Mac Finder), or a web browser, files must be encrypted.
User access permissions should be restricted whereby only authorized users are able to decrypt them. Files also need to be encrypted if you’re syncing files across different devices and operating systems.
Defense contractors must use an encrypted email platform that meets CMMC email communication and storage requirements. Whether your organization uses Gmail, the macOS Mail app, or Outlook, emails must be stored or transmitted safely using encryption.
This means encrypted messages and attachments must only be decrypted on authorized recipients’ devices to render any sensitive information unreadable, further protecting your data in case intruders find a way to hack into your servers. Moreover, your organizations’ emails must be restricted only to trusted and authorized groups to reduce, if not eliminate, phishing attacks and spoofing attempts.
Email platforms such as Gmail and Outlook must be configured so that messages sent and received via these channels are encrypted and processed through a dedicated server. That’s because by themselves, the security setups in most email platforms won’t be sufficient to meet CMMC security standards. As a DoD contractor, you may be required to store messages containing CUI on servers configured with encryption per CMMC requirements.
However, these security protocols must not compromise your email’s usability. For instance, your current mailboxes and the servers that contain regular mail must be accessible and functional as usual.
Why You Need to Work with a CMMC Compliance Specialist
Security plays a major role in keeping your status as a DoD contractor. A cybersecurity specialist like Charles IT can secure your drives and email platforms with end-to-end encryption. These mechanisms ensure that the government data you handle is encrypted and can only be decrypted by authorized personnel on secure devices.
These protocols can also help prevent any CUI cybersecurity incident, which can happen when the user and/or administrator credentials are compromised. Ultimately, as a contractor, you need a comprehensive cybersecurity program that integrates endpoint encryption with other security policies aimed at complying with the CMMC regulations regarding CUI storage and file sharing.
Charles IT can tell you more about the importance of endpoint encryption and other security measures required by the US Department of Defense. Partner with us to make sure your organization ticks every item off the CMMC compliance checklist. Chat with one of our CMMC experts today.