Before anything else, what is CMMC and why is it important? CMMC or Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification is a Defense Industrial Base (DIB) companies-only U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) initiative. It is a unifying standard and new certification model to ensure that DoD contractors properly protect sensitive information. For the purpose of creating and providing goods and services, DIB companies hold and utilize sensitive government data. The CMMC works to make sure that they secure this data in the same way that the military and other government organizations do.


The road to obtaining a CMMC for DoD contractors is renowned for being long and difficult, and this is particularly true for small enterprises. There are several essential policies, scarce resources, and high costs. Beyond these issues, cybersecurity can be complicated, especially for individuals without a specialized IT or security team. Considering leaving the DIB entirely has been the only option for several small defense businesses as a result of these issues. 


Here are the common challenges that SMBs are facing with CMMC:



  • Unreliable CUI Identification or Scoping



Under the CMMC, information that requires safeguarding or dissemination controls is referred to as controlled unclassified information (CUI). It is not legally protected in the same way as classified material, but is instead bound by rules and specifications for use, control, and protection.


The DoD must inform its prime contractors of any CUI that they will be handling. And with this information in hand, it is the duty of the prime contractors to inform their subcontractors of any CUI they manage. Every time a new subcontractor is added, this process should “flow down.” Sadly, the DoD isn’t doing enough on its part, and a lot of big prime contractors are passing the DFARS 252.204-7012 standards down to their subcontractors without mentioning whether or not CUI is there. This causes a lot of uncertainty and speculative activity across the supply chain, which eventually puts an excessive strain on the small business contractors dispersed all around.


Take into account a scenario where a small business manufacturer is not informed by their prime contractor about the CUI they are managing, only that they must follow DFARS 252.204-7012, apply NIST 800-171, and aim for CMMC Level 2. The small firm is frequently unaware of CUI or any of the aforementioned frameworks or legislation, therefore they are forced to make the best assumptions possible regarding how to comply with the criteria. 


We advise you to contact your state’s Apex Accelerator (formerly PTAC) program if you are a DoD contractor and have DFARS 252.204-7012 in your contract but are being told that you handle CUI when you don’t think you do or ever will. They might be able to help you get in touch with the right people to ask that the clause be removed on your behalf. 



  • Lack of Expertise



The comprehensive framework NIST 800-171 encompasses a wide range of technical ideas, such as endpoint security, encryption, access control, system hardening, and many more. As a result, both interpreting and putting it into practice require expertise in technology. Most small businesses look outside to IT Managed Service Providers (MSPs) for assistance since they lack this knowledge within. The fact that the majority of MSPs normally only handle the day-to-day IT duties and are unable to help with the auditing and accountability (Security Operations Center — SOC) portion of NIST 800-171 is one issue that they frequently run into. They are forced to outsource to a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP), which raises prices even more.


Your employees are your most important resource in the fight against cyber dangers, and the likelihood that they will defend your business against risky attacks (like phishing) is low if they do not embrace a cybersecurity culture. This culture must originate inside and be accepted from the top down; it cannot be outsourced to an MSP or MSSP. Small firms do, however, have a benefit over larger organizations in that it is often simpler to create a cybersecurity culture with fewer people.



  • The Cost



This is the most obvious challenge for small businesses when it comes to compliance. CMMC is expensive and necessary. CMMC requires a yearly financial commitment of at least five figures. This 5-figure estimate is from the costs of the following:


  1. Implementing NIST 800-171 (which may include potential network re-architecture)
  2. Engaging an IT MSP and/or MSSP on an ongoing basis
  3. Hiring a third-party assessor every three years (if pursuing Level 2)
  4. Continuous monitoring


In order to carry out their service for the DoD, small businesses must spend more money than they make in order to apply for NIST 800-171 and obtain a CMMC certification. Due to the lack of a profitable return on investment from working with the DoD, the small business would be forced to leave the DIB. 


These challenges are serious, but we are here to help you address these challenges. Our cybersecurity services are not only focused on keeping your company cyber secured but we will also train your employees about cybersecurity awareness and how to detect and prevent possible  threats. Worried about costs? Here’s what you should know: We have a flat fee rate and we are not increasing this despite the incoming recession. With Intelecis, you’ll be able to swiftly and effectively meet compliance standards, improving operational effectiveness, lowering the risk of security breaches, enhancing reputation, and raising competitiveness in the DIB industry. Need a cybersecurity partner to help with your CMMC journey? Contact us today!