“Let’s pursue a new compliance framework just because we feel like it!” is not a phrase that you tend to hear business leaders utter excitedly. After all, making the changes necessary to comply with new compliance rules is a significant undertaking. Unless a specific legal requirement is at stake, businesses tend to embrace them slowly.
However, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is an exception. Although CMMC is not strictly required for most businesses, implementing it should be a priority for many CISOs today.
Indeed, a CISO’s main job is to harden cybersecurity wherever possible. Doing so requires identifying security risks, developing practices and policies to mitigate those risks, and creating regular reports that track the effectiveness of cybersecurity investments. Because the CMMC encourages these practices, pursuing CMMC compliance is an excellent way for CISOs to achieve their primary goals.
“All DoD contractors will eventually be required to obtain a CMMC certification,” as CSO Online notes, which may be another reason CISOs implement CMMC compliance. But it shouldn’t be the only one: Whether or not you need to do business with the U.S. Department of Defense, pursuing CMMC compliance is a great idea.
Four reasons to implement CMMC
You achieve several critical benefits when you invest the time and effort required to implement CMMC compliance.
1. Independent cybersecurity validation
Among the recent changes to CMMC is a new independent validation requirement for businesses with CMMC level 3 compliance. Independent validation provides a more thorough security check and vulnerability reporting than you can get from following other security guidelines, like those from NIST (which closely resembled the original version of CMMC).
Thus, CMMC is a more rigorous cybersecurity framework in many respects than anything else you can find.
2. Holistic cybersecurity best practices
CMMC is designed to encourage solid cyber hygiene for businesses of all types and industries.
It encourages a proactive cybersecurity culture (ESG benefits because it demonstrates a commitment to privacy). It facilitates education for all employees – including non-technical stakeholders – about security best practices. And it underlines the importance of managing supply chain security risks, one of the most severe categories of threats that businesses face today.
3. Increased revenue
From a purely business perspective, the additional sales opportunities that CMMC compliance opens up can lead to revenue growth.
When you achieve CMMC compliance, you can do business with U.S. government agencies that might otherwise be off-limits. This means more clients, but it often means more significant client contracts because government agencies tend to be high-value, long-term accounts.
4. Enhanced security maturity
Even in cases where clients aren’t government agencies and don’t require CMMC compliance, being CMMC compliant can nonetheless be a significant boon to business. It helps you demonstrate a commitment to cybersecurity and serves as a stamp of quality/security on the security front, which can help you close more deals and retain more clients.
The enhanced security maturity that comes with CMMC compliance can help you stay ahead of the competition, which may comply with less rigorous mandates but not with CMMC.
Granted, CMMC implementation is not a simple task: It’s essential for CISOs to understand the challenges before undertaking a CMMC compliance initiative:
- Process: You have to apply for CMMC compliance. That’s another task for CISOs to manage on their already full plates.
- Buy-in: CISOs need to get buy-in from shareholders and management for the CMMC process. That’s important not just culturally but also because business leaders will need to play a valuable role in the CMMC application process by filing forms, tracking progress and reporting, etc.
- Multiple steps: Applying for CMMC compliance is not a one-and-done affair. It usually involves multiple steps, with changes or additional information required as you progress through the process.
- Maintenance: You need to keep your compliance strategy continuously updated to meet CMMC compliance requirements. That increases your time and effort even further.
- Cost: For most businesses, CMMC compliance will require new tools and processes, which come at a cost. And depending on what level of CMMC compliance you need, an outside advisor may also be required.
None of these challenges should prevent businesses from pursuing a comprehensive CMMC framework to protect against cyberattacks compliance. But it’s essential to be aware of the potential objections and barriers before starting the process.
Even if CMMC compliance is technically optional for your business, there’s a good reason not to treat it as an option. Instead, CISOs should embrace CMMC implementation as an intelligent way to strengthen their business’s cybersecurity – and, in turn, open up new business opportunities.