Cost of CMMC Compliance: What You Need to Know
With all of the hoopla swirling around the U. S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) decision to implement the Cybersecurity Maturity Model (CMMC,) as a requirement for future federal contracts, many contractors & subcontractors are contemplating the cost estimate around achieving the standard for certification.
Contractors and subcontractors working with the Department of Defense ask us regularly about the hard and soft costs associated with securing and maintaining certification. How can you properly prepare for these costs, and what steps do you need to take to get there? Consider your certification attainment and management as a strategic business decision. This will allow you to budget for the costs that will be incurred as you move through the levels of certification and plan for re-certification every three years. While the road ahead may seem overwhelming, a sound plan of action and long-term budgeting strategy will help your business attain its CMMC goal while reducing up-front expenses.
What Brought Us Here?
The CMMC framework is based on DFARS 252.204-7012 (NIST SP 800-171) and requires independent attestation by a Certified Third-Party Assessment (C3PAO.) The CMMC framework’s fundamental goal is to improve cybersecurity standards inside the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) supply chain infrastructure. As we’ve seen with recent cyber-attacks, our nation’s supply chain infrastructure is a major target for hackers and a major threat to overall national security.
Dispelling the Myth
Small and mid-sized enterprises, in general, have historically been more attractive targets for cybercrime than larger corporations. These groups profit from the fact that most smaller firms do not consider themselves a target because the gain would be substantially less than a larger business, in the eyes of the cybercriminal. I’d like to dispel that myth, particularly as it pertains to smaller DoD contractors and subcontractors. If the goal of the cybercriminals is to disrupt the supply chain infrastructure on a large scale, why not target smaller manufacturers with fewer resources to protect their environments and compromise data related to the development of parts and supplies that are critical to our country’s security? The threat is very real.
So, with limited resources, how does a small to mid-sized DoD contractor or subcontractor become CMMC certified at the appropriate level? To get a better understanding, let’s look at the various cost points involved with CMMC compliance, as well as the elements that influence cost.
Consider These Three Cost Point Types for CMMC Certification and Compliance
- Soft cost: Preparation services associated with your CMMC audit
- Hard cost: Preparation services associated with your CMMC audit
- Hard cost: Associated with the actual audit process
Preparing for an Audit
Let’s take a closer look at the soft costs associated with audit preparation now that we’ve categorized the top hard and soft charges. Internal expenses on resources from external consulting on Risk and Readiness Assessment, also known as a CMMC Gap Analysis, are examples of soft costs in this case.
The cost of your CMMC Gap Analysis will be determined by a number of factors, including:
- The number of employees in your business
- Number of locations in total
- Your current level of NIST 800-171 cybersecurity compliance
- CMMC level required for your business
- How much Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) does your business handle?
Auditing Processes and Cost
There are no clear recommendations for how contractors and subcontractors should approach the auditing process necessary for CMMC compliance. As a result, estimating the hard expenses connected with the audit process is difficult. We recommend a well-defined audit program with fact-gathering questionnaires, sample rates, and a standard reporting format. A typical standardized control assessment audit program costs $20,000-$40,000 and is reasonably consistent across qualified third-party auditors.
Keep in Mind
The CMMC certification is a new requirement, the costs are significant, and final cost estimates for small and mid-sized firms have yet to be calculated. It’s worth noting, however, that a portion of the CMMC certification cost can be attributed to allowable costs that are reimbursable under the DFARS rules – working with knowledgeable CMMC security experts will help to highlight several cost-effective measures for the CMMC compliance process.
Engaging with a CMMC-AB Registered Provider Organization
When you collaborate with a CMMC-AB Registered Provider Organization, you’ll gain the upper hand by developing a budgeted strategy over time and avoiding massive up-front costs that can negatively impact business operations. When you divide the investment into digestible chunks, you pave the way to achieving certification and effectively managing audits in the future.
Get ahead of the game with these strategies and efficiently manage your CMMC certification costs:
- Identify what CMMC level is necessary for your business requirements.
- Engage a CMMC-AB Registered Provider Organization to prepare for an audit.
- Build a realistic cost estimate for your CMMC plan with your CMMC-AB RPO over time.
- Update your current cybersecurity maturity program to NIST recommended standards.
- Work with your CMMC-AB RPO on a well-developed action plan and milestones to prove your commitment to certification.
Want to learn more about CMMC and how to get started on the path to certification? Check out our no-cost CMMC Interactive Gauge to find out how your IT environment stacks up to CMMC controls today.
If you’re concerned that your IT environment is less than reasonably mature, schedule some time with us to discuss your current situation and get on the road to certification! to discuss your current situation and get on the road to certification!