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Cybersecurity and the Defense Industrial Base

Let's explore how The Security Agency can assist the Defense Industrial Base

From the desk of Juan Vegarra

Mar 4, 2024

Introduction

Cybersecurity serves as a pillar of our national defense, safeguarding critical information and infrastructure from ever-evolving cyber threats. With technology permeating every facet of modern life, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and related agencies have proactively implemented robust cybersecurity measures and frameworks.


This article aims to delve into the nexus between cybersecurity and the defense industrial base, exploring essential concepts such as identifying best practices through application of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and participation in threat intelligence sharing communities such as the National Defense ISAC, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).


At The Security Agency, we pride ourselves on delivering a distinctive blend of expertise and innovation at the forefront of information security solutions. With an unwavering focus on pragmatic innovation and seamless integrations, we adeptly tackle the unique challenges encountered by organizations across diverse market segments dealing with CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information).


By combining traditional security protocols with cutting-edge technologies, our tailored approach ensures that your organization's security posture remains both resilient and adaptable.

Understanding the Defense Industrial Base (DIB)


The defense industrial base encompasses a robust network of contractors, suppliers, and service providers collaborating closely with the DoD. These entities play a pivotal role in bolstering the defense infrastructure and managing sensitive information (classified and unclassified).

 

However, their involvement also exposes them to potential cyber threats and attacks. Recognizing this vulnerability, the DoD has diligently worked to implement stringent cybersecurity requirements to consistently safeguard sensitive data and uphold a steadfast cybersecurity posture throughout the defense supply chain.


The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC)

CMMC version 2.0 represents a crucial framework devised by the DoD to enhance cybersecurity practices and controls within the defense industrial base. It draws upon established standards like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines while introducing a tiered certification model with multiple cybersecurity compliance levels.

 

CMMC's primary objectives encompass safeguarding classified military intelligence, enforcing cybersecurity standards across the defense supply chain, ensuring accountability through compliance, fostering collaboration between vendors and the government, and maintaining public trust by assuring sensitive information protection and resilience against cyber threats.


CMMC Main Objectives:

 

  • Protecting Sensitive Military Intelligence - CMMC establishes stringent cybersecurity measures and controls to safeguard classified information effectively.


  • Enforcing Cybersecurity Standards - Mandating compliance with CMMC requirements ensures robust cybersecurity practices across all entities within the defense supply chain.



  • Ensuring Accountability - CMMC certification holds organizations accountable for maintaining a strong cybersecurity posture and mitigating cyber risks effectively.



  • Fostering Collaboration - CMMC promotes a collaborative approach between the DoD and its contractors, facilitating effective communication and information sharing regarding cybersecurity best practices.



  • Maintaining Public Trust - By implementing CMMC, the DoD aims to reassure the public about the protection of sensitive information and the resilience of the defense industrial base against cyber threats.


 

The Evolution of CMMC Compliance Levels

Initially comprising five levels, CMMC compliance requirements have been streamlined to three levels with the release of CMMC 2.0. From foundational security practices at Level 1 to expert-level cybersecurity maturity at Level 3, CMMC delineates a structured path for organizations to enhance their cybersecurity posture and navigate evolving threats.

 

  • Level 1 - Foundational: This level represents the most basic form of cybersecurity compliance, focusing on fundamental security practices like password hygiene and antivirus protection software. It entails self-reporting on CMMC requirements and typically applies to DoD vendors handling Federal Contract Information.



  • Level 2 - Advanced: Building upon Level 1, Level 2 introduces additional cybersecurity requirements such as physical access control, incident response, risk management, and system integrity. It is mandatory for vendors managing Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and is crucial for government IT operations' critical infrastructure.



  • Level 3 - Expert: At this pinnacle of cybersecurity maturity, organizations must demonstrate proactive approaches to detect and mitigate threats, implement robust system hardening measures, and maintain continuous monitoring of all digital systems and data. Compliance is evaluated by the government's Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), requiring adherence to Levels 1, 2, and 3 requirements.

The Importance of People, Processes, and Partnerships

 


Ensuring compliance with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) demands a comprehensive approach that encompasses people, processes, and partnerships. Within this framework, the expertise and commitment of skilled professionals are paramount.

 

The establishment of dedicated cyber career fields within the military, exemplified by the pioneering efforts of the Army, underscores the critical role of a talented workforce in staying at the forefront of technological advancements.

 

Moreover, effective processes are essential for building, resourcing, and deploying personnel for the DoD's Cyber Mission Force. This includes expanding cyber teams, advancing cyber education, and creating immersive training environments. Additionally, partnerships with various stakeholders are vital for bolstering cyber defenses and addressing the ever-evolving nature of cyberspace threats.

 

The Need for a Balanced Approach

While cybersecurity remains a top priority, maintaining a balance between offensive and defensive capabilities is imperative. As the digital landscape evolves, it is essential to consider the long-term implications and potential risks associated with an overemphasis on offensive capabilities.


As much as we might want to field offensive teams with missions of disruption of threat actor infrastructure and capabilities, the fact that these threat actors are "living off the land" means that they often reside on private sector assets.


A comprehensive cybersecurity approach must include proactive defense, robust threat detection and mitigation, and the development of resilient systems to handle future conflicts. It must also endeavor to support healthy sharing of threat intelligence among the various communities found in OSAC, ND ISAC, DISA and CISA.


Conclusion

In the intersection of cybersecurity and the defense industrial base, The Security Agency can play a crucial role in shaping a secure digital landscape that spans the public and private sectors. As we navigate an era defined by increasing interconnectedness, the significance of cybersecurity as a matter of national defense cannot be overstated.

 

Guided by the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), the defense industrial base relies on organizations like ours to help contractors safeguard sensitive information and maintain a robust cybersecurity posture.

 

TSA prioritizes people, processes, and partnerships to effectively address the dynamic cyber threat landscape. By crafting better, seamless, and innovative security solutions, TSA ensures the resilience of critical infrastructure and, for example, CISA's Cybersecurity Performance Goals (CPGs).


Our focus on pragmatic information security solutions, coupled with our history of delivering conventional security services and protocols, reflects our commitment to meeting the diverse needs of our clientele.

 

With a wealth of expertise, TSA offers comprehensive security solutions to organizations, higher education, small to medium-sized businesses, and government agencies at the local, state and federal level.


Beyond providing security services, we engage and educate our clients, keeping them informed about the evolving security landscape, innovative technologies, and emerging trends.

 

As a minority-owned enterprise, TSA is guided by values of inclusion, innovation, and integrity, ensuring that we remain a trusted and reliable security partner for all. With TSA, organizations can trust in our expertise to provide peace of mind in their security operations, contributing to a safer and more secure world.



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