In 2019, the Department of Defense announced a raft of measures to help contractors bolster their cybersecurity postures. Starting in 2025, all defense contractors must demonstrate compliance with new cybersecurity standards—the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). The tough IT security requirements aim to protect the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) from skyrocketing threats from rogue actors and foreign states.

However, with the cost of CMMC compliance potentially running into tens of thousands of dollars, many DoD contractors and subcontractors are left wondering if a CMMC cybersecurity certification is worth it. If defense contracts are your company's revenue lifeline, it's essential you understand how the new regulations will affect your business so you're adequately prepared.

Is CMMC worth it?

While the cost of CMMC compliance might be significant, a CMMC certification is worthwhile for any business wishing to work with the Department of Defense. Achieving CMMC compliance makes your business eligible to work with the DOD and strengthens its cybersecurity measures. The certification gives you an edge over uncertified rivals and lowers your firm's susceptibility to cyberattacks.

Although the cost is hefty, the potential benefits far exceed the initial and ongoing expenses. If anything, the cost of non-compliance can be staggering since it could lead to the loss of DoD contracts.

The true cost of CMMC compliance varies drastically between companies and covers staff training, consultant fees, and cybersecurity upgrades. Since CMMC compliance is a mandatory requirement for DoD contractors, it's best to consider it a business investment in bolstering your company's cybersecurity posture.

Typically, the four factors that determine the CMMC certification cost include:

  • Size: Large companies often have complex network infrastructure and will need more resources to attain compliance.

  • Urgency: How fast do you need to get up to speed? The shorter the timeframe, the heftier the price tag. Pulling off a fast, seamless certification calls for a bigger workforce, overtime, and expertise, requiring a bigger budget.

  • The level of security needed: The type of services you offer determines the level of CMMC compliance your business needs. An expert certification requires a comparatively higher budget than a foundational certification.

  • Your IT hygiene: Your current IT practices are the biggest drivers of your possible CMMC bill. It only takes a few changes to become CMMC Level 1 compliant if you practice excellent basic cybersecurity hygiene. Updating outdated IT infrastructure or poor security measures carries a higher price tag.

Besides the initial costs, CMMC compliance carries ongoing costs such as periodic network upgrades, cybersecurity audits, and continuous employee training.

How to Get CMMC Certification?

The CMMC certification requirements comprise the same 110 controls required for NIST 800-171. However, CMMC compliance is more stringent and needs a third-party assessment. DoD contractors and subcontractors must contract a CMMC Third-Party Assessors organization (C3PAO) to assess their IT processes.

Here's a simple glance at the 8-step CMMC certification process:

  1. Self-assessment

  2. Improve your IT processes

  3. Identify your scope of service

  4. Gap assessment

  5. Fix the security gaps

  6. Select a C3PAO

  7. Undertake the CMMC assessment

  8. Certification

What is the Timeline for CMMC Compliance?

The DoD has gradually implemented CMMC requirements into defense contracts since 2020, and the new regulations are poised to take effect in Q3-Q4 2024. The CMMC is undergoing a 60-day public comment period in Q4 2023, during which DoD contractors can ask questions, make suggestions, and seek clarification. Given it may take the average defense contractor 12 to 18 months to become compliant, you should get an early start to beat the 2024 CMMC compliance deadline.

How Long is CMMC Certification Good for?

Every CMMC certification is good for three years. After this period, your company must undergo recertification to maintain its certification status. The recertification process will mirror your initial certification process by a C3PAO to ensure continued compliance with the required CMMC level.

Outpace the Competition and Grow Your Business

CMMC compliance makes your business eligible for defense contracts while giving you an edge over the competition. Many contractors are likely to drop out, citing high compliance costs, which may help narrow the pool of qualified contractors. Achieving a high CMMC score allows you to outpace the competition when bidding for the most lucrative DoD contracts.

Starting your assessment today can help you beat the compliance deadline and gain a head start over your competitors. We can help you assess your security compliance and personalize your compliance timelines.

Test your compliance readiness or speak to a compliance expert today!