All businesses are subject to certain compliance requirements relevant to their industry. If you are a defense contractor dealing with the federal government, you must comply with several additional requirements across different domains.
One such domain is cybersecurity. The federal government has introduced stricter legislation in response to more sophisticated and complex cyber threats in recent years. This is where DFARS compliance comes into the picture, and here is everything you need to know about it.
What does DFARS compliance mean?
DFARS is an acronym for Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement. This represents a set of regulations that every company working with the federal government must comply with. DFARS mainly deals with the prioritization of cybersecurity of an organization and its customers.
The Department of Defense imposes cybersecurity regulations mentioned in DFARS on all of its external suppliers and contractors.
A short history of DFARS compliance
Cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated and penetrative. As a result, the need for cybersecurity to evolve and fight the new generation of cyber-criminals has risen. The federal government and Department of Defense (DoD) have prioritized addressing and ensuring the cybersecurity of its suppliers and contracts.
The DOD continues to enforce and intensify the Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). This means, as a private and non-federal contractor and organization, you must continuously update your security protocols and systems to fend off any potential threats.
In December 2015, United States’ DoD published a Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) supplement, also known as DFARS. The intention was to mainly establish cybersecurity standards as per the requirements defined in NIST SP 800-171 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The purpose of constructing these standards is to safeguard the confidentiality of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). All the DOD contractors had a deadline of December 31, 2017, to comply with the standards.
Fast forward to 2022, it is compulsory for all DoD contractors, vendors, and suppliers to comply with DFARS. One count of non-compliance and you will end up losing your current contract with the Department of Defense. You will have to show proof of compliance to the DoD for all your contracts in the future.
Who needs to be DFARS compliant in 2022?
Anyone with an active contract to work with the DoD and any other federal government agencies must be DFAR S-compliant. Whether you’re running a small organization or work under a large defense contractor, you have to comply with the DFARS standards.
DFARS does not apply to any private company that is not working with the federal government or the US department of defense.
What are common DFARS compliance requirements?
Data security in cybersecurity is an increasingly challenging and complicated domain. However, the DoD’s requirement for its contractors and suppliers is quite reasonable and straightforward. For your company to meet the DFARS requirements, you must fulfill the following two requirements.
1. Implement Adequate Security Protocols
This is to protect confidential defense information in your system or internally transmitted through your company’s unclassified information systems. The security will enable you to prevent unauthorized disclosure or access to critical defense information.
2. Report All Cyber Incidents
You must rapidly report all cyberattacks and incidents (big or small) and work with DoD to respond to all security incidents. This includes providing access to your affected media files and handing over any malicious software.
DFARS compliance currently details 14 different groups of cybersecurity requirements affecting numerous aspects of IT or information security. These are as follows:
- Audit and Accountability
- Awareness and Training
- Access Control
- Authentication and Identification
- Configuration Management
- Incident Response
- Media Protection
- Physical Protection
- Personnel Security
- Risk Assessment
- System and Communication Protection
If you wish to be DFARS compliant in 2022, you will have to follow NIST SP 800-171 guidelines and pass DoD’s readiness assessment.
Suppose you are a contractor working for the DoD, but the area of your services and expertise falls outside the technical domain. In this case, meeting the DFARS compliance requirements can be challenging. This is because meeting requirements as per NIST guidelines is an ongoing process that involves continuous assessment and monitoring of your systems and deployment improvements when needed.
What If You Are Non-Compliant?
The Department of Defense regularly audits all its contractors and suppliers. If the DoD finds your company to be non-compliant with any DFARS requirement, you are likely to get a stop-work order.
This means that your right to work on behalf of the DoD will be revoked, or in simple words, your contract will be suspended until you implement the corrective measures and fulfill all the requirements for DFARS compliance.
In addition, you may even face financial penalties, and the DoD may even seek damages for false claims and breach of contract. In the worst-case scenario, the department will terminate your contract, and you may face a lifetime ban on working with the Department of Defense again.
So, you are a company working with DoD or wish to work with them in the near future. In that case, you will need help with DFARS compliance and implementation of NIST 800-171. We at Zog Inc know precisely how your company can better comply with DoD’s standards.
Our experts will maintain IT systems operations 24/7 with the most advanced cybersecurity protocols. This will allow you to focus all your time and resources on your business while we take care of the recurring technical issues and keep you DFARS-compliant.
Contact us to book your FREE 2-hour consultation and get started on your path to DFARS compliance in 2022.