With the Department of Defense (DoD) making DFARS compliance a requirement for all contractors doing business with the DoD, a great amount of stress has been put on DoD contractors to comply. Luckily there are DFARS consultants, like SysArc, who can help contractors with limited resources and come well-equipped with the knowledge and tools to meet compliance as fast as possible and at the lowest cost possible.
The Stress is Warranted… DFARS is a Big Deal
The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) addresses the current threats to Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and was put in place by the Department of Defense. External contractors and other non-government organizations working with the DoD must follow these standards to continue working with the federal agency.
The cybersecurity standards used are established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), under the publication NIST SP 800-171. While these regulations were enacted in 2015, complying with them became even more pressing for the DoD contractors recently because it's now required to fulfill contractors for the DoD.
DFARS gets all DoD contractors on the same footing when it comes to their cybersecurity measures. The two primary goals of DFARS is to have adequate security when it comes to CUI and other sensitive data and to speed up the reporting of cyber incidents. These are the minimum requirements of DFARS, and the NIST publication has extensive documentation on what that looks like in practice through fourteen groups of security measures.
Once these cybersecurity measures are in place, the DoD contractor must commit to continual monitoring, audits, assessments, and optimization of its cybersecurity measures. If any new requirements are added to DFARS, they would also need to update security controls to include these measures.
DFARS Compliance is Difficult with Limited Resources
Implementing every security control in 14 areas is challenging when a DoD contractor has limited cybersecurity resources. The consequences of not being DFARS compliant, though, are severe. The contractor not only loses the ability to be awarded DoD contracts until that's resolved, but it could also face fines or debarment.
Another roadblock is the ongoing nature of DFARS compliance. The organization may be able to handle the initial deployment, but allocating enough resources to support compliance measures going forward could go beyond what it has available.
Meeting the 72-hour reporting requirement in the event of a data breach is a demanding requirement for DoD contractors to meet. They're already in the middle of a disaster and may not have any idea about the extent of the intrusion or the data affected. They are focused on getting their systems back up and running, which may leave no one available to put together the report and communicate this information.
The DoD does permit contractors to work with subcontractors to support their compliance efforts. A Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) makes it possible for these organizations to reach compliance quickly and affordably.
Outside of making it possible to win DoD contracts, DFARS compliance offers organizations a strong cybersecurity foundation for their operation. While the DoD is focused on protecting CUI, contractors have other sensitive data that could be a target for attackers.
Following the standards set by NIST offers protection from many types of cybersecurity threats, and improves accountability, access control, and disaster recovery throughout the organization.
MSSPs Offer Compliance Knowledge and Tools
An MSSP, such as SysArc, that specializes in DFARS compliance is an invaluable resource to have on hand. The service provider has in-depth knowledge about DFARS requirements and what that looks like in real-world conditions. The MSSP can offer an end-to-end solution that starts with assessing the DoD contractor to develop a compliance plan, to providing ongoing support for remaining in compliance with these requirements.
This service provider already has all of the tools and documentation necessary, which allows DoD contractors to avoid significant financial investments in specialized solutions required for audits, gap analysis, and other functions. It also has processes in place to streamline reporting and remediation of cybersecurity threats that may arise.
One of these tools, for example, is CyberSaint Security's CyberStrong platform, an advanced DFARS compliance solution. Many MSSPs use this valuable tool for making DFARS and NIST SP 800-171 compliance quick and efficient. It gives compliance managers the features they need to handle DFARS compliance and other regulations proactively. The software accomplishes this through full visibility and data mappings of every component necessary for a compliance campaign. Support for DFARS is already built-in to this platform, which makes it even easier for compliance managers.
CyberStrong makes it simple to assign owners to each of the security controls and to put deadlines in place to keep the project moving. The workflow, guidance, and cost resources give contractors the data needed to understand the impact of each control.
If outside firms or the DoD audit the DoD contractor, it has everything necessary to prove that compliance measures were followed through the digital paper trail offered by CyberStrong.
DFARS compliance is necessary for all DoD contractors, and thankfully, they don't have to go it alone. Outsourcing parts of the process to specialists with the specialized skills and resources necessary to support the contractor's efforts is a cost-effective and efficient way to meet all of the requirements.
If you have any questions about how SysArc and our DFARS compliance software and tools can help your organization, please feel free to contact us at or request a free DFARS/NIST 800-171 consultation with our NIST cybersecurity specialists.