As we grow increasingly more reliant on the internet, the security risks also grow. The US Government has been working to ensure that defense contractors are compliant with the latest cybersecurity standards. Which in the end, is good for all.
Any government contractor that wants to do business with the Department of Defense must comply with certain rules and pre-requisites for getting a contract with the federal government. The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations contain regulations that govern contracts with the DOD. Accordingly, DFARS compliance is not optional, but instead an absolute necessity for government contracting. If you do not follow the DFARS, you cannot be a government contractor.
One newer requirement that has been introduced to the DFARS in recent years poses a major compliance challenge for businesses. There have been several high-profile incidents in which sensitive information that belongs to the federal government (but was housed on non-governmental servers) was stolen or otherwise misappropriated. Given that and the other major threats that exist to cybersecurity today, there are new standards that govern a contractor’s information systems. These requirements are found in NIST 800-171.
NIST 800-171 prescribes steps that contractors have to take in order to secure their systems. In addition, there are various steps that a contractor must take to report and remedy a breach if it occurs. These obligations are not one-time requirements that contractors fulfill once their systems have become compliant. Instead, they are ongoing obligations that contractors must live up to as long as they are doing business with the federal government. Even though contractors usually self-certify that they have met these requirements, their compliance can very well be tested by inspections. In addition, if contractors have certified compliance incorrectly, they can face consequences. Finally, in the event that there is a breach, contractors can expect heavy scrutiny of their information security.
The consequences of a failure in the area of DFARS compliance can be dire. The DFARS clause that states that contractors must comply with NIST 800-171 is incorporated into every contract with the DOD. The federal government has a drastic remedy at its disposal when it is dealing with contractors. If a contractor fails to comply with the contract, the government can terminate the contract for default. If you are a contractor, this is a catastrophic result because you lose the contract and do not get paid. In addition, the termination becomes a part of your record and can have a negative effect on your ability to get contracts going forward.
Accordingly, your business should place a heavy emphasis on DFARS compliance. With regard to these specific rules, there are compliance solutions in the marketplace to assist businesses with their compliance. Given the utmost importance of these rules and the consequences for not following them, it is essential that contractors leave as little to chance as possible.
These compliance solutions help automate the process of securing your systems and following these rules. This relieves contractors of some of the headaches that are caused by the steps that they have to take to secure their networks. In other words, they use technology to secure your technology. In addition, by purchasing an established solution, contractors can demonstrate that they have taken the steps to follow these rules. This should give businesses some peace of mind given that compliance with the DFARS is an existential issue for any company that relies on federal government contracts for their business.