Business Productivity

Cybersecurity Timeline: How Government Contractor Compliance Has Evolved

It’s been a busy decade. A lot has happened in the cybersecurity industry over the last ten years, and it’s not just because of new technologies like IoT coming on board. There have been some significant changes to government contractor compliance requirements that have impacted IT services for government or those hoping to do business with them. Understanding how these frameworks have evolved is crucial if you’re trying to stay compliant and competitive. 

What Has Caused the Evolution

By 2020, frameworks such as the CMMC(Cyber Security Maturity Model Certification) and NIST Cybersecurity Framework have been popular throughout government contracting.

Many of these frameworks were implemented to increase cybersecurity awareness in IT teams, and from the current results, they have largely succeeded. They’ve also helped governments better manage risk when complying with federal regulations like FISMA and HIPAA. These are critical steps in a world where cybersecurity is a constant concern to big corporations and everyone, including governments.

While the frameworks have created some challenges for IT teams (mostly around documentation), the resulting increase in cybersecurity awareness and improved risk management has helped many government contractors stay compliant.

If you’re trying to stay competitive, understanding how these frameworks have evolved is vital. You’ll not only comply with the set regulations but protect your investments. During a recent cybersecurity webinar hosted by Axio, participants took an in-depth look at the evolution of these frameworks and how they’ve impacted different industries and government institutions. They mainly looked at Maturity Models and Control Frameworks.

What are Maturity and Control Frameworks

Maturity Models determine how best you are at managing cybersecurity. On the other hand, Control Frameworks provide a way for people in the industry to measure their level of compliance with regulations and standards. 

Maturity models are created by a group of professionals from different sectors who work as a team to ensure the framework fits any organization regardless of the size or type. The models go through a continuous improvement process and are updated periodically to keep up with the latest developments in cybersecurity.

Control Frameworks are outcome-driven and measure whether you perform specific tasks. An example is the NIST Cyber Security Framework (NIST CSF) that includes the following control areas:

  • IT organization; 
  • cybersecurity risk management; 
  • asset, security, and vulnerability management; 
  • contingency planning.

NCSF is a government standard for cybersecurity developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It also demonstrates compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

The goal is to align IT investments with cybersecurity risks. The NCSF framework can be used as an example in any organization, regardless of its size or type. Models go through a continuous improvement process for maintaining their relevance.

Where Did It All Start?

To understand the evolution, all that the market sees today started with maturity models in 1980 when Watts Humphrey, the father of ITIL and a researcher in IBM’s computers division, created CMM (Capability Maturity Model).

The model was the first of a whole series created to measure IT organizations’ security capabilities, but the production initially served as a software creation platform. A lot has happened since this innovation.

However, security frameworks have over the years shifted to a more institutionalized approach that takes into account the new cyber risks arising from IoT and social media. As noted, moving to more standard frameworks can increase security awareness and risk management across companies and government institutions.