The Hidden Hurdle: Why Ignoring Cybersecurity Could Cost Vendors Government Contracts

With over 15 years entrenched in the cybersecurity and IT domain, supported by a solid educational foundation in cybersecurity and information assurance, I’ve earned credentials that range from CISSP to CEH. My time as a U.S. Army Signal and cyber soldier further honed my expertise in this arena. Given this backdrop, I’d like to spotlight an issue many vendors inadvertently overlook in their quest for government contracts.

In the high-stakes race to secure government contracts, many vendors are discovering an unexpected obstacle: the government’s cybersecurity standards. In an era where digital threats are rampant and constantly evolving, national governments are raising the bar, demanding that all systems, regardless of their primary function, meet specific cybersecurity benchmarks. One prominent example is the Risk Management Framework (RMF) process, which has caught many unsuspecting vendors off-guard. Below is a dive into the issue.

The Changing Landscape
Historically, cybersecurity was often compartmentalized, primarily a concern for IT departments or companies specializing in digital products or services. However, with our world becoming more interconnected, governments are now mandating cybersecurity across all functions and systems.

The RMF Trap
RMF, used by the U.S. Department of Defense among others, demands a rigorous assessment and authorization of IT systems. Its intricacies can be daunting for vendors unfamiliar with its layers. Many vendors, especially those in non-traditional IT sectors, often assume they’re exempt from the RMF. This oversight can lead to unexpected project disruptions and even jeopardize contracts.

The “Afterthought” Mindset
Many vendors sideline cybersecurity, addressing it once the main proposal is solidified. This delayed approach can result in a scramble to allocate adequate resources and time to meet exacting standards.

The Cost of Complacency
Unprepared vendors can face:
• Increased Costs: Unanticipated adjustments can require external consultants or expensive modifications.
• Delays: Retrofitting for compliance can offset timelines, risking penalties or strained agency relations.
• Reputation Damage: Failing to meet standards can tarnish a vendor’s image, impacting future contract opportunities.

The Way Forward
Vendors must:
• Integrate Early: Embed cybersecurity in proposals from the beginning.
• Train Continuously: Ensure teams are abreast of evolving standards like the RMF.
• Collaborate: Join forces with cybersecurity specialists to traverse intricate regulations confidently.

As government cybersecurity criteria intensify, vendors must evolve. Complacency or sidelining cybersecurity standards can be detrimental. Conversely, vendors who embed cybersecurity from the get-go establish themselves as dependable, progressive partners for government entities. But navigating these complex waters need not be a solo endeavor.

Cybernet Systems Corporation, renowned for its cybersecurity prowess, is primed to assist vendors in meeting and exceeding government benchmarks. With a proven track record, including over 60+ DIACAP certifications and a consistent achievement in obtaining the DoD Authority to Operate, Cybernet is more than just a service provider – we’re your strategic partner in securing government contracts.
Given the stakes, a proactive approach isn’t just recommended; it’s imperative. And with Cybernet by your side, success isn’t just a possibility; it’s a guarantee. Dive deeper into how Cybernet can be your compass in this journey here.

Christopher Quimbaya, CISSP, CISM, CEH, SSCP, CSIS, is the Lead Cybersecurity Engineer for Cybernet’s Cybersecurity Architecture and Engineering Team. He supervises the design, integration, and testing of cybersecurity solutions, aiding Cybernet’s Defense Industrial Base customers in achieving their security objectives and securing an Authorization to Operate (ATO).