Defense Ministry officials stressed the importance of partners in ensuring sensitive data stored on digital networks, saying the next level of security depends on cybersecurity.

Speaking at AFCEA Small Business Enterprise IT Day on Thursday, Kelly Fletcher, chief deputy chief information officer of the Department of Defense, outlined defense plans to ensure fighters are able to function when conflicts depend on digital security.

“Looking at the next four or five [years]”We believe that our adversary will be able to take advantage of technological vulnerabilities,” Fletcher said. “And I mean things we’re all familiar with, somehow in terms of cybersecurity. So, our networks, our systems, you know, our computers, but even more than that, I mean our weapon systems, I mean navigation and time.

She stressed that this view of future conflicts – which is already taking place against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – fuels the need for government executors to stick to defense. Maturity certification of the cybersecurity modela roadmap of best practices for networking and cybersecurity, specifically designed for contractors working with Defense.

Fletcher added that data security will be a “decisive factor” in future and current conflicts, with theft of intellectual property a constant problem.

Her colleague Stacy Bostyanik, head of the Enforcement and Policy Department at the Defense Ministry’s chief information officer, reiterated that concern.

“Our fighters depend on us to give them the advantage that they can be successful in any kind of armed conflict,” Bostyanik said. “And we need to make sure we’re protecting data that’s close and expensive so we can give it that opportunity.”

During the event’s panel discussion, Fletcher added that the defense is pushing for a modernized CMMC, as recent research shows that contractors working with the agency differ significantly in adhering to cybersecurity best practices.

“Part of why we do it is because we want … our defense industry partners to be more secure. This is really important for us. This is really important for the fighter. This is really important for the nation. “She also said that companies that follow the CMMC guidelines will be favorable when it comes to competing for defense contracts.

Bostjanick added that DOD is working to create more levels in the CMMC for subcontractors to adhere to. By adapting the standards for different businesses, the agency can ensure compliance in a wide range of specialties.

“We have seen much more acceptance of the need for this,” she said, citing CMMC and other cybersecurity standards. “I’m not sure I would say that everyone accepts the way we do it, but they accepted the need to be able to be protected and protect the data.”

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