Funding Available for Maryland Government Contractors to Meet Cyber Security Compliance Requirements

By: Bill Walter

Cyber security breaches are on the rise and there’s no clear end in sight. Breaches today are affecting businesses of all shapes, colors and sizes. Government contractors in particular are under increased pressure to demonstrate the cyber security measures they have in place. That’s because government contractors who fail to meet cyber security requirements will be ineligible for certain contracts.

What’s more, a recent executive order dedicated to improving the nation’s cyber security is putting a laser focus on the NIST 800-171 framework. If you have Department of Defense contracts or want to pursue them, now is the time to figure out which compliance requirements you must meet, then go down that road, which isn’t always a short one.

It isn’t all doom and gloom, though. If you’re a government contractor, the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership, known as MD MEP, is coordinating an effort to help you meet the cyber security requirements that will be the deciding factor on whether you’re eligible for certain contracts.

Thanks to a grant, you might be eligible for financial assistance as you pursue compliance with DFARS and NIST 800-171 standards.

Who Is Eligible for the Grant?

Defense contractors with a physical location in Maryland are eligible for the grant. To be eligible, a contractor must have 10% or more of its business with the DoD, or have a contract or procurement request for compliance.

What Is the Grant That Can Help Government Contractors?

According to a press release from the Maryland Department of Commerce,” the $1.1 million grant will help Maryland defense contractors comply with federal cybersecurity standards in order to provide services to the federal government.”

The goal of the program is twofold:

  1. To strengthen Maryland’s defense supply chain
  2. Provide resources for compliance with NIST 800-171 Standard and DFARS requirements

Contractors who fail to comply with requirements might lose a federal contract, resulting in loss of revenue and jobs. DCAP helps minimize that risk.

Who’s Offering the Grant?

The $1.1 million grant comes from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation and supports the Maryland Defense Cybersecurity Assistance Program (DCAP). DCAP, which is coordinated by MD MEP, provides funding and resources for defense contractors to comply with certain cyber security requirements.

How Do You Apply?

You can submit a DCAP application here or contact Sara Keith via email at MD MEP for help.

Still Not Convinced You Need to Safeguard Your Business from a Cyber Attack?

Most if not all the major cyber security breaches in recent history started with sophisticated but effective email campaigns that gave malicious actors access to their victims’ networks. Once inside the doors, they were able to move laterally and elevate their access to inflict maximum damage.

I won’t name names, but one recent victim had a risk assessment done in the prior year; that assessment outlined what a bad actor could do to compromise their network. The problem was that the recommendations for additional layers of protection went ignored by the company. Network segregation, security awareness training, multifactor authentication and following a policy of least privilege would all have limited or even stopped that breach.

I’ll leave you with a cyber security resource: there’s no doubt you’ve heard about ransomware in the news. Our article, How to Protect Your Business From Ransomware, includes eight easy-to-implement best practices for keeping your business safe.

Need Help?

Our cyber security compliance team is available to help. Contact us online or call 800.899.4623.

Published June 8, 2021

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