Are you prepared to continue to progress on your Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) journey? The second domain in the CMMC Level 1 requirements is Identification and Authentication. Its primary focus lies on granting access to authenticated entities, as well as verifying the identity of those entities. In this post, we will build on our knowledge of the domains and practices of Level 1, with a focus on the first practice in Identification and Authentication, IA.1.076, which is all about identifying entities.

What is a CMMC Assessment? 

A CMMC assessment is the methodology to certify that a contractor is compliant with the CMMC standard. CMMC Third Party Assessment Organizations (C3PAOs) carry out this methodology and evaluate your company’s unclassified networks. The CMMC evaluation process gives contractors guidance for a specific CMMC level (1-5); if you pass this process, the C3PAO issues the appropriate CMMC certificate. Passing a level 1 assessment, for example, confirms that you’re meeting the basic safeguarding requirements for Federal Contract Information (FCI). FCI is information not marked as public or for public release (specified in FAR Clause 52.204-21). 

What is Identification and Authentication – IA.1.076? 

The first of the two practices in the Identification and Authentication Domain, IA.1.076 focuses on primarily on the following requirement to “identify information system users, processes acting on behalf of users, or devices”. As aforementioned, the purpose is to authentication, or authorize access to your systems. It builds upon Access Control and focuses on the users or processes that are accessing your information, and this requirement is all about ensuring that the users/processes have identifiers associated to them, and that they are authorized to access the information they are given. 

To achieve the requirements dictated by this practice, you need to ensure that any users or processes are assigned unique identifiers, like usernames. However, your work does not stop there; you need to make sure that even after identifiers are assigned, the identities of the users and processes are verified, which can be done through passwords or other forms of authentication (key-cards specific to a user, for example, if talking about physical access). You want to make sure that you double check any access to your systems, and that you are aware of who is doing what with any of your system processes, as well as who is handling and viewing certain information. Building upon this implementation will only further ensure the safety of your organization, its systems, and ultimately the information that is sensitive and should not be accessible outside of it. 

What are the IA.1.076 Assessment Objectives and Objects? 

Assessment procedures consist of an objective and a set of objects. The assessment objective includes a determination statement related to the CMMC practice content to ensure traceability of assessment results to requirements. These results determine if a practice is satisfied. Assessment objects specify the specific items that a C3PAO assesses (e.g., mechanisms, activities, and individuals). 

IA.1.076 assessment objectives: Confirming that system users are identified, processes acting on behalf of users are identified, and that devices accessing the system are identified. 

IA.1.076 assessment objects: A C3PAO can assess document-based artifacts associated with your system, hardware, software, or firmware safeguards, protection-related actions supporting your system that involves people, and any other personnel related to these elements.  

 What are the Assessment Methods for IA.1.076? 

 Assessment methods define the nature and extent of assessors’ actions (e.g., examining, interviewing, and testing). They are outlined below for IA.1.076: 

Examine: This method refers to reviewing, inspecting, observing, studying, or analyzing assessment objects. For IA.1.076, C3PAOs might examine procedures addressing user identification and authentication, system configuration settings and associated documentation, or system audit logs and records. 

Interview: This method refers to the process of holding discussions with individuals or groups to facilitate understanding, achieve clarification, or obtain evidence. While interviewing or achieving clarification for the IA.1.076 practice, a C3PAO might personnel with information security responsibilities, personnel with account management responsibilities, or even your system developers. 

Test: This method is the process of exercising assessment objects under specified conditions to compare actual behavior with expected behavior. All assessment objects that a C3PAO can examine for IA.1.076 are susceptible to testing, as well as organizational processes for uniquely identifying and authenticating users. 

How Do I Know if I’m Complying to the IA.1.076 Practice?

Identification and Authentication is a domain that builds upon the concepts of Access Control, and establishes some more specifics that require attention. You may already have made progress and set measures in place to ensure that you are working towards complying with this practice and its requirements, but you might be wary of what C3PAO’s might assess and how you would stand in an assessment. If this is the case, taking a free CMMC self-assessment can help you gauge where you are in the CMMC compliance process for this domain. Taking this next step can help you better your standing towards compliance, and take you one step forward in achieving CMMC Level 1 certification.