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How Arlington Helps DoD Contractors Earn Authorization to Operate (ATO) Status with eMASS

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In an increasingly digital world, the Department of Defense (DoD) relies on a complex network of systems and technologies to protect our nation's security. To ensure the integrity and security of these systems, DoD contractors operating within cleared industry must obtain Authorization to Operate (ATO) status, demonstrating compliance with stringent information security and cybersecurity regulations. 

One invaluable ally on this journey is Arlington, a company dedicated to helping DoD contractors navigate the intricacies of the Enterprise Mission Assurance Support Service (eMASS)

Understanding the eMASS Challenge

eMASS is the DoD's standardized platform for managing the cybersecurity assessment and authorization process for cleared industry. It's a comprehensive tool that helps organizations track, manage, and document their cybersecurity efforts, ensuring compliance with rigorous DoD regulations, including the Risk Management Framework (RMF). However, the complexity of eMASS can be daunting for many DoD contractors, leading to delays and setbacks in obtaining ATO status.

How Arlington Helps

eMASS Expertise: Arlington boasts a team of seasoned experts who are well-versed in the intricacies of eMASS. They have a deep understanding of the RMF process and can guide contractors through every step of the ATO journey. From documentation to assessment, Arlington's experts provide invaluable insights and support.

Tailored Solutions: One size doesn't fit all when it comes to ATO in the DoD. Arlington recognizes that each contractor has unique needs and challenges. As such, we work closely with clients to develop customized solutions that align with their specific requirements, ensuring a smoother and more efficient ATO process.

Compliance Assurance: Compliance with DoD cybersecurity regulations is non-negotiable. Arlington assists contractors in implementing robust NIST 800-53 security controls and policies to meet eMASS requirements. We also conduct thorough assessments to identify and address vulnerabilities, reducing the likelihood of roadblocks in the ATO process.

Documentation Management: eMASS demands meticulous documentation, and specifically, documentation built on the NIST 800-53 framework. Arlington helps contractors organize and maintain the necessary records, ensuring that all evidence is readily available for review by DCSA personnel during onsite inspections. This proactive approach minimizes delays and increases the likelihood of ATO approval.

Policy Development: Arlington works closely with DoD contractors to develop robust cybersecurity policies that align with NIST SP 800-53. These policies serve as the foundation for a contractor's overall cybersecurity posture. Here's how Arlington assists in this process:

  • Customized Policies: Arlington recognizes that each contractor has unique needs and operational characteristics. As such, we tailor policies to meet the specific requirements and risk profiles of the contractor, ensuring that they are practical, realistic, and achievable.

  • Alignment with NIST SP 800-53: Arlington's experts meticulously map policies to the controls and requirements outlined in NIST SP 800-53. This alignment is crucial for demonstrating compliance during the ATO process.

  • Policy Documentation: The development of NIST 800-53 policies goes hand in hand with thorough documentation. Arlington helps contractors create clear, comprehensive policy documents that are readily accessible for review by the DoD and other stakeholders.

Procedure Development: In addition to policies, procedures play a vital role in cybersecurity. They provide step-by-step guidance on how to implement security controls and respond to security incidents. Arlington ensures that contractors have effective procedures in place based on NIST SP 800-53:

  • Tailored Procedures: Similar to policies, procedures are tailored to the contractor's specific needs. They are designed to reflect the contractor's workflows and operations, making them practical for day-to-day use.

  • Control Implementation: Arlington assists contractors in translating NIST SP 800-53 controls into actionable procedures. This helps contractors understand how to apply the controls in their environment.

  • Documentation and Version Control: Procedures are meticulously documented and version-controlled to ensure that they remain current and accurate. Changes or updates to procedures are carefully tracked and managed.

Training and Awareness: Developing policies and procedures is only the beginning. Arlington recognizes the importance of ensuring that employees and stakeholders understand and adhere to these policies. As such, we offer the following training and awareness programs:

  • Employee Training: Arlington helps contractors implement training programs that educate employees about cybersecurity policies and procedures. This includes training in identifying and mitigating security risks.

  • Continuous Awareness: Cyber threats evolve over time, and policies and procedures need to be adapted. Arlington ensures that contractors stay aware of emerging threats and updates policies and procedures accordingly.

Continuous Monitoring: Once policies and procedures are in place, Arlington doesn't stop there. We emphasize the importance of continuous monitoring to ensure ongoing compliance with NIST SP 800-53. This involves:

  • Regular Audits and Assessments: Arlington conducts regular audits and assessments to verify that policies and procedures are being followed and remain effective.

  • Incident Response Plans: In the event of a security incident, Arlington helps contractors implement incident response procedures that align with NIST SP 800-53 to minimize damage and mitigate risks.

Continuous Support: Obtaining ATO status is just the beginning. Arlington provides ongoing support to help contractors maintain their ATO, ensuring that cybersecurity practices remain up-to-date and compliant with evolving DoD regulations.

Benefits of Partnering with Arlington

Partnering with Arlington offers several key advantages for DoD contractors seeking ATO status:

  • Faster ATO Approval: Arlington's expertise and tailored solutions streamline the ATO process, reducing the time it takes to gain approval.

  • Reduced Risk: By ensuring compliance and addressing vulnerabilities proactively, Arlington helps contractors minimize the risk of security breaches and associated penalties.

  • Cost-Efficiency: Efficient ATO processes save contractors time and resources, ultimately leading to cost savings.

  • Expert Guidance: Contractors can tap into Arlington's extensive knowledge of eMASS and DoD cybersecurity regulations, ensuring they stay on the right track.

Earning ATO status with eMASS is a crucial milestone for DoD contractors in cleared industry, and partnering with a company like Arlington can make this journey significantly more manageable. With our expertise, tailored solutions, and commitment to compliance, Arlington helps contractors navigate the complex landscape of eMASS, ultimately strengthening national security and safeguarding critical information systems. If you're a DoD contractor on the path to ATO, consider enlisting the support of Arlington to ensure your success in achieving ATO status and securing the nation's interests.

About Arlington

We are Arlington, a team of innovative, solution-oriented, highly agile, and well-versed professionals with decades of experience in working with America’s defense industry. From emerging cybersecurity regulations to helping our clients solve complex security & compliance solutions – and so much more – you can trust Arlington, the firm that’s Dedicated to Defense®.  Learn more at