DoD contract manufacturing

In an effort to ensure defense contractors are following best practices to protect sensitive data, Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Program (CMMC) rulemaking is inching closer and closer to finalization, with rules proposed by the U.S. Defense Department on December 26, 2023. While these rules are published for comment, the codified version isn’t expected to change too drastically. Townsend Bourne, partner at Sheppard Mullin, noted as much during a recent interview with Federal News Network. “Personally, I don’t know that we’re going to see significant changes from the proposed rule that came out at the end of December and the way the final rule is drafted,” said Bourne. “Most importantly, because DoD has been working on this program for so long, and I think they’re at the point where they think it’s pretty close to final.”

CMMC 2.0 Level 1 Sneak Preview

USB CNC program transfer cybersecurity

Transferring CNC programs via USB can not only require hefty management of manual user authorizations, device logs and documentation, but they can risk USB CNC program transfer attacks and noncompliance with CMMC 2.0.

The progression of this rulemaking process is quickly advancing the impact of CMMC 2.0 to manufacturers of all sizes, especially small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) that will need to carefully manage finite resources to absorb added costs, personnel and training to meet and maintain compliance. One aspect of CMMC 2.0 that will deliver a layer of complexity is the proper storage and control of removable media, like USBs and CDs, which many defense contract manufacturers utilize today to transfer CNC programs, images and other Federal Contract Information (FCI) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) to and from computers and machines. Let’s review a few aspects of the Level 1 requirements clause of 52.204-21, Basic Safeguarding of Covered Contractor Information Systems, to illustrate some of the necessary steps to store and control sensitive data appropriately on these devices.

  • Limit information system access to authorized users, processes acting on behalf of authorized users, or devices (including other information systems).

There should be a clear set of procedures regarding who is permitted access to removable media, their accountabilities related to this access, and how often these procedures are reviewed, validated and updated. Programmers, engineers and others involved in the CNC program transfer process should have unique credentials and the correct identity or role-based permissions across devices and systems. Credentials and keys should be properly managed and rotated to enhance the security of sensitive information. If you’re manually managing user security and authorization related to CNC program transfers via paper or spreadsheets, for example, it can be a time-consuming and involved endeavor that may be prone to errors and noncompliance.

  • Limit information system access to the types of transactions and functions that authorized users are permitted to execute.

It’s necessary to have documentation of the transactions roles and personnel are authorized to execute, so that sensitive data is not processed by those lacking permissions to do so. But do you also have the safeguards to block unauthorized transactions and track those attempts? Again, a manual means to meet this requirement can not only be labor-intensive and riddled with inaccuracies, but near impossible for some DoD contract manufacturers with complex operations.

USB CNC program transfer attacks

  • Verify and control/limit connections to and use of external information systems.

Even limiting the use of removable media can still leave data susceptible, as USBs are re-gaining popularity in cyberattacks. Daniel Wiley, the head of threat management at Check Point, relayed an instance in which a power company employee received a sealed USB device from an Amazon package, complete with Amazon tape. “He thought his wife ordered it. So he opened it up, plugged it in. Everything else was a chain reaction. It was able to break in across their VPN. Let’s just say the power company was not in a good place.” It is imperative for defense contractors to have the proper controls set up to protect your CUI against USB CNC program transfer attacks – but no controls will be completely failsafe.

Roll Credits

It’s estimated that a CMMC Level 1 self-assessment will cost a small entity about $6,000, according to DefenseScoop. For SMBs, this cost could be significantly more depending upon the existing IT infrastructure, processes and know-how of your staff. To understand how an ideal DNC software, which is a system that leverages Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to connect your shop floor equipment on one network, can help reduce or eliminate manual user authorizations, device logs and documentation for more streamlined CMMC 2.0 compliance and prevention of USB CNC program transfer attacks, contact a representative with manufacturing integrator Shop Floor Automations today.

AWS GovCloud-secure DataXchange machine monitoring for CNC and other manufacturing equipment

Manufacturing integrator Shop Floor Automations (SFA) will showcase the AWS GovCloud-secure Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring solution for highly-regulated industries, including aerospace, defense and pharmaceutical, at FABTECH 2023. FABTECH is North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event and will be held September 11-14 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.

For manufacturers adhering to regulations like International Traffic in Arms (ITAR), Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) and other security and compliance requirements, the ability to monitor disparate machines, each with a unique control system and communication protocol with varying ages, can make continuous improvement initiatives challenging in the cloud. There is often limited capability to protect and restrict access to sensitive data, such as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII), while also granting the visibility needed to make timely, data-driven decisions that can impact every aspect of a manufacturer.

The DataXchange solution, available through SFA, resolves these issues by leveraging AWS GovCloud to capture real-time, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) data from a variety of equipment – from lasers and press brakes, to saws and robots – through universal machine connections. Leveraging automated data collection, DataXchange exposes and synthesizes equipment data to give teams full transparency on the shop floor through an architected secure cloud solution for a total smart factory transformation.

DataXchange leverages AWS GovCloud to monitor machine data in aerospace, defense and pharmaceutical manufacturing environments.

DataXchange leverages AWS GovCloud to capture real-time IIoT data from a variety of equipment – from lasers and press brakes, to saws and robots – through universal machine connections.

Results include a 62.5% decrease in machine time as a result of time-saving alerts, reported user MOGAS. The severe service ball valve manufacturer anticipates a full Return on Investment (ROI) within a year of implementing DataXchange.

Manufacturers are invited to stop by the SFA Booth, A3255, at FABTECH 2023 for a complimentary demonstration of the secure DataXchange solution and to explore the entire SFA product portfolio to help resolve the challenges of the modern shop floor.

For sales inquiries, call 619-461-4000 or visit


ABOUT Shop Floor Automations

Founded in 1998, Shop Floor Automations (SFA) is a manufacturing integrator specializing in digitally transformative hardware, software and support solutions to increase the productivity, efficiency and profitability of plant facilities throughout North America. To add intelligent automation to your shop floor for better communication, control and improvement, contact Shop Floor Automations at


North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event heads to Chicago’s McCormick Place in September 2023. FABTECH provides a convenient “one stop shop” venue where you can meet with world-class suppliers, see the latest industry products and developments, and find the tools to improve productivity, increase profits and discover new solutions to all of your metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing needs. For more information, visit

An aerial view of the United States Pentagon.

Companies within the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), like machine, pharmaceutical and aerospace product manufacturers, are increasingly the subject of frequent attacks in pursuit of the billions of dollars tied up in Department of Defense (DoD) projects. The SolarWinds breach, the REvil cybergang hit on a defense contractor and others incidents making headline news are the overt evidence of these escalating targets – but it’s estimated by Black Kite that “twenty percent of America’s largest 100 defense contractors are highly susceptible to a ransomware attack.”

An aerial view of the United States Pentagon.

For manufacturers with FCI, compliance with the DoD’s CMMC 2.0 involves the control of removable media, such as PCMCIA memory cards and USB drives, and impacts the use of such media in conjunction with your CNC machinery.

The DoD is naturally taking action. The safeguard of defense-related information has been named a major priority, says the DoD, leading the agency to unveil its “enhanced” CMMC 2.0 program in November of last year. With three different levels of compliance (“Foundational,” “Advanced” and “Expert”), CMMC 2.0 will undergo implementation through the rulemaking process, which can span from nine months to two years, and then ultimately fold the program into a contractual requirement. This means that any company that processes, stores or handles Federal Contract Information (FCI) must perform a CMMC Level 1 self-assessment.

Proper Protection of CUI

For manufacturers with FCI, CMMC 2.0 compliance involves the control of removable media, such as PCMCIA memory cards and USB drives, and encrypting this media to properly protect Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). The process of storing and transferring machine programs is already a time- and labor-consuming task: often companies set up a kiosk for programmers to peruse programs, copy the selected machine code onto a USB, trek back to the machinery and copy the program to the machine. One manufacturer estimated that it took them 10 minutes of set-up time to upload a program and get the routers – per part. The total time devoted to this process amounted to around 83 hours a month.

CNC machine programs with PCMCIA media cards and USB drives also make revision control virtually impossible. Programs that were never proven can be exported to machines, machined “not to spec” and lead to the scrapping of parts, rework, or worse, customer rejections. Companies can then find themselves scrambling to repair customer concerns and spending additional time and labor sourcing the correct program, and ultimately going through the machine program transfer process over again.

Now, with CMMC 2.0, machinery using removable storage devices can also lead to noncompliance. Solutions to achieve compliance, however, may hold even greater possible benefits for manufacturers.

DNC for Compliancy, Reliability, and Greater Productivity

A modern DNC networking solution, like Predator DNC as available through Shop Floor Automations, can work towards helping companies eliminate removable drives from CNC manufacturing equipment altogether. Serving as one industrial network for all your CNC machines, robots, CMMs, PLCs, 3D printers and other equipment, a well-designed DNC networking system ensures that only your latest files are tapped from their central location and, when changes occur, the edits are stored back on your file server.

A machinist working with a machine that is running DNC software, removing the need for physical drives and saving time between jobs.

A well-designed DNC networking solution can connect all your CNC machines, robots, CMMs, PLCs, 3D printers and other equipment on one industrial network, thereby removing or reducing the need for removable storage media, like PCMCIA media cards or USB drives.

Even more so, CNC program revisions can be controlled through a bar code or QR code reader to eliminate errors and transfer the proven/released part program every time into the CNC for complete traceability. Securing greater control of your CNC program revisions can lead to a reduction in the amount of rework and scrap that plagues companies utilizing untested programs. All in all, the implementation of a proper DNC networking solution can equate to a more productive team and a more consistent and reliable manufacturing process.

Set up your organization for CMMC 2.0 compliance while realizing significant gains in productivity and reliability – contact a DNC networking specialist at Shop Floor Automations to discuss your unique defense environment today.