Recognition can be hard to come by for a small business. Given that reality, imagine the pride you would feel if the White House chose you and your business for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Fernando Machado, Chief Information Security Officer and owner of Cybersec Investments, experienced exactly that honor when he and his company were recognized for their service in developing standards for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. Machado will tell you that this achievement would not have been possible without guidance from the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at the University of Central Florida (Florida PTAC at UCF), the government contracting affiliate of the Florida SBDC at UCF.
Department of Defense contractors have long been responsible for implementing critical cybersecurity requirements, but the CMMC changed this paradigm by requiring third-party assessments of DoD contractors’ compliance with certain mandatory practices, procedures, and capabilities that can adapt to new and evolving cyber threats from adversaries.
Enter Machado and Cybersec Investments, at the urging of the Florida PTAC at UCF. As the new certifications were evolving, both Machado and PTAC recognized opportunities. For Cybersec, it was to contribute to the development of the CMMC standards and to leverage Machado’s over 10 years of DoD cybersecurity experience. For the Florida PTAC, it was the prospect of launching a resource that could help its DoD government contracting clients achieve CMMC compliance. These were clear Win-Win opportunities all around.
“Before working with PTAC, I was not aware of the CMMC initiative. PTAC brought it to my attention, and it was an avenue where our business goals aligned,” Machado recalls. Today, Cybersec Investments is in the business of managed security, risk assessment and compliance services, specifically CMMC assessment, planning and remediation. Thanks to Machado being a CMMC Provisional Assessor and the company being a candidate CMMC Third-Party Assessment organization, he states “We bring value to clients by giving them ‘the answers to the test’ by providing consulting services through the eyes of a CMMC assessor and knowing what they would be looking for.”
Machado and Cybersec benefited from multiple services from the Florida PTAC beyond identifying the CMMC opportunity. They assisted him with obtaining his Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) certification, developing his capabilities statement, and registering for the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM) as well as with the State of Florida. In addition, PTAC has helped by connecting Machado with valuable networking events and presentations.
“Working with PTAC has been great,” Machado concludes. “When we first started, we were operating at a loss. Since starting with PTAC, we’ve become profitable and have multiple clients seeking us out. My experience with them has been fantastic. Kara Vernon (PTAC Specialist) and Steve South (PTAC Manager) have been amazing. They both are very knowledgeable with years of combined experience. If you are thinking about possibly working with PTAC and feel hesitant, I would say ‘Lose that hesitancy at the door’. I highly recommend them as a resource.”