Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

8/9/2011
10:52 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

State Department, Auditors Clash On IT Security Monitoring

GAO says the department's iPost risk-scoring program doesn't handle non-Windows systems or sufficiently detail vulnerabilities, and fails to reflect the impact and likelihood of threats.

Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
The federal government's new regime for cybersecurity compliance, which leans heavily on continuous monitoring of IT system security, was supposed to cut back on the arduous and unnecessary paperwork that has historically been required. But Congressional auditors are now butting heads with the Department of State on just how much documentation should be required.

In an audit of the State Department's IT security controls, the Government Accountability Office determined that the agency's custom iPost risk-scoring program doesn't sufficiently detail vulnerabilities, doesn't update data completely or frequently enough, and doesn't have processes in place to adequately validate the data that iPost uses.

GAO also raised additional concerns, such as iPost addresses Windows systems but not other devices like routers and switches and non-Windows systems, that its scoring system fails to reflect the impact and likelihood of threats, and that it should include more risk factors.

GAO recommended that State develop procedures to validate iPost data and document those procedures, identify within iPost the individuals responsible for monitoring IT security at the agency, develop and document an iPost configuration management process, and better address actual risk and impact of attack.

In response, State argued that the GAO's recommendations in some places conflicted with the purpose of doing away with paperwork compliance in favor of continuous monitoring. For example, requiring State to document all its controls would mean documenting hundreds of weekly software changes that quickly become outdated. "Further documentation is of questionable value, given the volatility of the security environment," the agency wrote in response to the GAO.

State uses iPost, a custom application, to monitor the agency's IT systems worldwide. Enterprise management and monitoring software feeds data into iPost, including data on vulnerabilities, security compliance, patch level, operating environment configuration, and user account details. That data winds up in a dashboard that provides an overview of IT security at different State Department locations, and is the basis of a risk scoring system in which a higher score indicates that a location or set of host systems is at a higher risk.

The wealth of data and the scores aim to encourage system administrators to reduce risk and improve security for particular hosts or locations, and provides IT managers with both detailed and blunt measures of location- and agency-wide IT security. The system has gotten plaudits in the past, and the Department of State, and its CISO, John Streufert, have been on the leading edge of the continuous monitoring push in the federal government.

What industry can teach government about IT innovation and efficiency. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Government: Federal agencies have to shift from annual IT security assessments to continuous monitoring of their risks. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Active Directory Needs an Update: Here's Why
Raz Rafaeli, CEO and Co-Founder at Secret Double Octopus,  1/16/2020
New Attack Campaigns Suggest Emotet Threat Is Far From Over
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/16/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-5216
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-23
In Secure Headers (RubyGem secure_headers), a directive injection vulnerability is present in versions before 3.9.0, 5.2.0, and 6.3.0. If user-supplied input was passed into append/override_content_security_policy_directives, a newline could be injected leading to limited header injection. Upon seei...
CVE-2020-5217
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-23
In Secure Headers (RubyGem secure_headers), a directive injection vulnerability is present in versions before 3.8.0, 5.1.0, and 6.2.0. If user-supplied input was passed into append/override_content_security_policy_directives, a semicolon could be injected leading to directive injection. This could b...
CVE-2020-5223
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-23
In PrivateBin versions 1.2.0 before 1.2.2, and 1.3.0 before 1.3.2, a persistent XSS attack is possible. Under certain conditions, a user provided attachment file name can inject HTML leading to a persistent Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability. The vulnerability has been fixed in PrivateBin v1.3...
CVE-2019-20399
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-23
A timing vulnerability in the Scalar::check_overflow function in Parity libsecp256k1-rs before 0.3.1 potentially allows an attacker to leak information via a side-channel attack.
CVE-2020-7915
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
An issue was discovered on Eaton 5P 850 devices. The Ubicacion SAI field allows XSS attacks by an administrator.