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State to document all its controls would mean documenting hundreds of weekly software changes that quickly become outdated.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
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/21/2020
Hacking Yourself: Marie Moe and Pacemaker Security
Gary McGraw Ph.D., Co-founder Berryville Institute of Machine Learning,  9/21/2020
Startup Aims to Map and Track All the IT and Security Things
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-24213
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-23
An integer overflow was discovered in YGOPro ygocore v13.51. Attackers can use it to leak the game server thread's memory.
CVE-2020-2279
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-23
A sandbox bypass vulnerability in Jenkins Script Security Plugin 1.74 and earlier allows attackers with permission to define sandboxed scripts to provide crafted return values or script binding content that can result in arbitrary code execution on the Jenkins controller JVM.
CVE-2020-2280
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-23
A cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in Jenkins Warnings Plugin 5.0.1 and earlier allows attackers to execute arbitrary code.
CVE-2020-2281
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-23
A cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in Jenkins Lockable Resources Plugin 2.8 and earlier allows attackers to reserve, unreserve, unlock, and reset resources.
CVE-2020-2282
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-23
Jenkins Implied Labels Plugin 0.6 and earlier does not perform a permission check in an HTTP endpoint, allowing attackers with Overall/Read permission to configure the plugin.